How to Do a Top-Notch Top Knot

Move over, side braid. It's time to embrace the top knot (a.k.a. summer's perfect hairstyle).
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Michelle Villett
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Move over, side braid. It's time to embrace the top knot (a.k.a. summer's perfect hairstyle).
Kelli-Garner-top-knot

Not to brag, but I've been wearing the side braid since AT LEAST 2007—long before Alexander Wang made it cool—and we've had a really good run.

But I think it's time to move on. And right now, I'm falling for the top knot. Not only is it wickedly practical for summer, but it will make you look 237 percent prettier, younger and more ballerina-like. For serious.

Oh! And did I mention it's also easy enough to DIY? You don't even need any mad braiding skillz...

But before I give you the how-to, let's have a looksie at some examples.

The top knot on the runway

The top knot was all over the spring runways (Lanvin, YSL, Marc Jacobs) but my favourite interpretation was at Bottega Veneta, where it had that slightly frizzy texture I've been going on about, as well as a sleek headband. (Also note the perfect fuchsia lipstick.)

Bottega-Venetta-Beauty-spring-fashion-2010-top-knot

And the top knot is NOT going away for fall either. Here it is, with a cool twisty interpretation at Fendi:

Fendi-top-knot-fall-2010

Celebs who work the top knot

Now, in case you might be thinking that this only works on supermodels, here's Sienna Miller's elegant version. I love the loose tendrils at the back, but with the front cleanly scraped back. (Big, dangly earrings are also a plus.)

Sienna-Miller-top-knot

Kate Bosworth went for a ballerina feel with not a strand out of place. This one's a bit trickier for us mere mortals to pull off, kids. (And your skin and makeup better be flawless.)

Kate-Bosworth-top-knot

Sorry for the extreme close-up here, but this is how Nicole Richie plays it—a bit boho with the bangs.

Nicole-Richie-top-knot

And finally, Keri Russell's version is just perfection. See how it works even on curly hair?

Keri-Russell-top-knot

BUT! It is possible to do this wrong. Here's a top knot FAIL on Whitney Port. (Charles Baker Strahan, I hope this isn't your work.) The bun itself is too flat, too wide, too weird...

Whitney-Port-top-knot

How to do a top knot

Okay, first of all remember that the objective is height (which is why poor Whit's version failed). You don't need volume, so feel free to give those prodz a time out.

bobby-pins-300x272

(Oh, and I should also mention that you do need to have long hair for this style, obvs. Because the bun sits so high on your head, it won't work if you have to pin the back pieces halfway up. The goal is for this to look EFFORTLESS. Which it is, really.)

Step 1: Put your hair into a high ponytail at the top of your head and secure with a clear elastic. How tight or loose you make it is up to you—that's what's great about this look, it works both ways. Note: If you want your hair to be super-smooth, spray your brush with a bit of hairspray before you use it to comb back your hair—this will get rid of frizz. If you're going for a looser style, you can probably work the frizz.

Step 2: If you want a more casual style (like Sienna's or Keri's), pull some wispy pieces out at the sides, top or back.

Step 3: Wrap your ponytail around the elastic and secure it in place with bobby pins. Remember: to secure the bobby pins properly, you need to criss-cross them.

[EXTRA STEP FOR KEENERS: If you want a bigger, more voluminous knot, spray your ponytail with a heat-protective texturizer and then curl and tease it before wrapping into a bun shape and pinning.]

Step 4: Once everything's pinned in place, spray liberally with hairspray to set.

Step 5: Look adorable.

What do YOU think of the top knot? Have you tried it? Want to?

PS - I forgot to tell you the name of the lady in the pic at the top, who in fact inspired this entire post. Her name is Kelli Garner and no, I have no idea who she is either.