Can a grown woman wear a hair bow?

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DURING MY CHILDHOOD in the suburbs of Chicago, every day was a day when the bow of hair was shaved. Piano recitals and churches on Sundays were an embellishment, of course, but so were apple picking and football. So, my heart stopped beating when, decades later, as a fashion journalist, I saw the parure of hair parade on the parade Oscar de la Renta Spring 2016, in his the simplest form: black and loosely attached. Since then, hair curls, once the territory of female characters like Hello Kitty, have become a signature for fashionable women like Ariana Grande and Kate Middleton. I tried them eagerly in many forms, feeling festive on Christmas Eve with a jeweled barrette and imagining myself to be the best prepared mother at the time of the preschool collection with a single gros-grain thread that tied my waves.

Not content to let the hair have fun, the evening wear has arches co-opted. I fainted in front of the orange velvet bow accenting Constance Wu's nude Vera Wang dress at the 2019 Golden Globes and marveling at Louis Vuitton's golden sequined bow encircling Emma Stone's neck at the SAG Awards. And in Paris couture parades last month, an exaggerated bow blossoming in the back of a Valentino dress and arches on backpacks figured in Givenchy. Fancy arches adorned several styles at Rodarte's recent Los Angeles parade; one of these knots was shaped into a huge blue pouch.

"Women have their maturity and power right now," said Jennifer Behr, founder and designer of a line of eponymous accessories. Behr, who has a background in sculpture, makes sophisticated hair accessories that often incorporate arches, such as a delicate velvet barrette worn by Christina Hendricks of "Mad Men". The bows of today are dislodging the campground high school associations of the last, Gossip Girl Gas Loop a decade ago: big, daring and perched on a headband. These new-bows are sophisticated, not sweet, and yet welcome relief from the cycle of the new austere: "People want a little fun and fantasy," Ms. Behr said.

Clockwise from the top left: Marc Jacobs Spring 2019; Erdem spring 2019; Top, $ 695, Marc Jacobs, 212-832-3905; Earrings, $ 34,700, Irene Neuwirth, 323-285-2000; Shoes, $ 950, Prada, 212-334-8888

Clockwise from the top left: Marc Jacobs Spring 2019; Erdem spring 2019; Top, $ 695, Marc Jacobs, 212-832-3905; Earrings, $ 34,700, Irene Neuwirth, 323-285-2000; Shoes, $ 950, Prada, 212-334-8888

Photo:

F. Martin Ramin / The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Anne Cardenas (top and shoes)

"I love them from all the bones in my body," said Nell Diamond, founder of the Hill House Home brand. Diamond has been shopping all over Manhattan for ribbons to tie in her hair, from M & J Trimming downtown to the West Village kids' lounge. She prefers a thick ribbon of color contrasting with her brown locks, for example a green or a rose. The 30-year-old girl proudly wears her salute at her most serious business meetings, reversing the cliché of the little girl. "We are in a fashionable place where we do not monitor women in the same way," said Diamond. "The arches represent this freedom to adorn oneself as one wants."

Why we hate them AND EVEN, When Alison Brie got on the red carpet of the SAG Awards a few weeks ago, wearing a Miu Miu black dress with a monstrously big bow at the back, I stepped back. The glittering satin adornment of the actress extended well beyond her shoulders and up her elbows, a bow that had mutated into a pair of wings. Two much smaller bows were hanging on either side of his bodice, serving syrupy cherries on an already too sweet sundae.

I was wondering: have we already reached the point of too many good things from the trend cycle? Jessica Councell, a 30-year-old nurse in Boise, Idaho, went head-on. The occasional bow did not bother last year when she noticed the trend, even if it was not something she would adopt herself. But then, the arches began to aggressively infiltrate into her Instagram feed, bringing back memories of the preppy girls who had seen them in field hockey games at her high school in Washington, DC. Ms. Councell questions the motivations of bowmen: "It feels like you are wearing it to be seen," she said.

There is also the question of context. Bows have their place on a runway or on a red carpet, or in a magazine, said Melissa Thornton, 31, who works in product strategy in Raleigh, North Carolina. For ordinary mortals going to the office on a weekday, not attaching one may not end the atmosphere of Catherine Deneuve, for example, in the 1960s or so. "Most American women do not really succeed," Thornton said. "I know we all want to be – but that's not the case," says Thornton, a native of San Diego who loves fine clothes. "For me," she says, "a bow is always something extra, it's always a bit difficult."

Melissa Ventosa Martin, stylist and fashion director at Departures, suggests sticking to a ribbon of average thickness tied around the waist or surrounding a low pony. "I'm definitely more fanatic [of the] Very simple touch, "said Ms. Ventosa Martin, and he must be black – everything else turns out to be in danger -" It's becoming too dear to me, "she added." Too frilly, too high. "

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Write to Elizabeth Holmes at elizabeth.holmes@wsj.com