’90s Barrettes and Novelty Clips Are Most Definitely Back—Here’s How to Wear Them in 2019

Photo: Stocksy/Treasures & Travels
Mark my words: 2019 is going to be the year of maximalism when it comes to personal expression. Fashion is embracing what I've been screaming for forever: "More is more!" By my count, credit for this shift should really go to Alessandro Michele's eclectic and sensory overladen direction of Gucci. His over-the-top aesthetic is permeating popular culture and bleeding into all facets of fashion—the latest being hair accessories.

The clips, claws, and barrettes making an appearance truly everywhere (high fashion, fast fashion, street style, you name it) are essentially the same ones that once dominated the aisles of Claire's mall shops in the '90s. While these hair accessories do have a utilitarian function—keeping your hair out of your face—it's less about that and more about the way they look like jewelry for your strands. The only real question is not whether or not to wear them, but rather, how do I actually make these look chic and grownup and not like I got ready in my eighth-grade bedroom?

In my mission to make this work, I spoke to two bonafide experts: Justine Marjan, celebrity hairstylist and the designer behind some of the Kitsch hair accessories you've seen all over Instagram, and Christine Thompson, the co-founder of cult favorite hair salon Spoke & Weal, which has locations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Nashville, and more cities here in the states.

Marjan describes the clips and barrettes that are making a comeback as having "lots of pins, pearls, headbands, ribbons, thread, butterflies, rhinestones, crystals, and snap clips," adding, "it’s really an everything goes mix and match kind of moment right now!" With that in mind, this is what you need to know about pulling off the nostalgic look.

90s hair clips trend
Photo: Getty Images/ Christian Vierig

scale down what you see on the runway

What you see on the runway is not usually a realistic representation of how that trend, or even that piece, will be worn IRL. With that in mind, Thompson says that when adopting a hair look, dilute it. "If the runway look shows 20 hair clips use 1 or 3. If the runway look shows an oversized bow or accessory, go for something in a less dramatic proportion."

Use a clip that's fitting for your hair texture and volume

Putting a barrette, or really a hair accessory of any sort, into my curls is a frightful thought for me. All I imagine is them becoming unfixably tangled and mangled. Marjan says that the solution is, in fact, to "make sure to use high-quality accessories that won’t snag or get caught in the hair" and to "try spraying the back of the pin with Tresemme Micro Mist hairspray before placing in the hair so that it won’t slip or slide."

Once you've gotten your accessory curl-ready, Thompson advises: "If you have a ton of curls and volume, make sure your accessory is big enough to show clearly. A small clip can get lost but a bigger piece cleaning set for 1/2 up look or on one side will show off your hair and the look."

Working with straight hair? Thompson says to keep '90s styling at the forefront of your mind. Use multiples of the same small or medium-sized clip "placing it on one side only back-to-back—close together so it almost looks like one larger accessory—or on opposite sides of the head." Another idea for straighter textures is to "center part your hair and clip both sides mid-way between the ear," Thompson advises. And if you're keeping things really minimal with barely-there bobby pins, she suggests that you "use several in a row as one will get lost and typically not hold the hair in place if that’s the goal." Finally, she says, keep in mind that "the top of the clip should show cleanly."

keep the hair styling simple

"Try not to do too much styling with your hair if you will be adding accessories," Marjan says. Half of the fun of these accessories is that they do the leg work for you, "they look best when they are the star and the rest of the hair is subdued. Try a sleek low bun with a few pins towards the back of the head, a sleek middle part with one by each ear, or tuck one side behind your ear" she says.

When using more than one accessory stick to a theme or palette

If you are going to use multiple clips a great way to do this is using the same piece in a small or medium size and placing it on one side only back-to-back (close together so it almost looks like 1 larger accessory)  or on opposite sides of the head—think '90s and center part your hair, then clip both sides mid-way between the ear and the forehead for the heart of that look.

Two more hair accessories from your childhood making a comeback: scrunchies and banana clips.

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