Barrettes, combs, clasps: Hair accessories

I have been asked, what about hair accessories?

Few accessories look more juvenile on a woman of 50+ than the hard plastic headband. (Hillary Clinton looks like she is about to wash her face in this '08 New York Magazine shot.) I've castigated this item before, and recognize that perfectly wonderful women wear them. If you must wear yours to practice your cello, all right. So, I'd better ante up and provide some alternatives.

I suspect the reason why I see so many women in little-girl headbands and bitsy barrettes is that chic hair accessories are hard to find.

You can go two routes: the decorative, or the discreet.


Decorative hair accessories should be considered jewelry; if you'd wear it on your dress, wear it in your hair. You will have to tolerate plastic on most pieces, either in the mechanism or visible surface, but there are some attractive models nethertheless.

Vintage Kimono hair clip, $20, Takishimaya. Made of vintage kimono fabric, 5 inches long.

Plissé bow barrette of Italian leather, in black, cognac, dark blue or coral, $65 from Dominique Duval.

Jaw clips can rise above the plastic look. This leather-covered version comes in six colours; shown, teal, $55 for the Rustic Leather clip, from Dominique Duval.

For a more polished look than a coated elastic, with enough room for thick hair, France Luxe's Volume Ponytail Barrette in camel horn. Price, $24.

L. Ericksen's Makeover Pinch is a long (5 1/2 inch) clip for twist-back styles, and I like the nacré onyx finish, $40 from France Luxe.

For thick,
voluminous hair, this France Luxe Rectangle Volume Barrette, called Voltaire. At nearly 4 inches long, it will hold a low ponytail in place; shown in the summery Voltaire Green colourway; price, $21.


Blue Heron Woods make beautiful hair accessories in exotic woods. All pieces are handmade, so your order might take several weeks to produce.

Shown above, Large East Indian Rosewood Barrette, $21. Measures 3 3/4 inches long, a pract
ical size.

Blue Heron's curved mahogony and turquoise hair stick is a graceful option for a twist or up-do; $19.

France Luxe's Sexy Oval is just that, 2 1/2 by 1 1/4 inches, for holding back a smaller amount of hair just so. Comes in nine different finishes, shown , the vibrant Tokyo, $16 from
France Luxe.

This vintage (ca. 1959) black French barrette, price, $18.95 from Accessories of Old, is like nothing I've seen made today. And it's still on its original card.

Like a littl
e twist with your classic?

The France Lu
xe Triple Row Stud Volume Barrette adds pyramid studs for an edgy dimension; price, $98. Available in black and two torty finishes, shown, Tokyo.

I like this so much I might grow my hair!


Rubiatonta said…
The one thing I miss since I cut my hair to a bob is my "hair toys" (I've still got oodles of them, just in case I change my mind...)

Now when my hair needs taming, it's either tied back in a scarf or under a fabric covered headband (nothing too girly or "Muffy," natch).

BTW, it's also more elegant to let a strand or two "escape" when pulling one's hair up or back. It certainly helps avoid the look Ms. Clinton is sporting in that photo!
Frugal Scholar said…
I've been seeing a lot of post-50 women wearing wrapped scarves--can't think of the term. Look at the Garnet Hill catalog to see what I mean. Anyway, what do you think of this look?

These are the same women wearing capri leggings with tunics. And since I've started wearing capri leggings with tunics, I might try--if I can figure out how to do the scarves. But I wouldn't do it without checking with you first!

P.S. I am so in love with Hillary. Note that the general who dissed the entire administration only had good things to say about Hillary.
Duchesse said…
Rubiatonta: Good idea to hold on as they are so expensive to replace. Yes, a few loose locks change the effect to much more relaxed.

Frugal: To me, more a hat substitute or way to wear a scarf than a serious implement to hold hair up/back. I wonder- tight enough would not be comfortable, loose will slip. Not sure I could stand it all day. The models look pretty in these ethnic-influenced wraps.
LPC said…
I'm still wearing Scrunchies. We all have to cling to at least one fashion faux pas, no?
My hair isn't quite long enough for my "hair toys" either (mostly bought on trips to France decades ago) and they don't solve the problem of getting hair out of your face when gardening, doing outdoor activities etc. I have some soft fabric headbands (broad and gathered across the head; elastic encased in the same fabric at nape of neck). Usually they are in so-called "ethnic" fabrics, whether Guatemalan, Nepali, African, Javanese etc. Not really corporate or political-heavy work-worthy, but much prettier in a casual way than those ghastly Alice bands Hillary wore - fortunately she seems to have abandoned them of late, along with some of the garish colours she wore campaigning - I think she looks great now, overall (unlike poor Angela Merkel who is a good ten years younger; perhaps it is the responsibilities of high office, but Ms Merkel looks rather crumpled).
I bought some scrunchies which I plan to wear as soon as my hair is long enough...
....funny thing I had a skinny crystal clip in my hair yesterday to keep my hair out of my face...stacking hundreds of textbooks in a book room and it is hot work!
Deja Pseu said…
My hair has always been too thin to hold anything but the smallest barettes. These are lovely!

I've resorted to wearing a scarf folded into a band and tied at the nape of the neck on my "on-my-way-to-the-salon" days. But I consider that a desparate measure.
Duchesse said…
LPC: Maybe your scrunchie looks cute with your penny loafers?

lagatta: It's those hard headbands I'm trying to purge, especially the velvet ones.

hostess: Clips are useful even for short hair, aren't they! I sometimes use one for yoga.

Pseu: Scarf in hair is more like a hat; I like them on even fabulous hair days.
metscan said…
Now I don´t understand your reply to LPC, was it a joke or what. Scrunchies, called doughnuts over here, are my everyday hair accessories. I don´t own penny loafers.
Duchesse said…
metscan: it is a small joke with a reference to LPC's self-identification as a Sturdy Gal.
tiffany said…
Wow, these are lovely. I actually decided a couple of months ago to grow my hair for a while, and you've given me extra incentive!
Nancy K said…
There is nothing I hate more than little barrettes on grown women. Those that you've found are a definite improvement.
Nemia said…
Do you know Ficcare? They make some horribly kitschy stuff, but also very stylish, high-quality hair clips.
Duchesse said…
Nemia: Thanks for giving us another source.
Mermaid Capsule said…
This comment has been removed by the author.

The posts with the most