Ponytails are swingin' again.
That bouncy hairstyle of the '50s and '60s is no longer for bob-by-soxers and Barbie dolls.Hotter than Jennifer Aniston's fringe or Josie Bisset's boy-cut, ponytails began swaying down the runways of Paris and New York in spring previews and were seen again in fall fashion shows on super-models, including Claudia Schif-fer and Kate Moss.
On the big screen, "Twister" star Helen Hunt occasionally sports a casual pony, as does Holly Hunter in "Copycat," while Stephanie Romanov has the bird's-nest style in the new comedy "Spy Hard."
Then turn on the tube, and you'll see Candice Bergen has slicked her tresses into a ponytail for her latest Sprint commercial, and "Grace Under Fire" star Brett Butler pulls her hair out of her eyes with a small pony sometimes referred to as "Pollyanna."
"It's the newest entry in the never-ending cycle of retro fashions, yet it's very modern," said Mary Hickey, artistic consultant for Redken hair products. "And, unlike other styles, it's both innocent and seductive."
Sandra Dee and Audrey Hepburn created wholesome images in the '50s with their short ponytails and bangs, while Barbara Eden's braid-wrapped pony in "I Dream of Jeannie" was saucy by contrast, Hickey said.
By the '60s, ponytails had sex appeal, showing up on screen sirens like Elizabeth Taylor, Ann-Margret and Jane Fonda. Then, as they were almost forgotten in hair heaven, Madonna revived the pony's seductive charm on her 1990 "Blond Ambition" tour.
Stylist-to-the-stars Jimmy Encao says there are several ways to swing this summer and fall.
The ponytail can be worn with a center part, side part or combed straight back. Wisps on the side can soften the look, and a strand of hair wrapped around the band gives it simple elegance.
For that Barbie doll or nightclub look, Encao suggests teasing your hair into a high ponytail and securing it with an elastic. Then twist a small section of your hair into a pin curl to serve as an anchor for an obviously fake hair extension in pink or purple. Blend the colored piece with your own hair and then wrap the new ponytail with a long strand of hair and pin in place with bobby pins that match your natural hair color.
To give the the classic ponytail a '90s look, Redken's spokeswoman suggests smoothing super-straight hair back away from the face with a mixture of Redken's Glass Smoothing Complex and Details Conditioning Styling Complex.
If you've got a "Friends" 'do that's too short for a traditional ponytail, go for the short and spiky style favored by the trend-setting Sebastian International hair product company in Woodland Hills.
"We see the ponytail as tousled, raw and rough, like a bird's nest," said Sebastian's artistic director, Terah Weeks. To achieve it, gather dry hair at the nape of the neck, twist it upward, and then snap on a barrette. "Let it be free wherever it moves and then rough it up with Laminates hair spray on your fingers, twisting and teasing to expose the texture," said Weeks who suggests adding temporary color on the ends, such as amber or deep plum, to enhance the fashion statement.
According to Encao, the low ponytail of the '80s is passe, but there's a new variation that's more wispy on the sides and poufy at the back. Instead of using an elastic, pull it together with a barrette and then give the hair at the top of the barrette a little pull to create a bubble effect. You also can give the tail a slight curl with a curling iron, but don't get carried away with perfection, he stresses. This year, do the pony with abandon.