Ponytails may just be the easiest hairstyle around, with the style's history providing us with plenty of inspiration for switching up the look, from Brigitte Bardot’s bouffant version, to Ali MacGraw’s pared-down style with a slick center part, to Jennifer Lopez’s loose, wavy tail. Messy summer ponies have recently made the transition to sleek, low-slung versions for the fall, like Cobie Smulders’s grown-up, minimalist ’do (above). No matter your hair type or face shape, it’s surprisingly easy to master the look. Just follow this insider advice from Executive Editor Amy Synnott.
1. Why we love it: It's sophisticated
Unlike, say, the Baby Spice pony that bopped around in the ’90s, this polished look, as seen on Cobie Smulders, has a grown-up, minimalist vibe. Do a sharp low side-part and you have a seriously boss hairstyle.
2. Why we love it: It's low maintenance
Nothing should come between you and your Fitbit—especially not a blowout. Slip your hair into a chic low pony, like that seen on Cate Blanchett, and no one will be able to tell you’ve already walked six miles before work.
3. Why we love it: It can be fine-tuned to any face shape
This low rider pulls the eye down, so it’s naturally slimming on round faces, like Olivia Palermo’s. If you have a long face, create the illusion of width by adding texture; pull layers out near the front, and holding an iron vertically, curl them outward.
4. If you have thin hair ...
To copy this look, seen at Alberta Ferretti:
1. Gather hair loosely at the nape. Secure the pony with an elastic while keeping a 1-inch section of hair free.
2. Wrap the loose part around the elastic. Secure the ends with a bobby pin.
3. Give your banana a slight curve. Run a flatiron, like FHI Heat Runway styling iron ($600; fhiheat.com) down the length of the pony, bending gently under at the ends.
5. If you have thick hair ...
Work with your natural texture for a full ponytail like that seen at Derek Lam: 1. Slick hair back. If your hairline is frizzy, spritz it with serum, then brush away from your face, securing hair at the nape with an elastic. 2. Fan the crown of your pineapple. Tease the bottom layer of hair, smooth the top with a brush, and give it a bump from mid-shafts to ends with a curling iron. We use T3's BodyWaver 1.75” styling iron ($149; sephora.com).
6. Our Secret Trick
Winding hair around the elastic? Truth is, it's hard to do it yourself. So, ladies, we are here to say, there is no shame in employing the Tonytail ($8; ulta.com). The key is finding the right shade then mussing it up with dry shampoo—this snuffs the Barbie gleam right out of those nylon fibers so they look more like real hair.