Bows beyond hair: Why the viral 'coquette aesthetic' is having a moment

"It's 110% a bow moment," says Katelyn Hart of her Stony Brook store,  Kate's Vintage Rose. A 3-foot-tall bow sits in the window and there are dresses galore punctuated by bows and even bow-printed coffee mugs. Credit: Kate's Vintage Rose

When jewelry designer Lisa Zampolin, the owner of handmade custom jewelry company Love, Lisa in Massapequa was researching incoming trends for inspiration last fall, she saw something unexpected: bows, bows and more bows. Their ubiquitous presence across social media platforms was decidedly a message and to that end, her most recent collection features bows galore. Though she says that in the past her tastes have run towards the less, “girly-girl, the bows make me feel feminine, pretty and put together.”

Jewelry designer Lisa Zampolin, of Love, Lisa in Massapequa did...

Jewelry designer Lisa Zampolin, of Love, Lisa in Massapequa did a deep dive into researching the next hot item for spring and summer and came up with bows. To that end she created stacks of bracelets and necklaces that feature bows prominently.  Credit: Love, Lisa

For sure, she’s not the only one who has gotten the memo. Across the board, retailers and designers in all categories ranging from accessories to ready-to-wear (even wedding gowns) are tying one on in different proportions from dainty to, well, almost shockingly gigantic.

Many, such as Cosmopolitan’s fashion director, Cassie Anderson, believe that the “cultural impact of the Barbie movie,” along with the currently viral "coquette aesthetic" (defined as girlycore with an old English twist) “has brought the bow to the forefront even more.”

TikToker Leah Alba (@leahalba), 22, of Bay Shore says, "I'm definitely in my bow era." Credit: Leah Alba

Bow mania doesn’t surprise 22-year-old Leah Alba, of Bay Shore, one bit. In fact, she’s part of the movement. The avid TikToker (@leahalba) with 34,000 followers, says, “I’m definitely in my bow era. I’m adding bows to everything – my hair, my bags, my jewelry.” She gets great feedback, she says. “People say, ‘I love how you style.' ”

Alba believes the craze was initially powered by way of Hailey Bieber, who is so enmeshed in the trend, that recently she emblazoned a tiny bow tattoo on her wrist. “She started accessorizing with bows, and I think people are paying homage to that ballerina, feminine style by wearing them,” explains Alba. “Years ago, people were leaning into that edgy look and now it’s more about being delicate and light.”

At Katelyn Hart’s Stonybrook Village store, Kate’s Vintage Rose, a 3-foot-tall bow in the window heralds what’s inside. “There are all the bows you could ever want,” says Hart. “It’s 110% a bow moment.” Here find dresses punctuated with bows in the back and at the shoulder, along with hair bows and even bow-printed coffee mugs.

At Katelyn Hart's Stony Brook Village store, Kate's Vintage Rose, it's...

At Katelyn Hart's Stony Brook Village store, Kate's Vintage Rose, it's bow heaven heralded by a three-foot-tall bow in the window, dresses galore punctuated by bows and even bow printed coffee mugs. Credit: Kate's Vintage Rose

Hart believes “everyone is looking into the past and bows are a timeless, classic look. People are looking into their closet for something makes them happy, and it’s hard not to be happy when there’s a joyous bow on something.”

Beyond the trendiness, bows offer the feeling of “comfort,” suggests Marcia Gaffner, the manager of Lonny’s Wardrobe boutique in Elwood. “Things are so up in the air these days that you want to be thinking about those good memories – things from when you were little.”

Gaffner has stocked loads of bow-centric jewelry from Zampolin’s collection, and prefers reined-in styles such as “a bow on a shoe or in the hair,” she says, pointing to the bow that "Today Show" anchor Savannah Guthrie recently wore in her coif. “I don’t like big statements like bows that smack you in the face. For me, it’s not about being frilly, it’s just a touch of femininity.”

Left: Go big or go home with this sci-fi sized...

Left: Go big or go home with this sci-fi sized bathing suit top, sure to get noticed, $98 at Urban Outfitter stores. Center: Present yourself in this r-e-a-l-l-y big organza bow topping this strapless bandeau top, $325 at Cynthia Rowley stores. Right: In case you’re worried that the bow trend won’t last, apparently it will, at least according to LoveShackFancy designer Rebecca Hessel-Cohen whose collection for fall at New York Fashion Week last month was bursting with bows. Credit: Cynthia Rowley, Urban Outfitters, Matt Borkowski

But others like Anderson, beg to differ.

“The bigger the bow, the better,” she says. “I think there’s something so fun and playful about accessorizing with an oversized bow, whether in your hair or on a piece of clothing.” In other words, go ahead and put a bow on it.

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