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Bow, Wow, Wow! How Ribbons Became the Biggest Accessory of the Year

fashion beauty runway bow, wow, wow! how ribbons became the biggest accessory of the year
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It was the most surprising accessory of 2023. And now that the year is coming to a close, it’s time to explore the many stylish options offered by the pretty bow. Because it will still be an important part of the fashion lexicon in 2024. In your hair and on the canapé table. We’ll explain.

It’s all about a bow obsession. For good or bad. At least it’s nice to look at. Ribbon mania is just one of the many facets of the coquette trend, which is playful, whimsical, and includes something very close to childlike motifs, such as bows, gingham print, heart shapes and soft pastels. Think of it like the natural progression of Barbiecore. But more pastel and flirtatious. If that’s at all possible. 

Make It Quiet Luxury, But Make It Pretty 

In a year dominated by a drastic lowering of the tone of the maximalist mindset, down to a quasi murmur— gone is the cacophony of mixed prints and the loud clashing of colours: Turquoise! Lime! Shocking pink! — we ushered in the quiet luxury mode like kid ballerinas tiptoeing on plush, thick, camel carpeting. 

By contrast to this (somewhat) stark minimalism, ribbons started showing up en masse. An act of poetic rebellion to conformity with something simple but ultra-pretty. 

And, so, pretty bows and ribbons officially made their debut to coincide with the newfound focus on ultra femininity, with balletcore and the coquette aesthetic merrily making waves into our closets and the fashion collective, mainly via TikTok to come out IRL, later. 

The rise of ultra-femininity might also be a way of negotiating the endlessly awful and scary world we now live in and that has morphed into a darker sense of humour. 

Maybe that’s the reason designers and fashion trailblazers are making it a point to create clothing and accessories of extreme irony, at the moment. When the going gets tough, the humour gets louder. We’ll get back to this in a future article. But for the time being, let’s focus on the prettiness of bows and ribbons, which are currently adorning everything from vintage jeans to baked goods. Yes, a croissant can be made to look even more French with the addition of pastel-coloured ribbons, à la Marie Antoinette. Pourquoi pas?!

fashion beauty runway bow, wow, wow! how ribbons became the biggest accessory of the year 2

Bows Are Big Business

According to The Cut, anything that has a bow or ribbon stuck to it has been selling at a premium during the last year. At resale website The Real Real, the platform’s average selling price for vintage items with bows in 2023 is 16 percent higher than for vintage without bows. 

Irish designer Simone Rocha, known for her ultra-feminine signature, has been a defining influence in showcasing ribbons in everything from jewelry to makeup. For her fall/winter 2023 runway presentation, small bows, using colours and textures taken directly from the collection were applied to model’s faces. It’s fresh! It’s feminine! 

Rocha has also been busy affixing bows to stud earrings. The brand’s ribbon studs are $90 more expensive than the simple earring, sans bows. At Miu Miu, we have a $650 white cotton T-shirt. The price for almost the same shirt with a black bow around the neck jumps to $950. Go figure. 

fashion beauty runway bow, wow, wow! how ribbons became the biggest accessory of the year 3

Bows for the Home

The trend has legs way beyond the runway. Girls on TikTok have been making bows an integral part of their “girly goth” looks since last summer, while the coquette aesthetic has been a huge hit with Gen Z driving a penchant for decorating and feminizing food items with accoutrements like pink bows or ribbons. And we’re not even talking about a girl dinner, here. Fear no failure. Popcorn, a glass of wine, some bread, some cheese and a hunk of chocolate can constitute a — sometimes artfully arranged — dinner plate for one. 

From cocktails to the living room, oversized bows shouldn’t scare anybody. They have been a staple for decades that can be played up or down, depending on the mood: size, material, finish, colour and number of ribbons. Think superlative. Like singer Sia, who’s created a signature look with her big hair bows and oversized ribbons. It’s certainly something easy to glam up your decor. And the bigger the better, especially during this time of the year. Take a bow to the New Year! 

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