2023's bow obsession started slowly. It began, as most things do now, on TikTok. After a few years of mini bows being prominently featured on pointelle camis, they started migrating to our hair—think: a loose ribbon was tied on the end of a braid or a Samatha Parkington-worthy barrette pinned into a bun. Next, bows came for our accessories tied onto over-ear headphones or purse handles. Satin ribbons replaced cord chokers. Brands eventually took notice, incorporating bow designs into jewelry, like Sandy Liang's constantly sold-out ballerina earrings.
Finally, bows came for our clothes, and this past Fashion Month, our beauty routines, too. At this point, it's official: We're in our bow era.
It's easy to understand why the motif has taken over our collective consciousness. Besides the soft-goth revival, the past two years have overwhelmingly been defined by an embrace of hyper-femininity fashion-wise. It started during the pandemic with the emergence of cottagecore, followed by the dominance of last year's dainty balletcore aesthetic. For 2023, things are only getting even girlier—almost cartoonishly so—with the popularity of "coquette" style and the idea of "healing our inner child" through clothes.
This concept is something Sandy Liang, one of the early bow adopters, has been infusing into her collections since she debuted. Liang has always drawn from childhood icons like Polly Pocket and Disney princesses, and her fall collection at New York Fashion Week was filled with Sailor Moon-inspired bows (including a cascade of mini bows down two models' hair). Her most recent spring collection features bows in multiple forms: tied onto skirts and corsets, pattern-printed onto silky button-downs, and on satin hair accessories that decorate the ponies and braids of the coolest girls in NYC.
Liang isn't the only designer embracing the trend. Bows popped up in collections from designers big and small, like Carolina Herrera, Khaite, Coach, and Saint Sintra. Simone Rocha, who has never met a bow she didn't like, took it to the next level sending models down the runway with bows stuck to their faces, either right above or below their eyes, for a ribbon-tear effect.
But the trend has legs way beyond the runway. Girlies on TikTok have been making bows an integral part of their "girly goth" looks since last summer, and fast fashion and smaller labels have also embraced the look with open arms. Brands like Motel and Urban Outfitters have added bow details to staple pieces like blazers and cut-out tops, while indie brand Bye Bambi has dreamed up a darling pink bow print for its ultra-mini mini skirt.
Wildflower Cases jumped on the bow train with their ballet slipper cases, and I'm putting money on Susan Alexandra's beaded bow necklace being the accessory of the spring. I've seen more than a few bow manicures pop up on my feeds, and it's only a matter of time until it's the next big nail trend.
Celebrities are starting to get the memo, too. Blackpink's Jennie has made bows a staple of her tour, wearing a bow-bedecked pony to the Chanel show in Paris. Chloë Sevigny and Kiernan Shipka, who have always favored girly dressing, recently wore gigantic bows—on a fur coat and hair accessory, respectively. Even Hailey Bieber, the queen of minimal "clean girl" style, tried a girly hair bow look on for size.
There are truly countless ways to get in on the trend. The best part? You don't have to buy anything to do so (though if you're in the market, try some of our faves below). Simply tie a ribbon around.... anything, really. Your hair is a sure bet, but be creative and try your neck, wrist, ankle, or purse. Make like Georgia May Jagger and slip a bow around a bobby pin, and plop one on each side of your head. Keep your ribbon long and limp for a more laid-back "ballerina sleaze" look, or keep it big and prim for a dollycore vibe.
As this trend is proof, bows are more versatile than their girlish reputation would have you believe. They can be prissy, elegant, coquette-ish, or goth—it's up to you to decide. Consider this spring your excuse to tie one on and get in on the bow trend in style.