2022 was, without a doubt, the year of the Apple Airpod Max. Thanks to accounts like @wireditgirls and Y2K nostalgia coming to a head, sleek earbuds were swapped out for chunky over-ear headphones like the aforementioned Apple or Porta Pro options. Celebrities and influencers, including Bella Hadid, Matilda Djerf, and Emma Chamberlain, traded their it-bags for headphones to add a laid-back, "who-me?" effect to their outfits, making them the most sought-out accessory of the year.
Considering we're in the era of more is more, it only makes sense that we would start accessorizing our accessories—or tech-cessories, that is. Last year, every influencer’s iPhone had a dangly beaded strap from String Ting hanging from it, perhaps as an ode to the phone charms many of us coveted in middle school.
Cute phone cases that are as fashionable as they are protective are more common than not, and we’ve even seen embellished AirPod cases pop up as replacements for the classic white color. Given the popularity of over-ear headphones, it only makes sense that "headphone flair"—decking out our over-ears with charms, gems, and cases—is the latest tech trend to take over.
Like any recent trend, the origins of headphone flair can be traced back to TikTok. Videos of creators sprucing up their headphones with various DIY techniques have quickly gone viral. Of course, the simplest way to hop on the trend is by decorating your Airpod Maxes with stickers—go with just a few or do a full-on collage over your speakers. The choice is yours.
You can also go the bedazzling route by covering your headphones with little gemstones, just as you would have your Blackberry back in the day. If you try out either of these methods, though, it’s best to purchase a clear headphone case to decorate instead of sticking your embellishments directly to the ear covers.
If you’re looking for a bit more of a challenge, some creators have crocheted covers or even embroidered netting on their AirPod Maxes. Others have embraced bowcore by coquette-ifying their headphones. Simply tie a sweet little ribbon around your headphones, and you'll have the perfect addition to a ballet-inspired look.
Brands have also gotten in on the action. After the success of their signature phone cases, Wildflower has expanded to include matching AirPod Max cases in a range of prints like ditsy florals, sweet strawberries, and moody auras. Praying released limited-edition fabric headphone covers inspired by doilies, and Shop Solani's velcro headphone charms sell out whenever they're restocked. Moreover, Etsy shops specializing in embellished headphone covers have been popping up daily.
Personally, this trend brings me back to the days of covering my flip phone and portable CD player in glittery Lisa Frank stickers and gemstones. As with every current trend, headphone flair is just the 2023 version of the y2k styles that came before them. Perhaps it’s nostalgia that's made the trend go viral, or it’s just our need to stand out in the crowd. Whatever it may be, it's not going anywhere.