The Messy Ponytail Is More Popular Than Ever—Here Are Our Favorite Looks

Updated 04/22/19

In the past, messy ponytails have gotten a bad rap, unfairly associated with greasy day-four hair or the ever-so-obvious "I slept through my alarm." Hey, it happens to the best of us. However, if executed creatively, they have the potential to look seriously chic, as our favorite celebrities have shown us lately. Plus, what better time to rock a messy ponytail than the onset of summer? We decided to do the work for you and found 15 of the most covetable messy ponytails we've seen on the red carpet.

Keep scrolling for the best celebrity-inspired looks. 

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Take It Low

For stunning juxtaposition, actress Shailene Woodley arrived on last year's Emmys red carpet with a messy, low-swept ponytail in contrast to her emerald green gown. The consensus: gorgeous.

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Create Some Volume

When it comes to creating the ultimate messy ponytail, volume will be your best friend. However, since not all of us are naturally gifted with long, fairytale-esque tresses, it can be fun to experiment with extensions to pump up your ponytail. (Here are the extension brands celebrity hairstylists love best.)

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Pile It High

Model Joan Smalls's messy ponytail is all about the positioning. Here, megawatt height meets face-framing tendrils and cascading ringlets.

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Braid-Inspired

The quintessential hybrid between ponytail and braid, actress Jessica Chastain's messy ponytail is loosely pulled back with subtle twists and tucks for a chic, slightly undone take on the typical tail.

olivia munn
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Not-So-Sleek

Oliva Munn's short ponytail isn't super messy, per se, but some wayward tendrils in front of her ears and a slightly tousled texture on the scalp counteract the primness of slicked and sleek ponytails.

jamie chung
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Curls on Curls

To add some polish to a messy ponytail, texture can be key. Jamie Chung's pulled-back curls epitomize the style.

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Tie a Bow

Deep side part: check. Effortless beachy texture: check. Pretty velveteen hair ribbon: double check. The singer, actress, and dancer proves that even a messy ponytail can look 100% at home on the red carpet.

chanel iman
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Try Some Pins

To keep the focus on her showstopping cat eye and burgundy-hued shadow, model Chanel Iman casually pinned back flyaways into a not-too-perfect high ponytail with cascading waves.

shay mitchell
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Face-Frame

Actress Shay Mitchell knows a thing or two about a gorgeous ponytail (she's made them a red carpet staple.) Waves, body at the crown, and strategic face framing add a touch of chaos to her otherwise elegant ponytail.

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Add a Hat

If you still have some bend and body from a two- or four-day-old blowout, don't let it be all for naught. Instead, do like model Jasmine Tookes and wear a wide-brim hat atop a low messy ponytail. A few neglected wisps play accent to make it extra romantic.

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Hang Low

We love how Priyanka's ultra-low ponytail gives off an is-she-or-isn't-she-wearing-a-ponytail vibe. (For the record, we're actually not sure, but we love the looks for a messy ponytail regardless.)

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Weave In an Accessory

Half-braid, half-ponytail, Blake Lively updated the aesthetic of her go-to messy ponytail style at the premiere of A Quiet Place. The key: a metallic black ribbon woven haphazardly through her tresses.

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With Bangs

Halle Berry has been giving us all the hair envy lately, and this look is no exception. Piece-y fringe and a perfectly imperfect pull-back make this ponytail cool and not overly crisp. 

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Crimped Texture

Instead of opting for her usual sleek, super-straight texture, Olivia Culp wears her messy ponytail with a romantic undertone thanks to big waves ever-so-slightly reminiscent of our '90s crimping infatuation.

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Yep, actress Saoirse Ronan just proved you can rock a messy ponytail even if you have fine texture and shorter length. To keep her tale fresh, she wears not one, not two, but three hair ties interspersed evenly down the tail. ■

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