Scrunchies and claw clips are back — here’s how to wear those ’90s hair accessories

Four velvet hair scrunchies against a white background.
Four velvet hair scrunchies against a white background. File

Like all decades, the 1990s brought cultural elements that made their mark. “Titanic,” the movie; TV shows such as “Friends” and “Sex and the City;” grunge and gangster rap; the Harry Potter books — they all entered into the national consciousness in the ’90s.

And while some trends from the decade have died off for now — skorts, anyone? — others are making a comeback. Hair accessories such as scrunchies, zig-zag headbands, and big claw clips that were hugely popular in the ’90s have made their reappearance.

Claw clips appeared at the 2018 Alexander Wang autumn/winter fashion show. Supermodel Gigi Hadid rocked the zig-zag headband on the catwalk last year. Kim Kardashian West has pulled out the thick, stretchy headband that was so popular for so long.

In Kansas City, Hilary Embry, owner of the Halcyon Studio salon in the Crossroads Arts District, has also watched her own collection of childhood scrunchies become cool again. Major brands such as Urban Outfitters and American Apparel have brought back the beloved scrunchies, as well as snap-clip barrettes.

“I was a competitive gymnast for all my childhood, and you had your leotards with matching scrunchies,” she says. “My parents were moving, and my mom wanted to get rid of all the little things she had in the house from my childhood. She was like, ‘Do you want all these?’ I won’t take the leotards, but yes, I want the scrunchies.”

Embry says she first started seeing some of the ’90s hair accessories making a comeback this summer. Women were coming in asking for feather extensions once again (Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler was an early adopter of the style). Others were coming in for hair cuts with their hair in topknots wrapped in scrunchies.

“I think they’re more toned down now,” Embry says. “The scrunchies in my day were multicolored and big and poofy, and now it’s like a really simple, single color you can wear with jeans and a T-shirt. We’ll see how they evolve. Because I think the first time around, it was younger people, like teenagers doing it. Now you see these accessories in people a little older.”

Hair is often cyclical, much like fashion. And we’re coming out of a phase where the trend for hair was simple, simple, simple.

Straight and sleek has been trending for a while. So has natural-looking hair with grown-out color and waves. You can still maintain those looks while adding a little boost from an accessory or two.

“I think it was just time,” Embry says. “I remember as a kid I wore bell-bottoms and people who were older than me were like, ‘What are you doing? We’ve been there; we’ve already done that.’ I think it’s just the way trends cycle. We went back into the ’80s hair for a while and people were crimping their hair and stuff like that. Now it’s back to the ’90s.”

A return to sleekness and simplicity is likely. But for now, adding color or sparkle via a ’90s-style headband, clip or scrunchie is trending.

They are the perfect way to have fun with your hairstyle, without making a drastic change.

“If you’re not going to change your hair color,” Embry says, “the only way to really make it more fun is with accessories... It’s time for people to get crazy with their hair again.”