When I was in high school, I had a Gossip Girl–themed Sweet 16. I find this hilarious for multiple reasons, but particularly because I insisted the DJ remix Kristen Bell’s voiceover of “xoxo, Gossip Girl” into multiple songs throughout the night. Every detail was meticulously planned down to the outfit: I wanted to channel Serena. But when my best friend suggested maybe I was more like Blair, in my affinity for ruffles and type-A neuroses, I’ll never forget what I said in return: “Are you kidding me? I would never wear a headband.”
Ten years later I have bought multiple padded velvet headbands within the span of a couple of weeks. I can say with confidence they’re absolutely the kind Blair Waldorf would’ve approved of. And while there really isn’t anything new about the headbands I’m currently obsessed with, my perception of them has completely shifted, and it appears everyone else’s has too. Headbands are no longer solely a symbol of preppy dressing and Queen B–ruled adolescence, thanks in large part to Prada.
For the label’s spring 2019 show, designer Miuccia Prada sent models down the runway who exuded a different kind of femininity—one that was girlish but also kind of dark, which was defined by the hair accessories they wore. The padded headbands (in every color from blush pink to bright yellow) were seen with each look, paired with leather dresses worn with sheer socks and baby-doll dresses styled over boy shorts. They really felt more renegade than prep-school mean girl.
After seeing the images constantly online, I wanted nothing more than to emanate this strong, Prada-girl energy. Unfortunately, the vibe doesn’t come cheap: A simple Prada satin headband costs $240, while an embellished one will run you anywhere from $970 to $1,100.
My search for padded velvet headbands quickly led me to DesignByHummingbird, an Etsy shop run out of York, England, with 274 five-star reviews and 10 pages of what I imagine headband dreams are made of. I immediately ordered a plain black one for $27 and an embellished one (reminiscent of the studded Prada design) for $58.