Quick: Name three things that are quintessentially French. In addition to croissants and berets, we hereby move that the classic chignon hairstyle should make the list. Not only is the chignon synonymous with elegance, it’s also surprisingly easy—after all, it’s really a hairstyle you’re already quite familiar with. “Quite literally it means ‘bun’ in French,” explains celebrity hairstylist Clariss Rubenstein. But “chignon” and “bun” aren’t exactly interchangeable; we’re here to explain just what the chignon bun is, along with Rubenstein’s expert insight. Plus, get a step-by-step tutorial, and keep scrolling for some stunning red carpet looks worth copying.
About the Expert:
“Traditionally a chignon is worn low near the nape of the neck, and contains the majority or all of the hair,” explains Rubenstein. It may translate to “bun,” but a chignon “does not have to be a classic-style bun—[i.e.] wrapped around itself—but can be tucked under or twisted in a simple style,” according to the hairstylist. Lastly, the style is “worn as a single bun, never in multiples,” says Rubenstein. (In other words, don’t expect to see “space chignons” anytime soon.)
The chignon’s origins may be French, it’s strikingly universal. “If your hair is long enough to be pulled back and tucked or wrapped into a bun, you can wear a chignon,” says Rubenstein. But don’t worry if you don’t have long hair, says the stylist: “If you need more length, temporary extensions or even a clin-in bun work well.” The style can also be worn by all hair types. “Absolutely all hair textures can wear a chignon,” states Rubenstein.
Megan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, often opts for some form of this hairstyle, and her slightly messy bun (in a good way) is perfection. We love how she keeps the look from being overly simplistic by styling it with a pretty side tendril and volume at the crown.
Leave it to Zendaya to pair two timeless styles—finger waves and a low chignon—and make them seem modern and fresh. Feel free to pin her look to your “Wedding Hairstyles” Pinterest board (we already have!)
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As Rubenstein stated, not all chignons have to be classic buns to be called chignons—and this fanned-out style on Lily Aldridge is a perfect example. Chignons also tend to look fantastic with hair accessories, and Alridge’s gold hair piece is a gorgeous finishing touch.
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