There are certain people in the world who naturally possess the done-undone texture we long for—the Olsens would be one (or rather, two), and Free People models would be another. Flip through any FP catalogue and you’ll be hit by a sudden wave of hair envy—an envy that might cause you to do strange things in the eyes of others, like immediately purchase a can of Oribe’s Texturizing Spray ($42) and spray it vehemently into your hair, screaming, “COME OUT, WAVES, I KNOW YOU’RE HIDING THERE SOMEWHERE!” (To which we say—spray on, girl. Spray on.)
Thus, when we got a chance to pick the brain of hairstylist Thomas Hintermeier, the man behind the so-chic-it-hurts topknots in Free People’s July catalogue, we grabbed our (clear, no-crease) hair elastics and gave him our full attention. Because, trust us, mastering the perfect messy topknot is harder than you might think. Too polished, and you look like a prima donna past her prime. Too messy, and you look like you woke up like that—and not in an attractive, Beyoncé-like way. Lucky for you, you’ll now be able to find the perfect balance between the two—keep scrolling for Hintermeier’s tips!
The 6 Rules of the Messy Topknot
1. Don’t go overboard: Some messy topknots might look so intricate, you’ll be tempted to buy all sorts of hair tools to help you re-create the look at home—don’t. “A hair band and some pins are all that you need,” Hintermeier says. After all, the beauty of the topknot is in its simplicity, so don’t go about trying to make it too fancy (we think Iggy Azalea would agree).
2. Skip the hairbrush: Rule #2? Put down the hairbrush. When it comes to topknots, your fingers are your best tool, according to Hintermeier. Use them to brush your strands into a high pony and hold into place—they’ll give you more volume and texture at the crown.
3. Get dirty: Channel ‘90s Christina and get dirty with your topknot—no clean strands allowed. “It always looks best if the hair isn’t freshly clean,” Hintermeier says. “Aim to wash it the evening before and sleep in it—this will give you a nice texture to work with. Or, just keep it dirty!” Skipping a shampoo? No need to tell us twice…
4. Tousle and tease: To really get the messy texture you want, Hintermeier suggests tousling your strands before pulling them up. You can use a texturizing spray, like Oribe’s version or Shu Uemura’s Texture Wave Dry Finishing Spray ($38)—just spritz and scrunch. Editor tip: A dry shampoo (we love Klorane’s Dry Shampoo ($20)) will add great grip and texture, too.
5. Consider the height: You might be tempted to really go for it and place the topknot super high on your head, but Hintermeier warns us to avoid this, lest you end up looking like a Who (or worse, one of those naked troll dolls). You should be able to see your topknot when looking in the mirror, but it should still be at the highest point of the back of your head.
6. Twist, then pin: The last part is both the easiest, and most difficult. After you have your hair gathered, just twist it around and secure at the base with an elastic. Feel free to fluff out a few strands, and spray once again with texture spray, if needed. Then, grab your hair pins and clean up any too-wild strands. You can gently pull the topknot away from your head to give it a messier look, as well as pull out some strands near your crown to add more volume. Then, feel free to sit back and snap a selfie.
Keep scrolling for all the topknot inspo you could want, straight from Free People’s July catalog!