During her royal tour of New Zealand this month, Catherine, duchess of Cambridge, stepped out in a sharply tailored, custom Alexander McQueen coat and a perfect ponytail. Smoothly volumized, with a wide lock of hair wrapped around the band, Middleton's pony looked relaxed yet royally polished.
Kate's 'do garnered raves on fashion and style blogs, showing she's not alone in appreciating the dependable hairstyle that works day and night, rain or shine. More than a fast solution on bad hair days, it's an instant styling trick — the ponytail's effortless, devil-may-care attitude balances the formality of structured suiting, dazzling jewelry and elegant dresses.
Though never out of style, the ponytail has undergone new iterations lately that have been showing up in abundance on runways and red carpets.
Celebrities in ponytails this season include Sandra Bullock and Emma Roberts at the Golden Globes and Taylor Swift at the Grammys. Beyoncé led the trend at the 2013 Grammys, with a long, pin-straight blonde ponytail gathered at the nape of her neck.
Similarly low, extremely long ponytails prevailed on the spring runways of designers such as Helmut Lang, DKNY, Altuzarra and Stella McCartney. At Victoria Beckham and Vera Wang, ponytails were looped through thick, black headbands.
Hairstylist Odile Gilbert created chic, ultra-sleek ponytails at Jason Wu by spritzing on Kérastase Gloss Appeal shine-enhancing spray before flat-ironing hair, smoothing tresses into place with Kérastase Short Mania pomade. Gold semi-circle barrettes were the finishing touch.
The pony parade continued on fall 2014 runways. New incarnations for fall included sharply side-parted styles at Hugo Boss, basket-weave texture at Fendi and undulating, banded ponytails at Valentino.
At Chanel, hairstylist Sam McKnight created slick, center-parted ponytails embellished with a kaleidoscopic mix of rag-like strips of the brand's signature tweed, pearl and lace embellishments, miniature braids and crimped extensions.
Most of the new ponytails go to great lengths, so clip-in extensions offer a fast way to get the look. At Nine Zero One Salon in West Hollywood, "someone can come in today and have a long, flowy look in a matter of minutes," says stylist Sheenon Olson.
Ponytail extensions at the salon start at $100, including styling.