strat investigates

Why Is Seemingly Every Stylish Baby Girl Wearing a Top Knot?

Swaddled bliss. Photo: Courtesy of Top Knots

Propelled by our Instagram-obsessed era and an explosion of moms-who-blog, a revolution of sorts has occurred within the world of newborn photography — which is now a far cry from those improbable Anne Geddes shoots that portrayed infants potted like sunflowers or as peas tucked in a pod. The new look of infant portraiture might best be described as “swaddled bliss.” A common scene is a baby wrapped, burrito-style, in a muslin blanket while snoozing in a bassinet. But if you’ve looked at these photos as much as I have, you’ve likely noticed another constant even more universal than the setting: a turban-like head cover with a twisted bun atop the (almost always female) baby’s head.

Head coverings have long been a crucial component of newborn photography, because they can cover up flaky skin, patchy hair that’s still growing in, or spots of cradle cap (a scaly, yellowish rash common among infants). But these turban-like pieces are more stylish-looking than your standard beanie, and way more subtle than a headpiece with an oversized bow that screams “IT’S A GIRL!” I’ve actually heard adult women praise the things as something they’d wear themselves — and in fact, black and Muslim women have long worn head wraps and turbans like these, so the style is certainly not new.

Photo: Courtesy of Top Knots

I first spied one of these not-quite-hats, called top knots, on Hilary Duff’s daughter Banks. Then I spotted one on Aaron and Lauren Paul’s daughter, Story. Kate Hudson has also posted photos of her daughter Rani in one, as has Khloe Kardashian, who shared a picture of daughter True Thompson wearing a lemon-yellow top knot poolside. Kaavia James, the almost-6-month-old daughter of Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union, also wore a yellow one in a photo shared on her Instagram account (which, incidentally, has more than 600,000 followers).

After seeing so many tiny heads covered in them, I sought to find who was responsible for this baby bun. I discovered dozens of artisan top-knot makers on Etsy, and various inexpensive versions on Amazon. But the brand I saw tagged in the majority of Instagram photos, including Duff’s, shares its name with the style itself: It’s called Top Knots (making it sort of a Kleenex, Frisbee, or Xerox situation). Arizona-based mother of two Bailey Sevey, the creator of Top Knots top knots, made the first one for her daughter Lennon to wear on a 2016 trip to Disneyland — where she says so many parents asked how they could get their own that she decided to sell them to the masses, launching her business the following year. Sevey credits early celebrity fans Jack Osbourne and Lisa Stelly (who styled their daughter Minnie in a pink Top Knots for her 2018 swaddled-bliss-themed photo shoot) and some influential mommy bloggers for transforming the style from under the radar to must-have.

Four moms who dress their young girls in top knots all agree the style (no matter the brand) is a fresh look when it comes to baby headpieces. “They add a little more edge to an outfit than a bow or headband,” says Memphis-based Loni Proctor. But top knots are functional too, according to the parents. Proctor says they’re among the few accessories her 1-year-old won’t fuss with. “In general, it’s hard to keep hair accessories in, but when she does wear one, she won’t mess with it.” Occasional Strategist contributor and art dealer Risa Needleman agrees that top knots’ design allows them to stay in place better than most other small hats. “Since they’re elastic and ‘tight’ they always stay on. I used to put them on when my daughter wore hoods, because they eliminated the gap between a loose hood and her head, and they stayed on even if the hood fell down.” Los Angeles–based Artiera Hickman, the mother of 4-year-old Liberty, says top knots “protected my daughter’s hair as we went through a rough patch of breakage.” And if you do dress your baby in one, be ready for the attention. “I was always surprised at what a conversation piece they were whenever our babies would wear them,” says mother of twins and mommy blogger Jen Hawkins.

At $24 a pop, Top Knots top knots are a bit pricier than other brands (Sevey says the price reflects the handiwork in each, all of which are hand tied from a single piece of rayon spandex because “it’s stretchy and soft for a baby’s head.”) Sevey’s pieces come in five sizes: the smallest, “newborn,” promises to fit heads 13 to 15 inches, and the biggest, “extra-large,” is made for heads 21 to 23 inches — which means it will fit most adults, she says. Below, a selection of Top Knots and other top knots, for anyone seeking their swaddled bliss.

Some Top Knots top knots

Photo: Courtesy of Top Knots

A light-blue color that your baby can wear all spring and summer long.

Photo: Courtesy of Top Knots

An on-trend tangerine top knot for the budding street-style star.

Photo: Courtesy of Top Knots

This bold floral print screams little Little Edie.

Some non–Top Knots top knots

This set of 12 Top Knots–inspired headbands offer the look of the real thing without fully covering a baby’s head, and come in a range of colors that will match any outfit.

If a floral print isn’t your thing, CaJaCa sells a set of five all-cotton headpieces with an actual fabric flower in place of the bun-like-knot (the set includes white, black, pink, and fuchsia styles in addition to purple).

Yes, Posh Peanut’s nylon headband is adorned with a bow, but it appears reasonably sized, and the brand promises its headpieces are one size fits all, so your baby can wear them as she grows. This set comes with 18 colors, but you can buy each one individually for about $7 apiece.

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Why Is Seemingly Every Stylish Baby Girl Wearing a Top Knot?