compulsive shopping

I Can’t Stop Buying Unusual Scrunchies

Photo: Netflix

Childhood photos show my long hair in almost every style, including pig tails, high buns, braids, and half up/half down ’dos. But no matter how I styled it, I almost always used the same accessory: a scrunchie. No longer relegated to a few hooks in a drugstore beauty aisle (where I’d discreetly buy them years ago when Carrie Bradshaw first derided them), the scrunchies I loved as a kid are again ubiquitous. Our current scrunchie renaissance has resulted in a wave of different styles, which I’ve spotted at department stores like Nordstrom and Barney’s, smaller boutiques like Forty Five Ten and LoveShackFancy, and of course my local Rite Aid in Greenpoint.

I have about 15 in my regular rotation, many of them with a bow and each of which I like to wear for a very specific purpose. There’s the leopard-print scrunchie I throw on to look more put together when running errands. The quick-drying one I wear to work out. And even specific silk ones I’ll wear to bed that help prevent my long, thin locks from breaking while I sleep. Below, these and other scrunchies I own, plus others I want to buy, for practically any occasion.

Scrunchies I’ve bought

My hair is long (down to my bust) and thin, making it hard to stay put during any sort of exercise. I struggled to find a hair tie to work out in until I found this breathable scrunchie — which not only dries fast thanks to its sweat-wicking fabric, but more importantly holds my high bun in place whether I’m pedaling through Soul Cycle or attempting Warrior 3 at Modo Yoga. I also love the bow, which I think makes my all-black workout clothes a bit less dull.

$18 for 2

I tend to play more with fashion in the warmer months, creating outfits inspired by the trips I’m taking. I got this scrunchie set so I can lean into my preppy persona the next time a friend invites me to take the Fast Ferry up to Martha’s Vineyard for a weekend. Either one is the perfect topper to my “cruise” look of striped boat-neck shirt and white jeans.

I have tickets to four concerts this summer, and picked up this ten-pack of technicolor scrunchies (in materials including velvet and satin) to zhuzh up my traditional show attire of T-shirt and jeans. They look just as cool on your arm (the bright solid colors remind me of festival wrist bands) as they do in your hair.

I gave up ballet long ago, but have yet to fully shake the traumatic hair memories I associate with recitals (so many bobby pins!). You could say I bought this ballerina-looking scrunchie as a literal form of retail therapy. Its just-twee-enough pink-gingham pattern and oversized bow make me smile, replacing scary ballet memories with happier thoughts each time I wear it.

As I get older, my fear of losing hair grows and grows. I’m no longer able to sleep with my hair down, and after trying velvet scrunchies, elastic hair ties, and claw clips, I can say these silk scrunchies are the best to sleep in. They’re super delicate and never pull on my easy-to-tangle hair, so I don’t damage it no matter how much I toss and turn at night.

Leopard-print anything immediately lifts my mood and makes me feel a little more glamorous. I wear this scrunchie in my (unwashed) hair to feel a touch more “dressed up” while running errands on the weekend.

The Namjosh scrunchie has sold out at Shopbop, but there are similar (and less expensive) leopard-print styles at Madewell and Etsy.

I used to spend two months every summer at sleepaway camp. To this day, those stays are still the source of some of my fondest memories, so I bought this set of tie-dyed scrunchies thinking I’d wear them when I meet my old camp friends for drinks (or just when I’m feeling nostalgic). The dye job looks homemade in the best possible way.

The Kitsch scrunchie set has sold out, too, but Amazon has a set of three that also has a dyed-at-home feel.

Scrunchies I want to buy

These simple bowed scrunchies scream elegant and feminine — they’d be the perfect accessory to show my mom how I am both of those things the next time we meet for brunch.

A less-expected take on the staple floral print, this silk scrunchie would look right at home in my hair during a picnic at the park or on a trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Poodles are known for being one of the most well-coiffed dog breeds, so I imagine this poodle-patterned scrunchie would help me get that well-coiffed look while taking one of my friends’ dogs for a walk.

I’ve got more than one black-tie wedding on my calendar this summer, and this shimmery gold-metallic number looks opulent enough to whip out at the end of the night when I need something to tie my hair back on the dance floor.

This just-big-enough, silk-organza scrunchie is perfectly over the top. I want to wear it twisted around a high bun while touring the Costume Institute’s current camp-themed exhibition (where some tourists might just think I’m part of the show).

Denmark-based Comfort Objects uses vintage textiles to make limited editions of its scrunchies — which the company has rebranded as “hair clouds.” That ethereal-sounding name could be one reason why these scrunchies command much higher prices than most (but likely it’s really because they’re made with old designer scarves). This Chanel-scarf scrunchie seems ideal to wear while rummaging through the Brooklyn Flea, where other vintage lovers will surely notice it, and maybe even make me an offer I can’t refuse (because the only thing more satisfying than indulging in my scrunchie habit would be profiting from it).

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

I Can’t Stop Buying Unusual Scrunchies