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The Hair Clip Style Guide: How to Get the Look

The Hair Clip Style Guide: How to Get the Look

By Julia Wohlers, Brand of People Magazine

When it first came to my attention that hair clips were coming back in, two significant points were immediately obvious. The first was that social media influencers led the charge on this style, dictating the look and placement of little details and showing us how to imitate them. The second point was that the reemergence of this iconic late-90s trend is not Spice Girls 2.0, but an up-leveled, understated application of pretty and practical hair accessories. Where twenty-something Sarah Michelle Gellar gave us a rainbow of colorful oversized butterflies securing conspicuous chunks of hair at 30degree intervals, the new hair clip aesthetic is closer to the minimalist approach that has grown to redefine jewelry over the past six to seven years. 

Trending Hair Clip Sets for Women

Once you begin browsing hair clip sets, you’ll find there’s no shortage of options across all hair types. Specific designs are best suited to different types of hair. Smaller pieces like bobby pins and barrettes won’t have the same capacity to restrain volume as crocodile and claw clips can. But whether curly or straight, short or long, styled or au natural, clip solutions abound to tame your tresses. Keep an eye out for the following trends and themes defining today’s hair clip resurgence. 

Pearls and Beads

Topping the charts of the hair clip trend at the moment are snap clips and barrettes embellished with pearls, both spare and baroque, and small pearly beads covering the surface of the clip in a palette of ivory, white and gold hues. Not only is this look perfect for the holidays, but the pearl effect (whether genuine or faux) makes it timeless and elegant without dominating your outfit.

Celestial Motifs 

As sun, moon and star elements expanded their presence across rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings recently, it was only a matter of time before they completed their journey northward and took on our hairstyles as well! Celestial-themed hair clips tend to consist of delicate metal bars enhanced with shimmery rhinestones or small pearl accents. Multi-point starlets are particularly pretty and eye-catching, while zodiac constellation hairpins allow you to celebrate your sign.

Dainty and Minimalist Forms 

Simple geometric forms have also made the leap from jewelry to hair accessories, and just because the look is dainty doesn’t mean the hardware isn’t sturdy. Delicate solid-plated metal shapes in narrow widths or geometric forms contribute to a modernist effect while providing sleek styling.  

Marbled and Organic Patterns 

Not everything on the market is delicate and minimalist; chunky resin and acrylic clips with iridescent sheens are also a big part of today’s hair clip trend. Tortoise shell, terrazzo effects, and marbled multi-color barrettes and snaps are more casual than their bedazzled counterparts; these alternatives make for a great, practical daywear application. Other acrylic patterns might imitate organic materials, like stone or wood patterns. 

Coins and Medallions 

If you stocked up on coin necklaces when the trend struck last year, you can now transition the aesthetic from your décolletage to your crown. Pins and hair clips with coin and medallion ornamentation, typically in gold or gold-plated zinc, are making a strong appearance in fashionable hairdos. 

Glitter and MicroSequin Embellishments 

Nothing stands out on your scalp quite like a shimmering accessory. If you’re worried a princess vibe feels like something a little girl would wear rather than a grown woman, fear not: sophisticated glitter-embellished clips distinguish themselves from more junior versions through sleeker shapes and a calmer color palette. Think neutrals, metallics like gold, silver and rose gold, and subdued shades like pale lilacs, mint greens and sky blues rather than saturated bright colors. 

Claws in Unexpected Shapes 

Claw hair clips are so practical for restraining hair that they’ve never gone out of style, particularly those in hair color tones, tortoise-shell variations, and matte finishings. The contemporary twist on this classic is found in non-standard clip shapes, with scalloped edges, wavy spines, curvy art deco inspirations and unusually-shaped prongs. 


 There’s no one-size-fits-all methodology to placing and styling hair clips; it’s important to know what tends to work best for you given the shape of your face, the natural texture of your hair, and the context in which you’ll be wearing the clips. Here are some useful tips to selecting a hair clip based on your needs and purposes:

Taming Flyaways 

If hair pins and clips were invented for the purpose of managing errant flyaways and shorter hairs, they are still critical to this important cause! Use one or two snap clips below your ponytail to hold pieces in place that don’t quite reach or attach a barrette to the front of your hairline à la preppy Margot Tenenbaum (of the Wes Anderson film, The Royal Tenenbaums) to keep fringe off your forehead. Wherever your flyaways make their departure, a hair clip or pin can control the appearance of frizz and streamline your styling. 


Stacked bobby pins and hair clips are of course the natural descendants of stacked rings and necklaces, all the rage in recent years. To achieve this look in your hair, select your clips carefully: larger, brighter or eye-catching clips are best used in moderation, so limit yourself to just two or three. More subtle or minimalist hair clips can be used in greater quantity, even up to five or more. Decide whether you want to place them on the shallow or deep side of your part, and secure them across small, evenly spaced intervals. Maintain them in parallel for an extra controlled look or allow for slight indents as you proceed downwards, so that lower clips are farther back from your face than higher clips.

Holding a Half-up in Place 

Larger or sturdier hair clips – especially those that stand out – are great options for securing half-up hairdos. Simply create a circle of hair starting from the front of your hairline all the way around the top of your crown and secure the gathered hair at the back of your head with a statement clip, a claw or a series of decorative pins. 

Securing Braids 

French braids, symmetrically braided pigtails, and mermaid-style fishtail braids can all be completed with a clip at the bottom of the braid, provided the clip is strong enough to secure the remaining strand. This is also an ideal place to use your 90’s throwback butterfly hair clips. 

The Finishing Touch oa Completed Hairdo 

Embellished hair clips can be an excellent way to add a final touch of opulence to your hairstyle without going overboard. Top knots, buns, chignons and simple ponytails become more polished with a well-placed baroque pearl pin or a celestial-themed clip. Even long, loose un-styled tresses gain an extra air of romance with pretty pieces near the front of the hairline, symmetrically placed on either side of your part-line, if this works for the shape of your face, or on just one side, which is universally flattering. 

Test out a new way to style your hair using hair clips or recreate a look you used to love!

About The Author

Julia Wohlers

Julia Wohlers is a writer and visual designer obsessed with culture, travel and fashion editorial. She created Brand of People Magazine as a space to inspire creatives, entrepreneurs and culture-makers. Originally from Washington, D.C., Julia grew up all over the world, but she particularly loves Milan, where her son was born, and the Balkans, where life is uniquely authentic. You can find her on Instagram at @juliawohlers_ or follow the magazine at @brandofpeoplemag.

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