If you want a man bun, you have to earn it. And no, we’re not talking man buns, plural.
You can also call it a fun-bun or a topknot, but the hairstyle is generally the same. Varieties include the shaved-on-the-sides-with-a-bun-on-top; the bold, Tower of Pisa type that bobs around at the very top of the head; and the lower, more subdued type that sits unassumingly at the nape of the neck.
Junior journalism major Cody Bowman decided at the end of the summer to start growing out his hair and, currently able to tie a petite ponytail, estimates he is about two months away from the man bun. After attending a private Christian school during his childhood, where he could neither grow out nor dye his locks, Bowman said he is embracing the long-hair trend.
“[Man buns] are super trendy, but super easy to care for,” he said. “They’re very simple, but they’re still chic and cool, and they’re a commitment. You can’t just wake up and have one.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the man bun, think Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You. Think Captain Li Shang of Mulan. Think Dorian Gray—of the brooding Oscar Wilde novel—with a modern twist of flippancy.
Only recently has the man bun become a trend, and its newfound popularity can be traced to the Golden Globe awards in January, where it was sighted thrice. Jared Leto, Joaquin Phoenix, and Alex Ebert—of the band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes—were all seen with variations of the look. Since then, the style has taken off.
“Recently, you wanted the clean, shaved sides, and it was a short hairstyle trend,” Bowman said. “Now I feel like everyone is growing their hair out. I think it speaks to our generation because we like to do new things. It’s very gender neutral—it’s just a cool look.”
Sophomore Samuele Bergamini, from Milan, Italy, said he began to put his hair up in 2012, and finds the man bun to be cool and versatile.
“First off, it’s quick and simple to have a bun—if I don’t have too much time to fix my hair in the morning, the bun comes in handy,” said Bergamini, a visual and media arts major. “Plus, I have very curly hair. Having a bun is easier for me. A bun [also] allows you to show your forehead. I think it kind of shows yourself better to others.”
Having spent the summer in Milan, Bergamini said he noticed the trend is much more common in Europe than America.
“I feel that in Europe—in Italy, Spain, and France in particular—the bun for males has been popular for a while now,” he said.
Bill Prince, deputy editor of British GQ, deemed the man-bun “shorthand for bold-face bohemianism” in The Telegraph earlier this month. Laura Argintar of Elite Daily called the style “effortlessly undone sexy mixed with primal virility” in September. Allison P. Davis, in a “A Shameless Love Letter to the Sexual Power of the Man-Bun” for New York in January, wrote that when seeing the hairstyle, she “can’t help but think of an unhinged, but still erotic, Heathcliff, roaming the moors.”
However, the man bun isn’t always sported because of an intentional style decision. Junior Lei Zhenchuan said he has worn his hair in a bun for over a year, though he doesn’t do so for fashion.
“It is mostly just for the sake of convenience,” said Zhenchuan, a visual and media arts major. “I do think I’ve seen more and more people are doing the same.”
Bergamini said that popular culture often originates, ironically, from the desire to fight against the mainstream, which then tends to result in such trends.
“I think that buns appeal to people because of that desire to look ‘out of the box,’” Bergamini said. “Jaunty, lighthearted, but still independent.”