These days we tend to associate pigtails with little girls, but hair worn in double ponytails has its heritage in the military. Pigtail wigs were popular army and navy choices in 18th century Europe and were worn tied up with ribbons. They could be up to two feet long – and for men that couldn’t grow their hair long enough, fake hair was added. (Incidentally it was also common to draw on a mustache if you couldn’t grow one.) A fantastic 18th century drawing by war artist Francis Dodd even shows a row of soldiers sitting back to back, styling each other’s hair in pigtails.
It’s worth noting that the term pigtail was historically used for a single, long, braid, not a double style. This was known as a ‘queue’ and most commonly seen in Qing dynasty China, where it was the required hairstyle for men and a great source of respect and pride.
These days, pigtails tend to fall into two camps: school kids, and coquettish adult style. Think 1960s Brigitte Bardot with voluminous bunches on the beach, Prada’s pigtails by session stylist Guido Palau for Spring/Summer 2010 or Left Eye’s supersized, accessorised 90s style.