Meditations on the ponytail

Sally Hershberger stylist Mike Viggue takes the old standard to new heights.

We tend to think of the ponytail as the hairstyle version of a simple button-down shirt — a no-nonsense, throw-it-on staple that always gets the job done. But for Mike Viggue, stylist at Sally Hershberger’s Meatpacking District salon, it’s an opportunity to express individual style and, yes, even sex appeal. “There are evolutions to ponytails as a woman moves through her day,” says Viggue, “and you can think of the pieces that fall down as gestures or expressions.”

We asked Viggue how to turn the humdrum ponytail into a style statement, both before and after a workout. Click through the gallery above for his tips and tricks.

Live in New York? Mike Viggue and his styling team will be offering cuts and blowouts at exclusive rates at Equinox Greenwich Ave. from 8am to 8pm on Thursday, October 20. Emailemily.parr@equinox.comfor an appointment.
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  • Flat-Iron a Braid

    Flat-Iron a Braid

    Before your workout, try pulling long hair to the nape of your neck and working it into a braid. After your session, run a flat-iron over the entire braid to smooth and set your strands before unraveling to create glassy waves, or what Viggue calls “fairy-tale texture.”
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  • The Higher the Better

    The Higher the Better

    The difference between a casual ponytail and a dressy one is all in where you place it. “My all-time favorite pony is super high on the head,” says Viggue. “It just becomes fierce and dominatrix-like.” To get it right: Use conditioning cream or gel to banish flyaways and tease the top slightly before scooping hair up from the sides.
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  • Try "the Nub"

    Try "the Nub"

    A simple ponytail becomes fashiony, says Viggue, when you pull hair only half-way through the elastic on the second loop. Pin the nub against your head so it stays put (either with bobbie pins or a barrette, as shown), then spray the whole thing lightly with hairspray to create texture (he likes Sally Hershberger’s Salon Body Fix). Either pin the ends up to create an updo or leave them loose and piecey.
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  • Prep Your Hair

    Prep Your Hair

    "For most girls, a ponytail is a five-second deal," says Viggue. But a little prep work can pay off: Before a workout, he suggests adding a touch of Moroccan Oil or conditioning cream to dry hair. Pull the hair into a high pony using a black Scunci elastic (his favorite), twist the whole thing, and tuck the ends into the elastic for a messy bun; once you let it down, you’ll have soft waves.
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  • Blow-Dry the Hairline

    Blow-Dry the Hairline

    If you’re pressed for time post-shower, blow-dry just the hair around your face. Then, when you pull it back, take the time to pull a few wispy pieces down around your face — either chunky pieces or thinner ones, depending on your face shape. “When you think of a gorgeous girl, you never think of hard shapes,” says Viggue. “You want to create that softness.”
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  • Deep Side Part

    Deep Side Part

    The key to keeping this style romantic, not prim, is to make sure the hair in front sweeps low across your forehead. Make a deep side-part all the way to the crown with a comb. With cream or oil on your hands, run your fingers over each side of the part to tame flyaways. Either leave hair in a low pony (try twirling a strand of hair around the elastic) or coil hair into a bun at the nape of the neck and pin. 

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