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Dewy skin, pearlescent nails, an iced oat latte in one hand, an Ottessa Moshfegh novel in the other; she’s your Gen Z girl boss who wears a blazer to the club but is too young to know Dilemma by Nelly and Kelly when it plays. If Bella Hadid told her to jump off a cliff she’d post a TikTok before reaching the ground. As the ringleader of the “clean girl aesthetic”, she won’t leave the house without her Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Filter, a wasp-sting-effect lip gloss, and hair so heavily gelled you could knock on it.
If our ‘clean girl’ is the Blair, our ‘messy girl’ (yes, it’s a real thing) is the Serena. Ruling Tik Tok’s For You Page on the other side of the internet lurks the girl who deliberately chips her nail varnish and boasts that she hasn’t had a haircut in five years. She takes her coffee black and will sleep in her makeup so everyone thinks she’s doing a walk of shame the next day. She wants you to think she’s listening to Jimi Hendrix, when really, it’s Doja Cat soundtracking her commute.
Two households both alike in dignity, these star-crossed lovers do have one thing in common. The ASOS basket portal to one-another’s worlds: the claw clip. It’s the piece of plastic that will chomp down on your hair and sweep it into the shape of a French pastry. For some reason it most frequently appears in tortoiseshell, yet over the past year we’ve seen an groundswell of up-dos, held firmly in place with the trusty claw clip, in all shapes and sizes.
Popularised recently by the off-duty model style of the Hadids, Hailey Bieber et al, the clip first got its grip on society during the 1990s - greatly helped along by the likes of Jennifer Anniston, Gywneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, and the main proprietor, 90s style icon Sarah Michelle Gellar.
By the mid-noughties, the clip had lost its allure somewhat. It shifted from It Girl fashion accessory to useful tool (a moment that marks the funeral of most fashion items). Just as scrunchies lost their charm, so too did the claw clip. When our mums started wearing them we respectfully decided to put them aside… until, lo and behold, dressing like your mum became cool. After a 15 year hiatus where they were only spotted on the school run, claw clips have clawed their way back into our lives.
Whilst the ‘clean girl’ wears hers to keep everything slicked back and held firmly in place, the ‘messy girl’ scoops everything up on top of her head, only to let it all fall out as the clip gradually surrenders to gravity. There’s also an in between that exists, the nonchalant Parisian version that allows just enough hair to fall out of place and perfectly frame the face.
However you’re wearing it, I for one am glad to see a trend that’s so easy to achieve - I don’t think my hair could take another bleaching. Maybe they’ll be flung aside again soon, at least for now, we’re gripped.
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