Why is Ariana Grande famous? Maybe it's her relationships (and breakups) with other music and media icons. Maybe it's her unmatched vocal talent. We think it might be something even more impressive: her iconic, one-of-a-kind celebrity style.
When anyone thinks of Ari, a crystal clear picture comes to mind. We bet it's a little singer with winged eyeliner, a cute little outfit with very high heels and a ponytail. And the ponytail isn't just any ponytail. It's high, tight and at least as long as her waist. Ariana's ponytail is so famous that Jimmy Fallon made a sketch about it having a magical mind of its own. It's a look!
Nine times out of 10 Ariana wears her classic sleek high pony, but what about when she mixes it up? It's rare but not impossible to catch this pop star on an iced coffee run with her hair in - gasp - NOT a straightforward high ponytail. She's even broken out of her own comfort zone during performances recently, where she's dabbled in some half-up, half-down looks. We can't ignore the styles she's been bringing to her music videos lately either, even if they're part of her character's costume or a one-time aesthetic.
We've rounded up 22 variations on the classic Ariana pony for the world to check out. Some of them we will definitely DIY because they look amazing. Others give us nothing to say but Thank u, Next. Read on and decide for yourself which styles you're up for.
22 Simple Braided Bangs (Try)
This is one of the most tried-and-trusted ways to style the Ari ponytail. She's been photographed using this style as an artful way to hold back her bangs when signing autographs and taking selfies. If you know how to French braid your hair and feel like wearing it in a high style, braiding your bangs back into a high pony is the way to go.
Braids hold multiple layers and lengths of hair together. This makes them a perfect option for someone who's trying to grow out their bangs - which Ariana has since done. If you've still got yours, give this look a try.
21 Trendy Half-Down Topknot (Try)
Ariana often wears her hair in a half-ponytail style, but she only sometimes turns the top-sectioned ponytail part into a topknot. It's a trendy way to add a twist to the half-up, half-down look. As a bonus, it's also a great style for non-wash days when your hair might be a little gritty. The knot hides some messy ends and greasy roots all at once.
To make this look your own, divide your hair from one ear to the other and leave the back section down. Twist and pin the front section around itself and bang, bang - you're done.
20 A Fierce Pierced Part (Try)
Along with songs about exes and pictures taken from her left side, pierced parts are something Ariana promotes in a big way. Since she was seen wearing them as early as 2017, other celebs have followed suit. Shay Mitchell, Rita Ora and even style queen Rihanna have all rocked this look.
You can now buy hair piercings from beauty supply stores. Use them by parting your hair right down the center and making a tight, small braid or cornrow from the middle of your forehead to wherever you want your ponytail. Slide the hair piercings through it for full Ariana vibes.
19 A Dramatic Ribbon Pony (Try)
This might look a little extra, but trust us. One word: DRAMA. When you need to bring the drama, this is an amazing way to mirror Ariana's style. She wore this massive tulle ribbon accessory in her ponytail at a recent MET Gala, looking artistic and on-theme while still keeping with her own high pony trademark.
The rest of this look was a lush silk gown with patterns modelled off Sistine Chapel paintings. Cherubs and gods were painted all over Ariana's dress, and this ribbon topped off the whole look. Neoclassical motifs are actually in right now, featured in cutting-edge 2019 fashion week collections, as Denim Jeans Observer reports.
18 A Rapunzel-Inspired High Braid (Try)
Want a way to switch up your high pony without having to actually let any hair down? We don't blame you. That's Ariana's exact issue, and why she won't wear styles without at least the front half of her hair tied back.
"I wear extensions but I wear it in a pony tail because my actual hair is so broken that it looks absolutely ratchet and absurd when I let it down," she wrote in a message to her fans. Modify your own high ponytail look by braiding it from top to bottom, and tying it off at the end with another elastic. Easy? Yes. Cute? Also yes.
17 Bejeweled Space Buns (Try)
For next-level style inspiration, Ariana's 7 Rings video is a must-watch. Throughout most of the song she sticks to high ponytail looks (including that pierced pony we mentioned earlier) but for one scene, viewers can catch her in high and tight little space buns with even more hair jewelry heaped onto them.
If this look is too out-of-the-box for you, consider that it's basically an elevated version of the tired old cat-ear headband trend (more on that later). It's so 2019 to wear jewelry anywhere you want to, and it's also as classic as wearing a crown. We're into it.
16 A Classy Fishtail Bun (Try)
It's rare for us to actually see the back of Ariana Grande's neck, which is weird because she has a bunch of tattoos there that you'd think she'd want to show off. For times when she wants to get the weight of her weave literally off her back, Ari has taken to this high bun look.
Take a close peek at this bun to see that it's not just a pile of hair pinned together carelessly. To achieve this kind of effect, you'll need to turn your high pony into a fishtail braid and coil it around itself for a look that seems effortlessly chic.
15 A Sleek Low Side Pony (Try)
This look was a further departure from Ariana's perky high ponytail than most of us had seen before. She kept it low and brushed it back into a side-hanging ponytail for her music video, "Breathin."
It's definitely a more mature look than we're used to from Ariana Grande, especially when combined with that pale blue blazer and neutral makeup. To make this look your own, try a deep side part and sweep your hair into a ponytail on the same side as you parted it. If bits come out on the other side, don't sweat - that's part of the look.
14 A High And Heavy Extended Pony (Try)
Ariana is the queen of extensions. She has said that clipping or sewing them right onto her head made her want to "rip her scalp off," so now she uses a shortcut to achieve her long lengths. When she wants to do an ultra-long style like this one, she has her hairstylist add detachable hair right onto her ponytail.
We'd bet that the entire ponytail is fake hair, and that Ariana wouldn't be mad at us for clocking it. As she says in her 7 Rings video: "You like my hair? Gee thanks, just bought it." If you've got the cash to drop on gorgeous extensions like these, we applaud you.
13 A Nape-Of-The-Neck Pony (Try)
Ariana rocked this style on the cover of her Sweetener album. With a no-makeup-makeup look, pale hair colour and a ponytail nowhere near the top of her head, this pic of Ari had all of our heads spinning. She's still the same style icon we all got to know, she's just stepping out and letting the world know that she has RANGE - and not just the vocal kind.
If you want to try this look for yourself, it couldn't be easier. Do a shallow side part on whichever side you choose, and smooth your hair into an elastic right at the nape of your neck. Wrap some hair around the elastic to hide it and you're done.
12 A Half-Up Mullet Pony (Skip)
You've made it to the part of the article where we explore some of Ariana's less-enviable looks. Get ready for some questionable, damaged and dated choices! We're starting with this style, which could have been totally fine if the proportions were right.
Like you saw in the half-down topknot look, half-up, half-down styles look best when the hair is divided from ear to ear. Taking more than that into the top half leaves just a little bit of hair dangling in the back. If you're working hard like Ariana, you'll end up sweating through the bottom half and looking like this. Don't do it.
11 Cat-Ear Headbands (Skip)
We don't blame Ariana for wearing this look a few years ago when she and Taylor Swift were playing it cute and these kinds of accessories were in stores, but those days are behind us. Ariana's music is much more mature these days, and her hairstyles are adapting to match.
If you are a toddler with very high reading skills, congrats on making it through this article. We totally encourage you to invest in some cat ears. If you're over the age of five, however, consider wearing these only on Halloween when you need a last minute costume option.
10 A Cheerleader Bow Pony (Skip)
This look was part of Ariana's costume in her "Thank U, Next" video when she was playing a character from Bring It On. She was actually being a cheerleader, so we give her a pass on wearing this bow on the exact center top of her otherwise glamorous head. For life outside of music videos, we'd advise you to skip this style.
If you really want to accessorize with ribbon, go big or go home! Take inspiration from Ari's MET Gala look listed earlier. A little bow makes even people as gorgeous as Ariana look like Shih Tzu puppies after a trip to the parlour.
9 This Puffy Mushroom Bun (Skip)
Speaking of puppies, Ariana was seen chilling with her dog and this weird bun on top of her head. We assume this was a style she chose after a day of wearing her hair in her iconic high pony, because her flyaways were completely slicked down on the way into the bun. That level of snatched looks more crazy than casual.
Smoothing your hair into a high, tight, folded-over pony isn't a good look for anyone wanting to be seen in public. It's not even a good style to wear to bed, because of the pressure it puts on your edges. This would have been an ideal moment for Ariana to just let her hair down.
8 Fake Flower Bang Clips (Skip)
This is another look Ariana wore in her "Thank U, Next" video. This time she is playing her own version of Reese Witherspoon's character in Legally Blonde. Instead of actually going blonde or wearing a blonde wig, Ari chose to twist up her high pony look with some side-swept bangs.
She adds to the style with some fake flower plastic claw clips. The clips aren't really functional, because they don't keep her hair out of her face at all. They also aren't really fashionable, because they look like pieces of fake Hawaiian leis. We'll pass on this look entirely.
7 Chunky Clip-In Bangs (Skip)
You could take it one step worse and clip in THE BANGS THEMSELVES, which Ariana has been seen doing from time to time. It sounds good in theory: you get to decide whether or not you want bangs on a day-to-day basis. In practice, this is a risky thing to attempt.
You could, like Ariana, have your bangs look like they were very obviously clipped in. They could look too chunky, too piecey, or too square to be authentic bangs. We advise you to skip this style or just go all in and commit to getting real bangs for yourself.
6 A Crooked Half-Side Pony (Skip)
Half-up, half-down? Sure. Hair wrapped around the ponytail to hide the extension clips? Fair. This look could be cute, but a whole ponytail anchored to the top diagonal side of your head? We'd rather not.
If you take a good look at this style on Ariana, you'll notice that it makes her head look uneven. The weight of her (understandably very heavy) ponytail on one side of her head is lifting the hair on the other side of her head, making the whole thing look a bit misshapen. It even looks like it hurts a bit! That's a pass.
5 Bangs, Crimped and Bleached (Skip)
There is so much going on here. You already know how we feel about clip-in bangs that don't match the rest of the hair, and that's exactly what she is wearing. Bangs that are a touch too light and stay the same length all the way to the temples instead of fading into a more flattering, face-framing length are just kinda off.
Add that to a mix of hair textures that include crimping and a mix of colours that include bleach and this style is a lot to look at. It doesn't have the same silky, healthy appearance that we're used to from Ariana, so we're not fans of this one.
4 Clip-Ins That Fall Out (Skip)
According to E! News, Ariana cried and freaked out on the red carpet at the 2014 Grammys because of how her hair had been criticized on Twitter. She was almost bullied off the red carpet! It goes without saying that clip-ins aren't a good look, though, but Ariana has said she has no choice but to wear fake hair because her real hair is so brittle.
Unfortunately, hair loss and damage is an outcome hair experts have been predicting for Ariana. The weight of her hair pulling on the roots causes what doctors at The Treatment Rooms London call traction alopecia. They say they see it often in patients who tie their hair up tightly every day, like ballerinas or Ariana herself. Ouch. No wonder she has to turn to hair extensions and clip-ins to save face.
3 A Firetruck Red Ponytail (Skip)
This colour isn't only unflattering on most skin types, it's something she can blame (or thank) on wearing a high ponytail for the past five years.
In her words on FB, "I had to bleach my hair and dye it red every other week for the first 4 years of playing Cat... as one would assume, that completely destroyed my hair. And trust me, it's even more difficult for me to have to wait forever for my natural hair to grow back and to have to wear more fake hair than every drag queen on earth combined." Yikes.
2 A Madonna Dark Roots/Bleached Ends Throwback (Skip)
For someone who knows that bleaching her hair damages it beyond repair, we're surprised that Ariana chose to bleach her hair again in 2019. She wore it like this on the late-night talk show circuit, baring full dark roots in an impressively shameless way.
While most people would run from showing off their roots like this, Ariana leaned into it, and we applaud her for that! We just wouldn't advise the average person to show off their aging dye-job so boldly. It gives us Madonna vibes, which can sometimes be a good thing - but in this case, just no.
1 Floppy Space Buns (Skip)
If you want to try space buns, there are so many ways to do them right. This is not one of those ways. Why, Ariana? Why did you do this to your cute hair?
A middle part, flat-ironed hair and visible dry shampoo are bad enough on their own. Add two floppy Mickey Mouse ears made out of your own hair to the mix and we just don't have anything good to say about it. As a general rule, keep your space buns high and tight, people! Or bedazzle them like you saw earlier in this post. When Ariana gets it right, she aces it. When she does styles like this, we have no tears left to cry.