Once a Braid Apart, Falls and Phony Ponytails Are Going Mane-Stream

updated 09/22/1986 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/22/1986 01:00AM

If you haven't got it, you can flaunt it anyway: From coast to coast the newest twist in accessories is the phony ponytail. At clubs like Peanuts, Vertigo and Plastic Passion in L.A. and at Area, the China Club and spiffy diplomatic functions in Manhattan, young and old are tying them on. The switch in the latest tails is that you can smack one onto real hair at any time without pretending it's your own: Working women carry them to the office and put them on at day's end, when they're ready to step out. Sade, the singer with the long fake braid, is credited with making the ersatz pony a hit, but music videos have helped, and Barbara Carrera and Prince are tail blazers too. "The fun and appeal is instant glamour and instant length," says stylist Avram of Vidal Sassoon. "They are worn as hair pieces in an unabashed way." Explains New York wig designer Sture Osten, "Today's tails are not meant to make people think they're natural. They're like hair jewelry."

And how. The new ponies are not only synthetic (and usually woven in Korea); they come in colors the real stuff can't match—green, blue, pink, flaming red, purple and pastels, as well natural colors. Worn braided, long and loose, or in tiers, the fakes start at seven inches and run down to the most popular length, a fanny-grazing 38. They come plain or with glitter and rhinestones; Italian stylist Sergio Valente even makes hairpieces shaped like flowers and bows. Most of them can be pinned on in minutes. Short ones have slip yarn snaps, the longer ones special combs.

If you have a head for tails, they're easy to find at department stores, wig shops and even in catalogs. The prices generally range from about $12 to $65 (at Manhattan's Theresa Wigs), although a $130 riding hat with braid attached is a runaway hit at Blooming-dale's. Says accessories manager Laurie Taylor of Bonwit Teller in Beverly Hills, "I've never gotten so big a response from such a variety of people."

The look is now cropping up in Europe, and fashion watchers think the end of the tail is not in sight. Sture Osten sold 20,000 in July, 40,000 in August and expects 1986 sales of more than 300,000, double last year's. Says Osten confidently: "In the '60s, it would have been a crime to look so obvious. But you don't have to hide fakery anymore."

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