What is the Nape Knot?

The nape knot is a very simple hairstyle because all that's involved is pulling back the sides and top tightly and tying them into a knot with a small band at the nape of the neck (bottom of the hairline). The remaining hair is then either left to hang out, or rolled up and smoothed over.

Pretty simple, hey? It's the kind of thing you'd do to your hair at home when you're cleaning (to get it out of the way) or perhaps when it's a little dirty. And it's definitely not glamorous enough for anything even remotely formal. It also makes me wonder how certain hairstyles catch on and become fads or signature looks.

Now even though this is such a simple style, it nevertheless requires some expertise (because it's so simple it's easy to mess it up). My theory is that the reason the nape knot looked so terrible on the celebs at the Emmys was because they didn't get the expertise they needed- both in terms of choosing the style and executing it. Let me explain with some examples...

Heidi Klum is Home Made

Heidi Klum hairstyles

Heidi's nape knot had loose bangs through the front. I'd say her hair was first of all set in hot rollers, and then the sides would have been loosely pulled back into the nape where the hair was banded together into a knot. The remaining hair was left to hang down in a big loose roll. It looked terrible, like it was done in 10 minutes flat. I mean really, she could have done this herself (did she?).


Marcia Cross' Plastic Surgery

Marcia Cross hairstyles

Marcia's nape knot was slicked back very tight with no bangs at all. The back was pulled down to the nape and then knotted, and the hair was then wrapped around into a twirl and pinned on top. The result: a bad look that's far too hard for her facial features, so hard her nape knot could double up as a temporary face lifting device. Maybe her plastic surgeon did her hair?


Vanessa Williams' Masseuse Does Hair Too

Vanessa Williams hairstyles

I'm quite sure Vanessa's nape knot was set in rollers first and then pulled back at the sides and top. I'd say that the left over bits of excess hair (since it's so long) was then pinned into a wavy loop. Finally, the front bangs where teased up a little and then lacquered for added height. With this style I have to say that not only has Vanessa gone for something boring, but what's worse is that her hair looked kind of wet and greasy. So it makes me wonder once again: who actually executed this look? Was it her masseuse?


Christina Applegate's Invisible Hair

Christina Applegate hairstyles

Christina's nape knot was so boring it was pretty much invisible. As usual with this style, the front, top and sides were pulled back down into the nape and then banded into place; the remaining hair was left out straight to hang down. All in all it was totally boring and forgettable and the wrong hairstyle for her diamond face shape, and the only positive thing I can think about this hairstyle is that it really promoted her dress and accessories. So maybe Christina's designer did her hair?


Anastasia Griffith's Got a BFF

Anastasia Griffith hairstyles

At first glance Anastasia's hair doesn't look like a nape knot, but it actually is. The top and most of the sides were pulled down on the right side and banded tightly into place, while her excess hair was looped back up and pinned in a twirling "anything goes" fashion. Her bangs were left to fall about her nose level and then pinned and sprayed- with the intention that they wouldn't move around and fall onto her face or into her eyes. But that didn't work because, as you can see, the result was a really messy fly-away look that appears to have been done by a friend.


Padma Lakshmi in the Back Seat of a Limo

Padma Laskshmi hairstyles

Padma probably had the best example of a nape knot gone wrong. The sides and top were bundled into place in the nape, and the excess hair, which was quite a large amount, was then left to hang down loosely. Talk about lazy styling! My young daughter does the same thing when she gets out of the pool after a swim. I think this hairdo was done in the limo on the way to the awards, most likely by her driver.


My Biggest Piece of Advice about the Nape Knot...

The nape knot is a boring enough style anyway, but on these celebs at the Emmys, it was tragically terrible. The reason- and this is a reason you should consider if you want to try this style or any other- is what I said right at the beginning: the celebs didn't get the right expertise when planning their Emmy hairstyles.

There were clearly two kinds of expertise missing in every one of these nape knots. The first is that most of the celebs didn't get the right advice about whether or not the nape knot would actually suit them. (This is the most important piece of advice you need to get for any hairstyle, and I recommend trying "Find Your Perfect Hairstyle", our free hairstyle consultation.) The second kind of expertise that was missing was in the execution of the hairstyles themselves. I think you'll agree that in each of these examples the hairstyles were put together shoddily and quite tastelessly.

Better luck next year...