All over Instagram, women are wearing wigs. Every weekend, it seems, new images scroll by showing groups mugging in technicolor bobs, synthetic bangs grazing eyelashes. In the center of every photo is one woman whose wig is slightly better than the rest. Maybe it’s a different color, maybe it’s waist length. Anything to distinguish her, because she is the bride and this is her bachelorette party.
Jessica Reese O’Rourke was in the center of one such photo in 2018. Staunchly opposed to subjecting her friends to the horror of matching commemorative T-shirts, O’Rourke, now 28, wanted to maintain some element of cohesiveness when she and her crew took to New York City to celebrate her final days as a single woman. She can’t remember where or when she first saw colorful wigs as a bachelorette party essential, but she considered it the perfect alternative to custom sashes or vulgar flair like the curiously enduring penis straw. So she instructed her friends to purchase a wig of their choice and bought her own—a $60 aquamarine bob with bangs from a shop in her hometown of Seattle—and schlepped it across the country for a night of dancing at Brooklyn’s House of Yes. Among both spectators and attendees, the wigs were a hit.
“I think people dread bachelorette parties because they’re expensive and they have to wear stupid shirts and sometimes there’s a lot of drama with a lot of women,” O’Rourke says. “But I think that the wigs help get people excited. [It customizes] the party for themselves and helps them realize it’s also about them."
As bachelorette parties evolve into days-long affairs featuring ironclad itineraries and enforced dress codes, bold wigs have become an easy—some might say chill—way for the bride to lean into the tradition of the bachelorette uniform without making her friends parade around in something embarrassing or overly expensive.
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If you google “bachelorette party wig,” you'll see an Etsy link for a $25 six-pack of neon bobs, while on Amazon the options are seemingly endless. Pinterest is packed with wigspiration for bachelorette party-goers. Even the actress [Sophie Turner had her crew wear colorful wigs for her recent bachelorette party.
Women’s relationship to hairpieces have been a constant throughout history, but during the last few years, we’ve seen celebrities like Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, and Lady Gaga popularize candy-colored wigs as a low-stakes transformative experience. And brides-to-be are taking note.
“A wig theme creates mystery and allows you to tap into your ‘fun girl’ alter ego without taking away from who you really are,” says Dionna Merritt, the CEO of Los Angeles events company Celebrationz, who has planned bachelorette parties that have included wigs. “It’s a simple way to transform yourself from regular girl to party girl in an instant. The wig alone serves as the party-starter.”
An early depiction of bachelorette wig wearing was in 2005’s 40 Year Old Virgin, when Steve Carell and Co. encounter an ensemble of women celebrating a bride-to-be—they all wear neon wigs. Nicole House held onto this image until her 2016 bachelorette party when she instructed 15 of her pals to wear wigs for a night out in New York City, where she lives. She spent $60 on her own waist-length pastel purple and blue hairpiece. The wigs were more attention-grabbing and had a higher likelihood for repeat-wears than the countless “Last Sail Before the Veil” T-shirts collecting dust in her pajama drawer. “I think everybody is trying to do something different with their bachelorette party,” the 31-year-old says. “This was one fun way to stand out among other groups.”
Small businesses have cashed in on the trend, packaging the wig shopping experience with bachelorette parties. Allyson Garro threw her first bachelorette wig party at her wig and costume shop Coco Coquette in Austin, Texas, in 2010. A few months after her shop had opened that year, she suggested a friend who was hesitant about throwing a bachelorette party altogether host the gathering at Coco Coquette; the group could try on wigs and get their makeup done in a low-pressure environment. “At some point during the party,” Garro says, “the lightbulb went off. Like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the thing.’ People are having so much fun.”
Almost a decade later, Garro hosts about 24 parties a month with smaller groups of 2 to 16 during the day and larger parties of 6 to 30 guests at night, ranging in price from nearly $400 to $1,300. Party attendees can try on wigs at their leisure, selecting one to take home, and a makeup artist will glam out each guest. Then, Garro sets the gaggles free into the night. Some might hit the strip clubs, others might opt for dinner.
The process of trying on wigs and getting ready as a group can act as an ice breaker for members of the bachelorette party, especially if the only friend they have in common is the bride, Garro says. “Wigs are neck-and-neck with cocktails,” she says. “They break the ice because all of a sudden, you’re like, ‘I’m letting go of the person I am on the day-to-day and, for tonight, we’re all participating in this agreement to alter our egos.’”
Samantha McNeal met one of her current friends at a bachelorette wig party at Coco Coquette in 2017. “It was a good way to socialize and get to know each other before going to the bars,” she says.
Now 30, McNeal wasn’t aware of wigs as a bachelorette staple until the bride-to-be informed her of the night’s festivities. She selected a long purple wig with curtain bangs and renamed herself Jaqueline for the evening. “It’s living this little mini fantasy life in your head for a minute, which is a lot of fun,” she says.
While bachelorette parties by nature inspire a bit of reckless abandon, wigs take the fantasy to the next level, allowing brides-to-be and their friends to explore previously untapped aspects of their personalities, says Ariel Meadow Stallings, author of Offbeat Bride: Creating a Wedding That’s Authentically You. “I think if you don’t recognize how you look, you can give yourself permission to not recognize how you’re acting and how you’re feeling, and that can be liberating, to step into an alternate identity,” she says. Ahead of an event where a majority of women still take their husband’s last name, trying on another identity before picking up a new one is alluring to brides like O’Rourke, who says the wig empowered her to be someone else before settling down.
And of course let’s not forget: Wigs work well on Instagram, a place where everybody wants to prove their uniqueness. Wigs are fun, they’re sexy, they’re (for now, anyway) not quite as basic as matching pageant sashes or “bride-to-be” paraphernalia.
Instagram is where Michaela Corbett was first introduced to celebratory wig wearing after a friend posted a photo from a birthday party, so she adopted the style choice to her friend’s bachelorette party in 2018. For three nights in Fort Lauderdale, the group of six wore Amazon-bought pastel purple, pink, and white wigs to the delight of bouncers and bar owners who let the women skip long lines and even staged an impromptu photo shoot. “People aren’t going to come up and take pictures with you for wearing matching T-shirts,” the 29-year-old says. Corbett says she took all the wigs home with her to New York City and has worn them to brunch and to SantaCon.
At this point, Coco Coquette’s Garro estimates she’s been a part of over 1,000 wig parties. During some, she witnessed timid attendees come out of their shell. In others, groups of women bonded over hair and makeup. She’s seen casual acquaintances come together over neon bobs: “You don’t need the matching outfits. A wig is the beacon.”
And if an upcoming wedding isn’t in the cards, there’s still plenty of room to play, according to Merritt. “Whether it’s a bachelorette party, a birthday party, or a girls’ weekend getaway, a wig theme will forever be timeless.”
Originally Appeared on Glamour