While rushing to work one day, I ran past a little girl who turned to her dad when she saw me and said, “Look! A princess!” My heart stopped and I felt my entire insides melt as I proceeded to do the least princess-y thing of all: frantically curse as I tripped while running down the steps to the subway.
She probably saw me for who I really was after that (aka definitely not a princess), but I made a mental note of the outfit for when I wanted to channel some regal energy in the future. I was wearing a vintage white prairie dress with ruffles, my favorite Dr. Martens Jadon platform boots, and a velvet padded headband I bought on Etsy. The most evident nod to royalty was by far the padded headband, a favorite accessory of the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton herself (although I’d pay good money to see her in a pair of Docs).
I will admit, my thought process when getting dressed that morning wasn’t, “how can I look like a princess?” It was more, “how can I not look like a mess?” Whenever I wake up late, feel hungover, or generally overbook myself to the point where I barely have time to breathe, I always grab a padded headband.
Padded headbands weren’t part of my go-to outfit arsenal until earlier this year. Just like with black knee-high stockings, padded headbands were a key part of the Prada aesthetic for their spring 2019 show. Unlike the stockings though, which gave a punk vibe, the headbands were overtly feminine. When I wear one, I feel pretty without having to try. Not to mention they instantly make me calm when I’m having a bad hair day. Instead of panicking like I used to and throwing my hair into a messy top bun, I put on a padded headband and just like that — a princess! I look really put together and it keeps my hair out of my face, which is especially nice if it happens to be greasy.
When I started the search for padded headbands, I thought maybe I’d get the Prada one I had seen on the runway. When I saw the starting price of $240, I immediately decided not to. I couldn’t justify it. As more brands caught on and padded headbands started trending, the options multiplied. But the price didn’t change much. The Blair Waldorf-obsessed high schooler in me really wanted one, but spending upwards of $100 on a hair accessory seemed excessive.
So I did what any non-princess on a budget would do and turned to Etsy. I stumbled across a shop called DesignbyHummingbird that specializes in handmade padded headbands in every shape, size, design, color, and fabric I could ever possibly imagine for under $50. The shop is based in the UK (makes sense), offers free shipping (bless), and their headbands make me want to cry (happy cry!). I ordered a simple black velvet padded one for $33 that I wear more than any other piece in my closet. After wearing the padded headband every day for a week, I ordered another one in light purple for $40 and a decked out one with faux pearl jewels that resembles a crown. While the latter cost me a little bit more at $66, I truly regret nothing because it’s the most fabulous thing I’ve ever seen and looks way more expensive than it was.
Although no other small child has told me I look like a princess, I still get endless compliments whenever I wear one of my DesignbyHummingbird headbands. Most people actually do assume they’re by Prada because they’re that well-made. Whether I’m having a bad hair day or a late start, I know I can count on them to make me look put together. And if someone happens to think I’m Kate Middleton’s long lost relative? Sure! Even better.
Shop padded headbands so good I’m positive any princess would be jealous on Etsy below.
Black Velvet Padded Headband
Shop now: $33; etsy.com
Lilac Satin Padded Headband
Shop now: $41; etsy.com
Black Velvet Padded Headband with Faux Pearl Design
Shop now: $66 ; etsy.com
Dark Green Velvet Jewelled Headband
Shop now: $34; etsy.com
Padded Velvet Headband with Faux Pearl Flower Jewels
Shop now: $66; etsy.com
Black Silver Stud Padded Headband
Shop now: $34; etsy.com