Dressage Button Braids: Celebrate The Year Of The Horse By Grooming Yourself Like A Fancy Mare

Happy Chinese New Year! Translated to a human mane, this equestrian style makes for a cool kind of bun mohawk--part cyber-punk, part affluent sports.
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Happy Chinese New Year! Translated to a human mane, this equestrian style makes for a cool kind of bun mohawk--part cyber-punk, part affluent sports.

The windows of CVS and department store counters are chocablock full of all pink hearts, glitter and tiny chocolate boxes sewn into the hands of teddy bears, but oh wait, there’s still one cultural holiday you forgot to decorate for, Walgreens: Chinese New Year! OK, I’m sure the Walgreenses in China are decked out (or whatever the equivalent of Walgreens is in China). 

I grew up in New York, so my Chinese New Years have mostly involved avoiding Chinatown (seriously, it’s mad), and stuffing my face with my family. Chinese New Year is kind of a big deal here, if nothing else but for altering/demolishing normal traffic patterns. Traveling below Canal turns into a giant parade filled with confetti, mysterious wafts of something burning, and what appears to be the entire population of Manhattan. NYC Chinese-Americans roll deep.

Today marks the start of the Year of the Horse. Horses are kind of the party animals of the Chinese zodiac. They’re a clever, chatty and amicable yet at times stubborn breed, climbing all the social and career ladders in the land. Think of your fabulous friend with an amazing job, whose attention you crave, who invites you to all the dope parties and always complains about how broke she is while stomping around in Givenchy heels. I tend to reflect upon Hedonism Bot, but that might be comparison overkill. 

Unlike last year’s Year of the Snake, in which MAC released a bomb-ass collection of shimmery “tropical midnight” jewel-toned eye shadows, lipsticks and powders (with a snake sinuously embossed into the makeup, natch), I guess they were less inspired this year, because there's no sign of “Year of the” collection.

NO MATTER. You don’t have to wear makeup in the shape of a horse to flaunt your astrological pride. Take, for instance, the equestrian tradition of dressage, which, much to my befuddlement, is not, in fact, a cross between salad dressing and massage. 


The elegant tradition of riding horses and making them jump over stuff requires a special kind of primping for the horses’ manes, involving intricate braiding. One common style is button braids, which are these cute little buns all down the horse’s mane. It sends me reeling into catatonic shock as I recall the agony of my mother braiding my hair with the Jaws of Life when I was a little girl.

Translated to a human mane, button knots make for a cool kind of mohawk of buns--it’s part cyber-punk, part affluent sports. Plus, it’s pretty easy if you can get over feeling the tricep-tual burn as your arms are in the air, fussing over your hair for like 15 straight minutes (at least I was--I have a lot of hair).

It helps to start with slightly dirty hair because it has a bit of grip. Take a section of your hair beginning with the top-frontal piece, and brush it skywards. How big you want the section depends on how much hair you have. You can do smaller sections and have lots of little buns, or use less hair and have a few bigger knots. Use your discretion!


Section one: braid it, tugging upwards so it will be tight. Tightness is key here. Are you weeping yet? Is your face pulling apart, like the poor man’s facelift? Good. 

Don’t worry, this naturally kind of “slouches” once you bun it.


Once you can’t braid anymore, tie it off with a tiny elastic, folding the ends over so you secure it into a loop.


Then fold the end loop over, and fold down again, kind of rolling the braid into itself towards your head. Take another elastic and secure that bun. 

Think of it like a reverse angler fish

Think of it like a reverse angler fish.


Now repeat until you have a Mohawk of buns. 

You did it. So easy! Now maybe rest your arms for a minute so the lactic acids can drain. My arms were all burny after finishing my whole head, proving that I am incredibly out of shape. 

Now I can take my dressage'd head down to Chinatown and gallop along with all the other revelers come this Friday.


For all you other elegant mares, Clarisonic released a Year of the Horse edition of their best-selling facial brush. It’s red and horsey and I want it for no other reason than topical holiday-themed fixations I have with special editions.

Estee Lauder, ever on top of the zodiac game, also has a beautiful bejeweled enamel Year of the Horse powder compact. If you’re fancy, drop the $125 to powder your schnoz. Good luck snagging one, since they appear to be sold out at most luxury retailers.

The best thing about “dressaging” my mane is the made-ya-look statement when I turn my head from front to side. If nothing else, my top-knot game just got a mega-boost. 

In the future, I might tone it down by just doing one to three small button knots and having the rest of my hair down in a funky half-updo that only the wardrobe consultants on a Disney Channel original series would appreciate.

I have an urge to do a ‘this little piggy…’ game with these buns but years of watching horror movies have just made me associate that with amputation now. Childhood besmirched!

I have an urge to do a "this little piggy" game with these buns but years of watching horror movies have made me associate that with amputation. Childhood besmirched!