14 Slicked-Back Ponytail Ideas for Your Next Night Out

Or when you want to feel like a boss.

Heart Evangelista wears a sleeveless black long mesh bodysuit with fluffy pants and floral embroidery, outside Roberto Cavalli, during the Milan Fashion Week - Womenswear Spring/Summer 2024 on September 20, 2023 in Milan, Italy.
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Few hairstyles make you feel more confident than a slicked-back ponytail. It's a style that always means business, whether you're looking to emulate that "clean look" that's all over TikTok and Instagram, or just want a hairstyle that's going to add some oomph to your next night-out look. Plus, it'll keep your hair out of your face all day (or night) long, so you won't need to worry about it coming undone as the hours pass. Oh—and they're so easy to do when you're short on time.

So, if you're down to try out the style for yourself in 2023, keep scrolling for some seriously good hair inspiration courtesy of all of your favorite celebrities. Hollywood loves to rock a high pony, clearly, so there are plenty of different iterations to choose from—Gigi Hadid,  Serena Williams, and queen Beyoncé all have rocked the style in the past.

And it's not hard to see why—the possibilities are (basically) endless as long as the front part of your hair is, well, slicked back. Case in point: When Hailey Bieber tried the look on the Met Gala red carpet in 2019, she accessorized her slicked-back ponytail with a velvet bow accessory. But, when Ciara tried something similar on the same carpet in 2021, her style gave way to voluminous waves for a slightly more modern approach. Some, like Williams, even have opted to add some fun so-called "bubbles" to their ponytail for added volume. Read on to check out all of the looks, as well as to find out what products you need to achieve a similar look at home. 

Go Way-High

If you're gonna go for a high ponytail with some real drama, really go there by placing it right at the top of your head like Beyonce did at the Met Gala in 2015. To channel something similar, use a fine-toothed comb to gather your hair at the top of your head and to do away with any unwanted bumps so that your hair looks super smooth from every angle. Finish your look off with lots (and lots) of high-hold hairspray to keep flyaways at bay. 

slick back ponytail

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Add Mega Shine

My jaw dropped when I saw Gigi Hadid's super-glossy ponytail at the Met Gala in 2021. That shine! If you too are looking to channel some Hadid-esque ponytail styling, opt for either a shine-inducing cream or a finishing shine spray. You'll be reflecting light in no time.  

slick back ponytail

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Add a Fun Accessory

If you're a longtime slicked-back ponytail wearer and are looking to add some spice to your look, try adding a fun accessory like a luxe velvet scrunchie or clip. You'll look like the very grown-up version of Samantha, everyone's favorite posh American Girl Doll—or Hailey Bieber at the Met Gala in 2019. 

slick back ponytail

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Add Tons of Tiny Waves and Texture

A slicked-back ponytail with tons of volume and texture is just like a mullet: business in the front, party in the back. You can achieve this in one of two ways—try a clip-in ponytail that has the same look, or curl your hair in tons of tiny ringlets using a thin curling wand. Simply brush out the curls and voila. 

slick back ponytail

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Try a Two-Tone Look

Dua Lipa's two-tone pony offers a modern take on the two-toned pony. If you're not willing to go all-in and dye half your hair, you have other options. A hair gloss will give your hair a slight tint, or a clip-in ponytail of a different color will give you a similar look. 

slick back ponytail

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Add a Retro Swoop

While I do love a modern iteration on a classic style like the slicked-back pony, Zendaya's retro swoosh is the stuff of hair dreams. Her smooth, side-swept bangs are matched perfectly with bouncy, blown out pony. Use jumbo hot rollers or a trendy blow dryer brush to master your blowout before gathering your hair at the top of your head. Leave out a sectioned-off portion where you wish your bangs were  and swoop them to one side using a high-hold pomade. 

slick back ponytail

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Try a Half-Up, Half-Down Look

If you're not a fan of the fully-done ponytail. Try a sweet half-up half-down ponytail a la Bella Hadid. A teeny tiny hair tie will make sure that your hair looks extra pulled-back. If you find that your hairline isn't exactly ready to be fully on display, try a root touch-up powder to fake the look. Celebrity hairstylist Chis Appleton prefers the Color WOW Root Cover Up. 

slick back ponytail

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Make It a Braid

Add edge and transform your classic pony with a mega-long braid like Alicia Keys. A styling mouse or gel will give your locks a bit of shine and added hold to keep fly-aways at bay all day long. 

slick back ponytail

(Image credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Try a Bubble Ponytail

Bubble ponytails are everywhere. Olivia Rodrigo, Zendaya, and Serena Williams have all rocked the style in recent months. Add volume to the bottom of your pony by teasing it slightly and adding a burst of texturizing spray before adding a ponytail holder every few inches. 

slick back ponytail

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Part Down The Middle

Gen-Z has officially declared side parts not cool and while I'm not sure I fully agree, I do see the appeal of a middle part, especially when it's in a sleek middle part. This style is perfect for those days you need a hair treatment but can't stay in the house all day. To replicate, apply your favorite hair oil to your scalp and throughout your ends, then use the tail end of a comb to create a pencil-straight middle part before tying your hair into a ponytail.

Yara Shahidi attends the red carpet premiere of the Apple Original Series "Extrapolations" at Hammer Museum on March 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

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Go For Length

Kim Kardashian turned heads in more ways than one when she arrived at the 2021 Met Gala. While her head-to-toe black ensemble was eye-catching, to say the least, her floor-length ponytail was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Chris Stapleton used 75-inch hair extensions to give Kim her Met Gala pony, but your tresses don't have to reach the floor to get a similar look.

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Short and Wispy

If your hair doesn't go all the way down your back, don't worry. With a simple trick, short hair can participate in the slicked-back ponytail trend too, says Giannetos. For shorter hair, I would recommend securing the ponytail closer to the middle of the head, while also leaving some pieces in the front for a gorgeous look," he says. "This style is also great for those who want to highlight their money pieces in the front or bangs." Take after Priyanka Chopra and slick back your hair with shine-inducing hairspray, then curl your bangs with a medium to large curling wand.

Priyanka Chopra is seen on October 08, 2019 in New York City.

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High and Natural

For those with natural textured hair, Giannetos recommends "using the method of wearing your ponytail more to the front of the head, as your natural curls will add the volume it needs to support the higher pony." Actor Nathalie Emmanuel got the right idea at the Venice Film Festival when she slicked her curly hair into cool sections before tying it all up in a high pony. For smoother strands, we recommend going in with a curl cream through the length of your hair before tying it up.

Nathalie Emmanuel is seen arriving at the 77th Venice Film Festival on September 06, 2020 in Venice, Italy.

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Double It Up

Maybe pigtails make your think of your elementary school days, but the style can be chic, particularly when slicked back. Just take a look at Barbara Palvin's sleek pigtails at Paris Fashion Week. To try it the look out for yourself, section your hair in two parts right down the middle. Working on one side at a time, use a hair wax stick to smooth flyaways and slick your hair into a ponytail, then repeat.

Barbara Palvin attends the Miu Miu aftershow party as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2018 at Boum Boum on October 3, 2017 in Paris, France.

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Meet The Expert

Dimitris Giannetos headshot
Dimitris Giannetos

Dimitris has worked behind the scenes at fashion shows around the world including Paris, Milan and New York. He has worked with brands such as L’Oreal and has styled many notable celebrities including  Camila Cabello, Ciara, Megan Fox, Machine Gun Kelly, Cindy Crawford, Joey King, Alessandra Ambrossio, Meghan Trainor, Britney Spears, Amal Clooney, Rosalia, Maria Menounos, and many more.