Chignons are generally achieved by pinning the hair into a knot at the nape of the neck or at the back of the head, but there are many different variations of the style. They are frequently worn for special occasions, like weddings and formal dances, but the basic chignon is also worn for everyday casual wear. 
History of the chignon
The chignon can be traced back to Ancient Greece, where Athenian women commonly wore the style with gold or ivory handcrafted hairpins. Athenian men wore the style as well, but they fastened their chignons with a clasp of "golden grasshoppers", according to The History of the Peloponnesian War, by Thucydides. The chignon was specific to Athens, as other city states, such as Sparta and Cyprus, had their own style of hairdressing. The chignon was also popular in Ancient China, where married women wore the low, knotted hairstyle.
The chignon achieved popularity during the Victorian era; during that time, chignons were often enormous constructions including false hair or pads. Male writers, like Anthony Trollope, were fond of poking fun at the absurdity of the fashion.
The chignon’s popularity peaked again in the 1940s when many women wore the chignon with a headscarf while working in factories to support the war effort during World War II. Women with long hair now serving in the United States military often wear their hair in chignons. Currently, the chignon is popular because of its association with French elegance, and the ease with which a chignon can be achieved.
- Lisa Rein and Emily Wax, Aung San Suu Kyi finds common cause with Russian dissident punk rockers, Washington Post. September 20, 2012.
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- Bustle-era hairstyles