Created By: SpiritedYoungLady on March 26, 2013 Last Edited By: XFllo on October 8, 2013
Troped

Sailor's Ponytail

A low, short ponytail worn by sailors and swashbucklers.

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Trope

In times past, "long hair" for women meant long enough to sit on. "Short hair" for men, therefore, could get shoulder-length or longer. Sailors and other wanderers who spend long weeks away from ladies and barbers often wore low ponytails to keep their hair out of their way.

Characters who sport a sailor's pony tail are not necessarily Long Haired Pretty Boys, as their lengthy locks are not flowing and feminine. The Sailor's Ponytail is visual shorthand that indicates an adventurous and down-and-dirty character.

Ever-popular hair style and genre/setting indicator for the Wooden Ships and Iron Men.

Examples from media:

Anime and Manga

Film

Literature
  • Jackie from the Bloody Jack books initially cuts all of her hair off to pull off the Sweet Polly Oliver that gets the plot rolling. As she gets older, she grows her hair out into one of these, partly because it's expected of "young men" and partly so she can switch back into a girl when she wants to.
  • Most of the sailor characters in The Liveship Traders, including the protagonist Althea, wear their hair this way as it's a fantasy version of Wooden Ships and Iron Men.
  • The ballad "Faithless Sally Brown" is about a young man who's Press-Ganged and finds that his girlfriend didn't wait for him when he gets back. The penultimate verse mentions he "chew'd his pigtail till he died". Read the poem here.

Live Action TV
  • Vast majority of officers in Horatio Hornblower wear ponytails. Some lower-deck characters sport this hairstyle as well, but some of them have short hair.

Theatre
  • In a Great Performances production of Twelfth Night Helen Hunt as Viola/Cesario wears her hair like this, as does her brother Sebastian (whom she is modelling herself after as Cesario).

Video Games

Webcomic
  • In Girl Genius, Airman Higgs ("The Unstoppable" Airshipman Higgs) wears one of these. As airship units are treated as analogous to naval ones (though seafaring definitely exists in this setting), it certainly qualifies as a Sailor's Ponytail.

Real Life
Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • March 26, 2013
    Chernoskill
    A sample image would prove useful, as long ponytails on males were very common around the 18th century because all soldiers were required to wear their hair in this style.

    (From the otehr wiki)

    "In the second half of the 18th century, most men in Europe wore their hair long and tied back into what we would now describe as a ponytail, although it was sometimes gathered into a silk bag rather than allowed to hang freely. At that time, it was commonly known by the French word for "tail", queue. It was a mandatory hairstyle for men in all European armies until the early 19th century, after most civilians had stopped wearing queues. The British Army was the first to dispense with it, and by the end of the Napoleonic Wars most armies had changed their regulations to make short hair compulsory."
  • March 26, 2013
    helterskelter
    Yeah, this is a typical style found in anything associated with this time period. I don't think it's a design convention particular to sailors/pirates. For instance, it's a pretty popular style given to any men set during the Revolutionary War. You see it in games like Assassins Creed III and The Patriot.
  • March 28, 2013
    willthiswork
    Hmm, I think Anders in Dragon Age II has his hair like this, but IDK if he personality is the right fit or not.
  • March 28, 2013
    helterskelter
    That would mean the trope is only about a type of hairstyle, which isn't a trope. The trope has to have some pattern to it.
  • March 28, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
  • April 2, 2013
    ElectricalLass
    Historical Manly Ponytail should be the new title for this trope.
  • April 2, 2013
    clankomatic
    Noaquiyeum-Yes :-) Airman Higgs, in the Girl Genius web comic. And if, in fact, he's a bosun, then he is Bosun Higgs.
  • April 2, 2013
    XFllo
    Oh gosh, everybody on Horatio Hornblower, if we mean the same hairstyle. At least the officers. Lower-deck characters sport various different hairstyles. And the officers are not down-and-dirty :-D I'd modify that.

    I think most examples from Wooden Ships And Iron Men will wear it.
  • April 6, 2013
    XFllo
    fixed formatting and added my Hornblower example
  • April 24, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    I think this may actually be two tropes: the Nautical Ponytail and Historic Mainly Long Hair, which overlap but are not identical.
  • April 25, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ That's a fairly good point. I can see it as well. (Though -- typo? I guess you mean Manly Long Hair).

    Who added the tag "tropeworthy?"? This is definitely tropeworthy. It's very recognizable and it effectively sets up the genre and the era. Kind of like Twenties Bob Hair Cut sets up The Roaring Twenties. Hair styles are sometimes People Sit On Chairs, but not always.
  • April 25, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    Dang. Yeah, that's a typo, although it's also a bit of an accidental pun too.
  • April 26, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ LOL.
  • April 28, 2013
    XFllo
  • April 30, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In a Great Performances production of Twelfth Night Helen Hunt as Viola/Cesario wears her hair like this, as does her brother Sebastian (whom she is modelling herself after as Cesario).
  • May 1, 2013
    McKathlin
    Video Games
    • Guybrush Threepwood, protagonist of the Monkey Island games. He wants to be a pirate.
  • June 5, 2013
    XFllo
    Bumping. Hats? Criticism? Tropeworthy? Or chairsy?
  • July 2, 2013
    DAN004
    Needs pics.
  • July 5, 2013
    XFllo
    Here are some pics I liked.
    • Hornblower: 1, 2
    • Monkey Island: 1, 2

  • July 5, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
  • July 6, 2013
    eowynjedi
    It's been some time since I read it, but I believe this is accurate:

    Historical Manly Long Hair seems fairly broad if it was added as a separate trope, since long hair has come in and out of fashion many times in many places (lots of European kings with bob cuts, not to mention all the different hairstyles on continents other than Europe and N.A.). Sailor's Ponytail, on the other hand, would probably be limited to Wooden Ships Iron Men settings (i.e. 16th - 19th centuries). But I do think this (and HMLH if someone tropes it) are tropeworthy for the reasons X Fllo has said: it's a period indicator.
  • July 6, 2013
    XFllo
    I agree with eowynjedi. It cannot cover the whole history by any chance and is very broad. What I meant was in one of my earlier post is that it applies also to other professions, especially military. If there are characters who are aristocrats and Idle Rich, they will also have longer hairs, but cultured and trimmed. But sailors and soldiers from this setting have wilder hair.
  • July 10, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Literature: Jackie from the Bloody Jack books initially cuts all of her hair off to pull off the Sweet Polly Oliver that gets the plot rolling. As she gets older, she grows her hair out into one of these, partly because it's expected of "young men" and partly so she can switch back into a girl when she wants to.
  • July 11, 2013
    eowynjedi
    Also:

  • July 22, 2013
    capsaicinfinity
    Webcomic example:
    • In Girl Genius, Airman Higgs wears one of these. As airship units in Girl Genius are treated as analogous to naval ones (though seafaring definitely exists in this setting) it certainly qualifies as a Sailor's Ponytail.
  • August 8, 2013
    XFllo
  • August 11, 2013
    XFllo
    Another BUMP. Tropeworthy or no?
  • August 11, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    Yes.
  • August 13, 2013
    XFllo
    So why isn't it getting hats? ;-) Does the description need improvement?
  • August 13, 2013
    DAN004
    Needs moar examples I guess.
  • August 15, 2013
    Bisected8
    • The ballad "Faithless Sally Brown" is about a young man who's Press Ganged and finds that his girlfriend didn't wait for him when he gets back. The penultimate verse mentions he "chew'd his pigtail till he died".
  • September 8, 2013
    XFllo
    Launch soon?
  • September 13, 2013
    Snicka
  • September 13, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ Zero Context Example. There are people out there who don't know the film. I'm myself one of them. :-) My attempt in the write-up:

  • September 13, 2013
    FalconPain
    Pokemon Ranger And The Temple Of The Sea is more sailing-oriented than most Pokemon films, and the movie-specific protagonist Jack Walker sports this kind of ponytail.
  • October 3, 2013
    XFllo
    Launch soon (probably at the weekend).
  • October 7, 2013
    XFllo
    .
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