Prim and Proper Bun

Don't ask her to let it down.

The bun as a hair style has long indicated a very specific character type. It shows a woman as neat, prim, proper, and organized. As such it tends to be favoured by librarians, school teachers, nannies, doctors, serious office ladies, and women of a certain age.

Characters with this hairstyle tend to be respected and be in charge. They also tend to be more conservative than other characters and more tight laced.

Naturally, it makes this hairstyle popular among the more Lady of War-flavored Action Girls who chose to eschew Tomboyish Ponytail or Braids of Action, though the latter could be easily converted into a bun.

Often times this leads to Letting Her Hair Down if she decides to break out of that mold. Part of what creates the appeal of the Hot Librarian.

A Sister Trope to Power Hair (a more ambitious woman's hairstyle), Girlish Pigtails (a properly girlish hairstyle), Regal Ringlets (an extravagant, but still proper, style).

Compare Odango Hair (two small spherical buns placed high on a character's head).

Contrast Tomboyish Ponytail, Tomboyish Sidetails, and Motherly Side Plait.

Note: This trope is for using visual shorthand to characterize an individual. It is not a trope for every character who happens to have a bun. Please remember this when editing the example list.


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     Anime And Manga 
  • Meiko from Kangoku Gakuen, who's the vice president of her school's student council, which deals with disciplinary actions, has her in a bun at all times, this includes showers, sleeping and exercising. The only time she's shown with her hair down is in flashbacks when she was in elementary school and she was a lot less rigid back then. She generally conducts herself in a no nonsense militaristic manner.
  • Subverted by the genderbent version of France from Axis Powers Hetalia. She's more sexy than proper because, well, she's France.
  • Nanao Ise in Bleach, Lieutenant of the 8th Division, is very true to the trope. Not only does she wear her hair in the bun, but she also wears glasses and is frequently seen carrying a book (making her arguably a Hot Librarian as well). She is also so stiff and formal that her captain (a Professional Slacker in contrast) keeps trying to convince her to lighten up a little.
  • Subverted with "Lady Borgia" Ogiwara from Oniisama e..., who is first seen as a softspoken and dignified Onee-sama type and later reveals herself as a massive Smug Snake. Notice that she originally had bobbed hair in the manga, but her hairstyle changed to a bun in the anime series.
  • General Vasant wears it in Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing, being the neat and principled Lady of War.
  • The last Sankt Kaiser Olivie Sagebrecht of Lyrical Nanoha, who was known as a brilliant leader and the queen deemed second to none in combat, is shown through flashbacks in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivid to have this hairstyle.


    Fan Works 
  • In the Discworld as expanded by AA Pessimal, the sterner teachers at the Assassins' Guild School such as Miss Alice Band and Miss Sanderson-Reeves are seen affecting very stern buns in the classroom. Pupils speculate, with good reason, about the hair-pins holding it all together and alternative uses they could be put to. The School's Agatean Studies teacher, Miss Koucochou-Sama ("Pretty Butterfly", Twoflower's daughter, as seen in Interesting Times) also affects a tight Japanese-styled version.note  Pupils learn that the tighter the bun, the tougher the teacher.


  • Susan from the Discworld novels finds that her Expressive Hair tends to twist itself into a bun of its own volition. As she works as a governess or school teacher when she's not saving the world it's rather fitting.
    • Granny Weatherwax wears her hair in a "tight bun that could crack rocks." Also serves as a convenient sheath for her weapon of choice for hand-to-hand combat, hatpins.
    • Adora Belle Dearheart in Going Postal wears a bun as well. She wears plain gray dresses, is an Office Lady who works for golems and was formerly a bank teller, and says she has no sense of humor, largely because of her Unfortunate Name. She's actually quite attractive, especially to Moist, but she's still proper and serious.
  • Professor McGonagall wears her hair like this in Harry Potter. When she says the Yule ball is a chance to "let down our hair", Harry notes that she looked like she had never actually let her hair down in any sense.
  • Miss Hardbroom in The Worst Witch (except at official Halloween parties).
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder and her mother wear their hair like this, as do all proper married ladies, in the Little House books.
  • Novinha from Speaker For The Dead has one, and it's noted that she lets her hair down as she begins to open up emotionally.
  • Marilla Cuthbert, of Anne of Green Gables, has a very tight bun in the beginning, which suits her personality, but she relaxes as the series progresses.

     Live Action TV 
  • On The King of Queens, Carrie started wearing her hair in a bun. Everyone else thought it was unflattering, but she kept on wearing it until she attends a service for a librarian in Doug's high school and sees a photo of her wearing the exact same bun. She loses it thereafter.
  • Star Trek: Voyager
    • Captain Janeway had this style for most of the first season. [1] which was known as The Bun of Steel
    • The emotionless and formal Seven of Nine used this style for her first 3 seasons on the show.
  • Mrs. Hall is described this way in All Creatures Great and Small.
  • Veronica from Better Off Ted is a powerful, cold hearted executive; also, when Ted takes his daughter to work, Veronica teaches her to put her hair in this kind of bun.
  • Lilith from Cheers and Frasier typically wears her hair this way. If she lets it down it's a sure sign that things are about to get intense between her and Frasier.
  • Liz Shaw in Doctor Who has a bun in her first story. It's probably not a coincidence that in subsequent stories, once the ice has been broken with the Doctor and the Brigadier, the bun goes.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • Several women in authority or managerial roles have done this, including:
    • Terri Runnels, as manager Alexandra York in WCW in the early 1990's
    • Stacy Keibler, as Standards & Practices secretary Miss Hancock in WCW in 1999-2000
    • [[Wrestling/Daffney Daffney]] during her gimmick as a fake Sarah Palin.
    • The early days of Miss Tessmacher in TNA.
    • Currently, with Eve Torres in WWE.
  • Oddly Booker T sometimes puts his dreads into a bun (or ponytail) when not wrestling. Sometimes even when he does.


  • In Mass Effect 1, Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams uses this hairstyle, and is notably organized, professional, and is also a rank that puts her in charge of her unit. On the other hand, she's also a firm believer in Brutal Honesty. She lets her hair down by Mass Effect 3, literally and metaphorically.

     Visual Novels 

     Web Original 
  • Noob gives this hairstyle to Roxana, the Iron Lady leader of the Player Killer guild.

     Western Animation 

     Real Life 
  • In the United States military, many women wear their hair in this style due to military regulations governing appearance while in uniform.
    • This is true in most militaries worldwide. In the British Armed Forces this is the only acceptable way for females to wear hair long enough to touch the collar, with the bun worn low so a cap or beret fits comfortably.