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Prim and Proper Bun

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Don't ask her to let it down.
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The bun as a hairstyle has long indicated a very specific character type. It shows a woman as neat, prim, proper, and organized. As such it tends to be favored by Proper Ladies, 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 and tight-laced than other characters.

Naturally, it makes this hairstyle common for a Lady of War who chooses 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 (an Iron Lady's hairstyle), Girlish Pigtails (a properly girlish hairstyle), and Regal Ringlets (an extravagant, but still proper, style).

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

Contrast Tomboyish Ponytail 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.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Francis Middleford from Black Butler is a proper lady who berates anybody she thinks lacks decorum or taste and doesn't think twice about making them fit what she thinks is proper. She wears a neat bun in the back and frequently berates Ciel and his servants for "sporting untidy hairstyles" by letting their bangs fall over their eyes.
  • Nanao Ise in Bleach, Lieutenant of the 8th Division. 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.
  • Chi-Chi from Dragon Ball wears a high bun throughout the Boo Saga and Dragon Ball Super. While she has softened up from her Education Mama attitude during the Time Skip between the Cell Saga and Boo Saga, she returns to her old mentality again after the Boo Saga ends. The hairstyle mostly serves to make Chi-Chi look older after the Time Skip (while Bulma, ironically, looks younger than before despite being four years older than her), which becomes obvious when she has her hair down in Super.
  • Meiko from Prison School wears a high bun at the rear right corner of her head at all times, including 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's shown to be very strict and formal, and she does not hesitate to use her whip on the boys for any kind of misbehavior.
  • By the time of :re, Akira Mado from Tokyo Ghoul wears a braided bun in the back. She's a serious and professional Lady of War, and eventually achieves ranks up from First Class Investigator to Associate Special Class, both high statuses in the CCG.

     Comic Books 
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    Fan Works 
  • In the Discworld as expanded by A.A. 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.
  • Ragyou from Kill la Kill AU donned one of these in her flashbacks and, apparently, this is supposed to mark her transition into maturity, as she had a Tomboy Ponytail when she was in college.

    Films — Animated 
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • In The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Ariel wears a high twist bun for most of the film. She's become a more mature Former Teen Rebel with an adventurous daughter of her own. She lets her hair down when she temporarily turns back into a mermaid and lets go of her stress.
    • Jane Porter from Tarzan initially wears a high bun, in line with her British Stuffiness. She eventually loses it as she accommodates to the jungle environment.
    • During the coronation, Queen Elsa from Frozen wears a French crown braid with a twist bun above the neck. When she realizes she can cut loose with her emotions, she tears out the braid and allows her hair to hang in relative freedom.
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games, the human version of Twilight Sparkle wears a large high bun. Since she's the Teen Genius of Crystal Prep High School, it's meant to invoke the same character type; she's way more academic than athletic, unlike the rest of Crystal Prep.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Katherine Brooke, the Stern Principal in Anne of Avonlea, in contrast to Anne's looser, less severe bun.
  • Appropriately enough, the Prison Psychiatrist in Hair, who interrogates Woof on why he wears his hair long (and whether that makes him gay) in the title song sequence from the film. Her hair is in a tight bun.
  • Mary Poppins of course! Practically perfect in every way!
  • Mrs. Danvers in at least the film adaptation of Rebecca.
  • The Borg Queen from Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Voyager. It's not actual hair, but the mass of wires on the back of her head are arranged in a circular pattern and she certainly has the personality to match.
  • The T-X in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines starts with her hair down due to being Naked on Arrival like all time travelers (both human and Terminator) from the future, but immediately steals this hairstyle along with the clothes from the first human woman she finds and kills and keeps it for the rest of the film, where it helps to emphasize the cold and emotionless nature that she has as a hostile Terminator.
  • In Young Lady Chatterley II, the deeply repressed Judith wears her hair in an extremely tight bun until an explosive sexual encounter with Thomas results in her Letting Her Hair Down.

     Literature 
  • 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.
  • Discworld:
    • Susan 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." It 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.
  • 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.
  • Britta wears a bun at the nape of her neck in Star of Deltora, the third Deltora Quest Sequel Series, as part of her “respectable shopkeeper’s daughter” getup. She starts Letting Her Hair Down as she comes into her own as a trader, although she does go back to the bun temporarily when she returns home and needs to look respectable.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • In 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.
  • In Once Upon a Time, this seems to be the go-to hairstyle for most of the show's female villains, usually to emphasize their cold and cruel nature. In an inversion of Letting Her Hair Down, flashbacks typically show their hair either worn down or in less severe styles prior to their Start of Darkness, only to then adopt the bun after their inevitable Face–Heel Turn:
    • Regina wore several different hairstyles during her past as the Evil Queen. One of the more commonly used styles was a rather elaborate bun that she seemed to always wear when performing her most sadistic deeds. In modern day Storybrooke, she starts off with a short bob which gets longer and looser following her eventual Heel–Face Turn.
    • Regina's mother, Cora, wears her own bun similar to the one Regina favored as the Evil Queen. After her death, Regina later finds Cora's spirit in the Underworld, where her hair is down as she pulls a Heel–Face Turn and finally reconciles with her estranged daughter.
    • Zelina wears a bun of her own when she's in full Wicked Witch mode, which comes down after her Heel–Face Turn and redemption.
    • The Snow Queen wears a bun because it was the hairstyle that she happened to be wearing on the day that she accidentally froze and shattered one of her sisters for her Start of Darkness. In modern day Storybrooke, she initially wears a looser ponytail when posing as the friendly owner of the local ice cream shop, but immediately switches back to the bun full-time once her cover is blown and the whole town knows her true identity.
    • Even Emma herself adopts the standard female villain bun when she becomes the new Dark One, and just as quickly abandons it when she loses the Dark One powers and goes back to being the Savior.
      • One of the flashbacks during Emma's tenure as the Dark One revealing how the lineage of Dark Ones started shows that the woman who became the very first Dark One also gained the same bun as Emma in an Expository Hairstyle Change upon gaining her powers, implying that this bun is part of the standard package for female Dark Ones.
  • Star Trek: Voyager
    • Captain Janeway had this style for most of the first season. [1] which was known as The Bun of Steel.
    • The coldly-efficient Seven of Nine used this style for her first 3 seasons on the show. As she was also a Ms. Fanservice, she uses a French pleat that adds to her attractiveness rather than an actual bun, but the principle is the same.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • Several women in authority or managerial roles have done this, including:
  • Oddly Booker T sometimes puts his dreads into a bun (or ponytail) when not wrestling. Sometimes even when he does.

    Theatre 

    Toys 
  • Headless Headmistress Bloodgood from Monster High is a headless horsewoman with a stern and imposing presence capped off by her bun hairstyle. Despite this, she is a fair and encouraging teacher.

    Video Games 
  • In Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2, Black Mage and Guardian Lulu wears her hair in a braided bun variation with several accessories. While she is shown to have a gentle side, she is initially very stoic, stern and scathing, especially to Wakka who identifies her as having a short fuse.
  • 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.
  • Nastasia from Super Paper Mario wears a high bun, signifying her serious and professional personality.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Glynda Goodwitch wears a large ballet bun above the neck. Compared to Ozpin's laid-back attitude and amused tolerance for Ruby's ditzy behaviour, she's stern, restrained and seems as frustrated by Ozpin's attitude as by Ruby's. Even her kindness is stern: when she compliments Ruby, her tone of voice is firm and professional and is quickly followed by an admonishment of Ruby's reckless heroics.
    • Winter Schnee wears a high bun at the rear left corner of her head. She's a high-ranking member in the Atlesian military and a stern and professional woman who carries herself with dignity and elegance.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender always has a topknot secured with a Fire Nation comb. She's the stern and perfectionist princess of the Fire Nation. It falls out when she goes insane, with the result of her looking deranged.
  • In Futurama, Morgan Proctor wears a large high bun. She's the snooty lady bureaucrat who temporarily replaced Hermes in "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back".
  • Jinora from The Legend of Korra wears a high bun at the rear right corner of her head. She's the most mature and reserved of her siblings. She does shave her hair off temporarily to get her Airbending tattoos but once it grows back, she's back to the bun.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "Lesson Zero", Twilight Sparkle puts her mane in one of these when she tries out psychology on Rainbow Dash.
    • This is also (fan-named) background pony Nurse Redheart's standard look.
    • And Granny Smith because she's old.

     Real Life 
  • Military:
    • In the United States military, many women wear their hair in a bun due to military regulations governing appearance while in uniform.
    • 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.

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