Hair Tutorial: Casual High Top Knot Bun

Oftentimes I find myself in need of a casual updo in a pinch – sometimes for style purposes to help accentuate the neckline of an outfit, but most of the time just due to mom life and the need to make unwashed hair look presentable. Either way, this 2-minute semi messy topknot comes to my rescue often, and has gotten a lot of tutorial requests over the years as a result!

A while back I shared an older tutorial for a different topknot variation which I’ll call a traditional “donut style” bun, since you wrap the ponytail into a circular shape. In comparison, today’s variation is more of a “fan style” bun. In either bun the key is using corkscrew-style spin pins (game changer if you don’t have these!! I use the Goody brand but there’s plenty of lower priced alternatives now), which help make buns possible for my coarse, straight hair. If you have thin hair, you may want to spray some texturizer or lightly tease your hair beforehand.

Check my IGTV for the how-to video, and the below snapshots for a little more explanation!

hair tutorial messy top knot


Begin by brushing your hair into a very high ponytail.


Start tying a hair elastic around your ponytail, but once you’re on the very last loop, do not pull your entire ponytail through. Only pull through a small loop of hair, leaving the rest of the ponytail in the back.

step by step tutorial for messy top knot


If you have a long tail as a result from the loop, I just tuck the ends into one of the elastic bands. If you have a short tail, just use some bobby pins to secure it down. Don’t worry if it looks messy as we’ll be fluffing out the loop and you can pull various pieces from the loop down to cover up a messy back.


At this point you’ll look like a sumo wrestler, but fear not, messy bun perfection is just a few steps away!

how to do a messy top knot hairstyle


Fan out the sumo wrestler bun toward your head. This is where you can get creative and pull out more for a looser, messier look and also pull in different directions for a more voluminous bun.


As you’re fanning the bun out, have a spin pin ready in your hand and use it to secure one corner of the fanned out bun at a time. Screw them in gently like corkscrews, with the goal being to catch hair from both your bun as well as from the top of your head so that the spin pin “anchors” the bun securely.

messy top knot hair tutorial

Express top (old; similar) + leggings xxs petite (read my review), similar earrings (similar on a budget), Veja sneakers US 4 / EUR 35 (check my IG story highlights for tips on making them comfy right off the bat!)


Repeat with more spin pins. I use at least 4 to anchor down each corner of my bun (front left, front right, back left, back right), but you can use as few or as many as you need. If a piece of the bun sticks out at an odd angle I’ll just use an additional pin to secure the rogue section back down.


That’s it! Clean up any loose pieces with regular bobby pins. And if you struggle with flyaways or wispies like I do, one tip from my previous bun tutorial video (see it at 1 minute 40 seconds) is to spray some hairspray on an old toothbrush and brush down the flyaways.

finished top knot gallery

Hope this was helpful! Here’s a look at this same hairstyle paired with both casual and dressier looks across the seasons!

boston fall outfit pumpkin patch parlee farm

Everlane cable sweater xxs c/o on sale! authentic stretch high-rise jeans 24 ankle (also in mid-rise) on sale!
Outfit from this blog post

pleated skirt office work outfit petite style
Outfit from this blog post

Outfit from this blog post

express petite tan pants for work
Outfit from this blog post

white summer dress styles for petite women
Outfit from this blog post

brown tights petite sweater dress outfit
Outfit from this blog post

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  1. Marian Lapierre wrote:

    Hair buns are my favorite! Since I have fine and thin hair, I wear clips-ins from Zala to add volume to my hair. The bun looks easy, but I have no experience with spin pins, so I have to call a friend to help me out! Lol!!

    Posted 8.13.21 Reply
  2. Jolien wrote:

    That’s so pretty! I’ve never heard of those spin pins to be honest. Again, I’ve learned something new today!

    Posted 2.23.20 Reply
  3. Maureen wrote:

    I love hair buns! They are my go-to! I haven’t tried out the fanned out style so I’ll need to try this out!

    Posted 2.20.20 Reply
  4. Elizabeth wrote:

    Ahh this is such a cute hairstyle <3 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial! Can't wait to try it!

    XO, Elizabeth T.

    Posted 2.17.20 Reply
  5. Rachael wrote:

    Love this! Spin pins are amazing for easy updos. What do you do with flyaways in the back? Hairspray & pin, or just let them be?

    Posted 2.16.20 Reply
  6. Gwen Kennedy wrote:

    Thank you Jean!! I needed this. I’ve been growing out my hair and it is shiny and straight, thin but lots of it, but I find that when I wear it down for client meetings… being petite and not looking my age… even in a suit or sheath dress, I am taken less seriously, as if I look less polished. I love this and can’t wait to try it! For those that have fine hair, I always add clip extensions around the base of my pony when I put it up, for more volume, and wrap pieces of my own hair around the base to mask the clips. 🙂

    Posted 2.12.20 Reply
  7. Anika May wrote:

    Great tutorial, love how simple this is!


    Posted 2.12.20 Reply
  8. Rena wrote:

    Thanks for the tutorial, you look fantastic with such a bun!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

    Posted 2.12.20 Reply
    • Tiffany wrote:

      This tutorial was an unexpected gift.

      I’ve been recovering from a mild traumatic brain injury for close to a year and I often get headaches with my typical mid-to-high ponytail with a hair elastic. So much so that I’ll need to take my hair out to relieve the pressure. I’ve literally wished I could put my hair up without an elastic. I’d never heard of spin pins!

      After your post I saw these in Walmart yesterday, did your topknot quickly and for fun (to my 6 yr old daughters approval at bedtime) and am rocking an imperfect but easy French twist this morn. No headaches!

      Thanks for this unexpected blessing. ❤️

      Posted 2.13.20 Reply
  9. Mireia wrote:

    So cute and easy!

    Mireia from TGL

    Posted 2.12.20 Reply
  10. Kim le wrote:

    Can you please do your current eye make up tutorial too? Thanks so much

    Posted 2.11.20 Reply

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