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I Re-created 5 Iconic Curly Hair Looks from ‘Sister, Sister’

As a child, I was one of many girls of color who were told that thick, curly hair was deemed unprofessional, undesirable and unmanageable by the people around me, and television wasn’t any different. Most shows’ representation was a specific hair type on a specific kind of person—something that made me feel invisible to the world. It was like anything outside the “standard” was categorized as a challenge or not a real moneymaker. That is until I found Sister, Sister.

In the early seasons, Tia and Tamera Mowry graced our screens with their thick, curly hair in every episode. Of course, at the time, I didn’t appreciate it and was actually excited when they went to college and straightened their hair for the remainder of the series—I know, I know.

But fast-forward to my twenties and I’ve finally embraced my curls and have been wearing them natural going on three years now. Yes, thank you, it does feel as good as it looks. But looking back on the show that shaped my childhood in more ways than one and provided positive women of color characters, I wish I’d appreciated what they were doing at the time. The girls sported so many styles and accessories that paved the way for iconic natural looks for years to come—they were one of the first shows to highlight a hair type that wasn’t being widely accepted, and I believe if I had appreciated it earlier in life (or if more people around me had referenced the impact the show really made for us curly girls), I would’ve started my journey way sooner.

Now, just like anyone else on their natural hair journey, I’m constantly searching the earth for inspiration for how to wear my hair. As I continue to get to know my curls in all their unprocessed glory, I thought I’d use my quest for the perfect go-to look as an opportunity to pay tribute to the show that opened my eyes to how beautiful curls can be—and upgrade my style as a bonus.

The challenge: Could I channel the Mowry twins’ effortless curly confidence for a full workweek and maybe even find my new signature look? It’s all below. 

RELATED: THE 5 BEST SHAMPOOS FOR CURLY HAIR ON AMAZON

Day 1: The Padded Statement Headband

curly hair looks from sister sister headband CHELSEA CANDELARIO (left); ABC PHOTO ARCHIVES/CONTRIBUTOR/GETTY IMAGES (right) 

From woven to bowknot, the twins wore this accessory all the time—perfect since headbands have been huge this year. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with them because they can be painful (most ’90s kids probably have similar memories of their head feeling like it was being pinched to death), so I was definitely hesitant to see how it was going to hold up on my 3c/4a curls. Honestly, though, it’s the easiest style to do and there’s really no preparation needed other than refreshing your curls.

PureWow’s fashion editor helped me pick out the perfect patterned and beaded headband, and I was genuinely surprised by how comfortable and stylish it looked on me. It was giving me major Blair Waldorf vibes, which made me feel like I should enroll in an elite private school on the Upper East Side immediately. It didn’t slide off once, and it kept my curls in place. I can see myself pairing this with an outfit for the holidays.

Get the look: Lele Sadoughi X J.Crew Knot Headband ($135)

Day 2: The Inner Disney Princess Scrunchie Bow

curly hair looks from sister sister scrunchie bow CHELSEA CANDELARIO (left); ABC PHOTO ARCHIVES/CONTRIBUTOR/GETTY IMAGES (right) 

The twins constantly used scrunchies to elevate their looks. And they’re not new to me, either—I always use them when I’m rocking a ponytail or messy bun. But a scrunchie-bow hybrid? That was definitely out of my comfort zone.

This look took some time since I was dividing my hair into a half-up, half-down style while trying to keep the bow on display. And it took some getting used to since I’ve never worn my hair like this before. I felt like a mix between a Disney princess and a little girl. Honestly, I should’ve been wearing a dress and singing to animals. 

Clearly I have mixed feelings about wearing a bow, but I can definitely see it being paired with more formal attire. I did really enjoy that it was silk (a major plus for curly gals looking to combat frizz), so it was easy to take off at the end of the day (which I can’t say about many scrunchies).

Get the look: J.Crew Satin Scrunchie ($20)

Day 3: The Night-to-Day Silk Wrap

curly hair looks from sister sister silk wrap CHELSEA CANDELARIO (left); ABC PHOTO ARCHIVES/CONTRIBUTOR/GETTY IMAGES (right) 

Silk wraps at home? Definitely. But wearing one outside? Not something I’d ever done before. I’m used to wrapping my hair before bed when a silk pillowcase or cap isn’t present, so I was skeptical of how I was going to rock this look at work. 

I spent the most time working on getting it just right in the morning. I gave up trying to remake this look and opted for a low ponytail with the tied knot in the back instead of the front.

I love that there are so many options out there to match with any outfit, and so many ways to wear it—like the pineapple style or as a headband replacement. But it took a lot of effort. I think with more practice I could incorporate this into my style (especially when it comes to day-three hair or right before wash day).

Get the look: Echo Tassel Rhapsody Silk Square ($149)

Day 4: The French-Inspired Leather Beret

curly hair looks from sister sister beret CHELSEA CANDELARIO (left); ABC PHOTO ARCHIVES/CONTRIBUTOR/GETTY IMAGES (right) 

Thank the ’90s for bringing out lots (and lots) of hats. On Sister, Sister, there wasn’t a single episode where the girls didn’t wear huge bucket hats, wool berets and fisherman caps. I’m a baseball cap kinda girl, so branching out to berets of all things was both exciting and concerning. I was excited because my image reference for Tia and Tamera made them look chic and fashionable, but I was concerned that my thick curls would prevent me from achieving said look. 

It took a lot of maneuvering because fitting it just right on my thick hair was indeed a challenge, but once I got it the way I wanted, it stayed in place. I liked the material and the fact that it was so comfortable I forgot it was there for most of the day, but ultimately I wanted more out of this look. It fell flat.

Get the look: Hatattack Leather Beret ($110)

Day 5: The Ultimate Denim Bucket Hat

curly hair looks from sister sister bucket hat CHELSEA CANDELARIO (left); ABC PHOTO ARCHIVES/CONTRIBUTOR/GETTY IMAGES (right) 

I had to do it. I had to try the most notable hat the twins are known for. I was super nervous about this one because I had no idea how I was going to make it work—this denim hat just screams ’90s.

First of all, I was surprised to find an almost exact replica of the hat they wore on the very first episode of the show. (Bless Etsy.) I started regretting it as soon as I put the hat on, but once my whole outfit came together, I saw its potential.

I also want to mention that out of all the accessories I tried this week, this hat was a clear winner for my coworkers. The number of compliments was astounding, and it really brought people back to the good ole days of Sister, Sister.

Oddly enough, I would actually wear this hat again just because it’s super comfortable and easy to style my curls any way I want.

Get the look: Etsy ’90s Inspired Denim Rose Bucket Hat ($30)

Final Takeaway:

Playing with accessories I had steered away from my whole life was totally worth it. I didn’t think I was going to enjoy putting more effort into styles that I’d always written off as being for straighter hair, but I ended up loving the challenge of pairing these looks with everyday outfits in my closet (especially when it came to that denim bucket hat).

After trying these five looks, I’m excited to work with the scrunchie, silk wrap and denim bucket hat again. I’m actually looking forward to re-creating more hairstyles and pairing them with outfits I wear outside of work. I can see myself taking more style risks in the future, which is a huge step outside my comfort zone that I’m proud of. I always used to feel nervous experimenting with something new out of fear that I looked silly. My confidence? Well, it’s boosted, to say the least. Working on my curls for the past three years was already a big step, but now I’m ready to take it to the next level and test the waters of fashion (on trend or not). 

So thank you, Sister, Sister, for giving me some much-needed hair (and life) inspo, and a growing hat collection to look forward to.

RELATED: 7 SHEAMOISTURE PRODUCTS TO GIVE TO THE CURLY-HAIRED GAL IN YOUR LIFE 

Styled by Dena Silver