Eilish McColgan wins Commonwealth Games gold while wearing tartan scrunchie - is it a lucky charm or fashion item?

We don’t know, but everyone’s wearing them

Basketball champion Michael Jordan wore his North Carolina Tar Heels practice shorts under his NBA ones, since he believed they were good luck.

Tiger Woods always wore a red shirt on Sunday tournaments.

We think that runner, 31-year-old Eilish McColgan, might have a similar and more patriotic talisman, though maybe she wasn’t consciously wearing it as such. It’s the tartan scrunchie.

Scotland's Eilish McColgan with her Silver Medal after the Women's 5000m Final at Alexander Stadium on day ten of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Picture date: Sunday August 7, 2022. Pic: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

Our new hero wore a red one to bag gold in the 10,000m for Team Scotland in the Commonwealth Games last week and what looked like the same version when she took home the silver medal in the 5,000m on Sunday night.

We’re not sure if it’s a clan tartan, or a random plaid, but tartan must be the new go-faster stripe.

The wearing of this scrunchie seemed significant, since there isn’t much space for accessories or charms, when you’re a runner in the minimal athletic gear of tabard, trainers, tiny shorts and paper numbers stuck to each of your thighs. There’s nowhere to pin a sprig of heather or rabbit’s foot. Not that she needs luck, when she can run like a gazelle that’s just downed a can of Monster.

We’re also pretty sure that tying your hair back is an aerodynamic choice. From personal experience, we can get to the biscuit tin extremely speedily in a ponytail. And, so far, nobody has won anything at the Commonwealth Games, while rocking a mohawk or bee-hive.

Apparently, though, there is a hair-stylist on site this year. We imagine that she isn’t feeling that challenged by the requests.

However, perhaps she advocates the wearing of the scrunchie. It has long been used as an alternative to other elastics, since it doesn’t snag hair, such as using the last rubber band dropped by the postie might.

It’s not just McColgan who has been wearing them this year. We’ve seen loads of athletes holding their hair up with the help of this crimped fabric toggle, in a range of colours and prints. This piece of headgear was invented in 1987 by the excellently named nightclub singer and inventor, Rommy Revson. After a decade or so in the style wilderness, it has seen a resurgence over the last decade or so.

It was originally popular in the Eighties and Nineties, and was worn by Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan, the character Heather Chandler in Heathers and every female cast member of Friends and Seinfeld. We’re pretty sure that Janet Jackson, Michaela Strachan and Tiffany had penchants for them too.

They definitely have a nostalgic appeal. Eleven wore them in series three of Stranger Things, and modern celebrities like Gigi Hadid have been known to sport one. You can currently buy a Versace on the Selfridges website for £150 and Prada offer a terry towelling version for £240.

It seems that they’re more than acceptable now, whereas they went a bit naff sometime in the early Noughties.

Anyway, we’re pretty sure that it’s time for tartan ones to have their moment.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.