You’re running late to a formal event. Maybe it’s a wedding, dinner with the new boyfriend’s parents, or a stuffy work obligation that’s sure to invoke constant eye rolling. You’re scrambling to pull on clothes and apply makeup. You check your phone and see that your Uber’s creeping closer and closer—but, of course, you haven’t touched your hair.

We all know what this situation calls for: the messy ponytail.

It’s chic, it’s effortless, and it says you’re too busy and important to worry about your hair. Almost all of these styles can be worn to formal affairs, and even better, they can be done in a pinch. (Some women with straight, thin hair may opt to curl in some waves, but most women should be able to achieve this without much work.) As for the ones that aren’t as well suited to black tie? You know we’ll be rockin’ those on the weekend, beside our flannel and leggings, at our Lazy Sunday brunch spot.

For more on the messy ponytail, check out the 28 messiest, classiest, most versatile ponytail hairstyles below.

1. Long Straight Blonde Ombre Messy Ponytail

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: A low-key hipster summer wedding, chillin’ with the girlfriends at a neighborhood bar on a random weeknight.

2. Gray-to-Green Ombre Ponytail for Thick Long Hair

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Keeping your hair back while performing at a club with your punk-rock band.

3. Dark Espresso-Brown Long Hair in a Messy High Ponytail

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Any scenario in which you need to look put together but also approachable.

4. Wavy Ginger-Red Ponytail with Tousled Crown and Hair Wrapped Around the Band

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Any wedding, formal or informal, or a fancy night out with the girls.

5. Thick, Curly Post-Gym Messy Ponytail

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Sit-ups, crunches, yoga. This one’s built for feeling the burn. Loose, low-key, and easy, it would also work well running errands on the weekend.

6. Gorgeous Blonde/Brown Hair with Messy Ponytail and Long Bangs

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: A casual to semi-formal cocktail hour. Flirty and fun, it won’t require too much prep for those with a naturally wavy mane.

7. Deep Brown Hair with Soft Caramel Balayage in a Messy, Wavy Ponytail

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Any business-casual weekend meeting, perhaps at Starbucks or your local indie coffee shop.

8. Messy, Frizzy Ponytail with Brown Highlighting for Traipsing Around the City

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Exploring international hotspots, perhaps somewhere in Spain or Greece? These laid-back messy locks are too hip for just any domestic setting.

9. Ash-Brown Wavy Hair with Bangs and a Low-Key Ponytail

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Taking impromptu selfies, studying for finals.

10. Gorgeous Brown-to-Blonde Ombre Messy Ponytail with Hair Wrapped Around the Band

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Shopping on a Saturday, going for a nature hike, doing just about anything that’s relatively low-key (read: maybe not the best fit for high-intensity Zumba).

11. Sleek Rich-Brown-to-Light-Honey-Brown Messy Ponytail

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Wearing high-collared clothes, like a turtleneck, bulky winter coat, or scarf. It’ll draw attention to and accentuate your face.

12. Thick ‘n’ Poufy Brown-to-Caramel Messy Hair in a Fancy Ponytail

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: A formal wedding. You don’t need this kind of drama when bumming around on a Saturday!

13. Low-Key Bronde Ponytail for Straight Hair

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Post-gym, post-shower, when you’re getting ready at a turtle’s pace for the next outing or maybe settling in for a long afternoon at home on the weekend.

14. Low Super-Curly Blonde Ponytail with a Laid-back Vibe

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: A chic, classy dinner. This luscious look definitely seems ready to be wined and dined.

15. Low Slightly Messy Brown Ponytail with Twisted Front Sections

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Any type of formal event. The twisted front sections and hair wrapped around the band give the look the extra special touches it needs, while the messy ponytail makes it easy to achieve.

16. Sumptuously Thick Curly Black Hair in an Easy Breezy Ponytail

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Any hands-on activity. When you have this much hair and you need to get something done, the messy ponytail will be your salvation.

17. Straight Messy Ponytail with Lots of Stray Strands for Thinner Hair

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Looking ethereal, romantic, and timeless, even when taking a selfie.

18. Uber-Long Thick Fire-Red Messy Wavy Ponytail

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Anything not involving physical activity. If your hair’s this long, it might be better to go for a bun rather than a ponytail when being active.

19. Messy Low Ponytail for Straight Hair

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Any moment when you need to look lazily beautiful, with loose, neck-grazing strands falling like drapery around your face.

20. High Wavy Light-Copper-Red Ponytail with Face-Framing Strands

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Any type of date or event involving dancing. The high-set ponytail, with its messy waves, will swing and sway effortlessly out on the dance floor.

21. Brown-to-Blonde Messy Ponytail with Long Bangs/Face-Framing Layers

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Drying out your salty beach-bum hair post-surf. It’s also a greak look if you’re growing out your bangs.

22. Rich Chocolate Brown Hair with Long Fringe-y Bangs and a Tousled Messy Ponytail

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Most formal events. The bangs keep the look relaxed, but the tousled ponytail makes it chic and elegant.

23. Bright Blonde Messy Ponytail for Straight Hair

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Hanging out, kicking back, and watching TV. It’s a simple, fun look that’ll give you confidence even if you’re on the couch.

24. Long Dark Brown Curly/Wavy Messy Ponytail

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Looking chic and cool; helping your stranded lover ascend the tower you’ve been banished to when you don’t have rope or access to stairs. Because, you know, you live in a fairy tale.

25. Long Blonde Messy Wavy Ponytail with Baseball Cap

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Window-shopping with your besties; fielding grounders at shortstop.

26. Sweet High Messy Ponytail for Natural Medium-Brown Straight Hair

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Your next gymnastics meet—the high setting reminds us of those characteristically stylish athletes—or the most important competition of all, the Best Selfie Event.

27. Messy Ponytail for Dark-Blonde-to-Light-Blonde Ombre Hair

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Running around on a Saturday, hitting a weekend barbecue, or modeling your perfect new ‘do because your stylist is so impressed with her skills.

28. Lovely Long Wavy Locks in a Slicked-Back Messy Ponytail

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This messy ponytail’s perfect for: Like the rest of the hairstyles we’ve seen, just about anything.

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