Thought plaits were just for little girls? Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. Currently, a firm favourite among runway designers, A-list celebs, and the beauty bloggerati, the once humble braid has now reached cult status in the world of all things hair.
So whether you’re after a romantic, summer party-perfect look, or a casual weekend hairdo that’s easy and stylish, we guarantee there’s a braid to suit. Here’s our ultimate guide for the year ahead. Braid styles and #hairspiration coming up!
The braid styles you need to weave this year
1. Boxer braids (AKA cornrows)
Seen at New York Fashion Week on US-based label Creatures of Comfort’s runway, you can be sure these perfect gym-to-brunch braids have been approved by the style set, too.
2. All-Over Cornrows
Love braids so much that wearing just one isn’t enough? Well, sometimes, more really is more. Or at least, according to the hair stylists at New York label Baja East, who gave models cornrows varying in size and shape.
The best part? It’s completely flexible and open to interpretation. You can plait all of your hair, leave out strands, have them hanging loose, or have them tied together for a red carpet-ready look. The choice, as they say, is yours!
3. Unicorn braids
If last year’s focus was on unicorn hair colour, this year is all about the unicorn braid. Seen on the likes of Gigi Hadid and Nina Dobrev, the unicorn braid (a single mini French/Dutch plait positioned in the centre) has since gone viral on social media.
High impact, yet simple to create – we’ll take one, please!
4. The Dutch braid
Forget the plain French plait, as it’s all about turning it inside out! Also known as the Dutch braid, this simple, pronounced weave is perfect for those who favour the easy elegance of a classic French braid, but want a fresher, bolder look.
Inject a little romance via satin ribbons, tied at the bottom of the plait, as seen all over the runways.
Editor’s tip: To help weave braids on fine or freshly-washed tresses, use a dry shampoo on your mane before braiding, as this will help to add grip and hold your braid for longer. We recommend using the TONI&GUY Casual Matt Texture Dry Shampoo.
5. Halo braids
Ethereal and utterly romantic, the halo braid makes for the perfect summer party hairstyle (it’ll help keep you nice and cool, too!) and the ideal pairing to a long, flowing gown.
Still on the fence? Zoe Saldana, Olivia Munn, Margot Robbie, and Lupita Nyong’O are just a few of many A-list stars who have opted for this pretty, Grecian goddess-inspired look recently.
6. The messy braid
Trying to perfect a complicated plait hairstyle but haven’t quite mastered the technique? Then the messy braid is your saviour.
As demonstrated by the girls at Alexander McQueen and cool London label Simone Rocha, where fishtail and French plaits were teased out and given a texture boost, braids don’t have to be neat to look cool.
7. Hidden braids
Have a festival coming up and want to add a subtle boho vibe to your look? Why not try braiding small sections of your hair underneath, like the girls at Louis Vuitton’s SS16 show?
Trust us, it’s sure to inject a free-spirited feminine vibe to your flowing locks!
8. Experimental braids
Ethereal fishtail braids have been given a directional update this year. From Olivia Palermo’s multi-directional fishtail braid to Amber Heard’s loopy braided chignon updo, it was all about giving the timeless, romantic plait an edgy update.
Try playing around with a half-up, half-down version or weave in a pretty ribbon: the possibilities are endless!
Editor’s tip: Got lots of layers or perpetually struggle with flyaways? Spray some VO5 Ultimate Hold Hairspray onto your hair before styling, as this will help to smooth down the ends and prevent any hairs from poking out of your braid.
9. Plaited pigtails
No longer reserved for little girls, plaited pigtails are now the fash pack’s favourite way of saying “See? I don’t take myself too seriously”.
Still boasting a fun, youthful appeal, braided pigtails are the perfect accompaniment to casual off-duty looks, or for toning down a serious outfit.
10. Half-up, half-down plaits
Romantic, feminine, and perfect for those who want to keep their hair down but off the face, the half-up, half-down plait is a great option for summer evening occasions and beyond.
Take your pick from a fashionable fishtail, a classic French braid, or combine several mini plaits for even more striking results.
11. One-sided wonder
Symmetry is overrated. Well, at least when it comes to braid styles!
Try braiding a waterfall braid along the crown of the head towards the back for more polished results, or sweep your simple three-strand or French plait to one side and over for an effortless, low-key look.