The turn of the season is (finally) upon us, and a lot of us like to end it with a bang. Whether you’re invited to an early-year wedding, getting a head start on prom or simply want to spiff up for a big night on the town, we’ve got some formal hairstyles for short hair that are definitely worth dressing up for.
Short hair, such as pixie cuts, a stacked bob or even a baby ’fro, may sometimes give us a serious case of style inertia, especially when dolling up. Below, we list some of the ways you can work around that short length without sacrificing the details of your cut and, most importantly, you’ll slay with these short formal hairstyles:
All-Occasion Winter Formal Hairstyles for Short Hair
1. Half-Up Beehive:
Great for: proms, charity balls
Just because you have shorter hair doesn’t mean this trending, hyper-feminine look is out of the question. Formal short hairstyles are a go! As long as you’re hair is jawline-length or longer, this hairstyle should be easy enough to recreate. The trick is splitting hair up into a half-ponytail starting from the top of the head, but leaving the fringe area loose to sweep to the side. First prep the pony with some texturizing product, like Bed Head by TIGI Queen Beach Salt Infused Texture Spray, and then backcomb to create lift. Smooth it over gently and finish with hairspray.
Great for: weddings, proms
Formal hairstyles for short hair that involve braids are a great boho-chic option for romantic occasions like weddings and winter formals, like the prom. The trick to these short formal hairstyles is doing smaller links, or going for halo or crown braid versions instead of a vertical chain. For this look, we started with some mousse, like Dove Style+Care Curls Defining Mousse, then did a loose, messier halo that started atop one ear and French-braided all the way to the opposite ear, securing with bobby pins. Curling the rest of your hair with a 1 1/2” barreled iron helps pull the look together.
3. Headband with Bob
Great for: Broadway/opera nights, gallery exhibits
Simple yet original enough to warrant some style cred, a medium-width headband is a non-cheesy way to accessorize short hair for formal, artsy events. Choose one in an evening neutral, like black or navy, or even go for jewel-toned versions like peacock green or purple, for glitzier occasions. A pair of equally graphic earrings keeps your look cohesive. Ensure your hairline stays pristine with a bit of hairspray sprayed on a comb, such as Nexxus Maxximum Finishing Mist, before you swipe on your headband.
Great for: weddings, evening galas
We believe that if you’re confident enough to wear hair this short, you’re confident enough to slick it back. This hot runway look gets the most bang for its buck at high-visibility events where you want to make a statement—perhaps as the one pixie-haired bridesmaid at your BFF’s wedding, or during date night or at a movie premiere. Emulate this clean, crisp yet super-pretty look by combing through an anti-frizz glossing serum, like Bed Head by TIGI Control Freak, then finishing off with some hairspray for hold.
5. Sleek Bob
Great for: work events, rehearsal dinner, dining with his parents
A sleek, shiny, side-parted bob is perfect for buttoned-up cocktails or tonier meals, such as rehearsal dinners or brunching with your S.O.’s family. It’s sassy and fashionable, but also neat and unobtrusive—it’s the ideal look for showcasing your personal style without aggressively being in the spotlight. To achieve, make sure your hair is well-cleansed (too much grease is a no-no!), then apply a quarter-sized amount of gel, like Suave Professionals Firm Control Sculpting Gel, onto the roots, sides and back of your head first. Use a fine-toothed comb to refine and smoothen everything into place, and don’t forget to tuck behind your ears for a cute touch.
6. Cropped TWA
Great for: everything
A Teeny Weeny Afro, or TWA, is basically the Little Black Dress of natural hairstyles. There’s nowhere these short crops can’t be worn; confident yet understated but dripping with cool, these looks are popular, short formal hairstyles with a natural texture. We particularly love the contrast of a romantic gown paired with this look—textbook modern feminine.
7. Tight Spirals
Great for: weddings, baby showers, work cocktails
This innocent, romantic hairstyle is a favorite for a reason: There’s nothing classically prettier and more cherubic than tight baby-angel curls on a bob. Rock an adult version by giving your hair a definite side part, for starters, and give your curls an edgier texture by scrunching them up instead of a too-perfect spiral. A curl-defining gel, like TRESemmé Flawless Curls Defining Gel, helps give shine and integrity to each spiral and also locks out humidity.
8. Edgy Combover
Great for: fashion and movie events, date night, proms
Formal nights are no reason to hide that cool undercut. In fact, celebrate it with a slick side combover that showcases your fade, while spiffing up the tops of your hair too. Team this up with a killer fashion ensemble—we love this with shoulder-accentuating outfits and some statement earrings—and you’ve got a totally head-turning look that’s also polished enough for long-gown affairs. A firm-hold gel, such as Suave Max Hold Sculpting Gel, keeps your look on-point.