10 Gala Ideas: Hairstyles for Formal Occasions

Keep your glam game strong.

Discussing our fave celebrity red carpet hairstyles is one of our fave pastimes here at All Things Hair. Although awards and red-carpet season has come and gone, we still look to these glam events for dazzling beauty inspiration, especially when it comes to copping hairstyles for formal occasions. Call us suckers for a good updo—but there’s always a time to dress up to the nines and look your best.

Maybe it’s a graduation party, your cousin’s bachelorette, a swanky Friday night date or your college roommate’s wedding (because there’s always a wedding). Whatever the red-letter occasion is, it calls for hair that wows, full stop. Read on for some dazzling, red carpet-inspired looks that will have you set to stun:

1. Vintage Curls

hairstyles for formal occasions waves
Vintagey waves are dramatic and hyper-romantic.

Maybe it’s a nod to their super-glam foremothers, but several Hollywood A-listers have been sporting Jheri curls and pin waves as their ’do of choice. This vintage look is making a renaissance, as retro-inspired hairstyles have been reaching a fever pitch in the industry. It’s also a wildly flattering look and a refreshing break from other longer hairstyles, and puts the spotlight on classic features, luminescent skin and rosebud lips.

2. Tousled Waves

hairstyles for formal occasions tousled lov
Matching side clips make the look more playful and ethereal. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

The big sister to the chunky, messy lob, tousled waves for evening look fresh, fun and very urbane. This hairstyle complements almost all face shapes, and, more relevantly, is one of those hairdos that look better as the night wears on. Part hair the middle or slightly off-center and pair with your most buttoned-up formal outfits for a nice little contrast. Finish with a few spritzes of a sea salt spray like Nexxus Between Washes Beach Waves Sea Salt Spray.

3. Straight and Sleek

hairstyles for formal occasions stick straight hair
Super-straight hair: You’re sophisticated and that’s that.

There’s something to be said about hair that’s perfectly in place. Be the envy of frizzy gals everywhere with immaculately straight, shiny, expensive-looking locks—but make sure your color is flawless though, as mistakes have nowhere to hide here. Dry in a downwards motion to seal down the cuticle and make hair more light-reflective, and get ready for the jealous stares.

4. Side-Part with Glitter Roots

hairstyles for formal occasions glitter roots
A fluffy blowout looks younger and is more day-appropriate. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Chic-ify that off-the-moment viral trend by keeping things minimal. A strip of glitter on a sharp side part elevates one of the most sexy hairstyles for formal occasions. Choose a glitter color close to your hair undertone for a truly complementary effect: Cool ashes can go for silvers, blues, purples and pinks, and warm honeys and caramels can try golds, oranges, reds and greens. If chunky glitter isn’t your ting, go for a smaller glitter designed for your hair. TRESemmé Gold Glitter Spray will coat your hair in a chic gold glitter and provide some hold to your style, it’s perfect for creating hairstyles for formal occasions.

5. Slicked-Back Hair

hairstyles for formal occasions slicked back hair
The modern-day femme fatale smolders with slicked-back hair. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Fulfill all those ’90s video vixen dreams and slick your hair straight back at your next formal event. Wearing your hair away from your face gives an instant shot of confidence. This look is perfect for times when you need to make an entrance, like club openings, an ex’s wedding (because SLAY!) or a power-networking event.

6. Ingénue Bob

hairstyles for formal occasions ingenue bob
Bobs with a micro-fringe are charming and unexpected (just like your singing skills, after three cosmopolitans). Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

What do most Manic Pixie Dream Girls in the movies have in common? Some version of a quirky short hairstyle with an irresistibly charming micro fringe. We never really saw this trend trickling down, but are thankful that the baby bang has hit the mainstream. Nothing lightens up a bob (and a beautiful dress) more than a slightly unconventional, not-so-serious bang that puts those sparkling doe eyes front and center. Wear at social events or whenever you want to take your flirtationship with your soon-to-be-summer fling to the next level.

7. Old School Waves

hairstyles for formal occasions old school waves
The key: It <em>must</em> be shiny. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

No list would be complete without giant, molten, screen siren curls. Popular during the Golden Age of Hollywood for its unapologetically glamorous feel, this look is hallmarked by shiny, uniform barrels worn with a cascading side part. It’s usually swept over one shoulder (the better to seduce with my décolleté and fur, my dear). High tea with the ladies, or meeting the future mother-in-law over brunch? Nailed it.

8. Tiny Dutch Pigtails

hairstyles for formal occasions dutch braids
Wear in full pigtails, or bundle up in a bun on your nape.

Turn the inherent street cred of this cool, über-trendy look into something sleeker by wearing them micro-sized on the scalp (as opposed to thick, banana-like bumps). Small, thin Dutch braids worn on each side of the head and secured in a bun or pigtails, are the It Girl’s hair flip answer to stuffy black-tie situations. And, oh yeah, they look majorly directional with strapless gowns.

9. Diva Ponytail

hairstyles for formal occasions diva pony
Business on top, party all night.

Anything worn high on the head, crown-like, depicts a sort of regality. For times your outfit/occasion warrants nothing short of perfection, a high pony keeps you looking put-together without sacrificing an ounce of style. Make sure your ponytail stays sleek and bump-free by smoothing it down with TRESemmé TRES TWO Mega Firm Control Gel.

10. Top Knot

hairstyles for formal occasions top knot
The top knot is easy to create but super chic.

Don’t overthink hairstyles for formal occasions, they can be easy to create, too! The top knot is a great style because it’s easy to style and adds a sassy element to your look.

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