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, a formal holiday gathering, 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, the stacked bob, or even a baby ’fro, may sometimes give us a serious case of style inertia, especially when dolling up.
21 Formal Hairstyles for Short Hair
Below, we list some of the ways you can work around that short length without sacrificing the details of your cut and, most importantly, your slay. Read on for not one or two, but 13 formal hairstyles for short hair that will inspire you.
1. Accent Braid Updo
One of our favorite short formal hairstyles is this accent braid updo. We love how easy it is to take an updo to the next level with just a couple of braids added into the mix.
To complete the look, lay your edges and baby hairs down with Emerge Edge Control.
2. Fresh and Clean Cut
We love buzz cuts on women. To make sure your shaved hair is ready for a formal occasion, stop by your salon to touch up the hairline. A clean-cut, defined hairline takes your buzz cut up a notch.
3. Twisted Back Bangs
If you’ve got a few inches of hair you can do this pretty twisted style. To recreate this style take a small section of your hair that’s near your hairline and split it in half. Twist the two parts, then pick up another small piece from the hairline and add it to the closest section. Keep twisting and adding hair until you’ve twisted back to your ear. Then, just pin in place to finish your look.
4. Voluminous Pixie
We like that it’s not too heavy so it won’t weigh down your hair, and the matte texture makes sure your hair won’t look greasy. Apply in small sections and add texture by pressing small sections of your hair together with your fingers.
5. Accent Clip
Oftentimes creating formal short hairstyles are as easy as adding an accessory. There are so many sparkly, fancy and fun hair accessories you can try. So, instead of wearing just jewelry to spruce up your look, try out a fancy clip instead. The clip will give you a glam effect, but let you style your hair however you like.
6. Curled Out
Change up the shape of your short cut for your next formal occasion. This style is super easy and can be done in about five minutes. Just start with your hair dried and parted as you like. Then take a thin flat iron (or a mini flat iron for bangs) and curl small sections outwards.
7. Half-Up Beehive
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 for this look! 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.
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 is doing smaller links or going for halo or crown braid versions instead of a vertical chain.
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.
10. Slicked-Back Hair
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 B.F.F’s wedding, or during a work event.
Emulate this clean, crisp yet super-pretty look by combing through an anti-frizz glossing serum, like TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Serum, then finish off this style with some hairspray for hold.
11. Sleek Bob
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.
12. Cropped TWA
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 formal hairstyles for short hair with a natural texture. We particularly love the contrast of a romantic gown paired with this look—textbook modern feminine.
This innocent, romantic hairstyle is a favorite for a reason: There’s nothing classically prettier and more cherubic than 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 hairspray, like TRESemmé Flawless Curls Hair Spray, helps give shine and integrity to each spiral and also locks out humidity.
14. Edgy Combover
Formal nights are no reason to hide that cool undercut. In fact, celebrate your short hair 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.
15. Back-Facing Braid
If you’re a fan of the crown braid style but don’t want a braid right at the front of your look, why not put it in the back? This style is boho-elegant and adds the perfect amount of style to a formal look.
16. Accent Flowers
Sometimes all you need to do to elevate a look is add a few flowers. This look is super romantic and all it requires is pinning a few fake or real flowers to the side of your style.
17. Statement Clips
Stop heat styling after you blow-dry and finish off your look with some statement clips. Using bold accessories allows you to do less heat styling, whether you decide to just air dry or only use a blow dryer, statement clips will help you complete your style.
18. Loose Waves
Give yourself the ultimate loose waves look. Simply running a curling iron through your hair or a quick finger comb to let those curls release into a more relaxed pattern. You can even create a deep side part to further switch up your look.
Finish with a few spritzes of Nexxus Between Washes Beach Waves Tousled Texture Sea Salt Spray.
19. Sleek Center Part
With a sleek center part style, you will guarantee that you will be the center of attention. This look is sophisticated, sultry, and perfect for a formal event. Perfect your center part by using a rat tail comb to get the line perfectly straight.
20. Low Ponytail
If you’re in a rush to complete a style then keep it simple with a low ponytail. Give it more of a formal look by either wrapping and pinning a small section of hair around the hair tie or using a clear elastic.
21. Side Braids
Go for a one-sided style like some side braids, These create a fun to-the-side movement for your look and add in fun texture with the braids. Finish the look by holding the braids together with some bejeweled bobby pins.
Those are the top 21 short formal hairstyles for 2021! There are so many fun looks to choose from, and they’re all easy to create on your own.