21 Short Formal Hairstyles Ideas for Your Next Fancy Event

Have a fancy affair on the calendar? Get inspired to try out something new in our recap of formal hairstyles for short hair. 

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.

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

short formal hairstyles accent braid updo
Take your updo to the next level with some accent braids.

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

Short Formal Hairstyles buzzed hair
Go edgy with formal short hairstyles like this buzzed cut for your own red carpet moment. Photo credit: Dvora

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

Short Formal Hairstyles twisted bangs
A subtle braid is a chic way to play with your style. Photo credit: Dvora

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

short formal hairstyles blow dried pixie
Amp up your pixies’ volume.

Amp up the style of your pixie by creating a blown-out effect. This style is especially pretty on super short hair. To create the ultimate volume, use Suave Dry Texture Finishing Spray.

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

Short Formal Hairstyles accent accessory
An accent accessory and a braid totally make your short hair stand out.

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

short formal hairstyles curled out
Change the direction of your style. Photo credit: Indigitalimages.com

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

formal hairstyles for short hair beehive
Formal Hairstyles for Short Hair: The Half-Up Beehive. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

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.

8. Braids

short formal hairstyles braid
When in doubt, go for a braid style.

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.

9. Headband

formal hairstyles for short hair headband
Finish formal short hairstyles with graphic dangling earrings. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

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

formal hairstyles for short hair slick back
Stand out from your fellow bridesmaids with a cutting-edge hairdo. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

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

formal hairstyles for short hair sleek bob
The ear-tuck is a charming touch for short formal hairstyles. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

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

formal hairstyles for short hair TWA
A Teeny Weeny Afro is cool and clean-looking yet feminine. Photo courtesy of Alyssa François

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.

13. Spirals

short formal hairstyles spirals
Play with a new texture like some spirals.

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 hairstyles for short hair combover
A deep side part is key. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

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

short formal hairstyles back braid
Put the dramatic part of your style in the back for a fun surprise.

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

short formal hairstyles floral accent
A few flowers bring the romance of the look to a whole new level.

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

short formal hairstyles clips
Use some statement clips to smooth down your look.

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

short formal hairstyles loose waves
Loose waves are a classic for a reason.

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

short formal hairstyles sleek center part
Sleek is the perfect formal style.

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

short formal hairstyles low ponytal
Keep it simple with a 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

short formal hairstyles side braids
Create some side braids to keep your hair out of your face.

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.

Prev Article
Next Article
Decoration image
Decoration image
Hair Quiz
All Things Hair
All Things Hair US
Need some style inspo? Let's chat! I'm Athena, your personal Hair Assistant.
Chat with All Things Hair in Messenger