Have a fancy affair on the calendar? Get inspired to try out something new in our recap of formal hairstyles for short hair.
What you’ll need
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, 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, your slay. Read on for not one or two, but 15 formal hairstyles that you can wear on short hair this season.
Short Formal Hairstyles: Elegant Looks to Try this Season
1. Sleek and Straight
For a gorgeous style that doesn’t take any time at all, try this straight and sleek look on your short hair. For the sleek look be sure to use the Catwalk by TIGI Camera Ready Shine Spray after you blow-dry your hair that’ll help you to score some really sleek and shiny hair.
2. Pinned-Down Ringlets
One of our favorite short formal hairstyles is this pinned ringlet look. This look is all about enhancing your natural curls that you can achieve with a good curl mousse. Apply a dollop of the product to your damp hair, then scrunch it throughout your hair to define your curls. Air-dry your hair or allow it to diffuse.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Piecey Pixie
Amp up the style of your pixie by creating a piecey effect. This style is especially pretty on super short hair. To make small pieces stick together use the Bed Head By TIGI Manipulator Matte Cream. 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 to small sections and create the piecey texture by pressing small sections of your hair together with your fingers.
6. Accent Clip
Oftentimes creating short formal hairstyles are as easy as adding an accessory. However, as much as we love a good headband, there are other fancy hair accessories you can try. So, instead of reaching for your favorite glitzy headband to spruce up your look, try out a fancy clip instead. It will give you the same glam effect but let you style your hair however you like.
7. Curled Up
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 upwards. For some holding power and help with shaping your curls, use some of the Nexxus New York Salon Care Exxtra Hold Sculpting Gel to help sculpt your hair, creating a winged-out effect that will certainly pair well with your fancy outfit.
8. Half-Up Beehive
Just because you have shorter hair doesn’t mean this trending, hyper-feminine look is out of the question. 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 balm and then backcomb your hair to create some lift. Smooth it over gently and finish with hairspray.
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. For this look, we started with some mousse, like Dove Style+Care Volume Amplifier 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.
10. Headband with Bob
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 New York Salon Care Maxximum Finishing Mist, before you swipe on your headband.
11. 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.
12. 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. 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 Nexxus New York Salon Care Exxtra Hold Sculpting Gel. Then, 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.
13. 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.
14. Tight Spirals
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 to help give shine and integrity to each spiral and also locks out humidity.
15. 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. Using a firm-hold gel on your hair ensures you’re set for the night.
Need more short hair ideas like these short formal hairstyles to inspire you? Check out some of our favorite pictures of short haircuts