We did not realize we were on a red carpet braid kick until we found ourselves deeply enamored of Blake Lively’s big, poofy braid at the Cannes Film Festival today. It is great, isn’t it? But then, thinking back on it, we’ve liked a lot of red carpet braids recently. Emma Stone’s five-strand braid at the Met Gala was a particular favorite, but there was also Joan Small’s long side braid and Natalie Dormer’s half-shaved braid at the SAG awards.
Basically, braids are cool. But not the wimpy, three-strand braid your mom did before school started. (Unless you had one of those badass moms who could do fishtails and French braids and the unnecessarily complicated Pinterest braids.) What makes a red carpet braid interesting is that it’s such a regular, casual hairstyle with a bit of extra zhush.
Here are 10 ways to fancy-up your regular braid for the red carpet.
Red carpet braids tend to be big, often because celebrities like to wear 200 pounds of clip-in hair extensions whenever they’re seen in public. With some judicious teasing, dry shampoo, and all the world’s supply of hairspray, it’s possible to get the big, fat braid for yourself.
Every celebrity in the world has bright, candy-colored hair right now, and once you’ve done that every style you consider automatically makes a statement. Look how interesting and sophisticated this simple 3-strand braid looks in blue ombré. (Your hair would look fantastic in blue, but this one is actually a wig, so you can just pull it off when you get tired of it.)
This is pretty and cool, like Natalie Dormer’s half-shaved braid. As a plus, it makes you look kind of like you have a mohawk without the commitment of actually having to get a mohawk.
Here’s a secret: a lot of those cute red carpet crown braids are actually just braided headbands, like these. Get a good one that matches your hair color and nobody will know the difference.
5. Add some extensions.
Taryn Manning added rainbow hair extensions to get this look. Vanessa Hudgens recently did the same with hair chalk.
6. Put it in a bun
Celebrities seem to like the bohemian milkmaid look. Braiding your hair and then putting it in a bun will give you that edgy, cool, messy-hair look we always see on the cool girls at bars who look like the DNGAF.
7. Add some flowers
Kirsten Dunst‘s flower crown is a bit twee, but in a good way, not an annoying Coachella way.
8. Add something sparkly
The back of Jennifer Lawrence‘s head looks so festive here, with this sparkly cord wound through it. This is definitely the back of the head of a cool girl. If you saw the back of this head at a bar, you would want to hang out with it.
9. Put a ribbon in it
Bella Thorne‘s ribbons are velvet for bonus texture.
10. Wear it with something completely crazy
The braid makes such a good red carpet look in large part because it’s the best possible accessory for something completely crazy, like Joan Smalls‘ blue lips. A more “done” hairstyle would have looked contrived, while plain, undone hair would have looked messy. If you’ve been looking for something to wear with the Vivienne Westwood tartan peplum cage coat you found on eBay, a braid is probably your best choice.