When it comes to summer hairstyles, it's official: Plaits and braids rule. Whether it’s an all-up ’do you’re looking for or a way to add interest to beachy waves, plait and braid hairstyles have you covered. Essentially, they are to hair what black is to your wardrobe.
So to help your locks stay on point through the week to come (regardless of whether you’ve washed it or not), we’ve rounded up seven cool hairstyles incorporating various plaited and braided elements. Cara Delevingne–inspired parting plaits? Check. Chrissy Teigen’s French braid and pony combo? Check. We’ve even got Kim Kardashian–style Dutch braids for when you’ve maxed out the dry shampoo.
Ready to up your braiding game? Scroll down for a hairstyle for every day of the week, with tips from stylist Jamie Stevens to help you nail it.
Cara Delevingne’s parting plait may take some practice, says Jamie, but once you've got the hang of things it’s a quick way to add a twist to glossy waves.
- Take a 1–2 cm section of hair from the crown of your head, and secure the rest of the hair away.
- Divide the section into three, and start scalp braiding from the crown working your way forwards. When you reach your hairline, carry the braid on until you reach the end of your hair and secure with a small elastic.
- Tuck the braid behind your ear with the rest of your hair, and secure it with hairspray.
Jamie’s tip: “Keeping the braid small and clean is essential to getting this right. An easy way to do that is to rub wax into your hands before you start, and top up throughout the braiding process.”
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Chanel Iman’s milkmaid braids may look complicated, but they’re actually a speedy way to an all-up ’do that’s perfect for summer.
- Spritz your hair with a salt spray to create some texture, and then divide your hair in half along a centre parting.
- Braid each side starting from ear level, and then secure with small elastics.
- Sprinkle each plait with a volume boosting powder, and gently tease each one to fatten them up—this will make your hair look thicker.
- Wrap each plait over the top of your head so that they sit one in front of the other, and secure with grips.
Jamie’s tip: “It’s a good idea to leave a few pieces of hair around the face, to add some softness to this look. Section off a few thin sections before you start plaiting, so that you don’t mess up your handiwork later.”
Bad hair day? Dutch braids as seen on Olivia Munn (and of course, Kim Kardashian too) are your friend. They make a great workout hairstyle too.
- Split your hair into two even sections, and starting braiding from the front.
- Remember that a Dutch braid is essentially an inverted French braid, where instead of plaiting your sections over each other, you plait them under each other instead.
- Plait each section so it runs away from your face, and carry on until you reach the ends, securing each section with a small elastic.
Jamie’s tip: "To get that super on trend wet look, do this when your hair is damp and run a cocktail of leave-in conditioner and shine cream throughout your hair before you start braiding."
Kate Mara’s tiny French braids are a great way to switch-up short and mid-length hair but work just as well on long locks too.
“These braids are called Exposed French Braids as they sit on top of the hair," explains Jamie. "The way to make the braids ‘sit-up’ instead of laying completely flat is to braid the sections underneath each other (like Dutch braids) as opposed to going over.”
- Starting along the hairline, French braid (inverted style) a small section of hair, following the shape of your head and running behind your ear. Secure with a small elastic, and pin it in place underneath your hair.
- Do the same on the other side of your head, but instead of following the hairline around your head, take your plait backwards and away from your face. Tie it off with a small elastic, and add some pins to keep it in place.
Jamie’s tip: “This look works best when your hair is super glossy, so finish with an illuminating mist or shine spray."
Chrissy Teigen’s French plaits (there’s one on each side) run straight into a sleek ponytail, making this equally perfect for both work and date night.
- On either side of your head, take a triangle section of hair from the front, and create a tight French braid running from the hairline back. End the plaits when they reach just past the crown, and secure with small elastics.
- Then, leaving the plaits out for the moment, pull the rest of your hair into a pony, securing it just below the crown with a hairband or bungee.
- Bring your plaits back and secure them into the pony either with grips or a second hairband.
- Take a small amount of hair from the underside of your ponytail and wrap it around the base to hide the grips and bands.
Jamie’s tip: “Sprinkle each plait with a volume boosting powder and gently tease them to create wider, thicker looking plaits that have more lift and body.”
Emma Roberts’s effortless fishtail plaits are actually much easier to do than you think. Putting this twist on a crown braid comes with huge style kudos, too.
- Start with a deep side parting, and divide your hair in two.
- Taking one section at a time, fishtail plait each side. To do that, divide your section into two, and then starting on the left (or the right, it’s up to you) take a piece of hair, roughly half an inch wide, from the outside and pull it over to the right section. Repeat on the left, and keep going.
- Once you’ve plaited each side, wrap one of the plaits over your head and pin in place—keep it close to the hairline for Emma’s look. Wrap the remaining braid around your head in the opposite direction, so that it runs along your nape, and pin in place.
- Need to watch and learn? Try this super simple video tutorial by blogger Amber Fillerup.
Jamie’s tip: “Fishtail plaits are better when your hair has some grip and texture. To create that I like to spritz on a salt spray, and then dry that in with a quick blast of the hairdryer.”
Rooney Mara’s red carpet plait is the perfect alternative to French braiding, and it puts a cool new spin on the classic look.
- Section your hair from ear to ear underneath the crown, and secure it in a tight pony.
- Now take the hair underneath, and secure into another tight ponytail at the nape.
- Starting with the ponytail at the top, split your hair into three even sections and start plaiting your way down.
- When you reach the low pony, split that into three sections too, and incorporate those into your plait. Keep going until you reach the ends and secure with an elastic.
Jamie’s tip: “To add some width and texture, gently pull outwards on each side of your plait. If you need to, add some fine hair pins to keep the plait in place and give it some structure.”
Spotted any favourites in the line-up? Tell us in the comments box below.
Opening Image: Jon Kopaloff/Getty