Think you know your Frenchies from your fishtails, Dutch and twists?
Braids are the low-commitment way to shake up your look for any given moment or occasion – be it a festival, wedding, date or Sunday spin class.
All those twists and turns, weaving and winding – it’s enough to make our hair curl. Which is why we asked resident Braid Bar
expert, Amy James
, to set the record straight with a simple guide to the 5 best braids to pick from when you need your plait to be on point.
1. THE ALL-ROUNDER
If this braid were back in school, it would be the best at everything, for sure. With a slight side parting, two braids on either side of the head are woven together in a chignon at the back, before the ends are tucked neatly out of the way.
Where to take it: It’s classic, but cool; polished– but with softness, on account of the baby hairs and wispy bits that you can pull out to frame your face. Which means that – from work to weekend, date night to a seriously swanky party – it’s like the perfect man, in that you really can take it anywhere.
Best for: It ‘ain't called the All-Rounder for nothing. It works on all hair types – as long as yours is shoulder length or longer. It’s an ‘open braid’ (which means it’s a little loose), so can create the illusion of volume – even when your hair edges towards being on the finer side. In hairdresser terms, it’s known as a ‘Dutch braid’, in that each of the three sections is woven on top of the others, to give it a chunkier, effortless vibe. Swing by our Braid Bar
, and we called this one the Carlam II
2. THE EVERYDAY BRAID
When you’ve got zero time for washing, but need to look you’ve got a good hold on life, let this low-key plait be your cheat sheet. A little sporty, a little geeky; it’s long, loose, laid-back – and just like a crisp white tee, pulls your look together – and covers all manner of unwashed sins.
Where to take it: It’s loose and flippant – and really not fussy at all. You could whip what we call our Boyfriend
braid into shape in a yoga or spin class – then leave it in place for a work meeting or evening drinks. The point is, it helps you make the best of what you’ve got –without looking like you’ve tried at all.
Best for: Second-day hair with some natural texture. You could mix things up by twisting each section before plaiting, or working a two-stranded fishtail braid. Either way, dry shampoo will be your friend in absorbing oil at the roots and giving your lengths some extra oomph, so your braid stays in place all day.
3. THE GOING OUT BRAID
Your hair is all dressed up with somewhere to go: two tiers of slim Dutch braids run in parallel on one side, while the rest of your hair flicks over to the other, then gets on with doing its own thing. We like to call it the Undercut
Where to take it: A festival, a gig, a date – any old regular Friday. It’s edgy yet feminine – and looks killer with great earrings and a strong brow.
Best for: This plait doesn’t like to discriminate, so long or short, thick or fine hair – your braid is going out tonight. Lightly rub some dry shampoo into the roots the morning after the night before, and your plait will be good to go for a few days or more.
4. THE GOOD VIBES BRAID
2, 4, 6, 8 – pick your poison, and we’ll plait any number of skinny plaits into your hair from root to tip, using the Dutch technique. It really is a Classic
Where to take it: While there’s no doubt it loves a festival, it wouldn’t say ‘no’ to a sun-soaked holiday – or anywhere you'll feel good vibes. It's pretty; it's practical – it keeps your hair in one place if you're in and out of water, sweating profusely or have been wearing a hat for hours. Whatever happens, you can have an action-packed day, then simply smooth a few straggly bits – and head out way beyond sunset.
Best for: Longer hair that’s prone to tangles and just generally getting in summertime’s way. Pop a headscarf on while you sleep, and you’ll keep your good vibes braid for longer.
5. THE GODDESS BRAID
The goddess of all braids, it’s a classic French plait, (three sections are woven underneath one another, to create a flatter, more intricate design) wound into an elegant ‘S’
Best for: Thick, unruly hair that needs to be brought to heel. You know those moments that you plan for ages? Could be your wedding, a party – or somewhere you just know you’re bound to bump into your ex. Weave some ribbons into your ‘S' – add a slide or two; why not? Whatever, this is your one-way ticket to winning hair – with the unbeatable confidence to match.
Feeling in the mood for a braid of your own? Just in case you’re not a Gold Medallist in the finger gymnastic Olympics, we’ve re-created the 5 best braid styles for everyone – right here in our Braid Bar