Braid Brigade

It is the first week of December but the temperature has been unseasonably warm here in the woods of southern New Jersey and I am currently staring at brilliant blue skies as the sun makes its way towards the horizon.  For over a year now I have been scoping out the latest trends in fashion, hair and makeup while finding ways to put my own spin on them and offer tips on how to incorporate such things into a more alternative wardrobe.  While I do not convey myself as an expert, I do believe that all of this research has taught me how to utilize the existing skills I have to present informative yet light-hearted articles to be enjoyed by all.  Some have found them to be incredibly helpful which makes me feel as though I am doing something right, but I feel that there has been a distinct evolution in presentation that I want to expand upon further.

At the moment I am dreaming of longer locks because I have fallen in love with the so called Cruella DeVille look in which one half of my hair is dyed black and the other is a pale blonde.  This was something I have always wanted to try yet hesitated to execute because I had read stories about difficult maintenance, though had a few variations of blonde hair with patches of black that turned out fine.  The cut is a different matter and will be omitted since this focus of this guide is hair styling which is something that I think about a lot as my hair slowly grows.  Having such a striking contrast allows for symmetrical designs and one of the easiest methods of achieving this is with braids.

Braiding is something I have done since I was a child sitting with embroidery floss churning out friendship bracelets or deciding that my doll needed a snazzy new hair do.  Quite a few times I covered my head in braids and wore them to school for a few days – much to the dismay of the administration – to create a wavy, crimped texture that my hair would hold until it was washed again.  One of the first hair extension methods I taught myself was installing braids, which I practiced first on dolls which resulted in tiny braids and cramped fingers.  Eventually my digits became far more nimble and I picked up several different techniques by reading and watching tutorials.

Today there is much variety to the types of braids just about anyone can try out, though I recommend that the hair be at least six to eight inches, regardless of texture.  Whenever you have some down time, just start fiddling around and see what works best for you, then throw in your favorite accessory and you are ready for festive fun!



To give your hair a sassy yet classy appearance, intertwine strands loosely then rub with your fingers to produce an irregular texture, which can be done by using a bobby pin to slacken pieces throughout the braid.



Prevent Heidi braids from giving off a schoolgirl vibe by sporting them further back on the crown of the head and leaving out a few waves in the front and sides for a softer edge.


If you are feeling daring and have some extra length in front, consider getting some sweeping bangs.  They will add a touch of romanticism to any combination of braids and twists, though test out how they will fit your face before actually taking out the scissors.



If you are a fan of up-do’s with plenty of volume, then the braided top knot is definitely something worth trying.  This is so simple to do and yet with the right touches can be quite sophisticated.  After gathering your hair into a high ponytail, braid it, secure it and then coil the plait on top of the head, securing it with hair pins.



Channel this Emmy coiffure worn by Kate Mara which features a braid, bun and curls, ideal for those who have lots of length or texture.  Begin with a side part and lace the larger section into a waterfall braid, gather the back into a bun and then form curls to frame the face with the remaining hair.



When sifting through braided styles, one might take note of the fact that there are a bevy of braided headbands cropping up on runways and red carpets.  Use a fishtail braid or even a double row of braids for that extra touch of uniqueness.



Giving your braid some direction may take a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it you can create a more visually interesting look by just angling a basic french braid, ending it in a ponytail and accenting with a ribbon tied into a bow or a knotted bun.



A great way to disguise bangs if you are growing them out is by  tucking the strands into a french braid along the side of your face and ending in a spiral of curls, then slick back the other side or even throw in some finger waves to refine the style.



Every now and then we have those days where there is just no time to be mussing about with our manes, and so the messy braid is by far the least technical and requires minimum effort.  Section hair and then just just have at it making the braid as loose as you feel; don’t even worry if piece fall out because that just makes it better.



Take the messy braid one step further by wrapping it around the top of the head, picking out some loops and wisps then pining into place.  This would be stunning with a few strands of beads thrown into the mix or topped with a flower crown.



Once you feel you have mastered the different braiding methods, combine them to create a truly revolutionary style, such as the one above that consists of several fishtail braids.



Finally, add a few streaks of color whether its with bright semi-permanent color or streaks of clip-in extensions to really set off any design you choose.  Weave brilliant blondes and pastels, browns with icy blues and black with bold red or whatever your favorite color is and get ready to be the life of the party!



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