Catwalk Trend: Braids

Rhianna, Rapunzel and Katniss Everdeen (of Hunger Games fame) may not appear to have much in common but they are all at least partly responsible for a hair trend which has dominated catwalk and red carpet alike and looks set to continue to do so – the braid.

No longer the preserve of hippies, Heidi and schoolgirls, the braid has gone grown-up, sophisticated and sexy. It’s a trend all hair types can embrace (although some styles work better with greater length) and one which can be practical as well as chic – as evidenced by its popularity amongst female Olympians, as well as bow-wielding tributes. A few months ago I didn’t know Dutch braid from fishtail and would have considered myself far from co-ordinated, but with a little know-how, practice and inspiration my hairstyle horizons have broadened considerably.

It’s important to master the basics before attempting high fashion hair and Youtube is a wonderful resource for learning at your own pace. Techniques vary and the terminology can be a little confusing, so I’d particularly recommend the channel Cute Girls Hairstyles for clarity of explanation and bringing it back to basics on the different types of braid. Also important is working with your hair type – some styles will hold better in wavier hair and you might have to use a texturising putty to achieve the desired effect. The beauty of braiding, however, is that styles are often held in place by the hair itself with minimal construction materials required, so you can throw aside your pins and grips and rely on a few cheap elastics.

Moving into this Autumn/Winter season, keep it on trend by making styles slicker. Messy side braids work on the festival circuit or beach, but this season sees a move towards the intricate braided updo, as seen on the Duchess of Cambridge in Jenny Packman. On the catwalks, Marc Jacobs favoured the braided bun, Gucci and Valentino models’ hair was held back by twisted sections and designers such as Fendi and Emilio Pucci championed halo or headband styles. The common denominator was that braiding should be neater and keep the hair back from the face – think more retro than boho and you’re on the right track.

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Fashionable, practical and eminently wearable, braids are one way to kick-start the season in style, without blowing your bank balance.