Braided hair has been around as long as we have record, and braids have been especially popular the last couple of years, making a huge comeback into the worlds of celebrity styling and kindergarten classrooms alike. So what, after all this time and all those hairstyles, could be “new” or “fresh” or “exciting” about braids? All it takes is one look at the hairstyles walking the runway at this year’s New York Fashion Week to find out.
The first thing you’ll see? Simplicity and sleekness. The “in” braids of two years ago were wide, pulled-apart, piece-y… even messy. They looked as if you’d braided your hair and then slept on it. The braids at Fashion Week have turned that corner in a big way. This hair is sleek and tight and pulled together. Some is even wet or wet-looking. Doing braids in this way make the styles more sophisticated and classic, while keeping the texture youthfulness of the braid itself. For example is a style in which the hair is pulled back and downward to a low-set pony. The hair is then braided, then twisted into a large, low-set bun. This style walked more than one runway this year, both centered on the nape of the neck and set to the side, behind one ear. Another trend? A specifically-set part in the hair, often dead-center or just slightly to the side.
Another new braiding trend is using multiple braids in one style. Several designers had their models sport styles involving two, three, four or more braids or cornrows. Some were larger, others small. And the braids were never so bulky or eye-catching as to take away from or overwhelm the rest of the hairstyle, or the fashion or the overall look of the woman. These styles are calm and cool. One group of models wore three separate braids pulled into one band- the middle braid being a larger French braid, with two smaller side braids. Another designer chose for his models a style parted down the middle, with two outside-set (“inside out”) French braids going front to back.
There is still one part of yesterday’s braids that is hanging on… the wide-set look. Though the sleeker, tighter look is definitely in, several braids at Fashion Week were still quite wide. Many, of course, had extra hair added, by way of extensions. This is a great way for braids to look thicker, stronger and a bit dominating as part of a bolder street style.
Overall, it’s still the decade of the braid. Keep braiding, and forget the “rules.” If you’re looking for something new and different, try parting your hair in a different place, or try placing your braid(s) at a different part of the head, or even watch a YouTube video or two and learn how to do a different style of braid or cornrow than you usually try. Braids are a fun, beautiful, and often simple way to work your hair into any image you want to portray.