It’s been years since I’ve been to a prom, but sometimes I daydream about how I’d wear my hair if I were to go again. For example: I would definitely not let my hairstylist give me a crunchy curly updo that stayed in place even after the pins came out, AKA Prom Hair. You know what I’m talking about: It’s up, it’s twisted, it’s full of ringlets, maybe some tiny braids, and it’s shellacked with hairspray until it looks like a helmet. But you can avoid all that. Just print out this handy guide filled with red carpet hair inspiration that just happens to be perfect for prom, and take it with you to your local salon. (You’ll thank me later.)
If you want to wear your hair straight. In high school I had a love affair with my flat iron, and for one prom I wore my hair middle-parted and stick straight. I looked like Morticia Addams. Sandra Bullock, on the other hand, did the pin-straight look perfectly. By clipping back one side of hair with a clip it adds dimension and shape to the style (not to mention some pretty sparkle), and shows off her neckline of her gorgeous dress.
If you want to wear a braid. Do a fishtail! They’re edgier than a traditional braid and have a bit of a boho feel. Take Lucy Liu’s Golden Globes look for example. It’s formal enough for the event (thanks to the two French braids along the hairline), but retains an easy, youthful quality.
If you want to add some sparkle. Jennifer Lawrence showed off a non-cheesy way to wear glitter in your hair at last year’s Hunger Games premiere. Instead of opting for a traditional clip, comb, or (eek) tiara, she wove a glitter encrusted necklace through her braid before twisting it up and pinning it in place.
If your hair is short. Don’t feel limited by a cropped cut! Check out Julianne Hough’s updo at the premiere of Safe Haven. It’s curled throughout, with pieces twisted along the sides to keep it flat above her ears and highlight the volume at the top of her head. It looks romantic and cool.
If you want to wear a ponytail. I love ponytails for formal events. But to keep it from looking like you just came from cheerleading practice, make sure your hair is super shiny and sleek. Nina Dobrev got everything right with her pony at an Oscar viewing party, and she added height on top to give it some style. A section of hair wrapped around the elastic makes it look extra polished.
If you want more of an edge. Fake a side shave like Cara Delevingne did for the Met Ball. Make a very deep, very precise side part. On the shorter side of the part, have a friend (unless you’re very adept doing it yourself) tightly French braid your hair so it runs in a straight line along the side of your head. Take it all the way to the back of your head and secure it with a clear elastic.
If you want to go glam. Old Hollywood waves à la Veronica Lake and Rita Hayworth are a great option if you want wear your hair down for the night. You can either wear it with a very deep side part (which can be a bit high-maintenance), or try Reese Witherspoon’s version. It still has the body and coiffed waves that are signature to the look, but without the hair flipped across the top of the head.
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