The Editors
Updated on May 26, 2021

Fishbone braids have long been popular with women who love to wear their hair up but desire something more intricate. But did you know that a fishbone braid is actually inspired by black braided designs? Fishbones started with African American culture and progressed into popularity with all ethnicities – where they continue to dress up hair around the world today.

Hairdos with Fishbone Braids

The term “fishbone braid” has a double meaning. Some believe that “fishbone” is the same kind of braid we refer to as “fishtail”. But there are also African American braids plaited closely to the scalp with one thick braid in the centre and thinner cornrows joining the main braid at an angle. These truly look like a fishbone. We are viewing examples of both types below.

1. Long and Loose Braid

This fishbone braid is gathered loosely in the center and tightened at the bottom. If you have long, thick hair, then this is a fun braid to try.

2. Half Up Fishbone

While an updo is always lovely, sometimes you need something a bit more casual. This half up fishbone style is ideal for girls who want something to wear to the office that’s still appropriate for going out in the evening.

3. Messy and Creative

Twist your hair up and off your shoulders in a whole new way with this style. You can do one side braid or go for two fishbone braids before gathering hair into a low messy bun.

4. Fishbone Pigtails

Fishbone braids are just so much fun on super long hair, as there are so many ways to style them. In this example, pigtails return with a grown up feel – embellished with a tribal-print headband. This pays homage to the braid’s African-American roots, while still looking modern and lovely.

5. Crown with a Twist

Fishbone braid styles are so diverse – you can even make them into a crown-inspired updo. Messy hair is very trendy right now, and pinning it up and out of the way is a great choice for that next camping trip.

6. French Fishbone

If you love the look of a French braid but want something a bit fancier, check out this updo that’s big on style and still simple enough to learn how to do.

7. Mile Long Braid

Girls with very long hair can rock a fishbone braid like none other. This French-fishbone fusion is gorgeous enough to be suitable for a formal occasion while still remaining casual enough for day-to-day wear.

8. Messy Braided Ponytail

There are so many different types of braid designs, but this one is truly unique. A combination of a braid and ponytail, it’s nearly impossible to mess up this style – since the magic is in the mess!

9. Side Braid Beauty

Reminiscent of goddess braids, this fishbone works its way down into a ponytail. Wrap some strands around the hair elastic and pin on the underside to conceal the tools needed to hold this style together.

10. Embellish Your Updo

Fishbone braids are made even more beautiful when they are pinned up with a fun accent piece. Embellish your style with a decorative clip, flower or jewel.

11. Crown of Braids

For black hair, a fishbone style is an easy and practical solution when you want hair up and out of the way during warm weather. Get it done at the salon for a long lasting hold that you can wear for weeks at a time.

12. Cornrow Fishbone

Tricks with weaves and extensions are called to solve the styling issue for a certain period of time. Check this out! The tightly braided cornrows are combined with a unique “inside out” braid to give you a long lasting style that’s much fancier than regular cornrows.

13. Tight Black Braids

Since fishbone braids first originated with African-American weaving patterns, it makes sense that the style still looks stunning on black women today. No quality instructions would be sufficient to complete something as complex as this on your own, so it’s better to make an appointment with a skilled braider.

14. Crowned and Twisted

Pictures like this one prove that simple braids can provide a fancy style. Best of all, unlike a lot of pulled back styles, you won’t need any hairpins to keep this one in place.

15. Diagonal Braid Updo

For your next formal commitment, why not go with a style that won’t be easily duplicated? This French fishbone is tucked in and pinned under one ear, making it a beautiful, sleek style that doesn’t actually take a whole lot of effort.

16. Double Messy Braid Updo

The fishbone braid can be styled into many different thicknesses and positions – in this case it’s an updo with two blended braids which are fun to wear. If it gets a bit messy, don’t worry – it only adds to the personality.

17. Thick Golden Crown

Blonde hair glows in this upward style with a fishbone plait. This will work best with long hair or an attached braid.

18. Color Showcase

With these fancy braids, it’s easy to show off layers of hair color. If you’ve ever wanted highlights or lowlights, now’s the time. A Braid and bun will provide a fun color contrast you’ll love to sport.

19. Gathered and Stretched

Make a fishbone braid out of two small side sections. Pull at the braid here and there, varying its tightness for a fancy look of the braid that would look pretty common otherwise. Another fun trick to make this hairstyle amazing? Ombre color.

20. Adult Side Braid

Side braids are lovely and convenient for long hair, but sometimes they tend to look a bit immature. Grow up with this intricate side braid that’s appropriate for all ages and occasions.

Fishbone braids are so much fun to wear, but can sometimes be a challenge to style. Go to your favorite salon to get some pro tips or to have them style your hair for you if a special event is coming up. No matter your hair type, ethnicity or strand length, there’s a fishbone style that will flatter your locks and leave you feeling fabulous.

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