The Editors
Updated on March 30, 2021

French braid hairstyles are timeless classics and they’re picture perfect for so many occasions. From classy affairs in the evening and weddings to relaxed days around town, French braids, fishtails, and Dutch braids will accompany and complement your every outfit. All you need to do is to master a few braiding techniques and then get a bit creative.

Fresh French Braid Upgrades

Most of the following styles with French braids are quite easy to do yourself. So, don’t put off a great opportunity to diversify your daily looks with some creative and truly inspiring braided ideas!

Related Post: How to French Braid on Your Own Hair for Beginners

1. Effortless Side Braid

Who says you have to braid all of your hair? It’s easy to do a side braid, even in the French style. It helps to have an extreme part, but it all depends on the look you want. This is one of the easiest French braid hairstyles for long and medium-length hair.

2. Milkmaid Braids for the Win

Call them what you will – milkmaid braids, a braided headband, a crown – but every name results in the same cute ‘do. This is ideal for second-day hair, plus you’ll have gorgeous waves when you unravel the plaits.

messy blonde crown braid updo

Instagram/ @goldplaited_

3. Triple the Braids

It’s worth learning braiding techniques and all their variations, especially the ones that work best for your hair length and texture. Why? Because there’s honestly no other hairstyle that can work for so many different styles. If you have long, thick hair, it might be helpful to separate your braids a bit. This is an eye-catching take on the traditional style, and it all comes together in a perfect plait. Win!

4: Side Ponytail with a Twist

Side ponytails are having a major moment, but anything you can do to dress up the ’80s throwback is definitely encouraged. Braids and ponytails pair together beautifully, but if you can manage a waterfall braid, that’s even better. Incorporating two French braids into your ‘do is never a bad thing.

5. A Braid with Everything

Seriously, there’s a lot going on here. That’s why braids are so popular – they’re simple, so, they can handle a lot. In this case, a braided headband circles above an intricately structured bun. This is a lovely updo idea for prom, Homecoming, a wedding, a first date – any special occasion, really.

6. All Around and Upside Down

Here’s another fabulous, elegant updo for any event that calls for a killer look. This is stunning, but even though it might involve you spending a lot of time with your arms raised as you pose between two strategically placed mirrors, it’s worth the effort. The upside down braid is eye-catching enough, but the way it continues to circle a thick, beautifully formed bun is really kind of magical.

7. True Intricacy of Braiding

The French braid is a timeless but versatile hairstyle that runs the gamut between Boho chic and classically elegant, as well as every style between. It’s no longer just for long hair, you just have to get a little inventive. Braiding is like an art form, and some techniques are hard to learn. The delicate side braids require a different method to get that lovely, linked look, although the half braid in the center is a classic, rather perfect French plait. Keep in mind, though, that once you learn a few of the core French braid hairstyles, everything else is easy.

8. Crowned in Braids

On mornings when you wake up feeling a bit regal and queenly – which, incidentally, should be every day – why not to crown yourself? With or without the ponytail, a crown made of braids is a stunning look. It’s great for hiding second-day hair, it’s the height of Boho chic, but it’s elegant enough for the office and easy enough for busy mornings.

9. Half and Half and Half

Okay, so the math doesn’t work out, but the description still makes sense. This hairstyle is half up, and that part is half braided and half twisted into a messy bun. It actually works, although it’s a little … inventive, let’s say.

half updo for long hair with braid and bun

Instagram/ @goldplaited_

10. Two into One

This is a whimsical take on the double French braid, and every bit of it is pretty wonderful. Two side braids converge at the nape, and the braid continues as a single plaited tail. So pretty!

11. Round and Round the Crown

This is a next-level crown. This braid encircles this lovely girl’s head perfectly. It likely involves lots of pinning, but look at the result! It’s precious, right down to the wispy tendrils falling down.

12. Intricate but Secretly Easy

There are actually several ways to do something like this. On its own, you could simply create two side braids or a braided crown and pin it properly. For the twists, pull some strands free from beneath the braids, start twisting them tightly but evenly, beginning where the braid starts, and pin them up in this design or another of your choosing. This is also something you could try with weave, even if you used small sections for the twists.

13. Meeting in the Middle

There are so many French braid hairstyles to try, but they’re also easy to create. Anytime you’re messing around, playing with your hair out of boredom, try coming up with a braiding technique. Some of the simplest French braid styles are the prettiest. Joining two side braids and continuing to plait them is easy but always on-point. This style is the exact definition of effortless elegance.

14. A Triple Threat

Here’s a gorgeous style that may take a minute to master, but you’ll get a lot of use out of it. Three braids pack three times the punch, but they’re so small, delicate, and beautifully pinned that they look straight out of Rivendale. Protip: French braid bangs using this idea, and they won’t get on your nerves quite as much.

15. Vintage-Inspired Braids

This style has a very retro edge to it. Something about it is reminiscent of the victory rolls of the 1930s and ’40s, which is no bad thing. Start your side braids high up on your crown, as close to your roots as possible, and to get a bit more structure, give them a little twist when you join them with your ponytail.

16. The Best Hair Headband Ever

This isn’t a hairstyle, it’s a work of art. This is one of the most inventive French braid hairstyles ever created. The structure of the braiding looks almost like knitting. There are actually different textures – the smooth slice of the bangs, the braid itself, and the crosshatch of hair sections pulled into it. Just incredibly impressive, and the bun is the doughnut on the cake – so to speak.

17. When Pinning Is Everything

See? Braids work even for short hair. Side or milkmaid braids may work best for locks like these, on the shorter side of medium. The hair you leave free of the braids can actually help with secure pinning.

18. Boho Goes Elegant

If you ever want to make your signature Boho style look a little sharper, a ponytail is really all it takes. The wrap of hair around the base of the pony is recommended, and this is definitely a ‘do that looks better with a bump for volume.

19. Pretty, Pretty Pigtails

Actually, these are pigtails of an entirely different level. To get this kind of length, you might have to try braiding with weave, or you could just make it work for your length. Whatever you do, try to make your French braid mimic the structure you see here.

20. The Perfect Pixie Braid

Doesn’t she look like a pixie? That headband, the cut, those loose curls! To create a braided headband that goes from one side to the other in one prominent plait, you might need to learn how to reverse French braid, which sounds way harder than it is – promise.

30 Mini Tutorials for Braid Styles

Check out the ideas below.

1. Boho Side-Braid

This cute and relaxed style is ideal for slightly curly or wavy hair. If your hair is straight, scrunch it with sea salt spray to achieve effortless-looking beach waves. Braid a loose braid to one side to frame your face. Make the end braid appear loose and relaxed by slightly easing it out with your fingers, both at the roots, as well as at the end. Secure the end with a small elastic, of a neutral color.

2. Low Updo with Side French Braid

Starting right over one of your ears, braid a large chunk of your hair. Keep braiding and adding strands of hair, until you’ve reached the tips. Make sure the braid remains loose and relaxed throughout – if you eventually decide to opt out of the updo, you can simply wear it as a bohemian chic side braid. To complete the updo, tuck the end of the braid in and secure with a few hairpins. Since this is pre-eminently a hippie look, you can also try embellishing the ’do with some flowers, be they real or artificial.

3. Thick Messy Side-Braid for Long Hair

Ah, long hair! What’s there not to love about it… well, forget of those annoying times when it gets all in your face, keeping you hot and sweaty. If you need a quick, stylish fix to this issue, you can always try this thick braid that works with a deep side-part. First off, part your hair to one side, then start braiding at the level of your bangs, working your way down and incorporating locks in the process. Keep the braid close to your cheek, so that it frames your face beautifully. If you’d rather go for a sexy siren look, loosen your hair at the end, by gently running your fingers through the parts of the braid.

4. Elegant Updo with French Braid

There are a lot of different ways in which you can braid your hair. If you don’t know how to french braid your own hair, you shouldn’t worry, because the basics are actually really simple. For this elegant everyday style, divide your hair into two sections. Braid the right section across the back of the head towards the nape and the left ear. Then do the same with the left section, braiding to the opposite side, so that the two French braids criss cross. Pull at the parts of the braids to make them lacier. Tuck the ends of the braids at the nape underneath the updo and secure with bobby pins. Easier than it first looked, right?

5. Twist-Around Lace Braid

Start by creating a very deep parting and sweep your hair to one side. Braid , starting off your parting. Work your way along the hairline and towards the crown of your head. Once you’ve reached the back of your head, do a normal braid, which you will twist around the loose part of your long hair, and secure at the bottom with an elastic. The result will be a twisting, snake-like braid that holds all of your hair into place. A striking, chick, and retro look, which essentially updates the side ponytail!

6. Dutch Braid to Fishtail/Mermaid Braid

This complex style, which is basically a Fishtail French braid, begins with a ‘Dutch’, that gradually blends into a fishtail braid. Start by creating a deep parting and sweeping all your hair to one side. Begin a Dutch braid right at the top of your head, off the parting, and work your way down, behind the ear, throughout the length of the hair. As soon as you reach the nape of your neck, take the three sections of hair that you’ve used for braiding up to this point, join them with the remaining locks and re-divide everything into two sections. Braid a common fishtail. At the end, secure the braid with an elastic and loosen up the top part with your fingers.

7. Waterfall Braid Half Updo Hairstyles

By definition, French braids are perfect for achieving that relaxed, downplayed look – and this half updo takes the cake in this sense. The beauty of this style is in its ease and messiness. It’s ideal for second day hair or scrunched waves. To achieve the look, pin back a section of hair at the top of your head with a few pins. Leave a few strands loose in front to frame your face. Braid two side braids and join them together with bobby pins. Don’t forget to loosen everything up to make the hair look fuller and richer.

8. Simple Side Braid

This simple braid style will work with just about any shape of face and hair type – but it looks particularly flattering on women with oblong or oval faces and wavy hair. The other great part about this style is that it keeps hair off your forehead and, to boot, it can go a long way to add volume to otherwise flat-looking hair. If you don’t know exactly how to French braid, but want to experiment, this style is a good place to begin. Simply start by braiding three strands of hair at the top, by your side parting. Work your way down and keep incorporating strands of hair into the braid. At the end don’t forget to secure the whole thing with an elastic and hide it, wrapping by a thin strand tightly.

9. The Running Braid

This well-known type of braid incorporates a normal French braid that goes through the centre of your head and joins the pony with three smaller braids. All the four are further twisted into a single whole. Start by braiding the hair at the front top part of your head. This will only work well if you’re not sporting any bangs. Braid about halfway to the back and down, then pull all your hair into an elevated pony tail. Divide the unbraided hair into three sections, braid them into simple braids, then twist all the braids into a single one. Secure with an elastic.

10. Curly Tucked-in French Braid Low Updo

Start by securing your fringe and some of the hair on your crown with a few pins, for added volume. Then French braid your hair down, incorporating the side strands into your braid. When you reach the nape of your neck, simply braid to the end and tuck the end of your braid underneath, creating a sort of updo. This hairstyle works great for thick curly hair.

11. Elsa Snow Queen Style – Big French Braid

Contrary to some of the other styles we’ve showcased up to this point, the Snow Queen French braid, inspired by the Disney character, is more difficult to complete then you can initially imagine. You may opt to add hair extensions, to get all the volume and length you want for this. To achieve this style you need to braid at the back of your head, but not too low: braids tend to weigh down on their own, as you are wearing them. Elsa’s braid consists of big, loose chunks of hair. Once you’ve reached the nape of your neck, make sure to affix your extensions closely, then continue braiding to the ends, including extensions. Braid the rest of your hair all the way down, loosen it up at the end, and add some snowflake hair pins, too, if you’re so inclined.

12. Elegant Side Braid Bun

This is yet another gorgeous and complex French braid hairstyle which works perfectly for long hair. Part your locks to one side and start braiding, from the crown of your head, gradually angling down and towards the nape of your neck. This will add a pleasant-looking curve to your braid. Once all your side strands are included into the braid, continue braiding the rest of the hair in a normal style – don’t forget to incorporate the hair on the left side, too. Twist this long braid, into a bun and secure it with pins. This elegant style is inspired by Eastern traditions and will look amazing with very sleek, long straight hair.

13. 5-Minute Easy Braid Updo

This hairstyle is essentially a diagonal French braid, which uses all your hair and goes across your head, from the top and front, down to the back and bottom. Start on the right side, at the level of your fringe, and braid the hair back into a normal braid. Once you’ve reached the back of your head, start including strands from the sides, to create the classic French braid. Keep at it as you are making your way across and down, to the nape of the neck. Finish the braid at the end with an elastic, loosen it up a bit with your fingers, and then secure it at the top with some pins. Secure the ends with some pins, too – and you’re done. If your hair is dyed in a trendy ombre style, it’s going to look amazing!

14. The French Braid Twist Hairstyle

This fancy braiding hairstyle is actually not twisted at all while it’s braided – the effect is achieved at the end, when you use some bobby pins. A couple of tips: it’s perfect for curly hair, and it can be successfully used as a wedding style. This free-form hairstyle doesn’t come with many strict instructions to it. Simply start by pinning the hair at your crown with some pins. This is the central point of the hairstyle, to which you will be alternatively adding twisted sections from the sides. At the nape of the neck, simply twist two sections of the remaining hair around each other and secure everything with a band. The style will look relatively loose, so make sure to add some cleverly placed bobby pins at the end, to secure its most sensitive points.

15. Laid-back Braid Hairstyle

This style works so well for medium-length slightly wavy strands, and you can always add extensions, for that super impressive touch. If you’re still struggling to learn how to do a French braid, you will find that this style isn’t complicated. However, it requires a spritz of serum before you begin, to hold everything into place. Begin at the top, with your fringe pinned back. Create a normal braid, by crossing the three sections over four times. At this point, begin to add more hair from the sides. Repeat to the end, braiding rather loosely to make this hairstyle look effortless and carefree. Secure everything with a couple of clear bands. You’ve got both relaxed and elegant look!

16. Side French Braid to Four Strand Braid

Your first step will be to sweep all your hair over one shoulder and start braiding right from the top. Continue in a parallel line with the contour of your face, past and behind the ear, to the nape of your neck. At this point, remember to leave one strand out of the braid. Keep braiding a little further down, then secure the tail with an elastic. Make a thin braid out of the strand you left out. Remove the elastic and make a four-way braid. At the very end, secure with an elastic and loosen the four-section braid with your fingers. Voila! You have achieved a sophisticated variation of the French braid hairstyle.

17. French and Fishtail Braid Chignon

This exquisite style is based on the fishtail braiding technique, so make sure you’ve got that one down pat before you begin. Part your hair to one side, then start fishtail braiding in a diagonal line across the head, all the way to the nape of your neck. Once you’ve reached your ear, switch directions, but continue with the same style of braiding to the end. Secure the braid with a headband, then twist it around and fasten the bun into place with a few bobby pins.

18. Loose French Braid Hairstyle

This style is very similar to the Laid-back French braid we have listed above. Simply start braiding at the top. Begin with a normal braid, and after four cross-overs, add sections of hair from the sides. Make your way downward by repeating the step above. Secure with a clear hairband or elastic. For an even more relaxed, effortless look remember to loosen up your braid with your fingers at the very end.

19. Classy Loose French Braid

If you think that your braiding technique is a bit rusty, or if you’re simply on the lookout for a cool, relaxed hairdo, the Internet is chockfull of tutorials for you. To braid your hair for this style, pull it back and start at the top center point. Divide your mane into three sections and start braiding. At each crossover, add a small section of hair from the sides. As you work your way down the length of the hair, feel free to incorporate larger strands. Once you’ve run out of locks on the sides, feel free to braid the remainder into a normal style. Add a spritz of finishing serum and – presto! Here’s your picture-perfect braid!

20. Braided Side Bun Hairstyle

This is yet another style that’s perfect for barbeques or informal occasions as well as work or corporate meetings. As it always happens with French braids, you will begin by creating a deep parting. Braid right at the top and keep incorporating strands of hair from your hairline, as you are working your way down. Secure everything at the end with a clear hairband, then twist the remainder of the hair into a spiraled chignon. Affix this chignon under your ear with some pins. If you’re going for a more dramatic look, you can style this bun in a more sophisticated way and also add some extensions to the mix. Check other chignon bun tutorials.

21. Classic Braid Hairstyle

French braids are absolute classics and can work with any texture and hair color. This style in particular, works well for shorter and medium hair. By now, we presume you know the drill. To achieve such hairstyles, all you need to do is to separate your hair into three sections and begin to braid. Don’t forget to add strands from the sides of your head into the mix. For a casual look, you can loosen up the braid, while for a more professional one, you should work on the flyaways.

22. Triple French Braid Updo

Need a French braiding style that’s easy-going and also stylish enough to be worked into a classy look? Consider the triple braid updo (also referred to as the double French braid bun) – which is not only refined, but also far easier to pull off than one may expect. Simply divide the hair into three sections, from ear to ear. Braid each section, alternating directions, then pin the braids into place with some pins. You can also loosen up the braids, if you want to enhance the thickness and texture of the style.

23. Delicate Side French Braid

Sweep your hair to one side. Separate the section on top into 3 strands to make a braid. Incorporate strands from the back, as you are braiding along the hairline. Continue to the end on the other side. Secure it with a hairband and loosen the braid to make it lacier.

24. Simple Side Braid For Long Hair

This style, also referred to as the French braid bangs, is basically very easy to complete and pleasure to wear. Braid the top section of the hair, by closely following the hairline. Leave the rest of the hair loose. You may style loose waves or wear your hair straight.

25. Half-Up French Braid

This very simple and romantic-looking hairstyle can be completed in 5 minutes. Simply start as you would with any regular braid: at the center, topmost point at the back of your head. Do a couple of crossovers, picking the strands on the sides and then continue braiding the rest of it in a normal style. Tie everything at the end with a bow, secured with a transparent elastic underneath. You can opt for a clean look, like the one seen in the picture, or a looser, more relaxed one.

26. Low Fishtail Braid

Start by dividing your hair into two sections at the top of your head. Pick up thin strands on the outside of each section and bring them in turns one by one to the opposite section. Keep adding smaller bits, until you reach the nape of your neck. Once there, simply continue by braiding your hair into a regular fishtail. Pin whatever loose strands of hair you’ve got and feel free to loosen your braid up a little.

27. Mermaid Braid for Medium to Long Hair

The first step to achieving this hairstyle is to braid two thin braids and join them together. Next begin to braid a 3-strand French braid down the centre, adding small pieces from the strands framing your face into the braid. Work your way down to the tips of the hair. As you reach the tips, secure everything with a clear hairband. There you go, now you’re a genuine mermaid!

28. Sophisticated Braided Rosettes

We just love how complex and stylish this French braid hairstyle looks, when, in fact, it’s quite easy to complete. All you need to do is to start a normal braid at the uppermost central point at the back of your head. Here’s the essential ‘ingredient’: remember to leave one strand out of the main braid, every other crossover. There should be three strands loose, on both sides of the braid, once you have finished braiding all your hair. Style these remaining strands into a normal braid each, and coil them up into spirals, or, as this style refers to them, ‘rosettes’. Secure with bobby pins and you’re done.

29. Dutch Braid/Inside-Out Braid Chignon

This hairstyle is based on Dutch braiding, which is actually French braiding, but inside out. What do we mean by that? Simply that, in the French braiding technique, you cross the strands of hair over one another. Dutch braiding suggests doing the crossover under the central strand. First of all, make sure you’ve got this method covered. Then, start Dutch braiding at the top and back of your head, at a downward diagonal angle. Braid all your hair, secure it with a hairband, then coil the braided tail into a delicate chignon. Fasten this behind your ear with some pins.

30. Four-Strand French Braid Hairstyle

This spectacular style is, in a way, the queen of all braid hairstyles. It’s best explained in video tutorials over and over again but, basically, if you’ve mastered the regular four-strand braiding technique, you’ll be able to pull this one off, too. Pro tips: it helps to dampen your hair before you begin; also, a three-way mirror will go a long way if you want to keep track of the strands you’re working with. The braiding technique involved with this style is the classic one. Start at the top of the head, at its back, and keep incorporating strands of hair from the sides of your head as you are braiding your way down to the tips. With this more complex hairstyle, we recommend a tighter style of braiding, so that your work doesn’t come undone halfway through.

This concludes our list of the most gorgeous French braid hairstyles. They’re suited for all types of medium to long hair, as well as for every occasion. Check them out, get inspired, and experiment with textures and hair color ideas of your own. And, above all, don’t forget to share your results and pictures with us.

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