Banishing Bad Hair Days since 1997!™

Dressy Styles - Part #3 Styles For Short, Medium & Long Hair

Dressy Styles For Any Hair

Hair of any length, style or texture can be dressed up for the Holidays. Sometimes all that is required is a little imagination and some great hair accessories like ribbons, jeweled clips, hair sticks, butterfly pins or jeweled headbands.

Finding Inspiration For Dressy Styles

Some of my best ideas on how to dress up hair come from all the hair magazines that I read on a monthly basis. I also get great ideas from just messing with my own hair in front of a mirror. Try it on your own hair. You will be amazed at the styles that can evolve after a few sessions "playing" with your hair.

If you are stumped finding a hot new Holiday hairstyle try flipping through all the great hair magazines at the bookstore. I am personally addicted to the foreign hair magazines like Hair Flair, Hair & Beauty and Hair Now.

Keep your eyes on the most popular TV shows for other new style ideas. Jennifer Anniston and the other Friends TV stars have all worn great new styles over the past few months. Use these styles as inspiration for finding a great new look for your hair.

Books are always a great source of inspiration as well. I constantly am searching for books that show great new styles for all lengths. In the last few months I have reviewed Patrick Cameron's Dressing Long Hair, 388 Hairstyles and Braids & Updos by Jamie Rines Jones.

I have attempted to put together a few different dressy styles for different hair lengths. In some cases it will be possible for a long haired person to wear all the styles with some modifications. A short haired person will not be able to wear the styles for the medium to longer lengths. However, most styles can be adapted in a variety of creative ways. Short hair can even adopt tiny little braids or knots.

I have discovered with this third article on Dressy Hair that I have just begun. I have not even covered naturally curly hair, permed hair or how to use color to transform styles. Look for even more parts to appear on dressy hair styles.

Very Short - Short Hair Marcel Wave

This first example of the classic style appears on page 74 of Christine Moodie's book, The Five Minute Hair Stylist.

As Christine points out, the Marcel Wave looks fantastic with a backless evening dress or a ball gown. This style is great for very short to short hair. It works great on straight or wavy hair and would be impossible with naturally curly hair.

While this style is not difficult to achieve, like everything else, it does require some practice. It is best to have the style down pat and wear it a few times before the big event.

To create the style apply a good hair gel. Push hair into waves between a comb and your fingers. Secure waves with clips. Let the hair "set" for at least 30 minutes. Remove the clips after you are dressed and ready to go.

Marci's Retro Styles Site - More Marcel Wave Information

One of the top sites for classic hairstyles on the web is Marci's Retro Style site. If you want to be really creative and do wonderful things with your hair Marci's site will give you instant inspiration.

Marci has detailed instructions complete with figure drawings of how to create the Marcel wave.

Short Hair

Many people with short hair think that there is nothing they can really do to dress up their short styles. This is a fallacy as shown by the first short hair dressy style. This photo appeared in the Oct/Nov issue of Hair Now Magazine.

The hair was done by Andrew Jose of London for Pantene. To achieve this very elegant look a gel was applied to the hair and the hair was slicked as close to the head as possible. This style works great with beautiful earrings as shown in this photo. This look does not work for medium to longer hair unless the hair is slicked back into a bun or braid.

The second dressy style shown in the Oct/Nov 1998 Hair Now was created by Egidio at Yellow Strawberry, USA for Dudley Publications. The style combines a smooth, sleek back and sides with lots of texture on top. The texture is achieved with a strong-hold gel or hair wax. The hair can be "finger picked" or arranged to form any height of spikes or separations that you desire. This style also looks smashing with great earrings and matching necklace.

The last short dressy style was created by Anthony Accola at Salvatore Minardi, USA for Dudley Publications. This style can be recreated by using a wet-look gel and finger picking the hair into place.

You can also dress it up by using a curling iron to create soft curls. Hot rollers can be substituted for the iron and depending on the size of rollers you can create curls that range from small and tight to big and loose. This is a style that benefits from maximum playing time.

In a lot of ways short hair is actually easier to dress up than medium to long hair. It can be slicked back, gelled up, curled, arranged in waves or dressed up with beautiful headbands, tiaras, clips or pins.

Short - Medium Hair

This short braided photo is from Salon Selectives and appeared in the October issue of Hair & Beauty Magazine. This stunning style is composed of several rows of tiny French braids that start at the forehead and end at the nape of the neck with tiny little clips.

The tiny braids could be dressed up by winding ribbon through the rows, adding glittery clips at the end or even dabbing on glitter. The tiny braids look especially stunning with hair that is multi-colored or highlighted.

The photo shows several braids. Depending on your hair length, texture and thickness you could make more braids, less braids or even different types of braids. A precision look like this would most probably require the assistance of a hairstylist or friend with nimble fingers.

If you are in a hurry, you can just randomly apply tiny or fat braids throughout your hair. Add tiny glitter clips at the ends or add little butterfly clips at the top of each braid.

Short - Medium - Long Hair

If your hair is long enough to wear in a ponytail it is long enough to wear "up" in a curly do.

Making curls that sit elegantly on top of your crown are easy to do. Start with a ponytail and tie off the ponytail at the top of your crown. Be sure to use a "hair friendly" hair tie to protect your hair. If possible, use a hair tie that matches the color or your hair and will blend in with the curls. Avoid using rubber bands or any ties that can rip your hair.

To get a "finished look" make sure that you brush your hair and smooth it before you pull it up into the ponytail.

Apply a light styling gel to the top ponytail hair and then separate it off into 1"-2" sections.

Use a curling iron or add heated curlers to make the curls. Let the curls cool off before you style them. Once the curls are cool, shape them into a soft design and then carefully pin them to the top of your head as shown in the photo to the left.

When you have the curls arranged the way that you want, spray the entire style with a good holding hairspray.

You have the option to make the curls smaller or fatter depending on the size of the section of hair that you curl and the size of the curling iron or hot curlers that you use.

Let your imagination run wild and you can create a smashing Holiday hairdo starting with a simple ponytail.

A ponytail curly updo can be dressed up or down in a variety of ways. You can follow the example of the photo and tie multi-colored ribbons at the base of each section of the hair. Let the ribbons float free as shown above, or intertwine them with the curls before you pin them. You can also add well placed jeweled clips, butterfly clips or even hairsticks.

Medium - Long - Very Long Hair

The French Braid

The French Braid is deceptively complex in appearance. It is, in fact, simply an English braid with an additional step.

Instead of beginning with three strands that incorporate all your hair, the French braid begins with a thin ponytail skimmed from the top layer of hair. As you braid, you gather additional thin sections of hair and add them to the strands of the ponytail, resulting in gracefully draped hair on either side of the braid. The appearance of the drape varies with the amount of hair you add with each step and the tension you keep on each strand. Experiment to find the look you like best.


These steps were taken from the book, More Beautiful Braids by Patricia Coen.

This excellent classic braiding book from Patricia Coen actually includes detailed illustrations that I am not able to include because of copyright restrictions.

  1. Place your thumbs above and slightly behind your ears. Draw them slightly back and upward, gathering hair that meets at your crown into a ponytail. Don't anchor it.
  2. Fashion one English plait, crossing the left strand over the center so that the two strands trade places, then the right strand over the center so that those two strands trade places.
  3. Hold the plait in your right hand, separating the three loose strands below it with your fingers. Place your left thumb above and behind your left ear and use it to draw a strand half as thick as one of the original strands towards the ponytail.
  4. Add the newly gathered hair to the left strand and cross this increased strand over the center, taking the center strand to the left as in ordinary English braiding.
  5. Hold the plait in your left hand, separating the three loose strands below it with your fingers. Place your right thumb above and behind your right ear and use it to draw a strand half as thick as one of the original strands toward the ponytail.
  6. Add the newly gathered hair to the right strand and cross this increased strand over the center, taking the center strand to the right as in ordinary English braiding.
  7. Continue gathering hair from the left and right and adding it to the strands just before you cross them over the center.
  8. After several plaits, there will be no loose hair left to gather.

English-braid the remaining strands and fasten the end of the braid with a covered band.

Alternative FrenchBraid Styles

The French Braid can also be dressed up in a variety of styles. The photo below is from Braids & Updos by Jamie Rines Jones. This dressy version is

Frenchbraid5.jpg (2649 bytes)
very simple to accomplish. Braid the hair to the very end and then take the "tail" and carefully tuck it up and under the rest of the hair at the nape of the neck. Securely pin the tail so that it is hidden under the rest of the braid. You can dress it up further with a jeweled pin, tiny flowers, beads or other hair accessories.

The second option is to add a gorgeous bow or large flower at the nape of the neck in the middle of the French Braid.

Additional Information

Michael Warner has created an incredible Special Holiday Edition with breathtaking examples of Holiday styles from the 40s. If you love classic styles you must stop by and see Michael's photographs.

The following books are also highly recommended:

Beautiful Braids by Patricia Coen, Joe Maxwell

More Beautiful Braids by Patricia Coen, James Wagenvoord

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Original Publication: 12/1/1997 - Revised Publication Date: 05/22/10

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