Since you’ll be seeing a lot of the same faces as you make the rounds, you probably don’t want to do the exact same ‘do at each fete. It’ll be deck the halls déjà vu, if you will. Not to mention the fact that your ponytail is going to get pretty tiresome about four days into this marathon of celebrating, trust. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the coolest, chicest coiffs to help you get into the festive spirit with panache.
In this epic guide, you’ll find seven stunning styles — one for every day of the week! — plus the step-by-step, pro advice to pull them off. Party beauty drama = solved. You’re on your own for the sleep deprivation, hors d’oeuvres overdose, and monster hangover, though.
The Part-Happy Pony
Modelled after the AH-mazing ponies we saw atClover Canyon‘s spring ’13 show, this multi-directional mane adds some subtle intrigue and a bit of edge to the traditional ponytail.
For this look, you’ll want your hair to be straight, so make sure to blow it out and use a flat iron if it is naturally wavy or curly. Use a comb to create a triangle section at the crown of your head.
Clip the section up and away from the rest of your hair — you’re going to work on this portion last.
Using the comb again on the left side of your head, section out the front part of your hair, from just in front of the ear up to your face. Pull this piece forward and separate it from the rest of your hair. If it helps, you can loosely stick a clip in it to keep it together and away from the rest of your loose hair. Repeat on the other side of your head.
Gather all of the remaining hair (excluding those two front sections and the clipped-away top section) into a low ponytail. “When doing a ponytail, angle your chin up,” says Marcos Diaz, a stylist at Ion Studio in NYC. “If you do it while you are looking down, the hair at the back of your head will puff up — the hair shifts when you look back up. Having your chin up will ensure the ponytail looks sleek.”
Take those two side sections that you separated out and pull them together to create a tight ponytail at the top of the head. It should be in line with the first ponytail, but not directly above it — more at the the crown of the head so that it will be easy to conceal later on. Be sure to smooth the sides up so they are super-tight against your head. Diaz recommends spraying a bit of hairspray on your hands and smoothing it over the sides to take care of any flyaways and achieve that sleekness.
Unclip that top section and, using a comb, begin teasing the roots of your hair to create lift. “Don’t be overzealous on your teasing — if it’s too messy it will look like a ball,” says Diaz.
Use a flat paddle brush to gently comb over the top of the section, keeping the volume in place underneath while smoothing out the top so it is sleek and shiny.
Gather together the top section of hair at the back of your head and marry it with the other two ponytails, securing with an elastic to make one seamless pony. Spray with hairspray to keep everything in place.
Grab one small piece of hair from the ponytail and wrap it around the base to conceal the elastic. Tuck it back into the elastic to secure.
We love this look because it takes something so simple — your everyday ponytail — and turns it into a unique, creative work of art. And while it may look really complicated and intricate, it’s actually hella easy to do, which is always a plus.
“This is clean and polished, but it also looks expensive,” says Diaz. “Everyone loves getting dressed up for the holidays; they like to show they put a little effort into their look.”
The Modern Bouffant
Taking inspiration from Marc Jacobs‘ spring ’13 take on Edie Sedgwick, this ’60s-inspired, architectural updo is a great complement to a simpler, less embellished party dress.
To start, blow dry your hair with some mousse to help add texture and volume to your mane. Use a one-inch curling iron to curl your hair. Once all of your hair has been curled, create a deep side-part that extends to just behind your ear.
Use your fingers to create another part that extends from the end of your side-part to the nape of your neck, on each side.
Take the remaining top section and backcomb it from the top of your head to the nape of your neck, going section by section. You should look like you almost have a mohawk of teased sections.
Use a brush to smooth over the top of the hair, tidying it up but keeping the mega-volume underneath. Take the separated side sections and pull them back tight against your head.
Bring both side sections together at the back of your head, over top of that teased center section, and secure them together with an elastic at the nape of the neck.
Backcomb the ponytail to create volume and hold.
Pull all of the hair together and pin up into a messy bun.
“This is like a modern-day Catherine Deneuve,” says Packer. “It’s a bouffant with a twist. The placement of the bun — low, at the nape of the neck — is unique.
“The contrast of textures — smooth at the hairline and then a bit messy on the inside — makes it look almost like she’s going to the party but she didn’t have time to really do her hair. The messiness keeps it from being too prim and proper,” he says.
The Fluffed-Up Wave
Inspired by Gucci’s gorgeous fall ’12 waves, this soft and pretty style is like the Love Actually of party ‘dos — a romantic holiday classic.
Grab a one-inch curling iron and, holding it vertically to your head, curl all of your hair, section by section. Be sure to wrap the hair around the iron in the direction away from your face. If you find your hair isn’t holding the curl, or if you have fine or hard-to-curl hair, simply spray each section with hairspray before you curl.
After your hair is all curled, use your fingers to comb through the curls. This will break them up and help give them that fluffy texture. Create a center part in your hair, then section off the crown and begin to backcomb to add volume.
Next, grab the section below the one you just teased, and backcomb that as well. This is going to create a “grippy” base that will help your hair clip stay in place. Use your hand to smooth over the surface of the backcombed bits, which will help the hair appear more polished and conceal the backcombing.
On the left side of your head, grab two front sections of hair. The first one should be directly off your part and the second one should be the piece right behind it, which runs parallel to the hairline and just in front of the ear. Twist the top only, then pull back both sections of hair at the back of the head and begin twisting the strands together, starting behind the ear. Basically you want the front of the twist to have two distinct textures — the smooth one underneath and the twisted one on top. These two pieces will then begin to blend together into one seamless twist. “The flattened sides is what keeps this look modern,” says Heather Packer, a stylist atCutler Salon in NYC. “If you just had the one twist it would be too much of a literal hippie look. By being flatter on the sides, it keeps the hair from puffing out, which adds to the modernity.”
Use a bobby pin to secure the hair at the back of your head, then repeat the twisting on the opposite side.
Gather the two pieces of hair together at the back of your head — right where the second-round of teasing is — and secure with a hair elastic.
Grab a sparkly, festive clip and attach it over top of the elastic, anchoring it into the teased hair.
“This is a good balance for a holiday outfit,” says Packer. “It can dress down your look without making you look messy. It adds a coolness to a very proper dress.”
The Braid Wreath
What, you thought we’d do a blowout of party hairstyles and not include some kind of braid? We thought you knew us better than that by now. This gorgeous bun of braids looks so sophisticated and chic — it’s the grown-up way to weave.
To start, brush all of your hair back into a low ponytail at the nape of your neck and secure with an elastic.
Split the ponytail in half.
Begin braiding one section in a traditional, three-strand plait. Repeat with the second section.
Pull up the right braid at the back of your head and shape into the bun, pinning in place as you go.
Take the left braid and place it around the back of the head to create the rest of the bun. Make sure the two braids overlap and meet so they look like one seamless braid. Pin in place to secure.
“This is a festive spin on a bun,” says Diaz. “It has a similar silhouette, but with the braids it shows you did something different — it’s a bun with an identity.”
“This look is really nice because it’s easy, but it’s polished,” he notes. “You don’t need an expensive get-up — you can get an outfit from H&M, or Forever21 and this hairstyle will dress it up and make it look expensive.”
The Retro Revival
This glam take on the finger wave is a great option for short-haired girls — but will work equally well on follicularly blessed femmes. You’ll just have more hair to play with at the back of your head.
Start with second-day hair, or hair that has a good amount of product in it, as you will need the extra grip and hold in your strands. Spray in a root-building spray for foundation, then take a horseshoe-shaped section at the top of your head and clip it out of the way.
Take a section of hair — from the front hairline to right behind the ear — and separate it out from the rest of your hair. Use a comb to tease the section, concentrating your backcombing at the root area. This is going to be the base for your bobby pins.
Gather all of your loose hair together into a loose, off-center ponytail at the nape of the neck — closer to the backcombing. Separate the ponytail into two sections, then begin twisting them together.
Secure your twisted tail with a small, clear elastic.
Pull the ponytail upward and tuck it in at the back of your head, pinning it into the backcombed section.
Spray the side of your hair opposite of the part (the section with less hair) with hairspray and use your hands to smooth it back so it is sleek, shiny, and flat to the head.
Release the top section of hair and use a curling iron — held vertically to the head — to curl the hair in one-inch sections.
Use a comb to shape the curls. Pull it down at the roots to create sleekness.
When you get a few inches down the hair, start moving the comb in an “S” shape to sculpt them into that undulating shape. You want your roots to be smooth and straight and then the mid-shaft and ends to have that glamour-wave shape. Wes Sharpton, a stylist at Cutler Salon, says to use a comb and not a brush — the comb helps condense the hair and makes it more solid and compact, while a brush adds airiness and makes things fluffier.
Pull back any loose ends and pin them into the twist. Spray with hairspray to set.
This look is a great way for girls with shorter strands to glam up their look for the holidays, and proof positive that you don’t need tons of hair in order to craft a really gorgeous updo.
“The soft wave makes it feel retro-glam, but the slicked sides and back will give it that cool-kids vibe,” says Sharpton. “It’s artsy and cool, but it’s built to last. This is for the girl who is not just going to one party — she’s going all night. She’s got invites to 14 parties and she’s not saying no to any of them.”
The Glam Combover
We’ve already told you how much we’re digging thelady combover; and this holiday-perfect look riffs on that theme, but adds some ’70s disco-glam into the mix.
The trick with this look, according to Sharpton, is perfecting that faux-undercut by making sure one side of your hair is flat (and we mean flat) against your head — too puffy and it will veer into ’80s tribute territory. Start with clean, dry hair and add in a lot of volumzing product, then use a blow dryer to create root lift. Figure out which side of your head you want to comb your hair over to and, on the opposite side of the head, use a blow dryer to direct the hair upward. This will help create that sleek, flat look on the side. Going against the direction of hair growth will also help create tons of natural volume, which you’ll need for the top portion of the hair.
Create your deep side-part — Sharpton recommends creating the part down closer to the ear. If you part your hair around where your eyebrow is, it can look too Veronica Lake, which is not the era we’re going for, he says. While your hair is still hot from the blowdryer, clip the hair on the undercut side of your head. Sharpton suggests taking a piece of tissue and placing it between the clip and your hair — this will allow the hair to set in that flat, upwards pattern without leaving behind a dent or a mark where the clip was.
Starting at your part, take a one-inch-section of hair and curl with an iron, holding the wand parallel to the part and wrapping the curl towards the head. This will create a more classic curl. Pin the curl in place and allow to set. Repeat all over the head until all of the hair (except what’s in the clipped undercut section) is curled.
Once hair is curled, take out the pins and shake out the curls with your fingers. Remove the side clip from your hair as well.
Grab a flat, boar-bristle brush and brush out the hair. Use the brush to smooth and direct the hair up and over to the side. If you need more support on the side of your hair, Sharpton says you can bobby pin the side so that it remains flat — just be sure to tuck the bobby pin behind the ear, so it’s out of sight. He also says you can take a tiny bit of wax and work it into the ends of your hair, using your fingers. This will give the curls a kind of lived-in, gritty feel that will prevent them from feeling too precious or pageant-y.
“This is a really cool, coiffed style for shorter hair,” says Sharpton. “It’s a great way to polish hair that adds an unexpected twist. A lot of the time with shorter hair, people expect you to show up in just a great dress and the same hair, but this helps take our look to another level. The heightened volume adds a touch of Jerry Hall to it — it’s glamour, but it’s ’70s, Studio 54 glamour. It’s polished, but not overly done — it still feels very downtown to me. This isn’t for your office party.”
The Scarf Knot
This pretty, undone ‘do features the accessory as the focal point, blending it into the actual hairstyle, rather than tacking it on afterward.
“The great thing about this look is that you don’t need to blow dry your hair — you can just work with your natural texture,” says Diaz. Start by brushing all of your hair back and away from your face, then gather it behind your head. Separate the hair into three sections.
Take a piece of fabric — we used a men’s silk pocket square here — and wrap it around the center section of the hair. Grab the right end of the fabric and the right section of hair and cross it over top of the middle section, as if you were starting a three-strand braid. You’re going to incorporate the fabric into the hair this way.
Continue braiding the hair, keeping each end of the fabric attached to its section of hair. Don’t pull the braid tight — keep it big and loose.
As you braid, start placing pins into the fabric to help anchor it to the hair and keep it from sliding around.
Diaz says you can complete the braid, or go ahead and leave it unfinished — it’s all up to you. Continue braiding until you are happy with the look, pinning the hair and the fabric as you go.
According to Diaz, there’s no need to finish this off with an elastic — the pins will hold everything in place. Just spray with some hairspray and you’re good to go.
“This look is quick and great for any last-minute parties,” says Diaz. “Everyone can put their hair into a ponytail, but adding the fabric makes it very regal — it’s interesting to look at.”
Models Cat Dunn, Natalie Cantell, and Blaire Taylor.
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