Whether your hair is straight or curly, braids add a fun and refreshing twist to any hairstyle. While braiding hair has been a practice since ancient Egypt, they have come back into style with a new twist. Moving beyond the traditional single braid down the back, these trendy braided looks are fresh, modern and inventive.

The Side Braid

Seen on numerous fashion runways, this unique style combines the romantic look of the Renaissance with the youthful grunge look of the 1990s. To create this look, take random sections of hair and curl with a curling iron. Curling the hair creates texture for a messy, grunge look. Tease hair with mousse to create volume. Pull your hair to the side and begin braiding in three sections, starting low at the nape. Finish braiding and wrap the hair at the bottom with an elastic band. To add interest, consider braiding a ribbon into your hair. The side braid style works best with long hair. If you don’t have long hair, you can also use hair extensions or hair clips to create this style.

The Milkmaid Braid

Seen on celebrities like Mary Kate Olson, this style offers a new approach to fancy up-dos. If you’re looking to create a romantic look, the milkmaid braid is a great choice. This works best on long hair, but extensions can be used, if necessary. To begin, split your hair into two sections and braid into pigtails. Secure elastic bands on each braid. Wrap the braids around the top of the head, crossing over the center part. Secure the braids with as many bobby pins as needed. Use hairspray to set in the style.

The Half-Up Braid

This fun and flirty style is a popular braid option today. Inspired by bohemian lifestyles, this hairstyle leaves most of your hair down. To complete this look, part your hair to the side. Gather a 2-inch section of hair from the full side and begin braiding from the part. You can use the three-strand braid technique or the French braid technique. Braid the hair until it can be tucked behind your ear. Secure the hair with an elastic band, and pin the braid behind your ear. Leave the rest of your hair down. Consider adding waves with a curling iron to keep the look soft. This style works for all hair lengths.

Rope Braids

Rope braids are a great way to add texture and interest to hair. This style can be replicated by creating two or more small braids. Begin each of these braids from a different area, all starting from your part. These small braids will appear rope-like and elaborate. Braid all the way down to the ends of your hair. You can leave your hair down or incorporate these braids into a bun for a more formal look.