Bold Braids

Every year, typically in the beginning of spring, we become fixated on finding a fresh, warm-weather-friendly way to wear our hair. While polished ponytails and ballerina buns are always excellent choices, right now we're interested in of-the-moment bold braids, as seen on the S/S 11 runways and fashionable stars like Kate Bosworth and Jessica Alba. Unlike the pinned-up milkmaid styles or the casual side braids from a few seasons ago, today's plaited 'dos are more complicated and intricate, resulting in an inspirational look that's ideal for dressier occasions.

While there were bold braids aplenty on the spring runways--like the low-riding mini pigtail braids at Givenchy or the center-part single plaits at Valentino--we spotted one of the loveliest looks at Erdem. For that show, Marc Trinder, the head stylist for Charles Worthington, created a French braid that went from ear to ear in an almost circular direction. The models' hair was prepped with a body-building mousse (specifically, Charles Worthington's Front Row Big Hair Sculpting Mousse ($10), which is exclusive to Boots and not currently available in the US), and then dried upside down for extra volume. Starting just above each girl's left ear and working towards their right ear, the stylists created a French braid that followed the hairline, resulting in a "halo" or crown braid. Sound complicated? It's not terribly difficult; just check out the step-by-step details on the Charles Worthington website for assistance.

In addition to the Erdem show, we've also spotted some noteworthy examples of bold braids on Hollywood's most fashionable heads. Topping that list: the multiple, slightly messy French braids Diane Kruger wore to the Chanel Haute Couture S/S 11 show earlier this year. Kruger always impresses us with her fashion-forward beauty and fashion choices, and this complicated-yet-imperfect hairstyle is the perfect counterpoint to her exquisitely embellished dress from the fashion house's Haute Couture F/W 10 collection. Jessica Alba also opted for a braided updo recently, albeit a more polished iteration. The lovely actress turned up at the BAFTA Awards wearing a blue strapless Atelier Versace gown and her hair up and accented with two mini headband braids. The resulting style is equal parts Grecian chic and bohemian earthiness--a very stunning combo. Of course, you don't need longer locks a la Alba to achieve a similarly braided look, as Carey Mulligan repeatedly demonstrates. The actress might have a relatively cropped cut, but she still manages to work a braid or two into her red-carpet looks on a regular basis, like the tousled 'do she wore to the London premiere of Never Let Me Go. A few twists and pins results in a faux braid that's relaxed, modern, and perfect for shorter hair.

In addition to these slightly casual bold braids, we also adore a stricter iteration of this look, like the version we spotted on Kate Bosworth. The invariably intriguing actress opted for an asymmetrical braided updo for a screening of The Warrior's Way late last year and we adore the contrast between her neatly combed back locks and the voluminous plait. Interested in achieving Bosworth's exact braid? Happily we have some detail instructions from Renato Campora, who created Bosworth's nuanced style. First, Campora prepped her hair with Frederic Fekkai mousse (the Full Blown Volume Styling Whip ($23) and Full Volume Styling Mousse ($21) are both good options) mixed with Frederic Fekkai Silky Straight Ironless Smooth Finish Serum ($23). Next he dried Bosworth's hair with his fingers and then added texture and more volume by curling her hair with heated metal sticks from a beauty-supply store. After letting the sticks set for 15 minutes, Campora removed them, flat-ironed each section to make it a little smoother, and then added Frederic Fekkai's Au Naturel Dry Shampoo ($23) to Bosworth's hair. Finally, he braided her hair back loosely, pinning each section for security, for a on-point evening look we can't wait to try!