Side Braids

Some people measure the passage of time by things like foliage or holidays, but around the office, our seasonal indicator is far more specific: we look for braids. Strange though it may seem, braids are an annual marker; as soon as the weather starts to warm up, they always pop up in some form or another. Over the past few years, we've documented the best braid trends, ranging from simple Heidi-style updos to intricate French iterations, as they appear on our favourite tastemakers. This year, the breakaway style is beyond simple, slightly slouchy, and took a starring turn on the spring runways: the side braid.

Originally created by the hair guru Guido as an accent for Alexander Wang's S/S 10 collection and later reinterpreted for Miu Miu's show, the side braid is truly an understated powerhouse. As you can tell from today's layout, the look is casually disheveled and perfectly imperfect, so there's not a lot of technique required. Guido did amplify the models' hair at the Wang show by applying Redken's Full Frame 07 Protective Volumizing Mousse ($16) to their damp locks before rough drying. The foamy formula adds body, texture, and protects hair from lots of nasty things (such as humidity and heat styling, to name two). Personally, we also like to add a little dry shampoo to our dry hair before braiding for extra staying power; Rene Furterer's Naturia Dry Shampoo ($24) is all kinds of amazing. From there, you simply need to make a deep part (for the Alexander Wang look) or a center part (per the Miu Miu runway) and braid away! One styling note to consider: if you have lots of layers or simply need some additional anchoring, pull your hair into a low side ponytail and secure it with a hair elastic before starting your braid.

But enough with the how-to details, let's talk about the gorgeous ladies who are wearing this look! Thus far, the side braid's biggest supporter has been the one and only Nicole Richie. Seen here in Paris in late February for the launch of her Winter Kate line, she proves that the SB can work for day or night. In fact, we love the contrast of her lingerie-inspired navy slip dress with the earthy braid. (OASN: Riche's wearing a Winter Kate Damien Dress ($228); a print version is available now.) Earlier that month, British TV presenter Fearne Cotton modelled a more intricate version of the side braid, when she turned up at the Brit Awards after-party wearing a fishtail iteration and a customised vintage, polka dot dress from Minni's Closet.

Of course, the beauty of the side braid is how marvellous it looks as part of an off-duty look, as Jessica Biel and Alessandra Ambrosio demonstrate. Regarding the former, Biel was snapped at LAX wearing her side braid under a burgundy beanie; it's a cute combo that would also work nicely for a lazy weekend brunch with friends. In addition to wearing this hairstyle for travelling, it's also a swell low-key option for a beach day, as Ambrosio revealed a few weeks ago in Malibu. The Victoria's Secret Angel was snapped at the Malibu Lumber Yard looking like the epitome of Brazilian beach chic in a floaty Seneca Rising Aurore Top ($110) and a pair of Victoria's Secret Cheeky Shorts ($19.50). Her slightly messy side braid is the perfect compliment to her casual outfit and yet another example of why this trend is worth trying this spring and summer!

Photo of Fearne Cotton, from Getty Images; Photo of Nicole Richie, from Splash; Photo of Alessandra Ambrosio, from X17; Photo of Jessica Biel, from Bauer Griffin.