Soft Side Braids

by Who What Wear
When it comes to essential hairstyles for the red carpet, we've noticed that one style continues to attract top-notch tastemakers: the soft side braid. Most recently popularised by Miu Miu's S/S 10 runway-yes, the look Guido created for a show two and a half years ago is still going strong-the soft side braid is a decidedly down-to-earth way to wear your hair. Carefree and casually cool, it's no wonder why everyone from boldface names (Beyonce) to beloved actresses (Rashida Jones) to European fashion plates (Clemence Poesy) adores this style. In celebration of this easy-to-achieve look that captivates all the cool girls, we called up stylist John Ruggiero-he's responsible for the iteration Elizabeth Olsen debuted at the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards last month-and asked him to walk us through his process. Here's the good news: The style works best on second-day hair, so remember that the next time you get a blowout!

If you're starting from scratch, the key is to get the right texture before you start braiding. If you have fine or medium textured hair, Ruggiero suggests spraying your whole head with Bumble and bumble's Surf Spray ($24), which is what he used on Olsen. Mist each section of your hair, but don't get it totally damp; you want body, not frizz. Next, Ruggiero blew out Olsen's hair, using his hands instead of brushes and directing the hair to one side. "You don't want a defined part," he says. "It should be very loosely done, so it looks effortlessly side-swept." If you don't want to dampen and dry your hair, you can also use Oribe's Dry Texturizing Spray ($19.50) to achieve the correct texture, Ruggiero says. Another option is to curl your hair first, as this will add some bulk to your braid. Don't spend lots of time creating the perfect waves, Ruggiero advises. Just be sure to curl your hair in different directions and don't be afraid to rough it up a bit once you're done. As for those of you who have curly hair, our mane man says you'll want to prep your hair in the opposite way, using a grooming cream to define the curl instead of bulking it up.

Once you have the right foundation, the rest is a snap! Your hair should already be swept to one side, so merely braid it as you see fit and secure it with a clear elastic. If a piece falls out on the opposite side of your braid, Ruggiero says not to fret, simply leave it in place or you can pin it back. Once you're done, Ruggiero also suggests going into the braid and loosening it up slightly-your plait shouldn't be super tight. And there you have it: a fuss-free hairstyle, inspired by the runways and red carpet, that's as easy as can be. It's practically perfect-no wonder why everyone loves a soft side braid!

Photos of Rashida Jones, Poppy Delevingne, Joan Smalls, Beyone, and Lea Seydoux, courtesy of Getty.

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