21 Perfect Hairstyles for Formals

Want to look your best at your next formal event? Try these hairstyle ideas!

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Header graphic that reads The 21 Best Hairstyle Ideas for Formals with a photo of a woman wearing a low bun updo

I can’t believe I’m already saying this, but formal season is fast approaching! Whether you’re attending a fraternity formal, prom, or a formal or semi-formal event thrown by a club or organization, you likely have something on your calendar for the months ahead.

This means it’s officially time to start planning your formals look, so you won’t have to scramble the week before. And we’re here to help.

One of the most important parts of your look for formals is your hairstyle. A good hairstyle for formals can bring your entire look together while also making you stand out.

{RELATED POST: The Top 15 Cutest Hairstyles for Short Hair}

For formals and other fancy events, you definitely want to go for elegant hairstyles to match with your attire. Some of the most common hairstyles for formals include updos, half updos, braids, buns, and ponytails.

One other thing that I love most about picking out hairstyles for fancier events is you can also add some beautiful accessories to your hair. (I’ll feature some hairstyles that include those, too.)

If you’re looking for some hairstyle ideas to try for your next fancy event, check out these 21 gorgeous hairstyles for formals that will make you look stunning!

Formal Hairstyles: Our 21 Favorite Ideas

1. French Roll Updo

HOW TO: FRENCH ROLL UPDO HAIRSTYLE ✨ Perfect for Prom, Weddings, Work

I am obsessed with this modern formal hairstyle for your next fancy event.

The french twist hairstyle is an updo that looks super elegant and will definitely look amazing with any fancy outfit that you are going to wear. It’s also very on trend this year.

This cute hairstyle may look a little complicated to do, but don’t worry because it is super easy. Just watch this quick tutorial to learn how to get this beautiful hairstyle!

2. Dutch Fishtail Braids

Dutch Fishtail Braids Holiday Hairstyle | Missy Sue

For those of us who love braided hairstyles, you should consider doing a half updo hairstyle like this one. This cute formal hairstyle idea includes a pretty fishtail braid that wraps around your head for a super chic, slightly bohemian vibe.

Fishtail braids became super popular a few years ago and they still look amazing as a hairstyle for fancy events.

So if you are one of those people who used to love the fishtail braids or if you want to try out a new kind of braided look for your next event, I highly recommend this one.

And, if you forgot how to do the fishtail braid or if you want to learn how to do it, watch this quick tutorial for all the details.

3. High Ponytail

How to Do a High Ponytail | Long Hairstyles

If you want to wear your hair up, but want to do something other than a bun, I would suggest going for the classic high ponytail.

The key to getting a gorgeous high ponytail for a fancy event is making sure that you wrap your hair around your hairband or whatever is holding your hair in place to get a more fancy, put-together look.

If you are unsure about how to achieve this kind of ponytail or just want some pointers, watch this quick tutorial to see how to do it.

4. Genie Ponytail

HOW TO: Genie/ High Extended ponytail

Here’s another version of the high pony that’s specifically for natural hair types. The genie ponytail hairstyle uses extensions to get the over-the-top long look, but it’s well worth the extra step!

I love how sleek and shiny the finished result is; it would be perfect for any formal event. And of course, the length of the extensions you use is totally up to you, so this one can be customized to your style.

5. Voluminous Curls

Glam, Big, Voluminous, Occasion Hair Tutorial | Chloe Boucher

Now, if you want to wear your hair down for your next fancy event, you totally can, but you will want to style your hair in some way.

When I want to wear my hair down, one of my go-to fancy event hairstyles is voluminous, side-swept curls. They make your hair look girly, but also elegant. Just add a simple barrette to keep your hair out of your face on one side and you have the perfect simple hairstyle that makes a statement.

If you want to get this exact look or you aren’t sure how to get curls with volume, check out this tutorial that shows you exactly how to do it!

6. Lace Braid Updo

Lace Braid Homecoming Updo | Missy Sue

If you love doing regular braids and want to incorporate them into your fancy event look, I recommend trying this lace braid hairstyle.

This hairstyle combines a side braid with a low bun to give you an elegant hairstyle that isn’t too fussy or “done.” It’s also something you can definitely do yourself.

If you are wondering how to get this updo, watch this tutorial to see exactly how to get this braided updo look!

7. Braided Crown Hairstyle

SIMPLE & EASY NATURAL HAIRSTYLES ON NATURAL HAIR 2021 COMPILATION WITH EXTENSIONS

Here’s another formal hairstyle for natural hair. This braided crown look combines texture with sleekness for a perfect look for formals.

This hairstyle is simple and easy, perfect for doing yourself at home. You’d honestly never guess how little time this hairstyle takes.

If you want to learn how to do it, watch the tutorial up above (which also includes other similar hairstyles to try).

8. High Bun

3 FALL HIGH BUNS 🍁 | Easy Hairstyles | Missy Sue

The high bun hairstyle is the high ponytail’s more sophisticated cousin. This classic is probably the look that comes to mind first when you think “formal hairstyle.”

What’s great about doing a high bun is you don’t have to stick to the classic, simple high bun look. This year, there are so many cute variations that are trending!

For example, this tutorial will show you three completely different, super cute high buns that you can try for your next formal event.

9. Fauxhawk-style Elegant Updo

🔥EASY ELEGANT UPDO ON 4C NATURAL HAIR /Protective Style /Tupo1

This elegant updo with a fauxhawk vibe is so stunning and sure to turn heads! It’s meant for natural hair and does use extensions for the volume and fullness.

This look is a little asymmetrical which gives it a slight edgy vibe, but the sleek braid makes it elegant as well. Again, you could use extensions in whatever length you wanted, to customize this to your style.

Despite how complex this hairstyle looks, it actually seems like something that anyone could do! The tutorial above will show you how it’s done, step by step.

10. Updo with Accessories

Bridal Updo Tutorial. Wedding Prom Hairstyles For Long Hair

If you love glitz and glam, you will love this pearl embellished hairstyle idea for your next formal event.

This cute hairstyle is pretty easy, combining a side braid and a bun. You just need to add these pretty pearl hair pins from Amazon for the extra sparkle. (You could also add the pearls to any other hairstyle on this list.) This one is a total stunner for all of those glamorous vibes.

Watch the quick tutorial to see exactly how to get this hairstyle.

11. Half Up Half Down Bun

easy wavy half up half down hairstyle - hair tutorial

The half up half down hairstyle is also a very popular option for fancy events. This is perfect for those of us who want to wear some of our hair down but want something a little bit more interesting than our everyday curls.

This kind of hairstyle is very simple to do and you can even add a pretty hair barrette that will match your outfit.

To get this exact half up half down hairstyle, watch this quick tutorial!

12. High Updo

High Updo On Short & Fine Hair by Stephanie Brinkerhoff | Kenra Professional

If you like the look of a high bun but want a more fun take on the look for your next fancy event, I would suggest going for a high updo like this one. It’s giving ’90s supermodel and I’m obsessed.

Aside from the killer ’90s vibes, what’s awesome about this hairstyle is you won’t have to worry if your hair is on the shorter side because you can still totally do it.

Just watch this quick tutorial to see how to get this hair look.

13. Sleek Fluffy Ponytail

How to do a Low Sleek Fluffy Ponytail on Short 4C Natural Hair Under $10 Bucks!!!|Mona B.

This tutorial has to be seen to be believed! For under $10, this sleek fluffy ponytail for natural hair is so stunning and can be done yourself — no salon visit needed.

This is another great formal hairstyle option if you have natural hair and want to do something special that won’t require a salon visit.

Watch this simple tutorial to see how easy this hairstyle is to achieve.

14. Sleek Straight Hair

Sleek Blowout Tutorial for Super-Straight Hair | Sephora

Another way that you can wear your hair down at your next formal event is by doing a sleek, straight hairstyle.

If you want to wear your hair straight for your next formal event, you will want to make sure that it is perfectly straight and you avoid any missed spots or frizzing.

This tutorial gives you all the pointers on how to get sleek, straight hair for your next event.

15. Low Bun

HOW TO: SIMPLE UPDO | Bridesmaid Hairstyles

If you want a more simple hairstyle for your next fancy event, a low bun is always a great choice. (If it’s good enough for the Duchess of Sussex on her wedding day, it’s good enough for us.)

But, instead of doing just a regular low bun that you would do as an everyday hairstyle, you can add a little bit more to it for fancier events.

This tutorial shows you exactly how to turn your regular low bun into something worthy of Meghan Markle herself.

16. Braided Ponytail

EASY BRAIDED PONYTAIL HAIRSTYLE SPRING 🌷 Wedding, Bridal, Long Hair

If you love braids, you can also combine your braids with a ponytail to get a cute look for your next fancy event. For example, the braided ponytail shown in this tutorial would look perfect as an elegant hairstyle for fancier events.

Also, with this braided ponytail, you won’t have to worry about spending hours on your hair because it is pretty easy to do and somehow looks better the messier it is.

17. Headband Hairstyle

Quick & Easy Headband Hairstyles | Must Try Hairstyles | Beauty BFF | MissMalini

Not only can you add accessories to your hair with updo hairstyles, but also you can totally add some accessories to your hair if you are wearing it down.

For example, adding a pretty headband like the one shown in this tutorial is a great way to wear your hair down but also add something extra to your hair to make you stand out.

Pro tip: Amazon has a million jeweled headbands to choose from, and they’re all super affordable.

18. Volumetric Ponytail

Incredible volumetric ponytail - quite simple prom hairstyle for thin long hair

If you like wearing ponytails, but you want something a bit fancier for your next event, I would recommend trying out this volumetric ponytail.

This ponytail will make your hair stand out by giving it some more volume than the regular ponytail. It almost looks like a half-up/half-down style, except it’s actually a pony.

If this is the kind of hair look you want to go for, there is a specific way to do it, so make sure to check out this tutorial for all the tips and tricks.

19. Natural Hairstyles Using Braiding Hair

🔥5 QUICK & EASY HAIRSTYLES USING BRAIDING HAIR / Protective Style / Tupo1

This video shows a few different natural hairstyles for formals using braiding hair. The looks are simple but incredibly beautiful, and can incorporate accessories for extra glam if you choose.

While three styles are shown on the thumbnail, the video actually showcases five different formal hairstyles for natural hair, all using braiding hair to get stunning looks at home.

20. Side Swept Braid

Braided Side Swept Prom Hairstyle | Missy Sue

If you want to have multiple braids in your hairstyle, I would suggest wearing a braided side-swept hairstyle like the one shown in this tutorial for your next fancy event.

This combines beautiful braids with a side-swept look that will give you an elegant hairstyle that will be perfect for a fancy event. You can 100% achieve this yourself at home, too.

21. Waterfall Braids

♔ Prom Hair ♔ | How To: Waterfall Braid

One other great braided hairstyle option is the waterfall braid. This will give you something different than the regular braid hairstyle and it’s a great way to wear your hair down for formals.

While this hairstyle definitely takes a minute to understand, once you get it down, it’s super easy to do. This tutorial will have you braiding like a pro in no time.

Which hairstyle from this list is your favorite?

What hairstyles are you going to wear to your next formal event? Which of these hairstyles are you most excited about trying?

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