I've been growing my hair out for about three years. That's three summers of saying, "is it long enough yet?" Long enough, of course, to actually do something adorable and exciting with it. It's the reason a girl sets her sights on mermaid-length locks... that effortless-looking updo, those perfectly undone braids. And this year I think it's finally there! So, in my enthusiasm I got to exploring some of the best and easiest braided styles to share with you. 


The Tie-Back. Using the pieces of hair in front of your ears, make a braid on each side and secure them together in the back. Fluffing the hair underneath is optional, but it's a great way to look adorable and keep your hair down but out of the way.



The Downward Milkmaid. This is achieved by loosely French-braiding pigtails and crossing them across one another at the neckline. The braids can be easily held in place by bobby pins.


The Over-The-Shoulder. So easy: Grab all your hair over one shoulder and braid straight down. If some hair falls loose, it looks really organic and intentional.


The Inverted Braid. This is achieved by braiding the 3 sections of hair under one another instead of over. It makes an exposed braid whose grain travels in an inverted chevron, and it's a cool twist on a normal French-braid.


The Fishtail. While you're used to designating three sections for a braid, when you're starting a fishtail you start with just two. Split the hair down the middle and take a tiny piece from the outside of the right section and cross it to the inside of the left. Now take a tiny section from the outside of the left and join it with the inside of the right. You don't have to keep track of all the pieces, just let them blend into the two main locks of hair. You'll start to see the fishtail braid emerge.


The Tuck. This tidy touch is achieved by tucking the tail of the braid under the main section and fastening it with bobby pins. It makes for a self-contained braid that is very functional.


The Fringe-Braid. Having a greasy bangs morning? French-braiding your bangs from the front section closest to the part and tying them off once they're out of your way is a great option over shampooing to get one more day out of your style. Lauren Conrad is the queen of this braided style, sometimes creating prominent braids, sometimes much smaller ones. But this braid serves a great purpose and it looks adorable.


The Free-Style. Placing a braid in an editorial way just gives you style points. Your hair already looks awesome? It's clean and you're just looking for a little pizazz? Just throw one in any old place or use any combo of the aforementioned styles to create your own.


The Full Crown. My mom used to braid my hair like this when I was a kid. She would start behind one ear and French-braid all of my hair into a crown shape around my head. It was cool-looking and I didn't have to worry about it getting in my way for the rest of the day.


The Traditional Milkmaid. Yep, you guessed it. It's just two braided pigtails crossed atop the head. It's elegant and effortless, and can be dressed up or down.

Braids are a fantastic accessory for spring because they're not just pretty, they're functional, too. And now that my hair is long enough, I can't wait to give some of these a whirl.

Are you a gal who loves braids? What's your favorite way to wear them?

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