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Ask a Hairstylist: The Best Party Hairstyles That You Can Style Yourself at Home

7 DIY styles for your big night out.
Party hairstyles

Q: Hi Tony, I have an important event coming up for New Year's Eve and I want to look my best. I'd love to do something special with my hair, but I'm not very skilled at doing anything beyond blow-drying it.

Can you suggest some easy updos or anything else that might help my hair to look more special? I have medium-length hair that is naturally wavy. I would say I have an average amount of hair. It's not coarse but not fine either.

Happy to try any styling products/tools/hair accessories that you suggest! Thank you! — Jen

A: Jen, that's a great question. You can go in a variety of different directions with your look. I'm glad you already blow-dry your hair because that helps a lot with you being playful with it.

I always ask my clients: "What does the dress look like?" That is the most important question when it come to doing updos for events.

I would start with a great blow-dry and some loose waves, and then decide which way you want to go. 

Sparkly Barrette

Rose Byrne Golden Globes 2010

Rose Byrne at the 2010 Golden Globes.

Olivia Munn Met Gala 2014

Olivia Munn at the 2014 Met Gala.

One of the easiest ways to dress up your look is to pin your waves to one side with a sparkly barrette. This works well with V-neck and strapless dresses.

If you want a vintage, Old Hollywood vibe, go for a deep side part and smooth waves. You can touch up your natural waves with a curling iron and then brush them into place. A smoothing serum like Moroccanoil Treatment will add shine and eliminate frizz.

Or you can go textured and beachy. Instead of brushing them out, leave your waves more piecey and rough up the texture with a product like Drybar Triple Sec 3-in-1.

LELET NY and Tasha have a great selection of embellished barrettes.

Low Ponytail

Lucy Hale MTV Video Music Awards 2014

Lucy Hale at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards.

Another simple look is a low ponytail with a soft, loose feel and a centre or off-centre part. I would recommend this for a dress that shows some skin around the shoulders.

The Skincare Edit Recommends

This looks the most modern when the hair has lots of texture (try Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray) and the ends are left straight. Tease the crown for volume, and then loosely gather your hair around the nape to create your ponytail. (You can wrap a piece of hair around the elastic to cover it, and secure it underneath with a small bobby pin.) Gently pull out some of the waves around your face to add softness.

Sleek Bun

Lily Aldridge CFDA and Vogue Fashion Fund Finalists Celebration 2013

Lily Aldridge at the 2013 CFDA and Vogue Fashion Fund Finalists Celebration.

The sleek and chic low bun is also very easy, and great to wear with a backless dress.

For this look, you can blow-dry your hair straight. Comb through a styling cream like Bumble and Bumble Styling Creme for hold and shine. Create a low ponytail at the nape of your neck, securing it with an elastic. Then twist the hair to create a low bun. Pin it into place with bobby pins.

Messy Bun

Hailey Baldwin Girls of the Sun Cannes premiere 2018

Hailey Baldwin at the 2018 Cannes premiere of 'Girls of the Sun.'

Then you have the messy bun with loose sides for more texture. This style is perfect for strapless dresses.

Again, you need texture, so blast your waves with a non-whitening dry shampoo like René Furterer Naturia Dry Shampoo. Pull your hair into a high ponytail and secure it with an elastic before twisting the hair into a bun. Secure the bun with bobby pins and then pull out random sections to create the messy look. Also pull out some pieces to frame either side of your face.

Loose Twisted Braid

Cheryl Cole Jimmy P. Cannes premiere 2013

Cheryl Cole at the 2013 Cannes premiere of 'Jimmy P.'

To show off a low back dress or backless dress, I love a relaxed twisted braid.

Create volume at the front by teasing your hair and pushing it back to the crown. Spray with a hairspray like L'Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hair Spray to keep it in place. Then you can start loosely braiding down the back, adding more pieces to the braid as you go. Tie it with an elastic at the bottom. You can attach more than one hair accessory; it's a look right now. Just keep it simple. 

Braided Updo

Lucy Hale Nylon Young Hollywood May Issue Event 2016

Lucy Hale at the 2016 Nylon Young Hollywood May Issue Event.

Emma Watson MTV Video Music Awards 2012

Emma Watson at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards.

The braided updo is one of my favourites and can work with any style of dress. 

Just before the crown, start a 1 1/4 inch-wide braid that goes down towards the ears and ends at the nape. Finish it with a ponytail and secure with an elastic. Then, tease the crown and bring it together with the braid that you just did in a loose bun. Secure with bobby pins. Keep the front soft—pull out some pieces to frame your face.

Ribbon Braided Updo

Jennifer Lawrence The Hunger Games Los Angeles premiere 2012

Jennifer Lawrence at the 2012 Los Angeles premiere of 'The Hunger Games.'

If you want to take your updo to the next level, you can weave some metallic or silk ribbons through a braid. This is a nice way to take an element of the dress into your hairstyle. When you wrap the braid into a bun, the ribbon will give it a cool, colourful, textured effect.

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