Braid DIYs Every Long-Haired Gal Should Try

We know that not everyone learned to braid at slumber parties in the seventh grade, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit on the sidelines while other women rock all the trendiest looks. Nope! Braiding is truly one of the easiest things you can do to change up your hairstyle and it takes a lot less elbow grease than you think. “I wear braids all the time. Everyone thinks it’s so hard, but it’s not,” says Emily Theobald, our model for this tutorial. As you’re about to see, she’s right.
To help break down the easy how-tos, we hit up hair guru Bethany Brill, who got us through this crash course in no time. Even without a personal braiding coach by your side, these looks are all 100% doable on a broad mix of hair lengths and textures. Trust us, you got this.

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Photographed by Winnie Au.
The Fishtail
Once you see how deceptively easy this braid is, you might do it every day. Don't say we didn't warn you! Claudie Pierlot top.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Ready for the first and least intimidating step? Split your hair in half, and pull it to the side. Let’s call the one closest to your face, section A; we'll call the other one section B. Jacquie Aiche Love Ring in gold, $150, available at Jacquie Aiche.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
While holding on to both halves, take a small piece of hair from the outside of section B.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Then cross it over to the inside of section A.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
See? That's all it takes.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Now repeat on the other side. Grab a small chunk of hair from outside of section A, then pull it over and add it to the inside of section B.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Continue grabbing outside pieces from B and adding the hair to A and vice versa. Make sure you pull the same amount of hair with each piece so that the braid turns out even.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Keep the center of the braid (the part that looks like an “x”) tight and close to the head as you go to avoid ending up with a hole when you’re done. Otherwise, you’ll have to start all over.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Braid all the way down to about two inches from the end, then secure your fishtail with an elastic.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
There’s no harm in letting people believe this was a ton of work — our lips are sealed. “I get a lot of compliments when I wear a fishtail. It looks so intricate and everyone thinks it’s really cool,” says Theobald.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
The French
With so many '90s looks back in full force, there’s no better time to brush up on this classic beauty. It’s still rad. Marna Ro jacket.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Section off the front center part of your hair, between your temples. Then split it into three parts. Marna Ro top, Robbie Simon necklace.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Start braiding. Every time you turn a section, grab a piece of hair next to it and weave it into that piece. Do this on each side of the plait.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
"Make sure your hair is brushed before you start braiding — you won’t be able to stop and undo a knot once you start," says Brill. "Also, if your hair is slippery, braid it while it’s damp to make it easier to grab."
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Keep going. When you get to the nape of your neck, Brill suggests lowering your chin down to keep the braid tight while you’re finishing the tail.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
You could wear this look with anything you want, but we love it with a blazer and riding boots. Very equestrian, right?
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
The Waterfall
You don’t have to have hair down to there to wear this look. If it speaks to the hippie chick in you, by all means, go for it! Marna Ro top.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
To start, take a chunk of hair on the right side of your center part and separate it into three sections. Dannijo cuff; Maniamania cuff.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Start the braid as you normally would and go just far enough for the braid to take shape. Do about three turns.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Once you have the clear beginning of a regular braid, grab a piece of hair from above the top left side of the braid and add it into that section of hair. “Every other turn, add more hair,” says Brill. The technique is similar to French braiding, except you’re only adding hair from the top and working it into one side of the braid. This creates a weaving effect that mimics a waterfall.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
When you get to the center of your head, stop and clip the hair to keep the braid from unraveling. Then, repeat on the left side of your hair.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
“Criss-cross the two braids and secure them together with pins,” says Brill.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Keep the pins in place while you braid the two plaits together down your back so that they become one. Secure the end with an elastic that matches your hair color, then loosen up the braid with your fingers.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Who knew a style this simple could make such a big statement? “This look is like a pretty hair accessory on its own," says Brill. "If you want it to look more romantic, let pieces of hair fall down around your face."
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
The Reverse French
Also known as a Dutch braid, this technique allows you to have the braid sit on top of your head. Jennifer Zuener earrings; Lovers and Friends Leather Top With Studs, $176, available at Lovers and Friends.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Start at the left side of your center part. Take the front chunk of your hair and split into three equal sections, as you would with a regular braid.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
You’ve got the French braid down, yes? This is basically the same thing. Only, instead of turning the left and right sections of hair over the middle piece, you’re turning them under the middle piece.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
You’re still grabbing pieces of hair on each side of the braid and weaving them into the plait as you go, but remember: You’re bringing the hair under, and over to the other side, to create an inside-out French braid. “This is a great option if you don’t like having your hair tight against your head," Brill says. "The braid adds some height and is more pronounced."
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Once you’ve nailed this technique, the possibilities are endless. You can add a Dutch braid to a ponytail, a bun, an updo — go nuts! Just be sure to pay it forward and share this slideshow with a braid-challenged friend.
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