For most of us, a neat braid was the first non-ponytail style we learned to do ourselves. But the elementary school go-to is continuously evolving. In recent years, YouTube has become a storehouse for hand-cramping 40-minute DIYs on the most intricate waterfalls and crowns that are usually more fun to watch than actually try at home.
It’s easy to fall into a wormhole of how-tos on Katniss’s scalp-crossing side plait from The Hunger Games. But with the franchise’s final instalment now leaving theatres forever, the curtain is also dropping on its famed battle braid. In what seemed to be a final ode on the runway, Tresemmé lead stylist Orlando Pita crafted a Quarter Quell–worthy headband braid at Hervé Léger, while also ushering in a new no-fuss era. Instead of continuing the twist through to the tips, he slung the lengths into a low pony, “something that doesn’t make the hair look too styled,” explained the pro backstage while pulling a few pieces down around the ear. “It just looks a little tougher.”
Indeed, the season’s freshest plaits boasted no-tutorial-required simplicity and bouffant-free shapes. Once the realm of ethereal Blake Lively types, the style’s reborn coolness is enticing a more brazen crew. Ruby Rose recently managed a French duo in her short crop; Amber Heard pulled off pigtails; and Rooney Mara sported a sleek entwined bun. Ditto for the runways—no puffiness, no princess vibes (sorry, Elsa!). The hairstylists at spring fashion month had one last message for any overly fanciful plait: let it go.
Instead, a minimalist ease ruled backstage. At Louis Vuitton’s cyberpunk-themed show, long, loose manes concealed a handful of mini braids peeking out from behind models’ ears, like the kind you used to twirl while bored in class.
At Proenza Schouler, a centre-parted woven tail was cinched at the nape with a thin black tie. A nearly identical ’do appeared at Céline, although these braids were worn with no part at all and positioned a few inches higher, right in the middle of the back of the head, delivering ’80s Sade meets modern-day, down-to-biz boss. (Braidaholics: see the two-stranded rope versions at Public School and J.W. Anderson.)
Get the Look: The common thread? Healthy locks held together with clean design. And it only takes a tad more effort than those first youthful twists. To give fine strands just the right amount of heft, pick up a root-lifting cream, advises Pita. Then seal in slickness with a fuzz-fighting balm. (He uses Tresemmé Smooth & Silky Anti-Frizz Secret Crème.) “It’s those little details that make a difference when hair is so simple.”