Hey babes. It dawned on me a while back that besides all the different types of braids that exist, there are many ways to style a singular braid. What I mean is this. Take your average dutch braid. It can be soft and pretty and romantic, and it can also be very edgy and tribal and sharp. It can be innocent. It can be rough. It can make your head look tiny, or big. It can look very intricate or super simple. It can make you feel like a 6 year old. Or an old lady. Or a fashionista. Or a dutch-milkmaid. Or a hand-maiden. Or a viking. Or a hippie. Or a rattlesnake hunter. Or a bride when you are not really a bride. Or a human being when you are an exhausted new mom.
I began to break down in my head what it is that distinguishes these different braid-feels. Obvies, there is the deconstructing trick to soften a braid and give it that lived-in look. But beyond that, how can we use our braids to tell our story about how we feel in the moment?
I decided to put a post together about soft braids vs edgy braids, just to get you started in thinking about manipulating your braids to fit your mood. Nikki graciously volunteered to let me style and photograph her in one of her lovely kimonos and a pair of her best-selling earrings.
Soft braids work on all hair types. I think they look best on wavy, curly, thick hair. If you do not have these things, Master-Braider is your braid boosting bff.
Soft braids are obviously done with a loose grip and no tension. Larger sections of hair are added in from each side. They are pulled apart and deconstructed using this trick.
They always have small bits falling around the face, which can be pulled down after the braid is secured. (See Ladyparts!)
Think tight. Geometric. Intricate. Precise.
These braids can totally work on all types, but it is easiest to achieve the edgy feel in straighter hair. If your hair is wavy or curly and you want to rock an edgy braid, start with a head-wrap to straighten things out. If you are into heat styling, apply some Shiny-Dancer to your ends and flat-iron your hair to prep it.
Edgy braids are tightly wound, with tension and precision. Small partings with tiny sections added in from each side give them their textured complexity. Generally, you don’t want little hairs falling around the face to soften the look. High, tight, and precise!
As you can see in the upper right hand edgy braid style, a soft bun paired with an edgy accent braid makes a beautiful contrast! So you can bend all these rules to combine elements and create very cool hairstyles. But I want you to understand the how’s and why’s.
Here is an example of how using different sized partings and sections in your braids can change the feel of it. The top row is a standard dutch braid with very small sections added into each side as I braided. My section partings were quite precise ( As precise as a pinkie can get!)
The bottom row is also a dutch braid but with larger sections added in, and my partings weren’t as precise. See the diffy?
The photo below is the side view of the top row edgy braid.
In the same photo, the bottom row braid has larger sections added in. It is softer and more flowing.
This last photo illustrates how to make that softer french braid even more soft and pretty by pulling the edges of the braid out, loosening small sections, and pulling down pieces of hair around the face to frame it. Free your lady parts!
Food for hair-thought. I want you all to be inspired and informed master-braiders!