You Asked: How Should I Do My Hair For A Special Occasion?

Why the KISS principle should be your guiding (hairstyle) light.
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Publish date:
October 4, 2013
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How-To, updos, advice, hairstyles, events, KISS principle

My friend Mel is going to the Marine Corp ball with her husband (Hi Dan!), and has no idea what to do with her hair. So I was getting lots of texts that said:

“Alle! Hair? For the ball? What do you think?”

With photos of very beautiful--and very elaborate--hairstyles attached.

When it comes to hair and fancy events, you have two choices if you want to look good: Keep it simple or go to a professional.

That’s it. Those are your two options.

I know this firsthand, because I do my hair like I would for a special occasion every time I shoot an article. Seriously, it’s like the Emmys three times a week at my place. Costume changes! Hair and makeup! Posing for the camera! So I know many things about this, and the KISS principle--Keep It Simple, Sweetie--wins out. Every. Single. Time.

Let me elaborate on why keeping it simple when you DIY is the best approach to Big Event hair:

  • Some tutorials are lies. Pretty, pretty lies. Those four-step super-lovely hair tutorials on Pinterest and Instagram are misleading as HELL. They usually skip a bunch of steps and rely on your psychic powers to figure them out, or include some vague instructions that are impossible to understand. Use these pictures as inspiration, rather than as something that will teach you a new skill. It’s the safest way to go.

  • Your hair might not accommodate the style you’re set on. If you have super-straight hair that doesn’t hold curl, a wavy messy style might not work for you. If you have fine, shiny “slippery” hair, you might not be able to get the height for a giant beehive. Know your hair’s strengths and weaknesses!
  • Photos and reality are WEIRD. Sometimes hairstyles don’t photograph well, and the risk of this happening increases EXPONENTIALLY the more complicated the style gets. I can’t count the number of times I’ve done something with my hair that looks fine in the mirror, only to see a picture and recoil in horror. Don’t let this happen to you!
  • Stress makes everything more difficult. Have you guys ever tried to do something simple when you’re stressed out? It’s way harder than it needs to be! Imagine that you’re trying a SUPER-complicated hairstyle that maybe you’ve never done before, and the pressure is on for you to look awesome. That is a recipe for a headache right there.
  • Time. I have noticed that people greatly underestimate the amount of time their hair will take to do, especially when it’s a style they’re new at. The first time I did that Call the Midwife curly bob, and had no idea what I was doing? It took THREE HOURS. And I am not a hairstyling slouch! If I needed to be somewhere with that hair, ain’t no WAY I’d have allotted that amount of time to get ready.

“OK then, Alle,” I hear you guys saying. “We see the value of keeping it simple. What SHOULD we do with our hair?”

Well, what do you usually do with it? Why? Do you usually leave it down because it’s really pretty and shiny? Do you pull it back because it’s easier, or to show off your neck? Do you wear it natural? Are you all about weaves? A lot of people will tell you to do the opposite of what you usually do, but those people probably also have really strong opinions on wearing white after Labour Day, and you don’t HAVE to listen to them.

If I were going to the Oscars (I imagine that Benedict Cumberbatch would take me as his date, obvs; I’m not sure I could deal with being an actress myself), I would wear my hair down in loose mermaid waves.

You guys have seen my hair like this a million times, and for good reason: it’s simple, easy to do, and looks gorgeous in real life AND in pictures.

I know the value of sticking with your strengths, is what I’m saying. So if you usually wear your hair up because it’s comfortable and you like it, wear it up. Don't make yourself feel awkward or uncomfortable; that's what shapewear is for. Try “The Betty Draper,” which looks amazing in photos, and always seems way more complicated than it is.

If you’re looking for something a bit more fun and dramatic, why not try this style?

This is literally a ponytail up on top of my head that I teased like crazy, then twirled it around the hairtie and pinned it into a bun. That’s it. And it looks awesome.

If you usually wear your hair down, try loosely curling it and brushing it out for glamourous waves. Or straighten it if you’d rather. I also like taking a couple little bits at the side and pinning it back, or wearing it half up and half down--that always looks chic.

I’m not saying to totally avoid anything outside your comfort zone, ever. And you KNOW I’d never tell you guys not to learn or try something new, especially when it comes to your hair.

If you’re doing your own event hair, regardless of your skill level, do a few style trial-runs beforehand. Practice will not only make perfect, it’ll make the entire process quicker in the end. You won’t worry about screwing it up on the day because, hey, you’ve already done it! You know you can do it! Plus you’ll see if there are any problems with the execution of the style (and figure out how to fix or work around them), AND you’ll be able to snap a few selfies to check how it looks on camera. That’s called preparation!

And if you’re still really, totally dying for a twisted-curled-braided-teased-bedazzled updo? Call your stylist.

Trust me.

What's your go-to glamourous hairstyle for special occasions, guys? What's the fanciest event you've ever gone to, and what did you wear-slash-how did you fix your hair and makeup? Who is taking you to the Oscars in your imagination?

As always, hit me up via the comments or on Twitter if you have a question for me.