I Have FINALLY Cracked the Fishtail Braid, My Own Personal Da Vinci Code

Why oh WHY did it take me so long to learn how to create this stupid hairstyle?!

I fully realize that those of you who grew up with sisters or moms who were even remotely good at hairstyling will probably not share my excitement at being able to make this proclamation, but good gravy I do believe I FINALLY UNDERSTAND HOW THE HELL TO DO A FISHTAIL BRAID!

I know I'm overly enthusiastic about this, but I'm trying to grow my hair out crazy-long and am always looking for interesting new ways to style it (and it keep it managable enough that I don't just pull a Felicity out of spite). I know I'm not alone! I have several friends who also find this style of braid intimidating, and they are gonna be so jealous that I got a handle on it at last. But since I love them, and you, allow me to share my findings.

For the uninitiated (or just in case you've not been looking at Pinterest or variousfashion/style blogs over the last year or so), a fishtail braid is kinda like a normal braid, except it has a more intricate, fashion-y, herringbone-type look to it. Although it's subtle at first, you can totally see the difference if you examine the photo above.

You can use thicker pieces of hair, or little skinny ones, and it even works on layered hair since the perfectly-imperfect look is sort of what you're aiming for here.

When fishtail-braiding, you use only two pieces of hair instead of three -- although that's not totally true because although you're splitting your hair into two hanks to start off, you're also criss-crossing two smaller strips of hair at any given time, so you're kind of working with four bits of hair. Sound confusing? Yeah, I thought so too, until I turned to my hairstyling lord and savior: YouTube.

This cute video from the British blog Fleur de Force was the first one I watched, and I think she explains things rather well. (I do think it would have been funny if she'd played this song during the silent part when she's actually braiding.)

I'm not sure I'd do the teasing/knotting bit at the ends, though, I don't trust that mine wouldn't just undo itself, it's wily like that. It looks cool on her, though.

This tutorial from Lauren Conrad is fairly adorable, and her tip about using an elastic to secure the braid at the top before you start the whole process is a gamechanger. Trust me, I tried it and it made things much easier! Also: I've never seen The Hills (not bragging, TV snobbery ain't my style), so I don't know much about this gal other than her clothing lines and magazine appearances -- but are those cheeky little looks she gives the camera at the beginning of this video hilarious or what? I don't know why, but it cracked me up. A+, Lauren Conrad! I'm into you.

I also loooove the multicolored, back-of-the-head fishtail braid from Free People. The method they use in their video is a bit different than the first two I posted, but you should watch it anyway just to see how pretty the end result is. I actually got so worked up after writing this post about grannies with pastel hair that I ordered a few mint green and pale pink extensions of my own from this Etsy shop.

As soon as they arrive I am totally going to town on my hair, Free People style. It's all part of my quest to become an ACTUAL ELF.

In short, I have no idea why I let myself go for so long without learning to do this style of braiding. It's not hard, it just takes your fingers a while to get into the rhythm, and the end results is pretty great. Now if only I could get comfortable doing a halo braid on myself I'd be all set.

Are there any hairstyles you guys find particularly mystifying? Let's share those tips and tricks, people!