Think back to the last time you added a braid to your hairstyle. Chances are you were still sipping on Capri Suns and rocking jelly sandals. But no matter your age, take a cue from some of the most stylish women around, including Zoe Saldana, TLC's Chilli, Leona Lewis and Jessica Alba, and embrace braided styles.
There are three basic ways to do modern braids: the fishtail, the braided headband and the braided updo.
The fishtail, which Leona Lewis debuted at the Love Ball in London last February, is perfect for long hair worn straight or natural. To steal Leona's look, simply start with a deep side part. Sweep one section across your forehead and brush the other section behind your ear. Begin a loose, asymmetrical French braid near your ear and continue diagonally so that the braid stretches to your other ear. Continue braiding until you're near the end of your strands, then fasten with a small hair band or clip. While Leona's was ultra-loose and had a Mermaid feel to it, you can also experiment with a more structured look by pulling strands into a firmer braid.
Braided headbands are favored by Chilli and Zoe Saldana, who wore the look to a Glamour magazine party last March. Though the look can be endlessly versatile, the basics are a short middle front part and two thick braids, one beginning at each ear. Overlap the braids across the crown of your head before securing with hair pins. Saldana chose to leave a few wispy, cheek-framing pieces, while Chilli's braids were firmer. Both ladies opted for loose texture throughout the hair, which you can achieve with a large-barrel curling iron if your hair is relaxed, or a loose twist-out if your hair is natural.