Best Formal Hairstyles to Consider for Every Classy Event

Written by Sierra Hamilton | Reviewed by Linda Simko Last Updated: March 16, 2024

When you find a stunning dress for a formal event, you want your hair to match. Formal hairstyles can be a little intimidating, especially if you don’t know where to start. Fortunately, this article discusses the best formal hairstyles for any classy event. These hairstyles are listed from shortest to longest cuts, so no matter what your length, you can look your best.

What Are Formal Hairstyles?

Whether you straighten, curl, or braid your hair, you’re probably familiar with the basics of hair styling. However, formal hairstyles require more effort than your everyday hairdo. Formal hairstyles range from sophisticated updos to cascading curls. The decision depends entirely on your style and the look you’re trying to go for. No matter what hairstyle you choose, there are a few tips you should keep in mind.

Heat is your hair’s worst nightmare. Be sure to treat your hair with heat protectant any time a heated styling tool comes near it. You should also make sure that your hair is completely dry before you use a flat iron or curling iron.

The safest method is to let it air dry, but that’s not always possible. Many formal hairstyles require blowouts beforehand. If you want to further protect your hair from damage, and you have extra time on your hands, replace the curling iron with curlers.

The key to creating the perfect formal hairstyle is the product. Try using volumizing and thickening mousse. This makes your hair lustrous and more manageable. For more ornate styles, use a dab of sculpting spray. You should also clip your curls until they cool to lock in the shape. Finally, use hairspray to hold your hairstyle when you are finished.

5 Formal Hairstyles to Consider for Every Classy Event

1: Beach Waves

a young woman with beach waves hair

Beach waves might sound casual, but this hairstyle is an excellent choice for both long and short locks. You can achieve this look with curlers, a flat iron, or a wide-barrel curling iron. To create beach waves, part your hair down the middle or side. Curl the hair away from your face in mid-sized sections.

Be sure to clip the curl as it cools to retain its shape. When your hair is curled, unclip the curls and run your fingers through to separate. Beach curls should have a lot of movement, so try to go easy on the hairspray.

2: French Twist

a bridal French twist formal hairstyle

The French twist is one of the oldest and most elegant formal hairstyles in the book. French twists can either be vertical or horizontal, messy or smooth. Don’t be intimidated by a French twist; it’s actually very easy to create.

This style is best for shoulder-length to medium length hair. Pull your hair into a tight, low ponytail. Twist the ponytail upwards and in toward your scalp. When you’ve reached your crown, fold the tips of the ponytail under the main twist. You can secure the twist with a French twist clip or bobby pins. For a more embellished French twist, you can create a hair bump in the front.

3: High Bun

a simple yet elegant high bun

The high bun is easiest with medium to long hair, but you can also create it with short hair if you use plenty of bobby pins and a bun guide. There are dozens of ways to create a high bun. Pull your hair back into a severe high ponytail and fan it around a bun guide for a sleek, sophisticated look.

Alternatively, you can tease your hair for a messy yet elegant bun. High buns can be embellished with artificial braids, beads, or flowers. For a bun that suits your formal look, check out some of the high bun tutorials available.

4: High Ponytail

the actress Eva Longoria with a high ponytail

For a quick and stylish updo, try the high ponytail. It can be flat on the crown or accompanied with a retro bump. This style is easiest for medium to long hair. For a basic high ponytail with a bump, part your hair across your scalp from eye to eye, so that you have a bottom and top section. Pull the lower section into a ponytail.

Separate a small segment on the front part of the top section, about where bangs would be. Hairspray the remainder of the top bump and tease with rat tail comb. Cover the bump with the front unteased section and pull loosely into the ponytail with a separate band. You may want to use bobby pins to give your bump added height or to take care of flyaways. For more embellishment, curl the ponytail.

5: Side Swept Curls

a young woman wearing a side swept curly hairstyle

The swept curl is another diverse style that can vary with your tastes. You can create larger, defined curls for a retro look, or tighter curls for cascading locks. Believe it or not, side swept curls can take some practice to master. Luckily, there are several tips and tricks available to help you on your way.

For a basic side-swept curl, start by blow drying your hair away from the desired part. As with blow drying, curl the same direction all around. When you curl the hair by your face, you can use a smaller iron to create a defined curl or continue with the wide-barrel iron. Discretely pin your hair behind your neck to keep curls in place and finish with hairspray.

Putting It All Together

Formal hairstyles are stunning and can be simple to create. The key is preparation; be sure to add the appropriate products to your hair and blow dry for the occasion. If you have short hair, beach waves or a French twist can complement any formal attire. If you have medium to long hair, try high ponytails and buns, or side swept curls. Do you have a go-to formal hairstyle? Share your favorites or styling tips below.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


  • Sierra Hamilton

    Hi, I'm Sierra Hamilton, the founder and main author of My journey began as a salon enthusiast, and over time, I came to recognize the challenges many face when comparing services and prices across different salons. Tired of the opaque pricing in the beauty world, I was inspired to launch My mission is simple: to offer a platform where visitors can access accurate and up-to-date price listings for a myriad of beauty services, streamlining the decision-making process. I'm deeply committed to ensuring everyone can make informed and confident choices about where to indulge in their next beauty treatment. Hamilton Sierra

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