Ask A Bay Area Stylist: Three Easy Braided Hairstyles

July 7, 2014 5:00 AM

Perhaps you’ve noticed that braids and brides are trending. Braided hairstyles are all the rage these days from fashion runways to church aisles, with a nod to the jet-setting Duchess of Cambridge. San Francisco hairstylist Kate Gagnier suggests that popularity is in part because braided styles are both “pretty and reliable.” Models and brides aren’t the only ones opting for well-groomed plaits that can be decorated with sparkling bobby pins, flowers and ribbons. Take some tips from a stylist and rock the trend.

Kate Gagnier (credit: Lisa Melton)

Kate Gagnier
The Strand Salon
409 Locust St.
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 225-5876

Hairstylist Kate Gagnier is a former corporate executive who logged far too many frequent flyer miles before making a career change, so she knows a thing or two about looking cool, calm and collected under pressure and across time zones. CBS talked with Kate and model Taylor Dempsey at the The Strand Salon in Presidio Heights for demos of three popular braided styles especially admired by brides. Kate shared details on how these styles are created as well as her top tips for special occasion styling at home and in the salon.

Style #1 – Two braids with side bun adorned with flowers is created when crown, mid and lower sections are worked into a braid, ponytail and side bun.

Style #2 – Side fishtail braid has two sections plaited into a fishtail braid which involves a curling iron to create texture, and a finger-combing technique before pinning with crystal-topped bobby pins.

Style #3 – Basket weave is a half-up, half-down feminine look for a variation on a braid that has great versatility.

(credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

Consider Weather And Environment

Where is your event taking place? Is the forecast for windy and foggy or hot and humid? Some hair holds curls when others go frizzy. Still others have waves that go straight as a pin at the first sign of dampness in the air. If you have textured hair and you straighten it, does it revert back to its natural texture when humidity soars? By taking these issues into consideration, you can select a style that will look as good at the end of the evening as it does at the beginning of the day.

Model Taylor Dempsey (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

What’s The ‘Drama’ Of Your Dress?

This tip is important for brides or anyone having photographs taken. Consider that special something that first attracted you to the dress. It might be backless, strapless, have a sweetheart neckline or intricate embellishments. You don’t want your hair to compete with the drama of your dress, especially when people are looking at you from the rear and sides as you walk down the aisle. For example, if the dress is backless, wearing long hair down in the back interferes with the line of the dress, hiding its unique feature. Wear hair up in braids or pull long hair far to the side to hang over the shoulder in front in a fishtail. Pair a vintage choice with timeless accessories.

Model Taylor Dempsey with stylist Kate Gagnier (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

Ask Yourself Questions When Selecting A Style

How far do you want to depart from your everyday look? If you do want to take the opportunity to do something different, go for it, by all means. Or would you prefer to look like you, but at your very best? Think about what you love and what you really want to avoid, making sure you can answer these questions in order to help create a framework for your stylist. Kate says, “Until the crystal ball becomes a reality, direction from the client is always welcome.”

Basket weave by Kate Gagnier (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

Feel Confident, Not Self-Conscious

Your stylist needs clear communication on what you’re comfortable with. Do bring pictures. It’s okay to say that you like a side part, fringe, updos or accessories. “While your comments may seem like a puzzle to you, your stylist should know how to put that puzzle together,” Kate says. “Be open if your stylist tells you what you have suggested might not work,” she reminds. Also, if you’re wearing a bridal veil, tiara, fascinator or hat for the occasion, remember to bring that piece along. “If you are at all nervous, pay for a trial, as your comfort and confidence is worth the time and expense.” Alternatively, if you’re the adventurous type, having no trial can be equally fun when you roll the dice and enjoy the surprise result.

Braids and brides (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

Listen To The Hair

If it’s fighting you, re-group, try something else and go with the flow. It’s great to get inspired by photos in magazines, online images and on Pinterest. When you’ve done the research so you can best communicate your likes and dislikes, the probability of a huge success increases substantially and you’ll enjoy hearing compliments that simply won’t stop. Just remember that not every style is ideal for your personal hair texture.

Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she’s writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on