Braids have been an unmissable hair trend for the whole of 2013, but as the year comes to a close, those intricate updos, halo braids, and fishtail headbands have softened up, with stars wearing their plaits a lot looser and more casual, swept gently over one shoulder. The look is soft and lived-in and great for lazy days, but it works surprisingly well with formal looks, too. It's also a style that's made for hair extensions as it perfectly hides the join between real hair and added lengths, so even if your hair only falls to the shoulders, with a few strategically placed clip-ins, you can recreate these styles. Here are celebrity looks to inspire you the next time your hair's falling a little bit flat.
Naturally wavy hair worked brilliantly for Selena's loose side braid, with soft waves left loose on both sides.
Abigail's fishtail plait was fluffed up and a few strands pulled loose to keep it looking soft and effortless.
Eva's loose braid played with the ombré color in her hair.
For Zoe's pretty plait, curl your hair before starting the braid, and finish it with a ribbon rather than an elastic.
Kate kept the ends of her plait loose, finishing the braided section where it hit the shoulder. A sideswept layer added volume along her hairline.
To get the inverted shape of Olivia's plait, start the plait at the back of the head, braiding down you back. Then sweep it over your shoulder at the end. The back of the plait will show, rather than the front.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
This is a fantastic five-minute hairstyle, which, with the addition of a thin headband, looks perfect for a party. You could use a floral garland or a necklace instead.
Ana Beatriz Barros
To get the texture in Ana's hair, start with wavy or curled hair, and plait as normal. Once you've tied off the plait, carefully pull at each section, letting shorter layers come loose. Finish by using a comb to gently backcomb the whole plait and add deliberate frizz!
Longer layers skimmed the collarbone in Erika's laidback style. Keep your parting messy to add to the casual feel.
Evangeline's plait was the more formal version of this look, starting as a ponytail at the back of the head. Backcomb the three sections of hair before you braid them for added volume, but leave out the very ends so the last sections are narrow.