There are so many hairstyles you can pull off with long hair. Every variation of buns, ponytails, updos, and half-up, half-down looks are all fair game. When it’s time to style long hair for a formal occasion, it’s both exciting and a tad intimidating. Endless styling options can turn into hours of scrolling through hair inspiration on Pinterest.
To save you some time, we’re going to cover lots of popular formal hairstyles for long hair. Take a look at our list below to get some inspiration for your next event.
1. Voluminous pompadour
Ready to try an updo that isn’t a ponytail or a bun? Depending on how long your hair is, you can pull off a big and poofy pompadour. You can either tuck all of your hair into your pomp or go for a half-up, half-down look.
2. Knotted bun
Buns are not exclusive to your Sunday afternoon grocery trips. There are many ways to style a bun for formal occasions. To achieve a knotted bun, you simply need to tie your hair into a ponytail, split it in half, tie some knots into each section, then wrap and secure the ends with hair clips.
3. Wavy ponytail
If you have naturally thick and wavy hair, you probably don’t need to do much work for a beautiful wavy ponytail. For the rest of us, you’ll need to spend some time teasing your ponytail and working in product to get the same effect. Thickening spray or volumizing hair spray can help your hair go from flat to fabulous. Leave out a few strands of hair to softly frame your face.
4. Twisted bun
If you have exceptionally long hair, a twisted bun may be the best way to keep your hair up without resorting to an overly complicated style. You first need to split your hair in two and tie both sections into a knot. Then, you’ll wrap each half around the knot and secure the ends with bobby pins.
5. Classy fishtail braid
You can use a small fishtail braid to tie up the ends of your hair without completely tying back all of your hair. Start with a side ponytail so that the braid can naturally rest on your shoulder. You can leave out some strands for a softer look.
6. High bun
Moving your bun closer to the top of your head adds instant elegance. The twisted or knotted bun looks great higher up since you can show off the intricacy of each style. Depending on your desired look, you can either slick your hair down for a smooth look or tease your roots for some volume.
7. Half-up, half-down locs
There are so many loc hairstyles you can try once you’ve grown them out. At this length, you can create a loose top knot by separating a section of your hair and wrapping it around itself on top of your head.
8. Voluminous chignon
Long hair can create big chignons. If you’re not a fan of buns, chignons are an elegant alternative that only requires lots of bobby pins to keep your hair in place. Once it’s up, you can tug at the chignon if you want it to fan out and look a little messier.
9. Braided bun
A braided bun should be your go-to style if you’d rather not stick a ton of bobby pins in your hair. There are many ways to create a braided bun. One of the simplest ways is to put your hair into a ponytail and split it into two parts.
Braid each half, then fully wrap each around the base of your ponytail. You can also braid both braided halves together before wrapping them around the base of your ponytail.
10. Sleek middle part
Middle parts are an elegant way to open up and elongate your face. It’s also a great excuse to try out curtain or other wispy bangs that pair well with middle parts. However, the most flattering hair part and bangs for you come down to your face shape.
Your goal with this style is to show off your hair’s volume. Use some sea salt spray to add texture and volume to your hair. You can also plop your hair right after you get out of the shower to add some body.
Bouffants are an iconic formal hairstyle. We’ve seen variations of this style from the late ‘50s to the early 2000s. You can tie all of your hair up for a red carpet-ready look or something more casual with a half-up bouffant.
13. Braided updo
Big, chunky braids are another beautiful way to tie up your hair. Milkmaid and French braids are a couple of great choices. You can also add hair clips and other accessories to make the style pop.
14. Long box braids
Long box braids are versatile and perfect for pulling off different looks. Look into different ways to style your box braids to make them stand out. For example, you can add cuffs or other accessories to your braids or get different colored braids.
15. Half-up, half-down style
The half-up, half-down look is the base of so many formal hairstyles for long hair. You can pin your hair back with ribbons or jeweled hair clips. You can also comb back the front of your hair, create a middle part, or highlight a side-swept bang with this look.
16. Voluminous bun
Use your long hair to your advantage by creating a big statement bun. To get this style, separate your hair into a few big sections and start twisting them. Then, pin back each section to the center of your hair. If your hair is naturally thin or flat, you can work in some extensions meant for thin hair to help you fill out your bun.
17. Boho-inspired updo
Boho styles are romantic and flowy. They’re perfect for outdoor spring and summer events. The beauty of this look is that you don’t need to worry about keeping every strand in place. You can try loosely braiding your hair and wrapping the ends around for an artsy look. Before tying it up, you can tug at your braid or other parts of your hair to make it look more piecey.
18. French twist
The French twist is another fashionable updo that’s perfect for all formal occasions. This style requires lots of pinning to create that iconic twist at the back of your head. If you have trouble pinning your hair with bobby pins, you can get special French twist combs to secure your hair.
19. Bouncy curls
Big and bouncy curls are a fun way to style your long hair. If you’re short on time, you can curl your hair with the ponytail trick. Put your hair in a high ponytail and start curling strands of your hair. You can create a textured look by making sections of different sizes and curling those sections in different directions.
20. Low bun
A low bun is a great go-to look if you need to run straight from work to date night. It’s not too showy for a day full of video calls, but it’s also chic enough for a night out. You can mix up your look by tugging on sections of your bun or around the crown of your head to gently loosen the hair.
21. Waterfall braid
Waterfall braids are beautiful and aren’t as complicated as they look. You just need to cross over your strands a few times to create a unique braid across your head. Consider getting an ombré or a balayage if you want to amp up this look. This style can beautifully show off different sections and colors of your hair.
22. High ponytail
You can always throw your hair up into a simple high ponytail if you’re short on time. Just like a half-up, half-down look, there are many ways to make a high pony your own. You can add beachy waves for some volume or straighten it for a sleek look.
23. Banana bun
Think of the banana bun as the French twist’s laid-back cousin. Instead of worrying about firmly securing the bun close to your head, you just need to slip in a few pins so it can loosely stay in place. Use ornate hairpins to add some glamour to this messy bun.
24. Long twists
You can get versatility and protection with long twists. Depending on the type of twists you get, this style can be lighter than braids. There are also many types of twists you can try, like Marley, Havana, and Senegalese (which we’ll go over later in this list). You can try lots of formal hairstyles for long hair once you have your twists installed.
25. Straight hair and braids
If your hair is naturally straight, try incorporating a few loose braids. A few simple three-strand plaits and some dangly earrings can elevate your look. For a boho-inspired look, you can start a braid at opposite ends of your head, then tie them together when they meet at the center.
26. Braided ponytail
Braids are another way you can switch up a regular ponytail. Pick your favorite braid to use for your ponytail. French, fishtail, and pull-through braids are popular choices. Combine your braid with a high ponytail for a chic look.
27. Loose French braid
Some styles look even more elegant with long hair. When doing your French braid, tug on small sections to loosen them up. This is called pancaking your braid. After you’ve got your ideal look, don’t forget to follow up with hair spray to keep your strands in place.
28. Upside-down braid
An upside-down braid is an easy way to spruce up a regular bun. First, you’ll need to start a French or Dutch braid at the nape of your neck. Once you’ve tied it off, you’ll gather the rest of your hair to create a bun. Lastly, you’ll wrap your braid around your bun and secure it with a bobby pin.
Headbands have seen many trends over the past few decades. Chunky, thin, and braided headbands all add different flavors to any outfit. Throw on a headband while your long hair is down or use it to top off a stylish updo.
30. Pull-through braid
The pull-through braid isn’t tied together like a traditional braid. It involves creating a ponytail, splitting it, and looping and pulling the hair through until you’ve reached the end. This look is naturally big and voluminous. You can do a full ponytail or do a half-up, half-down look by only braiding part of your hair back.
31. Deep side part
Want an effortless formal hairstyle perfect for long hair? Give yourself a deep side part. It’s especially great for those with flat or thin hair since this part naturally gives your hair some body.
32. Lemonade braids
Long and sweeping lemonade braids are sure to stand out when you walk into any room. Bigger braids will create a beautiful and bold pattern on your head. You can tie your braids into a high or low ponytail if you want to show off your length while keeping them out of your face.
33. Elegant faux hawk
There are many ways to style faux hawks besides the popular short and spiky look. You can create a curly faux hawk with lots of body and height. You’ll just need a few hair ties, bobby pins, a brush, and some hair spray to create this look.
Getting a blowout gives your hair instant volume and style that can last a few days. You can achieve many different styles with a blowout, including curls, waves, and even straight hair. Find some hair inspiration photos before you book a blowout appointment. It’s easier to talk to your hairstylist about what you want if you have a few examples.
35. Crown braid
Crown braids are another versatile hairstyle that you can personalize to fit your makeup and outfit. You can braid the crown to the front of your head, above the nape of your neck, or you can do a couple of braids.
36. Looped bun
Still looking for an easy and elegant bun to try? A loop bun is another simple look you can do at home. All you need to do is tie your hair in a low ponytail, loop it, and secure the end.
37. Wavy hair with accessories
Do not underestimate the power of a great hair accessory. A few well-placed hairpins or combs can add some sparkle to your long hair. You can also look for a long headpiece to weave into your hair if you want to make a statement.
38. Senegalese twists
Senegalese twists are a beautiful style you can achieve with your natural hair alone or with some braiding hair for extra length. They can take up to eight hours to complete depending on how much hair you have. However, the end result is worth it since these twists can last about a month and a half or more.
39. Slicked back
Slicking your hair back is a sophisticated formal hairstyle for long hair. To pull this off, spray some texturizing spray to give your hair some volume. Blow-drying your hair at the roots can also give your hair some lift. When you’re ready to slick back the front of your hair, reach for some wax or mousse to keep everything in place.
An ombré is a great hair coloring technique that’s more low maintenance than you might think. The top of your hair remains untouched, so you can afford to prolong your next touch-up appointment. You can get this style for a special occasion and keep your sun-kissed hair for a long time afterward.
41. Hair flowers
Add flowers to make any simple hairstyle extra special. You can tuck a flower into your braids, behind your ear, or around your updo. If you want a more structured look, you can craft a flower crown to wear on your special day.
42. Hair wrapped ponytail
If you want a no-fuss way to elevate your ponytail, try wrapping a section of your hair around your hair tie. To do this, separate a small section of hair from under your ponytail and begin wrapping it around the base of your ponytail. Then, you can pull the excess hair through your hair tie and bobby pin it or hide the excess in your hair.
There are many formal hairstyles for long hair out there. It’s fun to explore the possibilities and see what works best with the rest of your look. If you still aren’t sure where to start, find a local hairstylist near you so they can give you advice and help you achieve your dream look.