Instant Chignon Upgrades Inspired by the Red Carpet

Hair & Beauty

Photo: Getty Images

Not too long ago, the phrase "wedding updo" conjured images of shellacked bouffants, unconvincing hair bumps, and gel-drenched curls. If you've written off wearing your hair up for your wedding, don't turn back to that Pinterest board of loose waves just yet: One look at the red carpet reveals that today's pinned-up hairstyles are more modern, romantic, and elegant than ever before. The best part? A chignon looks amazing with any wedding gown. We asked New York hairstylist Nathaniel Hawkins for the best ways to upgrade a simple chignon for your wedding. Get ready for major hairspiration!

The Look: Undone Chic (above)
Think of a texturized, slightly messy chignon as the beach wave of wedding hair: natural, and effortless. It's the cool, downtown younger sister of traditional, ultra-sleek wedding styles, Hawkins says. To get Anna Camp's red-carpet look, apply a texturizing spray or sea salt spray at the roots, then blow-dry your hair — sans round brush, to avoid a too-glossy texture — on high heat. Then scrape your hair back with your fingers into a ponytail, and secure it into a bun with bobby pins. Kristen Bell's undone look uses a similar technique, but to get her romantic chignon, pin back your hair in two sections — first the underside, then the top. Instant romance!


Photo: Getty Images

The Look: High Drama
The easiest way to make an updo look extra-elegant? Hike it up to the crown of your head. The key for keeping high buns out of prom-night territory, Hawkins says, is to keep every strand in place. To keep your chignon from drooping as the night goes on, make sure to lift your chin slightly as your hairstylist pins your hair up. Since the hair at the nape of your neck tends to slacken when you lift up your chin, Hawkins says, keeping your chin up will ensure that it will get even tighter when you lower your chin again. To get Kate Upton or Jessica Paré's ultra-voluminous looks, blow-dry the front of your hair up and back from your head to maximize volume, and brush plenty of mousse into your hair, starting at the roots, with a vent brush.


Photo: Getty Images

The Look: Braid 2.0.
All respect to ethereal, flower-crown-friendly tiny braids, but we're really digging these modern twists. Anna Faris's sleek blond knot looks intricate, but it's really just a coiled-up braid: loosely braid a simple ponytail, then twist it around into a chignon. Everyone will wonder how you pulled it off, but the whole look takes minutes! And if you're into accent braids, try using bigger sections, like Maria Menounos. It makes any style look softer and less contrived, Hawkins says.

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