When it comes to certain types of wedding dresses, it can be difficult to find the perfect hairdo that complements each style. But that can't be said for strapless dresses. Since these gowns really show off your collarbone and shoulders, they work with almost any type of hairstyle, whether that's an elegant updo, a chic ponytail, or long and loose waves.
"We always say the dress dictates the style of your hair and makeup—we style the glam to your dress to create balance in your overall look," say special event hair experts Mariana McGrath and Andrea Ortega Costigan. "The silhouette and neckline of the dress determine if we are going for big hair, sleek, or what shape would be the most fitting. Beyond dress considerations, we help you determine which hairstyle would be a better fit for your specific bone structure, hair type, and what would last best throughout the day depending on the climate your wedding will be in."
Meet the Expert
- Mariana McGrath and Andrea Ortega Costigan are the founders of Salt Spell Beauty and have over a decade of experience in the beauty industry.
If you really want all eyes on your dress, choose a hairstyle that gets your strands off your shoulders. Not only is this timeless and elegant, but it's also comfortable and easy. If you don't mind leaving your hair down, opt for glamorous waves or curls, or do something more low-maintenance and simple. While all of these looks are different, they're all sure to make an impact.
Read on for 33 stunning bridal hairstyles for a strapless wedding dress.
Naturally curly hair looks so pretty when pulled up into a loose updo off the neck. The texture becomes incredibly alluring with some tendrils pulled out for a more boho vibe. Plus, the curls create plenty of grip to clip a veil into the back like this bride did for her Puerto Vallarta nuptials.
A Birdcage Bun
For a vintage feel, add a birdcage veil to the coif. The retro veil looks gorgeous paired with a chignon for a more romantic aesthetic. You can also add flowers for a whimsical touch like this beauty did for her Brooklyn elopement.
A Fro Moment
For brides with shorter lengths to work with, this hairstyle is a great option: Separate into a deep side part for plenty of volume, and then add a pretty floral hair clip just under the part. We especially love how this bride tucked a posy of baby's breath into her hair but carried a bouquet of greenery for the Brooklyn ceremony.
Choose a hair accessory that matches elements of your gown for a streamlined look that also feels unique. This giggly bride opted for a chic low bun and made it more interesting using the same ostrich feather material of her bridal two-piece set. Bonus: The textures totally match her vibrant, frilly bouquet!
A Tight Bun
Really show off the neckline of your gown with a tighter bun. "A tight chignon accentuates your back and shoulders," add McGrath and Ortega Costigan. We love how pretty this style looks with a long veil and complements the clean silhouette of the dress. The classic minimalism was a sophisticated addition to the rustic Italian venue.
Lock in the 'do with Osis Freeze Hairspray, our experts' choice for the ultimate freeze-hold.
A chignon is a beautiful style with a strapless or off-the-shoulder dress but make sure there's adequate volume to plump up the coif. "We always check in with our brides by having them stand in front of a mirror before locking in the hairstyle to make sure they like how it looks," say McGrath and Ortega Costigan. "A mirror always gives you a different perspective."
Brides with long hair should consider a voluminous ponytail—the bigger, the better! "Remember that you’re going to be photographed mostly from the front, so you want the hair to look best from the front," advise McGrath and Ortega Costigan. "Look out for the shape in 360 degrees, and make sure it’s flattering at every angle, as you will be seen and photographed from every angle on our wedding day!" For this elegant destination wedding, the bride pulled her natural hair into a ponytail, teased it, and added a beautiful birdcage veil.
For brides with very long hair, a soft braided chignon is wonderfully poetic and keeps all of the hair off your shoulders and back. "We love a bride in a cascading, low, and soft updo rather than a super-sleek look for strapless gowns," say McGrath and Ortega Costigan. "But it completely depends on your frame, the dress’s silhouette, and your face shape."
With this hairstyle, you don't have to commit to putting your hair up or leaving it down—you can have both! Curl your hair, gently brush out the spirals, and twist into a loose half-up, half-down style that feels casual but elegant. "If your strapless is lacy and boho, go for a relaxed and romantic half-updo, beach waves, and lots of texture," advise McGrath and Ortega Costigan.
Voluminous Low Bun
To create the look of this voluminous low bun, curl your hair first, then tease it for more oomph. Twist and braid into a voluptuous low bun to open up your neckline to the gown and jewelry. We love how this particular coif shows off the playful bodice while still adding balance.
A Smooth Blowout
For something simple and versatile, blow the hair out smooth and add some waves. Loosely pull back a portion of the top, leaving some pieces out to frame the face. Plus, you can easily secure the style back into a ponytail as the night wanes like this bride did for her New Orleans nuptials.
For an elegant retro vibe, curl and set long hair before adding a sweeping side part that cascades into a curtain of hair on one side. "If you want to show off collarbones, a sleek updo is the move," say McGrath and Ortega Costigan. "If you want to have a more romantic, soft look go for hair down or at least face-framing pieces or covering one shoulder." This stunning bride nailed the look for her dreamy Atlanta wedding.
A High Bun
Keep your hair out of the way for the night by twisting it into a sky-high bun. You can elevate the look by keeping the sides tight and smooth with no flyaways. "For brides with a shorter stature, you can use hair to create height—do an updo or hair down with lots of volume on top," advise McGrath and Ortega Costigan. "If you have a shorter neck and want an updo, have your hairstylist create a look that lifts up and back from the jawline or follows your eye line, depending on the desired height."
If you want to keep your long hair down and curled without risking beach waves, try a middle part and tighter barrel curls like this bride did for her Santa Barbara wedding. The results create a sleek look that seems more refined than just loose curls. "Wearing hair down also depends on how well your specific hair holds a curl/wave—some hair types just don't take to hot tools like others," note McGrath and Ortega Costigan. "Hair extensions can help with this by adding volume and grip."
A Cool-Girl Ponytail
Instead of a bun, go for a ponytail—it's a little different and oh so versatile. This bride added some volume in the front and curled her hair before pulling it back for her colorful Brooklyn wedding. "I’m a huge Blake Lively fan when it comes to all things beauty and fashion," she says. "My dress definitely suited an updo, but I wanted something a bit lighter and more modern and playful.”
Elevate a ponytail by wrapping a piece of hair around the hairband to conceal it.
A Perfectly Imperfect Updo
There's so much perfection in intentional imperfections. A low, loose, voluminous bun that looks like it was just swept up into a masterful coif can be so pretty with this neckline. Adding hair accessories is always a nice touch, but if you want to keep your hair simple, this is the way to go.
Instead of just a plain chignon or low bun, add a pretty hair accessory to up the ante. This bride opted for an icy floral hairpin to complement her chilly Chicago nuptials. "Don’t leave hair accessories to the last minute, like pretty pins, florals, hair combs, or your veil," suggest McGrath and Ortega Costigan. "Talk with your stylist in advance and work out a few looks in your trial to figure out what your hair might need."
A Curly Crop
Sure, short hair makes an updo impossible, but in this case, you don't need one. Take a cue from this look and leave your hair alone. It's absolutely gorgeous and incredibly simple, and it keeps all eyes on your dress.
For this old-Hollywood inspired wedding, the bride opted to keep her long hair glossy and straight. "If the strapless is structured, geometric, and architectural, you'll want more of a sleek look like a soft, silky wave with hair tucked behind the ears or a slick, minimal updo," note McGrath and Ortega Costigan. They recommend R&Co Foil Frizz and Static Control Spray for fine hair that is down or in a loose updo and Tigi Bed Head Hair Stick for taming stubborn flyaways in a sleek style.
According to McGrath and Ortega Costigan, "earrings or a necklace will frame the face and adorn your exposed décolletage." If you're adding standout accessories, like this ethereal lace choker, you'll want to keep your hair simple. This stunning bride opted for a low chignon that was perfectly understated for her floral-filled Tuscan ceremony.
This is exactly the kind of cool-girl piecy-ness we would expect from a Miami bride. The admirably undone bun gets tons of vivacious playfulness, courtesy of plenty of sunny, face-framing tendrils, and deliciously rogue flyaways. McGrath and Ortega Costigan suggest using Oribe Dry Texture Spray to give hair that coveted piecy look and much-needed hold.
A Loose Chignon
To make a traditional chignon look less tight, loosen it all around the edges for a bit of romantic, undone volume. "If too sleek or tight to the head, the look can skew quite severe and easily make your head look very small," warn McGrath and Ortega Costigan. This gorgeous bride shows us how it's done by sporting a just-right chignon for her dreamy destination wedding in Lake Como.
For a look that manages to be both glamorous and low maintenance, go for soft beach waves. This chill style looks especially great with a lace gown and would be ideal for a seaside setting. Make sure your hairstylist adds lots of hairspray (our experts love Oribe Outer Space Hairspray for soft, malleable hold) and shine spray—this look can easily get a little bit frizzy (although that's not always a bad thing!).
Short and Sweet
This bride embraced a super-short cut and pretty much left her hair alone for her nuptials. We love that she added a glittering floral-inspired hairpin to complement her incredible blush-hued dress. Twirl goals!
A Crimped Bob
For this colorful garden wedding, the bride rocked a nontraditional red ballgown that looked as if it had magically grown out of the soil itself. If you're going bold like this, keep the hair simple so all eyes are on the dress. A crimped bob sweetly frames the face while still upholding a modern appeal and showing off some skin.
Want something slightly more elevated than beach waves? Keep your hair smooth and polished and add some loose curls. "Hair down with a strapless gown can add an element of modesty to the look by creating balance in the amount of skin that you show and can cover any acne on the back," say McGrath and Ortega Costigan. "A strapless gown is sexy, and hair that is down and styled elegantly is a very feminine, soft, and sexy look."
"Pro tip: You can use the hair to 'snatch' the eyes—think Bella Hadid. Hair pulled tightly at the eyes and temples gives that subtle facelift effect," divulge McGrath and Ortega Costigan. "Make sure the focal points of the updo are a continuation of the bone structure of the face—whether it’s a lower updo or a high one, always make sure it is aligned with the jawline or eye line. Every single choice depends on your unique body."
Long, Loose Waves
With ultra-long, silken tresses like these, why wouldn't you show them off? If natural length isn't an option, extensions can provide an immediate fix. "Whether your hair is down or in an updo, extensions will give it a fuller look and give hairstylists more to work with," say McGrath and Ortega Costigan. "If you're wearing your hair down, be sure to take the extensions to your hairstylist to be cut prior to the wedding day—you want them to seamlessly blend with your natural hair."
A Restrained Coif
"For humid, tropical weddings, a sleek updo is best," note McGrath and Ortega Costigan. "This will avoid frizz, flyaways, and hair losing its volume and curl pattern." Might we recommend this bride's chic braided coif from her New Orleans nuptials?
There's something quite alluring about a center part and a sweetheart neckline. Go for ultimate glamour by curling long hair, and then brushing it out into big, loose waves and curls. You can slick back just the front pieces and add tons of volume at the top for even more impact like this stunner did for her Chicago wedding.
Wondering how the pinned-back style would look with a veil? Say no more. This blushing bride looked picture perfect with her dramatic portrait neckline and oh-so-chic pearl earrings. "For a strapless wedding gown, the hairstyle can provide a bit of coverage to bare skin or be pulled back to create a more dramatic, exposed neckline," add McGrath and Ortega Costigan. "It's all about creating symmetry."
These lobbed locs couldn't make for a sweeter pairing with this blush floral wedding gown. "Hire a professional, and don’t skimp on your glam—it's the most photographed day of your life, and all eyes are on you," advise McGrath and Ortega Costigan. "You want to look and feel your most beautiful, and have the confidence that your look will last you all day and night."
For brides with lob-length tresses, you don't have to do much to make your hair look great with a strapless gown. A simple side part and some loose texture give a slightly more effortless and laid-back feel to a fancy gown. "If the dress has a lot of fabric, you don’t want a hairstyle that’s too slick to the head," add McGrath and Ortega Costigan. "You must create balance."
What's the most flattering hairstyle for a strapless wedding dress?
Strapless wedding dresses are the most versatile when it comes to complementary hairstyles. The low neckline and lack of straps or sleeves pair with just about any coif, from playful braids and ponytails to elegant updos and romantic down styles. If you're looking to show off some skin and highlight the collar bones, an updo or gathered style will do the trick. Letting your hair cascade down can beautifully frame intricate bustiers and the décolletage.
Do I need to show my hairstylist my wedding dress?
Yes! For a hairstylist to create your desired bridal look, they'll need to know as many details as possible—from venue and climate patterns to the neckline and intricacies of the dress. The more information they have, the better they can tailor their technique to create your ideal bridal coif. Don't worry; you don't need to lug the wedding dress to trials. Photos of you wearing the dress are sufficient.