These 30 Updos are Perfect for Both Formal and Casual Occasions

These 30 Updos are Perfect for Both Formal and Casual Occasions featured image
Neilson Barnard / Jeremy Moeller / Getty Images

Updos tend to live in two extremes. Either they are worn on a red carpet, complete with gowns and a full beat, or they are the go-to after work hairstyle for lounging on the couch in sweatpants. However, updos don’t have to be overly intimidating or accessible. They can also be worn in the happy medium. From Eva Longoria’s rope braids to Sydney Sweeney’s pulled back bun, these looks can be worn to the workplace or during a Saturday night out.

Ahead, find our top 30 celebrity-inspired updos that promise to upgrade your ponytail, along with tips on how to create these looks for yourself.

1 / 30

Middle Part Twist

From her beauty looks to her statement-making red carpet wear, Margot Robbie has wowed fans. This classic yet versatile updo is no exception. The middle part keeps her face looking long and lean, and the doughnut-shaped bun shows off fullness. Keep the tendrils pulled back for something more refined, or let them hang loose for something softer.

middle part twist updo
Karwai Tang / Getty Images
2 / 30

Elevated Messy Bun

A classic messy bun is a girl’s best friend at the end of a long work day, but Sabrina Carpenter proves that this style can also work for a night out on the town. The key to this look is height and hold. Start with a high ponytail and then use an elastic to create a bun with lots of length hanging out of the other end. Use those ends to pin around the bun for added body. Leave some shorter pieces out and lightly curl them for a tousled look. Finish with a light-hold hairspray like the Function of Beauty Hold It Together Finishing Hair Spray ($13).

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Getty Images / Gregg DeGuire / Stringer
3 / 30

Side Part High Pony

Thanks to a dramatic side part and, of course, Rihanna, this high ponytail feels far more elevated than normal. To achieve at home, use a comb to create a clean side part. Then, use a teasing brush to brush out any unwanted lumps in your updo. The T3 Detail Set ($35) sells that and more, so you can keep flyaways at bay. 

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side part high pony updo
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images
4 / 30

Pulled Back Bun

Buns are a staple updo style, so it can be difficult to make this look feel fresh and modern. However, Sweeney is up to the challenge. Even though the hair is pulled out of her face, it is not smoothed out. The ripples leading up to the bun feel intentional, not messy. Sweeney is wearing it on the red carpet, but this look could work for a date night or weekend spent with friends.

pulled back bun updo
John Lamparski / Getty Images
5 / 30

Sleek Low Bun

Rachel Brosnahan’s sleek and simple updo is a classic for a reason. This fail-safe style works for all hair types and most lengths. To achieve similar shine, spritz a shine spray like the Davines This Is A Shimmering Mist ($38) all over. Bookmark this look for your next wedding.

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sleek low bun
Amy Sussman / Getty Images
6 / 30

Frizz-Free High Bun

If Brosnahan’s bun felt a little too ‘done’ for you, try Selena Gomez’s high bun instead. She still keeps the sides sleek—with zero frizz in sight. The high bun feels a little more relaxed than some of the others on this list, but the high-shine style keeps it elevated.

frizz-free high bun
Steve Granitz / Getty Images
7 / 30

Modern Princess Lea

For those with long hair, a crown bun like this can show off all that luxurious length. When Carrie Fisher played Princess Lea in Star Wars, her hair stole the show. While Yara Shahidi may not have done double space buns, Fisher’s essence was there. Yet, nothing about it feels dated or old-fashioned. 

Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images
8 / 30

High Shine Bubble Pony

Bubble ponytails are one of the most underrated ways to wear the classic style. Keslea Ballerini keeps all of her hair out of her eyes with this modern take on a low ponytail. To try for yourself, separate your hair into three sections, starting at the crown and working your way down. Then, gather the hair that was at the crown and use a small elastic, like one from the Goody Classic Polybands ($2), to secure into a ponytail. Repeat on the next section, and include the already secured ponytail from the top area. Repeat with the last section, and voila. 

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high shine bubble pony
Johnny Nunez / Getty Images
9 / 30

Bantu Knots

Bantu knots originated from Zulu tribes in Southern Africa, and Marsai Martin brings a modern flair to the style. She wears the protective style on the top half of her head and lets the rest of her braids hang down. Copy her look or cover your scalp in knots.

Bantu knots updo
JC Olivera / Getty Images
10 / 30

Clean Girl Pony

Hailey Bieber may have popularized the ‘clean girl’ aesthetic, but tons of other celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon. For example, Vanessa Hudgens’ slicked-back ponytail draws all the focus to her illuminated complexion. If you struggle with pesky flyaways, use the Got2b Glued Blasting Freeze Spray ($9) to keep them quiet.  

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Nathan Congleton / NBC via Getty Images
11 / 30

90’s Updo

Nineties beauty nostalgia shows no signs of slowing down, especially with hairstyles like Jasmine Tookes’ floating around. The secret to this look is to curl the hair prior to piling it upon the head. Use an iron like the ghd Classic Curl 1” Curling Iron ($209) to curl sections throughout. 

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90s updo
Neilson Barnard / Getty Images
12 / 30

Ultra-Sleek Low Pony

Jennifer Lawrence’s honey-colored strands are always on display when she graces the red carpet, but they rarely are pulled back. When she does, it is bound to make a statement. Her sleek, low pony looks at home on the red carpet for a movie premiere, but it could also be worn with a matching set at the gym.

sleek low pony updo
Theo Wargo / Getty Images
13 / 30

Fishtail Pony

Blake Lively’s hair is prolific. Hairdressers around the world have been tasked with recreating her looks spanning all eras of her career. This bulging fishtail ponytail is no exception. If you weren’t blessed with as thick of a mane as Lively, never fear. The Kitsch Pro Ponyfull Ponytail Enhancer ($12) adds volume to even the finest hair. 

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fishtail pony updo
Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images
14 / 30

Tousled Wet Bun

If low buns and sleek ponytails feel too safe for your style, look to Ciara for inspiration. Her perpetually wet style is both daring and fun. Be warned: this type of style requires tons of styling products, from creams to serums.

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images
15 / 30

Modern French Twist

If you associate French twists with flight attendants, prepare to have your stereotypes shattered. Anya Taylor Joy offers a fresh take on the sometimes stuffy style. This looser, more casual interpretation of a classic fits a variety of occasions, from weddings to the workplace.

modern French twist updo
Jeremy Moeller / Getty Images
16 / 30

Twisted High Pony

If you typically wear your hair in a protective style like twists or braids, look no further than Halle Bailey for some serious hair inspo. Her high ponytail is full and voluminous. She wears this style with a sporty halter dress, but her ‘do would also complement much more formal wear.

twisted high pony updo
Pierre Suu / Getty Images
17 / 30

Sleek Sculptural Bun

If you love the ‘clean girl’ aesthetic but want to add your own twist to it, forget the low ponytail or simple bun. Instead, try recreating this modern, sculptural low bun. Many updos work best with second-day hair, but this one is best with washed hair. For the best, shiniest results, blow out your hair before attempting.

sculptural bun updo
Lionel Hahn / Getty Images
18 / 30

Tinkerbell Top Knot

Hair inspiration can come from all sources, even Disney characters. Top knots are generally thought of as casual, but Lily Collins proves, with the right styling, this ‘do can be worn for all sorts of occasions. Add this to your inspiration board, especially if you have bangs.

top knot updo
David Livingston / Getty Images
19 / 30

Sleek and Spikey

If you love the shiny look but want to add a little spice, this is the ‘do for you. Doja Cat wore it to the red carpet, but our beauty team loves this style for a night out with friends.

sleek and spikey updo
Jeff Kravitz / Getty Images
20 / 30

The Pam Anderson

We are here for Pamela Anderson’s style renaissance, and so are major celebs. Kim Kardashian rocks Anderson’s classic bombshell curls. To get this look at home, volume is key. Before blow drying, use a volumizing mousse at the root, like the DryBar Southern Belle Volume Boosting Mousse ($29), for added texture. Then, use a round brush to blow out your hair to keep it bouncy and full. 

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Pamela Anderson updo
NINO / Getty Images
21 / 30

Curly Messy Bun 

If you have naturally curly hair, a messy bun can look extra full. For example, Lori Harvey leaves some of the curled ends out of the bun for a tousled effect. If some of your curls are looking limp, take a thin curling iron like the BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium .5 Inch Super Slim Wand ($75) to make your texture more uniform. 

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curly messy bun updo
305pics / Getty Images)
22 / 30

Braided Bun 

Looking for a way to make a simple bun feel special? Easy: add braids. Nicole Richie’s updo may be simple, but it looks elevated. To create this look for yourself, pull your hair into a tight ponytail. Then, split your ponytail in half and braid each chunk separately. Finally, wrap each braid around the ponytail and pin to secure. Protip: if you want the bun to look fuller, pull on the waves of the braids. However, if you like Richie’s smaller bun, keep the braids tight.  

braided bun updo
Jeff Kravitz / Getty Images for MTV
23 / 30

French Braid Crown 

Braided updos never go out of style, and we can see why. Lili Reinhart rocks a French braid crown. Not only is this look going to hold up after a long night, but it’s also one of the quicker looks to recreate for yourself once you get the hang of the braiding. 

french braid crown updo
Andreas Rentz / Getty Images
24 / 30

60’s Inspired Pony 

Modern hairstyles may be falling flat inspiration wise. Instead, look to a different era, like the sixties. The key to creating a full ponytail like Kate Beckinsale’s is teasing–lots and lots of teasing. Start with three-day hair for optimal texture, and gather everything into a tight ponytail. Tease multiple sections and then brush a section of hair over the top to smooth things over. Use a large barrel curling iron to flip the ends out. Finally, tie a black bow on the ponytail for a girly touch. 

60s pony updo
Neil Mockford / Ricky Vigil M / Getty Images
25 / 30

Rope Braids 

Calling all long-haired ladies: this is the next updo for you to try. Eva Longoria shows off her impressive length with dramatic rope braids. For this look, she is sporting two braids, but you can try three or four. 

rope braids updo
Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
26 / 30

Modern Chignon

Let’s face it: Ashley Graham can pull off just about anything, but this current take on a classic updo has us updating our mood boards. The chignon has been worn for decades, but Graham’s tousled volume brings this style into the modern era. 

modern chignon updo
Raymond Hall / Getty Images
27 / 30

Waist Length Ponytail 

If you do not naturally have Simone Ashley’s lustrous length, never fear. The Insert Name Here Brit Ponytail Extension ($59) comes in 23 realistic-looking shades to match your natural color. Clip it in to get your own waist-length pony.  

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waist length ponytail
Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images
28 / 30

Piecey Twist

Bieber is typically known for her ultra ‘done’ looks. This piecey style turns her typical look on its head. If some of these looks feel too formal for every day, try something casual like this tousled twist. 

piecey twist updo
Raymond Hall / GC Images
29 / 30

Casual Claw Clip 

Perhaps the simplest updo on this list, the claw clip is every low-maintenance girl’s best friend. It can pull back your hair with little to no effort. Keep one like the Machete Midi Heirloom Claw ($35) in your bag for an easy updo in a flash. 

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casual claw clip updo
Gotham / Getty Images)
30 / 30

Low Ponytail with Thick Tendrils 

Kerry Washington wows no matter what her hair looks like, but this style really made waves, no pun intended. If you are attending a wedding in the near future or looking for a new way to spice up your ‘do for Saturday night, bookmark this low ponytail for the future. 

Charles Sykes / Getty Images

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are some classic updos that never go out of style?

Updos are a go-to for formal events. If you have a hard time choosing between all the options out there, it is best to stick to the classics. Low buns, messy buns and low ponytails are some of the most popular at formal events. Part of the reason they are used so often is because they never go out of style.

What are some elegant updos for weddings or formal events?

Our list is full of elegant updos for weddings or formal events. A modern take on the chignon sported by Graham offers a fresh take on a classic. For something trendier, try your hand at an updated take on Anderson’s iconic updo. When all else fails, you cannot go wrong with a low ponytail and curled tendrils.

What are best practices for prepping the hair for an updo?

Most stylists will recommend skipping the wash for a few days when attempting an updo. Second or third-day hair has more grit and texture, which is ideal for creating both volume and hold. The rest depends on what type of updo you are going for. For a messy bun style, make sure to curl the hair throughout. For a sleek low bun, keep a styling gel on hand to tame flyaways.

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