One way to create an outstanding updo is to add braids or plaits. This exquisite top knot from Alicia Keys (pictured left) uses thick braids through the length of her hair to achieve a top knot look with a difference. Those looking for something more traditional can take a page out of Christina Milian's styling book (pictured right) and use thin plaits to create a stunning finish around the edges of a ballerina bun. Both looks will give you an upstyle with a difference, and are perfect for a party or formal occasion.
More than just an every day hairstyle, ponytails can be styled to achieve a very pretty look when a simple plait is added through the lengths. The thickness of the plait is up to you. You might like a thick plait running straight from your mid-lengths, à la Jenna Jameson (pictured left), or to secure your hair at the base of your head with a hair elastic and then plait the length to create a more structured hairstyle, as shown on Kate Hudson (pictured right).
Another way to make great use of braids and plaits is to use them to decorate your favorite type of hairstyle. Braids added through the front sections of a half up half down hairstyle turn it from ordinary to extraordinary, as shown on Amanda Bynes (pictured left). While some plaits added to the sides of Jennie Garth's backcombed mid-length 'do (pictured right) certainly gives her look a great finish.
Our final hairstyle ideas for plaits and braids is to take your look and side style it. Side-styling your hair puts your locks front and centre and looks great regardless of whether you choose to add a plait like Brittany Snow (pictured left) or a fishtail braid like Jessica Szohr (pictured right). Remember to keep the rest of your hair loose and playful to re-create the relaxed results of these fabulous hairstyles.