Formal hairstyles
24 September 2018

Red Carpet Worthy Formal Hairstyle Ideas For Short, Medium & Long Hair

Image source PR Photos & Instagram

Wondering whether you’re up to doing your own hair for a big occasion like your formal? Well give those doubts away girlfriend.  We promise you can totally do your own hair and save big bucks for that bangin’ hot dress while you’re at it. You just need the right hair styling tools. Check out these formal hairstyles for long, medium and short hair, taking cues from some of the red carpet leading ladies and our very own VS Sassoon stylist Rob Reeves.

Formal Hairstyles For Long Hair 
Formal Hairstyles For Medium Hair 
Formal Hairstyles For Short Hair


Formal Hairstyles for Long Hair

For your formal, styling long hair is all about showing the length of your locks. With endless options on the types of looks you can do, choose a style that you’re going to be comfortable wearing. Prepping is key, so make sure you shampoo and condition your hair prior so that your locks are fresh and clean. 

See our favourite formal hairstyles for long hair below from some of our favourite red carpet girls.


Sofia Carson’s Sleek Low Ponytail

Image source: PR Photos

Cinderella-star Sophia Carson looks like she can take down any mean-girl step-sister here – totally slaying it at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards “This look relies on two things to pull it off – lots of shine and a deep side part,” says Rob Reeves. To help get the requisite shine, use a hair dryer that has ionic conditioning technology for frizz control and check out Rob’s great video on how to get the perfect blow dry.

What you will need to achieve this gorgeous, sleek pony:

  • Smooth serum
  • Fine tooth comb
  • Paddle Brush
  • Clear or discreet hair tie

Once your hair is perfectly dried, you can follow these steps:

  1. Pour a small amount of smoothing serum into the palm of your hand and then run it through the entire lengths of your hair to create a sleek flat shiny finish.
  2. Using a fine tooth comb, create a deep side part. Go as far over to the side of your head as possible but take into account the shape of your face. If you have a square face you may want to part a little more to the centre to create balance.
  3. The last step is to take your paddle brush and sweep your hair back into a low ponytail at the base of your neck before securing with a discreet hair tie.

That’s how you create a sleek, low ponytail like Sophia’s. Chic and clean, it’s a versatile hairstyle that will work with any formal outfit. 

Amanda Seyfried’s Goddess Waves 


A post shared by Amanda Seyfried (@mingey) on

Pretty prom hair takes on new meaning here with Amanda Seyfried looking like the true goddess we all want to be. “Amanda is rocking it with this look,” agrees Rob and it’s so easy to achieve using a 2-in-1 multi styler tool that curls and straightens. 

What you’ll need to get Amanda’s goddess waves:

  • An automatic curling tool
  • Hairspray
  • Hair clips to help separate sections 

To achieve this look, beauty vlogger Michelle Crossan shows us how easy it is to get beautiful waves and curls using the Smooth & Wave. Her video tutorial goes through how to use the automatic curler and the key tips and techniques. Once you achieve the desired waves that you like, don’t forget to set it with hairspray to keep your beautiful goddess hair intact. 


Hailee Steinfeld's Effortless Blow Out


A post shared by hailee steinfeld (@haileesteinfeld) on

Hailee Steinfeld proved she’s no longer on the verge of 17 but all grown-up. At this year’s Met Ball she was channeling her inner princess. “This is another look that demands a good blow dry,” says Rob. “Use a digital sensor hair dryer with hair protection technology - it dries hair fast and helps to keep it looking healthier.

What you’ll need to get a beautiful blow out like Hailee’s:

  • Hair dryer 
  • Round Brush 
  • Texturising Spray 
  • A tiara (optional) 

How to achieve Hailee’s shiny, blow out:

  1. Start by prepping your hair with a texture or volume spray, and then rough dry to 80% dry.
  2. Then divide your hair into sections drying each section with a round brush to create maximum volume. 
  3. Once you have dried your whole head, finish with a light spritz of texture spray to add an even more textured finish. And don’t forget to add your tiara when you’ve finished!


Kaia Gerber’s Polished Waves


A post shared by Kaia (@kaiagerber) on

There is no mistaking that Kaia Gerber is Cindy Crawford’s daughter here with this very retro but totally on-trend look. “This style is surprisingly easy to achieve,” promises Rob. 

What you’ll need to achieve this look:

  • A salon professional hair dryer like the VS Sassoon 3Q Dryer.
  • A 38mm Curling Tong
  • A fine tooth comb 
  • Hairspray 

Here’s how to get the look:

  1. Prep hair with a heat protection volume spray then blow dry with your VS Sassoon 3Q Dryer
  2. Use the VS Sassoon Big Hair Soft Curls tong to curl your hair in sections, creating soft movement and waves as you go.  
  3. Using a fine tooth comb make a deep side part and sleek down the hair on that side so it sits firmly behind the ear. 


Gigi Hadid’s Backcombed Sleek Locks


A post shared by Gigi Hadid (@gigihadid) on

Queen of the Catwalk, Gigi Hadid rose to new heights at the Met Gala ball with a great backcombed look that perfectly complimented her Versace gown.  Her golden teardrops were the icing on the cake – Gigi please tell us who did your makeup! We so want to know. “To get this look, you’ll need to use a tool like a hot air hair brush” says Rob.

What tools you’ll need to get this look:

  • A rotating hot air styler 
  • A backcomb
  • Hairspray
  • A decorative slide clip (Optional)

How to get Gigi’s sleek, middle part look from the Met Gala:

  1. Prep hair with a good volume product then style with your VS Sassoon Hot Air Styler section by section. This rotating dryer smooths and adds volume at the same time. Just what you need for this look.
  2. Create a centre parting and smooth sides down on both sides behind your ears.
  3. For extra volume at the crown, back comb but make sure you then smooth over your hair to hide your comb work!For extra glam, add a decorative slide clip on each side.

For any flyaways, keep the look super sleek by spraying your backcomb or an unused toothbrush with hairspray. Then smooth the flyaway down with the comb. 


Formal Hairstyles for Medium Hair

Our medium hair sisters are going to have a lot of fun with the formal hairstyles were sharing here. This type of length makes it easy to style and versatile to try different looks. It’s a flattering length that will look fantastic curled, wavy or straight. 

Find your ideal formal hairstyle for your medium length hair below from these stylish ‘It’ girls.

Alexa Chung's Soft Waves

Image source PR Photos

‘It’ Brit girl Alexa Chung did a lovely soft look at the London Fashion Awards and we kinda really like it. “Such a simple but effective formal look,” says Rob. This look is easy because the length of the hair isn’t too long or too short. You can’t go wrong with this look! 

What you’ll need to get Alexa’s look:

  • An automatic curler (set it to the wave setting for this look)
  • A soft bristle brush 
  • Hairspray 

How to get the soft waves for your formal look:

  1. Split hair into two sections separating the top front section with a side parting from the back and side. 
  2. Use your VS Sassoon Smooth & Wave on the smooth setting for the front section and then on the wave setting for the back and sides.
  3. Brush through to create loose soft waves while keeping the front sleek and smooth.

Don’t forget to set your hair with a light spritz of hairspray to keep your hairstyle lasting all night!


Kendall Jenner’s Stylish Cannes Film Festival Updo

Image source PR Photos

That other Queen of the Catwalk, Kendall Jenner literally stole the show at the Cannes Film Festival this year with perfect glam updo. “This updo mixes old-world glam with a modern messy twist,’ says Rob. 

What you’ll need to achieve Kendell’s glam updo:

  • A digital motor hair dryer that protects your hair while you style.
  • Clear hair ties
  • Large round brush
  • Bobby pins

How to achieve Kendell’s Cannes Film Festival updo at home:

  1. Divide your hair into equal section and then drying them with your VS Sassoon 3Q Dryer and a large round brush for body.
  2. Create a centre part and sweep back your hair into a low pony.
  3. Then twist the pony and pin up leaving a few loose pieces at the front.

An optional but pretty addition you can do, is add a beautiful hair pin at the back. This will give the look some extra glitz!


Formal Hairstyles For Short Hair 

Short hair is made to stand out from the crowd! Don’t let the length stop you from creating a beautiful formal hairstyle this year. What you can do is play with texture and shine. Messy waves and glossy locks are the best way to shine at your formal this year. 

Take note of your favourite formal hairstyles for short hair below from our leading ladies who rock it!

Zendaya’s Polished Pixie Cut

Image source PR Photos

Also on the red carpet at the British Fashion Awards was oh-so-cute Zendaya proving once and for all, you don’t have to have long hair to look like the belle of the ball at your prom. “This look relies on a good precision haircut and the right tool to give it a polished finish. Use a professional salon quality straightener designed with heat protection mode and ionic conditioning technology for frizz-free results. 

What you’ll need to achieve Zendaya’s polished look:

  • A straightener
  • A soft bristle brush 
  • Hairspray

How to achieve the polished, pixie look:

  1. Section your hair, running the straightener through each section from top to bottom. Remember the look is polished not flat so keep it on a lower setting if you have fine hair.
  2. When finished give it one last run through with your brush and spray with shine spray.

To amp up the look, you can definitely wear a hair accessory that will compliment your beautiful dress or an overall formal style. 


Anja Rubik Textured Locks

Image source PR Photos

Anja Rubik also killed it with her short look here. “This is such a cool-girl look,” says Rob. Anja’s locks are soft and have texture in them resembling out-of-bed it-girl hair. This look is perfect for a formal style that is edgy or unique. Move away from conventional formal hairstyles and try something more modern like Anja’s short hair look here. 

What you’ll need to create Anja’s textured look:

  • A hair dryer
  • A straightener
  • A finishing hairspray 

Here’s how to get the look:

  1. Use your VS Sassoon Digital Sensor Hair Dryer, finger drying your hair forward.
  2. Divide your hair into sections and finish with your straightener, slightly curving the end of the sections to create soft texture and movement.

Once completed, spray a light mist of finishing hairspray to hold the style. This will ensure that your hair stays as is all night, while you’re dancing the night away! 


Hailey Baldwin’s Floral Crown Look


A post shared by Hailey Baldwin (@haileybaldwin) on

Hailey Baldwin rocks it short hair and hanging onto that pink. Hailey managed to look both elegant and edgy at the same time at this red carpet event. Using a garland of flowers as a tiara was a great move.  Adding a hair accessory will make your overall formal look even more special and unique from the others. 

Tools you’ll need to get Hailey’s look:

If you want this look for your formal, here’s how to get it:

  1. Prep hair with a texture product and then rough dry with your hair dryer.
  2. Using the 38mm Curler, curl large sections of your hair all over.
  3. When finished, run your fingers through and then spray to create messy texture.

Then add your floral crown or any hair accessory that will compliment your bangin’ formal outfit!


Create gorgeous formal hairstyles at home with our range of hair tools. 

Creating these beautiful formal hairstyles is easy with our range of stylers, straighteners and dryers. 

You can get more hair inspiration for your formal from our blog, where you’ll find hair tutorials, hair trend reports and hair styling tips. 

Get hair inspo and hair tips straight into your inbox by joining our mailing list, so you can keep up to date on the latest! 

Just remember girls, you may or may not have the perfect date at your formal but it’s beside the point because your formal is ALL about you!


Love your style, from the VS Sassoon team. x