28 Gorgeous Formal Half Updos You’ll Fall In Love With

Cindy Marcus
Cindy Marcus Hairstylist, Editor-in-Chief

When you have a formal occasion, half up hairstyles are a great option. Pinning some hair up allows you to keep some length around your face but still have the structure of having an “updo,” therefore keeping the body and shape in place. If you are considering a half up do, here are 20 formal half-up hairstyle ideas to inspire you.


#1: Braided Half Updo

Fancy a look that’s ultra-glam? A formal braided half updo is perfect for special occasions. It can also simply elevate your everyday style. These intricately twisted half-up, half-down braids can give you the feel of having long hair. All while still achieving an elegant swept-back finish. I suggest using small bob pins along with hairspray. Try L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hairspray for mega hold and lasting power. Getting this look requires sections and a level parting of your locks into three parts on each side. While weaving the braid, keep it tight from roots to tips. It will give you maximum definition when finished.

Simple Half-up Half-Down

#2 Simple Half-up Half-Down

This style is boho-inspired. The soft textured waves complemented with the twisted half-up braid are perfect for those wanting something different than just waves. The best thing about this style is that it’s versatile and can be worn by the modern-day boho bride or to a music festival.

#3: Gorgeous Half Up with Curls and Pearls

Enhance your look for any occasion with a gorgeous half up hairstyle with curls and pearls. A half updo helps keep your hair back and out of your face while maintaining length. Adding hair extensions to these styles helps to create volume and fullness if you can handle the extra weight in your hair. To finish off this style, try adding decorative pins or pearls to bring it to the next level.

Formal Soft and Messy Blonde Half Updo
Instagram @moskvichkainfo

#4: Soft and Messy Blonde Half Updo

A messy half updo is one of the most requested hairstyles I get from brides planning a bohemian wedding. One of the best ways to wear your hair in softly sculpted sections is by lightly spraying a working hairspray. This will help to create the peaks and valleys of this effortless style. To complete your half-up half-down updo, drape your pieces softly within the sides of your hair and pin them.

#5: Cute Half Up Hair Bow

It’s a hair bow with a textured ribbon! I love that it looks like your hair is tied up like a gift! It’s unique and beautiful. You will need medium-length hair with minimal layers to create the bow. Clip-in extensions can also help to add length and fullness. Starting with texture in your hair will aid in creating the bow so it won’t slip.

#6: Sleek Half Pony with Baby Hair

When it comes to updos for black women, a sleek half pony with baby hair is one of the most popular- and for good reason! This look gives total Hollywood sultry glam yet is casual enough to be worn on any occasion.

#7: Braided Half Updo

#8: Platinum Blonde Half Up Braid

A platinum blonde braid is the perfect half updo for seasonal events or everyday wear! This elegant style can be paired with evening wear, a weekend at the beach, or your Monday morning Zoom meeting.

Half Updo Fishtail Braid
Instagram @missysueblog

#9: Fishtail Braid

If you have a wedding stylist, this is a super fun hairstyle! It’s only sometimes I get a request for a fishtail braid. I would describe this bride as a risk-taker and someone who loves fashion. If your dress is a very simple silhouette, it will make the focus on her hair even greater.

This style requires a lot of hair! Braiding eats up much of the hair, so consider using hair extensions if you lack density. To get the sides of her hair super slick and add length and volume to the braid, I had to create two sections and combine them in the center.

Cute and Crimped Formal Half Updo
Instagram @all.about.my.hair

#10: Cute and Crimped

This half-up look is a bit edgier since it involves crimping and braiding. For an editorial look like this, you will need a stronghold of hairspray to keep your hair in place all night. Try El Net Hairspray by L’Oreal. This is a great option for you if you have long hair that’s medium to thick. A heart-shaped face is ideal for this style.

Fun Edgy Half Updo
Style by Thresa Venables, Makeup by Kristian Bailey, Sheer Professionals, Wooster, OH

#11: Excellently Editorial

This extra edgy look is a fun and easy half-updo for a night out on the town! It will dress up a casual outfit and show off your beautiful makeup or accessories. Use a backcombing brush instead of a comb to get some serious body. It’s gentler on your hair and will create a softer look. Try the Spornette Little Wonder Brush! This look is great if you have fine to medium hair that you hope to make appear thicker and fuller. This style will elongate a round face shape.

Trendy half updo with braids
Instagram @theupdodarling

#12: The Braided Babe

A few braids, a little body, and violá! You’ve got a trendy, modern take on a classic half up half down style. After this look has been created, add some shine serum or spray to the ends of your hair for a little extra sheen! I love Bumble and Bumble’s Shine Spray.

This half-up will complement a round face shape and half-down curly hairstyles. Thick hair with a natural wave is ideal for this style, although naturally straight to wavy hair will work too. If you have finer hair and are having trouble making the braids stay. Spray the sections of hair with hairspray before you braid them. It will give your hair some grit and make it less slippery.

#13: Half Braided Beauty

A braid is a great way to make your ordinary half pony more modern and trendy! If you have a square face shape, this look will complement you. Fine to medium hair of any length will work for this look! It’s very versatile.

Simple classic half updos
Instagram @hairstyledby_k

#14: Simply Stunning

This style is simple yet so classic and beautiful. Soft waves bring attention to your gorgeous features! Be sure to spray your hair with a heat protectant before using any hot tools. Kevin Murphy makes a great one called Damage Manager. It smells wonderful and is super light so it won’t get sticky! This look is incredibly versatile, and any length or texture of hair will work!

Half Up with Accent Braid
Instagram @facebylinda

#15: Half Up with Accent Braid

A floral masterpiece, this luscious hairstyle is! You’ll instantly feel like a princess with loosely braided and defined pieces over your twirled locks!

Lovely Half Upstyle with Side-Swept Bangs
Instagram @topstyle_hosam

#16: Lovely Half Upstyle with Side-Swept Bangs

Great for parties and events that would highlight your natural beauty. The bangs act like a curtain, revealing a charming face.

#17: Double Braided Babe

Two braids meet to create this double braided half up half down masterpiece! Smoothing serum is a great option to add to a sleek style like this both before you dry as well as after! I love Super Skinny Serum by Paul Mitchell. This sleek half up half down is ideal if you have long hair that’s medium to thick in texture. This style will complement an oval or heart-shaped face.

#18: Sassy Half Up Style

This half up style is big, charming hair at its finest. It makes great semi-formal hairstyles for the night. What’s great about this look is that the texture may also work for half-up, half-down short hair. This messy half up half down requires a lot of grit, so a product like What A Tease Backcomb In A Bottle would work well! If needed, combine that with a working hairspray. Medium to long hair that’s thick is ideal for this look. This style will complement a square face.

A softly pinned half updo hairstyle
Instagram @absolutely.ineke.hairstyling

#19: Softly Pinned Half Updo

Curls are pinned softly, with little definition, giving the hair a nice shape that still flows as if it were all down. Pinning your hair softly helps to have a little grip on the roots.  Use Powder Play Volumizing & Texturizing Powder at your roots to help the bobby pins stay. Softly pinned hair will work with any face shape and any hair type.  Since it is so natural looking, it’s an easy look to achieve.

Wrapped half updo angle
Instagram @bylauracarita

#20: Wrapped Up

Hair is wrapped across itself, back and forth, pinned in the back crown area of the hair. To help keep your curls smooth, use pomade in each section before you pin it.  I like Schwarzkopf Got2b Defiant Shine Pomade . This hairstyle will look best on round or oval faces.  It will be too harsh for square or long face shapes.  Medium to thick hair with layers will also work well with this look.

#21: Bouffant

Hair is backcombed and pinned to have body and a nice full shape on top. Backcombing can fall out easily without the right products.  Before you backcomb, use What A Tease Backcomb In A Bottle to help your backcomb stay. A bouffant is flattering on most face shapes except for long ones.  It will work best on medium to fine hair with medium to long layers.

A braided half updo hairstyle
Instagram @missysueblog

#22: Braided Sides

Both sides are braided from the part down to the ears, with the rest of the hair pinned half up. When doing braids, it’s important to control fly-aways and frizz.  Spray Shatter Separate & Hold Spray into your hair before you braid to add more control. Braided sides will look best on round, oval, or heart-shaped faces.  Avoid doing this hairstyle if you have bangs or short layers.

#23: Cascading Curls

Curls are pinned to the side in a shape that gives them a cascading effect. Shine spray will keep your curls looking polished.  I like TIGI Bed Head Headrush Shine Adrenaline. Cascading curls will look great on oval, square, or heart-shaped faces.  Avoid this style if you have a round face, as it only adds width to the sides.  This style will also work great if you have medium to thick hair and lots of layering.

#24: Slick Back The Sides

The hair is pinned tightly on the sides while still keeping body in the back and on top. A firm-hold hairspray will make all the difference with this hairstyle.  Use Retro Hair Hairspray to get the sides slicked back. Slicked back sides will look unflattering if you have harsh or strong features, as it only accentuates them. This style is best on medium to fine hair with medium to short layered locks.

A half braided half updo hairstyle
Instagram @missysueblog

#25: Braid It Half Way

The top and sides of the hair are braided down the back, stopping before the nape to create a half-up look. Keep the braid looking sleek and shiny, as well as the curls, with shine serum.  I love the Loreal Professionnel Ultime Reflexium Shine Perfecting Serum. Since the top is all back, this style will look good with a little volume on top on round and oval face shapes.  It will also work best on long hair with little to no layering.

#26: Twist Back One Side

One side is twisted across the back of the head, while the opposite is left down. To make the side swept side voluminous and interesting, spray Redken Wax Blast 10 on the finished curls. A side-swept style like this will flatter any face shape except round.  This is a great style for medium to short hair with layering.

A half updo with a fishtail braid
Instagram @missysueblog

#27: Fancy Braid

Hair is pinned loosely on top, with one side in a low, soft braid. Giving this style texture is important, which will set it apart.  Before you blow dry, apply a styling mousse such as Pureology Colour Stylist Mousse Bodifier.

This fancy braid will look good on any face shape.  It’s soft enough to be flattering on anyone, but if you want it to be even softer, leave some hair out around your face.  This will work best on medium-thickness hair, at least to the collarbones.

Half Updo Low In The Back
Instagram @missysueblog

#28: Low In The Back

A flexible hold hairspray will help with these half up hairstyles for long hair.  It will give you movement but also control.  Try Matrix Vavoom Shape Maker Hairspray. A half-up style pinned up low in the back will look good on any face shape, especially heart or square, since it will soften the cheekbones.  Long hair with little to no layering will work best.

As you can see, there are many options for partial updo hairstyles.  If one of these looks isn’t what you have in mind, consider trying something creative.  Either way, half up is always a safe route to go with your hair for your formal occasion.