Airplane Survival

Pretzel Braid

I’m excited to share another hair tutorial! My friend (and hair genius) Caroline adores this gorgeous pretzel braid, which she says is easy enough for brides to do themselves. So, we met at our favorite wedding shop, and Jamie Beck took photos. Doesn’t her hair look breezy and romantic?

Here are Caroline’s steps, if you’d like to try it out…

“I have a friend who was an Irish dancer, and she would always wear her hair in amazing elaborate braids. This one is not-too-fussy (my favorite way to wear my hair) and would look so pretty for an evening wedding or outdoor summer party.”–Caroline

1. Start by making two pigtails, using rubber bands. Make them a bit higher up on your head.

2. Braid both pigtails…

3. …and secure ends with a rubber band.

4-6. Remove the top rubber bands from the pigtails.

7. Cross one braid over the other.

8. Starting with the braid that’s now on top, create a sort of “C” shape and pin. It doesn’t have to be precise; you just want to have a nice curved shape from the braid.

9. Make the same curved shape with the other braid and pin. Curve it up and over the top of the braid you just pinned down.

10. Ultimately, you want to get a nice sort of pretzel or knot shape from the two braids. Tuck the ends of both braids behind the knot and pin them down securely.

Voila! Isn’t it gorgeous? Would you wear it to your wedding (or a summer party)? This is one of my favorite hair tutorials of all time! Please ask any questions in the comments below; the instructions are a little tricky…

P.S. Seven genius hair ideas.

(Photos by Jamie Beck for Cup of Jo. In the step-by-step photos, Caroline is wearing an Eberjey robe. In the wedding photos, Caroline’s wedding dress is by Ivy & Aster from Lovely, a gorgeous bridal boutique in the West Village. Her jewelry is from her own line, Brvtvs, and her lip color is lipstick is NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Damned.)

  1. I’m seriously horrible at doing anything with my hair. But with you beautiful photographs and easy instructions, I was able to pull the pretel braid off. Thanks so much for the tutorial. I’ll be walking around town with a stylish updo!

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  2. That’s so beautiful! I would love to do this hairstyle everyday :)

  3. HURRAY! another hair tutorial – thanks. CoJ hair tutorials rock!

  4. Siobhan says...


    I love the makeup you wore in this post and have been looking for a similar look to try for my wedding next spring…I know, such a long way in advance, but I’m a planner by nature. Anyways, I actually just bought the Nars lip pencil in Damned and it was really dark on me, did you mix it with anything? – or could you recommend a lighter color that would still have the fresh/pink/berry effect? Also, what blush were you wearing? Thanks so much!

  5. Anonymous says...

    It’s so beautiful. I really wish my hair would cooperate. I tried. I guess my hair is too thick. Sigh. It sagged down in 2 seconds flat.

  6. I love these tutorials! When my hair gets long I usually get annoyed and end up chopping it off, but these easy hairstyles keep it interesting for me. I think I’ll try this one for an upcoming friend’s wedding.

  7. I love all of this, but the lipstick is especially gorgeous. I may have to buy it immediately.

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  9. Bee says...

    So pretty! Caroline and Joanna, can you share some more makeup tips? This is exactly the kind of fresh, natural look I want for my wedding, but am having trouble finding the right products.

  10. that’s a great everyday hairstyle as well!

  11. Adorable on the girl, but I’m afraid I would look like that Eastern European lady from Dodgeball.

  12. gorgeous! although all of the hair tutorials deal with long hair. is there any way for caroline to incorporate shorter length hairstyles?

  13. Just gorgeous! I would definitely wear my hair like this for a summer party. Oh how I love Ivy & Aster gowns!

  14. Stunningly beautiful!

  15. Okay, could she be more gorgeous????!!!!

  16. I always love the hair tutorials you post! However, they usually don’t work for me since I have extremely curly hair. By which I mean natural ringlets that either lead to strangers comparing me to early Roman statues or asking where I get my hair permed. I love braids, but they usually get lost in my curls and sometimes make my hair look like a rats nest. I would love it if you could post a hair tutorial for all us Curly Qs out there. Thanks!

  17. Annnd off to buy that lipstick!

  18. Anonymous says...

    Love it but show us curly girls some love :-).

  19. I love that dress! So elegant and simply beautiful.

  20. I love the hair tutorials that appear here from time to time :D

  21. Thank you for the tutorial. this is very cute. i’ll try to do it this weekend.


  22. awww, jamie b, thank you, you are cute!! :)

  23. Such a simple way to look beautiful! Too bad I am awful with braids:(!

  24. love it! Can you and Caroline show/share some of your fav makeup products and tips. I love the fresh, youthful faces that you both have in these shoots (and your photos) and I’d love to move in that direction. I don’t wear much makeup except a little eyeliner, clear mascara and teeny bit of blush. I don’t intend to ever wear lots of makeup but I’d love some new products and techniques to try (even as a 29 year old I’m a novice at this whole thing :)

  25. Don Buri- the rings that I’m wearing that you can’t find on the site are ones that are new designs that aren’t available yet…and one is my mom’s high school class ring! Stay tuned though, I’m adding a bunch of new pieces to the line that will be available next week!

    Briana & Vanessa- it’s actually a streak of baby blue, but it looks platinum in the photos because it was a little washed out :)

    Anonymous- curve the first braid around, then pin. Then take the second braid and curve it over the other one and pin. Does that help? It doesn’t have to be a perfect shape, just something curvy and pretzel like.

    Whitney- you’d be surprised, my hair is actually pretty fine and limp. A good volumizing spray goes a long way!

    Judy- the necklaces are new for fall, they will be available next week for purchase!

  26. I would totally wear my hair like this on a date night with my cute husband. It’s very pretty pretty!

  27. some of my very favorite of your posts. just today i wore my hair in a ‘do modeled on another of these guys!

  28. I actually did something similar to this for my wedding. My sister did it on the morning of our wedding and the end result was so much more relaxed and ‘me’ than anything a stylist could have done.

  29. Wow! I love Caroline’s rings. Are they from her shop, too? I didn’t see them on her site.

  30. I have to say, I LOVE the hair tutorials! I have tried almost all of them that you have published and I mix them into my regular everyday hair routine. I get compliments on them and feel good about having interesting things to do with my hair instead of wearing it down all of the time.

    I was pretty slow to being “girlie” so tutorials really help demystify all of this cool stuff. Thanks so much for posting!

    Jamie B.

  31. This is perfectly feminine! Also so intrigued by Caroline’s platinum lock of hair. I’m digging that and would love to hear more!

  32. Not sure if I can attempt that myself, but it looks very pretty.

  33. so lovely! i’m a newly engaged girl scouting out hair styles for my christmas eve wedding {oh, yeah, that’s right- 4 month engagement!} . . . and this one is definitely on the list . . . so is the dress!

  34. I’ve been wearing Heidi braids for the longest time now. This hairstyle would be a perfectly romantic alternative to switch things up:)

  35. Love love love this tutorial! I was going to vet a haircut but this has convinced me to grow my hair long for the autumn. It would be perfect hairstyle for autumn dates or long walks in the evenings..

  36. so simple and beautiful!!!

  37. I looove your hair tutorials! Thank you for sharing, again!

  38. wow, this is gorgeous! i must give it a try…
    and i love those streaks of white the model has in her hair!
    pretty, but adds a little bit of spunk

  39. Anonymous says...

    Very, very cute, but I’m a bit confused.

    9. Make the same curved shape with the other braid and pin. Curve it up and over the top of the braid you just pinned down.

    Do you ‘curve it up and over the top. . . ‘ after you make the curved shape with the second braid and pin?? Or do you curve it up and over the top of the first braid and then pin? I get a bit lost somewhere when those c shapes come into play. I’d love a little clarification!

    Thanks so much; really love these tutorials and have had good luck with them thus far.

  40. This is such a lovely braid!

  41. Bek W says...

    oh oh thank you for this hair inspiration! I am going to try ALL of the tutorials – I am in quite a hair rut at the moment and in desperate need of some direction!

  42. L says...

    Aw, love this hair style. I can’t wait to try it out for the weekend.

  43. I did wear a braid (the french kind) to my wedding, and I would certainly wear this gorgeous pretzel variety!

    Keep the tutorials coming! Gems, every one of them.

  44. Whitney says...

    ::sigh:: I don’t think you need to be a ‘hair genius’ to work with those fabulous locks, but it would take a hair messiah to make my fine, thin shag look anything but drab. Long, straight, and flat still has its perks though, right? ….right?

  45. Anonymous says...

    this is a great style to wear to look naturally beautiful – gorgeous, but not as if you have put too much effort into it.

  46. 1. I love the tutorials, if I ever have a wedding, I would do my own ‘do, I feel like I know my hair best!

    2. A video to accompany the photos would be sooo helpful! Though the pictures are beautiful on their own.

    3. Slightly irrelevant, but which necklaces from her collection is Caroline wearing?

  47. How about a make up tutorial for this photo shoot? I am loving those raspberry lips!!!

  48. These photos are lovely, and I like that the pretzel braids aren’t too tight. Personally, I’m a big fan of brides who wear their hair down and flowing. I wore mine in loose curls for my recent wedding.

  49. this is one of my favorites so far! so beautiful and classic. i’m going to test it out later!

  50. beautiful, bravo! thanks caroline, jamie, and joanna!

  51. This looks curiously simple but really gorge. I’m going try out! Thanks for the great step by step!

  52. I think that besides your husband and child that you were made for me. I’ve exhausted all efforts finding a stylist to do my hair for a wedding I’m attending tomorrow and this is so similar to what I wanted. You’re the best!


  53. Every time I see a new hair tutorial, I wish my hair were longer. You may have just convinced me to grow it out with this post, Joanna! :)

  54. Es una preciosidad, un peinado magnífico!
    Saludos Da & Mer

  55. caroline is gorgeous!!! she is my internet girl crush ;-)

  56. So pretty! Makes me wish I had hair long enough to do this.

  57. beautiful, joanna!

  58. *E says...

    Adorable! I really do LOVE all your hair tutorials, but can I make a friendly request? It would be nice to see some tutorials for girls who don’t have long, silky straight hair! Different hair textures, lengths, etc!

  59. Oh I love it. What a sweet variation on a low chignon.
    I have a pixie, but this is making me wish for long hair again. sigh.

  60. yes, anonymous, i agree! would be perfect for a rainy saturday, too :)

  61. Es precioso!
    Saludos Da & Mer

  62. Anonymous says...

    I just tried this and love it. Thanks so much! It’s easy and makes a simple jeans and T-shirt look a little dressed up.

  63. Extraordinarily beautiful. I agree, the looser, less structured braid is so, so stunning. And the photos are lovely! Have you seen the lookbook collection of Rodarte for Opening Ceremony? I just came across it this week. The braids worn by the models are very similar. Here’s a blog post and a link to it, if you are at all interested:

    p.s. Lovely Bridal always makes me gasp… what a great collection of designers they have!

  64. I love braids! This is adorable, going to give it a go! xo

  65. Hi Kendra! The “c” shape is just how the braid curves. It will be easier to understand once you have the actual braid in your hand. You just sort of want to make it into a nice curve, it doesn’t have to be a perfect shape! Good luck!

  66. Ohh lovely!!
    I love braids!

    From Beate (Norway)

  67. LOVE this! It actually looks easy enough to try!

  68. LOVE!! It looks so easy too! I love throwing up my hair and it still looks great. My favorite of all time!

  69. Pinning as potential wedding hair immediately.


  71. i’m going to try it, but i am confused about the “c shape” part.
    would you consider doing videos as well in the future? sometimes it helps to see the action

  72. this is so lovely! i will give it a try (as i do with all of these lovely tutorials) and fingers crossed i’ll finally have a winner that makes it outside the house! :)

  73. I looks quite tricky but I am going to try it out. Caroline is one hair genius, that’s for sure. Great post, beautiful model, lovely dress, and stunning photos… I hope these tutorials never stop!

  74. So very beautiful. Just lovely.

  75. love it! so pretty

  76. I would certainly do this for my wedding! I love love love it. Saving for later :)

  77. The model is lovely but I am not liking the hairdo for something as formal as a wedding. I am not big on braid to begin with and it looks a little too messy.

  78. Oh gosh, are those rosettes?? I thought that was lace. Even prettier!

  79. i love these posts! i’m sporting the messy bun today!

  80. You have the prettiest friends! And that little lace jacket is so delicate and lovely.

  81. It’s beautiful and it looks easy to do! We are going for a little summer party this Friday night and I’m totally going to wear this hairdo. Thanks, Joanna. Btw: Caroline looks stunning in that dress.

  82. Just beautiful…I think that’s a great everyday hairstyle as well!

  83. For sure. Love it. I have a similar style that I do on my blog, Mine looks intricate but is so simple.