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Getting the Look

Getting the Look – Alternative Hair Styles

We all know what the main hair styles of Irish dance are – wigs and bun wigs. Curls are in many ways our ballet bun. However, as I posted in my article about natural hair, more and more alternative hair styles are emerging that might open up our options. While natural hair didn’t make too much of an appearance at qualifiers, various different hair styles did. I can’t wait for the All-Irelands and Worlds to see how things progress – it could be a very interesting year for Irish dance fashion!

Girls from the Pickett Irish Dance Academy rocking the side bun! Thanks for the picture! Love the look.

The main looks:

1. Side Bun

I absolutely love this look. It take’s the classy bun that Ciara Sexton popularized to the next level. Here’s a picture of Caroline Gray rocking this style at this year’s Great Britain’s. It looks elegant and natural, but still enough going on to even out an Irish dance dress. Above is a great picture of several dancers from the Pickett Irish Dance Academy rocking the look. They all look fabulous and classy! For people who hate the big curly wig look, this could be a perfect look.

The keys to making this work:

  • Keep it classy and elegant – this is not the side bun you throw on for class. This is going to take time to practice and perfect. Take plenty of time to practice this before you rock it at a feis. Need some help getting the bun look? This blog has a great tutorial
  • It still has to be large enough to balance out the dress. Just like with the loose bun wig style, don’t slick back your hair. Rather, tease it up a bit to create some volume. This will also add to the elegant factor. Check out the back of Caroline’s hair (in the background of that picture) for an example of creating volume.
  • Location, location, location. Aim for the nape of your neck, right below your ears, and make sure it’s firmly attached there. Bobby pins are your friends for this look!
  • Accessorize, as always! This look is screaming for a flower pinned on the side of the bun by your ear. Feel free to bling out the accessory, but keep the overall look classy. You don’t want your accessory to overwhelm the look. It should be just that – an accessory.
  • Here’s a picture where you can see the Side bun more in detail. The great thing about this look is that you can really get creative with it. Here are some ideas for your bun from pinterest. The last picture has a tutorial as well if you click the image (via The Small Things Blog)

2. Pony Tail Wig

This is another look that emerged in the qualifier season. It’s similar to the side bun, but instead of pulling your hair into a side bun, you pull your wig into a side pony tail. Here’s one example from the US Southern Oireachtas and another from the US Mid-Atlantic Oireachtas.  It looks like the blonde wig is a Seaneen wig from Emerald Key. Their website shows a picture of it in it’s full form and tied back into a ponytail.

If you’re curious, this is how it looks in action:

Personally, I prefer the bun look or just a full normal wig, but it is cute. It’s much easier to do than the side bun, as long as you’re OK with possibly damaging your wig.

The keys to making it work:

  • Try to smooth the curls that you’re pulling back. Some of these can look like serious cases of fly-aways. Maybe attack it with some bobby pins or hair spray to avoid the humidity attack look.
  • Poof up the front of your hair to make it look more natural. You don’t have the crown to help that transition so you want it to look as natural as possible. Be wary of this look if your wig doesn’t match your hair – it will only emphasize any inconsistencies.
  • Add a bow or ribbon at the ponytail for a cute accessory. I also like some jeweled hair pieces along your hair line like both girls did.
  • Rock it with confidence – not a look for the timid, so be sure to have your A game on. If you’re a little nervous about your steps, maybe now is not the best time to try this look. Try it out at a small feis or class before you rock it at a major.

3. Elegant Up-Dos

These are more popular among the adult crew, but I think they’re a fun change for any age. As bun wigs have become more and more popular, dancers are just option to leave the wig and have fun with the bun. Here’s a great thread on dance.net with tons of suggestions on how to pull your hair up in a clean, but fun way. The best part about this is that there are tons of resources on the wig for fun updos – just google wedding updos to get some ideas!

The keys to pulling any of these looks off:

  • Make sure it goes with your dress. Don’t have a super girly updo if your dress is very aggressive looking and vice versa.
  • The same rule from above is true here, try and tease it a bit to get more volume. Make sure the bun itself is big enough so that it can be seen from the audience.
  • Again, accessories are your friend. Add fun hairbands and clips to jazz it up. I would say to definitely go big on accessories if your look is more simple – add some bling and make sure it can be seen from the audience. Although – make sure this doesn’t counteract the first rule! Make sure it matches the sparkle level of your dress, whatever that may be.

4. Natural hair

I already posted on this so I won’t describe it again, but check out the article for suggestions on how to rock your hair down. It’s definitely a growing trend, so don’t be afraid to try it!

One last caveat – talk to your teacher before trying any of these looks. Most teachers have a set look that they want, so the last thing I’d want is for you to get on your teacher’s bad side for trying something! But, if they’re game, play away! Just like dresses, it’s looking more and more like anything goes these days!

What do you think? Are you a fan of any of these looks and planning on trying them? Already tried them? Let us know! Remember – constructive, not mean.

Stay Fashionable, Feisers!



7 thoughts on “Getting the Look – Alternative Hair Styles

  1. Love the new trends in hair, but for me, wigs made my life at feises 100% easier! I think these styles would be fun to try for performances…especially the side-bun.

    Posted by Moira | January 23, 2012, 3:21 am
    • So true… Wigs do make life so much easier! I remember the excruciating nights with my mom curling my hair! These looks definitely take some practice, like I said. If you try it the day of a feis, it’s going to be a fiasco!

      Posted by feisonista | January 28, 2012, 12:15 pm
  2. My college Irish dance team doesn’t wear wigs for most of our performances. Some of the performances are casual, and we also don’t wear dresses (we have a simple skirt uniform) so we don’t have the need to ‘balance’ the volume of a dress with the wig. Going wigless also makes our beginner dancers who might not have wigs feel part of the group– I think they would feel excluded if we did it any other way, so we just rock the half up/down look with loose curls. I do love my wig though, it’s so easy!

    Posted by Maeve | January 23, 2012, 5:31 pm
    • We did the same thing with my college group, so I totally agree. I think it made us seem a little more mainstream as well. Gotta know your audience and take the whole look into perspective!

      Posted by feisonista | January 28, 2012, 12:13 pm
  3. Those Pickett girls look amazing! Fabulous and Classy are definitely the words to describe how healthy and beautiful they look. It will be interesting to see if this “alternative” hair style grows in fashion….it would be nice to have options!

    Posted by Chris | January 28, 2012, 6:25 am


  1. Pingback: Getting the Look – Alternative Hair Styles | Diddlyi Mag - January 23, 2012

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