15 Braided Styles To Elevate Your Basic Messy Bun

When you're in a hurry to get ready for the day, a messy bun is often a go-to hairstyle. As one of the easiest hairstyles you can do in minutes, there's nothing wrong with choosing the basic messy bun for your look. But for those of us in the corporate and professional world, we may not be able to get away with such a casual hairstyle in the workplace. Some workspaces have even gone so far as to ban the top knot altogether, citing a lack of professionalism. A Lincoln, Nebraska hospital updated its dress code in July 2022, in which casual messy buns were deemed inappropriate, according to the Kansas City Star. "Dress code update," a screenshot of the hospital's message read. "There is an emphasis on hair being clean, neatly managed, therefore no 'messy buns.'" This decision gained criticism online and from nurses at Bryan Health, the hospital that mandated the change.

If you find yourself in a workplace that does not condone or straight up bans the convenient top knot, fear not. We have found 15 braided styles that will make your classic messy bun look neat, professional, and stylish without too much time or effort.

Try this braided wedding knot for a deceivingly easy look

When you are looking for easy hairstyles, you probably aren't immediately drawn to wedding hair. But social media shows an inside look at these seemingly complex braided buns, and it turns out they aren't that complicated after all. This bridal bun uses padding as a base for the twist of braids. The final result is a gorgeous low-braided bun that requires just a couple of pins and hairspray. If fishtail braids are out of your comfort zone, just replace them with a regular plait.

We love this braided pony to low-bun style

You can get inventive when it comes to your braids, buns, or ponytails. One unique option? Combining all three! That is exactly what stylist Cheyenne Russell did. Take the top layer of your hair and plait that into a simple braid. Russell slicked down the bottom layer before tying the braided pony into a low bun along with the rest of the layers. Russell's design is indeed intricate: even the bun is braided and tied with some braided locks. If you're running short on time or attempting this on your own, feel free to adapt for some extra simplicity!

Now try a high bun and braided pony look

If you're more drawn to the look a of high bun rather than a low bun, no problem! The inverse of the look above is just as stylish, and fun, and can be adapted to fit your needs. Romy Grace on Instagram highlighted just how versatile the braided bun can be. A top knot ties at the crown of the subject's head before releasing into a long plaited ponytail. This gorgeous look takes braids to the next level and elevates the bun and ponytail in the process.

You'll look like a true belle with this low twisted knot

A signature messy bun tends to be a top knot on the crown of your head. One quick way to make your bun look professional is to tie it at the base of your neck, creating a classy low bun. If you want to go a step above that, consider a twisted knot like this. For a twisted low bun, you'll start by sectioning off your hair, and twisting the bottom section of your hair into a ponytail. From there, create a small hole right above your hair tie and loop your ponytail, using hair pins to keep the loose base of your bun in place. Then start twisting and pinning the other top and front sections into the bun until you've achieved the desired knotted effect.

A new take on space buns

Okay, hear us out. These braided space buns are easier to create than they seem. Space buns by themselves are a fun take on the messy bun, and these braids will elevate them a level further. To achieve these braids, you'll need to section your hair down the middle. Secure one side in a bun or ponytail for now while you work on braiding the either. You'll French braid from the bottom of your hair (the base of your neck) toward the top before tying off the rest in a small space bun. Then, do the same for the other side.

Style your braids into low-space buns

Of course, high-space buns aren't the only options. A more traditional take on the space bun trend would have your knots placed on the map of your neck. If you have braids, low-space buns are a great option for tying them back and making your look more unique and tidy. Casual, clean, and low maintenance, these low buns are a great option if you need to have your braids or hair tied back for work.

These braids plus a top knot equals exquisite

"Already missing my braids," wrote @amiechorr on Instagram, and if we were her, we'd be missing them too. Styled in another layer of lovely twists atop her head, these braids are absolutely stunning. When it comes to a top knot, there's no limit to how intricate you can make yours! While messy buns are typically thought to be thrown together in a hurry, you can adapt your bun to be more eye-catching in the best kind of way.

A fun bow can liven up a plaited bun

This twisted knot features a long bow that literally ties the look together. Our subject here used the upside-down French braid we taught with the space buns look in a high-twisted bun. You can choose to do all or just some of these steps to achieve an elevated messy bun look. And though the braid, twisted bun, and lively bow show that you are indeed put together, you can make this hairstyle more casual by pulling out some tendrils to frame your face in the front.

Braids, slicked baby hairs, and a low bun

You do not have to have a boring low bun when tying back your braids. We are obsessed with everything going on with this dazzling braided low bun. First off, the attention to detail is to die for, and kudos to braiders like @handworkbytj for achieving such iconic and intricate styles. The curls and slicked down baby hairs add another level of detail to this low bun look. Tied back at the base of the next, this low bun is anything but lazy.

Trade your top knot for this boho low bun

A French braid and low bun by themselves are simple and lovely. This take on the braided low bun is a majestic, chic, and boho style that won't take you much time at all. First, section the pieces of hair you'll use for the start of your French braid. This example angled theirs, and we love that detail in particular. To achieve the look of a full bun, go ahead and section a large bottom chunk and place that in a low bun. When you've finished French braiding that top piece, wrap it around the bun and secure it with pins.

Why not just do a sleek braided ponytail?

Okay, we're cheating a bit here. If you want to skip a step in creating a braided high bun, you could always settle for a sleek braided high ponytail. Slick back your hair and secure with gel. Tie your hair into a high pony before plaiting the rest of it, securing it with an additional hair tie at the end. If you do want to make this more of a messy bun-inspired look, simply wrap the braid around the top of your ponytail.

Multiple upside down French braids into a high top knot

This is no regular top knot. You are sure to love this high bun with upside down French braids. First, you'll need to section off the top half of your hair. From there, you'll section out the bottom half into as many braids as you want. Here, you'll see that the subject's hair was divided into four bottom half sections that were French braided up towards the top knot. Choose more French braids for a more intricate look.

Loose French braids into low space buns

We have yet another style for those who love messy space buns. This look again relies on French braids as the vehicle to tie your hair back and elevate your small messy buns. For more casual settings, you can make your French braids a bit looser. If you find yourself in more professional spaces, these braids into space buns are still great options, but you might want to tighten your braids just a little.

Braids to high bun to ponytail

Who says that you can't have it all when it comes to deciding between braids, a ponytail, and a bun? If you are looking to tie your braids into a high ponytail, consider adding a bun to your style. You can catch inspiration from this look by sectioning off a piece of your hair to wrap around your ponytail in order to achieve a bun-like look. From there, just let the rest of your ponytail flow.

French braid into a side bun

Our last braid and bun combo that takes the messy bun to another level features a French braid. Direct your French braid to go diagonally across the back of your head. From there, you can knot the remaining hair into a side bun. The extra step of the French braid will set your messy bun apart by itself, and the angled nature of the side bun will make your look even more unique.

When it comes to upgrading your messy bun, you can do as little or as much as you want. If you already have braids, buns are an excellent way to tie them back. And if you want to braid your hair into a bun or add some twist to your knot, it won't take much effort at all.