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Prom hairstyles 2014

This soft, feminine, pulled-apart braid is perfectly lovely.
This soft, feminine, pulled-apart braid is perfectly lovely.
@braidphotos

There's really no formal event in high school that matches the notoriety, the fun, and the glam, like prom. So as we head into prom season, we're taking a look at the most popular- and most gorgeous- hairstyles for this once-in-a-lifetime celebration.

This year, prom hair is all about texture. All about texture. Mostly braids, with some twists and a few knots to make things interesting. And this year, by far the best place to find inspiration for your hairstyle is actually social media. Instagram has some of the best hairstylists, hair admirers, and style-obsessed people on its site... most of whom post lots of ideas, both their own and those of others, several times a day. If you know where to look, finding that perfect hairstyle is simple and fast.

Click through the slideshow for some of the coolest, most beautiful prom hairstyles we could find. And several of them could even be used for big events like weddings... or taken down a casual notch to be worn on a date or even at the office.

Almost all these styles incorporate braids or braiding in some way. Braids have completely taken over popular hairstyling over the past few years, because they can be so easy and quick, but can also totally transform a look. Braids can be tiny or huge, hanging or pinned, messy or slick, used as an accessory or designed as the focal point of one's entire look. And with braided styles, it's easy to adjust the style to your gown.

If your gown has a simple, wide swooping neckline, for example, you may want to leave your hair down in a tousled, wide side braid. On the other hand, if the neckline of your gown has intricate beading or designs, you may choose a shiny updo in which a braid is pulled back into a twirling bun.

A few ways other than braiding to utilize texture include twists, curls, waves, and "mash-ups," if you will. A few of the styles we love this year use messy, loose twists where a braid might typically go. Adding a bit of wave or even fingerwaves to an updo give a hairstyle a retro feel. And when you combine textures, it makes the style more interesting, and often more appealing. For example, in the bright red updo in the slideshow, there's a combination of fingerwaves at the front, flat straight texture at the crown, and a large bun with circular twists lying on top at the nape of the neck. It's retro, interesting, and very, very pretty.

Check out the styles we love, and see what you think.