Thursday, May 26, 2011

5.14.2011 Black-Clad Braiding

There are a number of good posts on ye ol' Internets about how to subtly incorporate your dark/punk/gothic/geeky tastes into your work wardrobe. This is not a problem for me, personally. Unlike American schools, where they expect teachers to take a vow of celibacy and frumpiness as well as poverty, my hagwon embraces fashion and the female physique. Toe-baring platforms? Short shorts? Skull-printed T-shirts? My co-workers wear all these and more.

After a solid month of wearing all black and progressively shorter skirts, the only even remotely negative comment I've gotten about my wardrobe was when I wore a T-shirt I bought down in Gaeksa, which features a Día de los Muertos-style skull on the front. The problem was not with the skull, or with the fact that the skull had "Pimpers' Paradise" printed on its teeth (something I only realized later). No, the problem was that the skull had a unlit cigarette in its lipless mouth.

They censor cigarettes on TV in Korea. Did you know that? They don't blur it out if someone is just holding it, but as soon as it nears a mouth, it becomes a fuzzy spot on the screen. It looks like people are smoking transluscent Tribbles.

Anyway. My point is that my school is awesome. But one thing did have to change before I came to Korea - my hair. After years of dyeing it funny colors, including maroon and Dimetap purple, my hair was bleached and battered into returning to its natural light-brown state. Boooooring, especially when contrasted with my lovely black lacy frilly things. The burning question is, how can I keep things school-appropriate (i.e. no purple or mohawks) while maintaining a consistently fresh and creative look?

The answer: braids. I'm not the only one to have discovered this - I'm well aware that braids, especially incorporated into ponytails, are a trend in the U.S. right now. But if you put in a little time and effort on these more advanced braids, I can pretty much guarantee that you won't meet anyone with the same look. I'm not going to do a tutorial myself - I'm still just a beginner - but here are some resources that I've found helpful.

Dreamweaver Braiding

Pretty much the first braiding website everybody recommends. Here you can learn just about every braid under the sun, starting with the basics: the three-plait braid, the French braid, and the Dutch braid. If your hair isn't butt-length, those last two are your friends, because they allow you to fake hairstyles that would normally require Rapunzel-like (Rapunzelian? Rapunzel-esque?) locks.

This website also offers instructions for a cascading crown, one of my favorite braids of all time. The students at my school love it - they call it "Rebecca Teacher's princess hair."

Fairy-tale or Waterfall Braid
If you like to wear your hair down, this is the braid for you. The bottom strand is dropped repeatedly so that the hair falls through the braid to frame your face. Or, to put it another way, the braid passes laterally through the hair without disturbing its flow. It's complicated. This video will help.

Herringbone Braid
Also known as the Fishtail Braid, this braid isn't really a braid like the others. It looks very simple, but it's quite time-consuming because you're crossing fewer, smaller strands. I'm still practicing this one myself.

Taping Braids

This method for incorporating ribbons helps to secure the braid. I've heard it's very useful for camping. I've used it when visiting theme parks, to keep things in place on rollercoasters.


  1. I love the Waterfall braid! Of course, this girl who notoriously doesn't leave time for hair styling would pick probably the most complicated braid... ;) Time to start practicing!!

  2. Actually, the waterfall braid is a pretty quick and easy braid once you get the hang of it. I wear this braid to work all the time. :)

  3. I Love braiding. It's been a long time but now I
    am inspired. Thanks for the share!

  4. Becky has really been having fun experimenting with braids. I think she is going to post some pics of some of the best in the near future. You should do the same, Mayren! :)