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The fishtail braid, named for resemblance to a fish skeleton, has been around since the time of the ancient Greeks. Throughout Athenian statues and other artwork, the fishtail braid was representative of beauty and community among women. These women were the elites, the highest of society, and it is interesting to note that is how the fishtail braid came back into popularity in our modern day. Similar to the young women of antiquity who sported the braid, it is younger women and teenage girls that continue to wear fishtail braids.
Creating a fishtail style might seem overwhelming at first, but really is quite simple if you already know how to French braid. Fishtails come from two strands rather than one, weaving from the outside in to create its unique look (to learn more, check out this tutorial). Fishtail braids are more secure than a regular braid because of this woven technique, which is perhaps why this braid was also favored by warriors and Vikings. The security of this hairstyle makes it perfect for any high-energy activity, whether it’s your daily workout or dancing the night away at your best friend’s wedding.
Fishtail braids are versatile, working well in an informal everyday style or in a more sophisticated evening look. The unique design of the braid offers an alternative to the typical three-strand plait, and it works as a regular style braid or in the inverted Dutch style. Fishtail braids also come in a variety of looks, from chunkier wide braids to tiny accents incorporated into an intricate style.
Whatever look you are trying to achieve, the fishtail braid is a fun and funky way to go about it.
Best Dutch Fishtail Braid Hairstyles
Simple Wide Braid
This beautiful style is perfect for any occasion, whether you’re just going through your normal work day to doing it up for a special night out. In fact, this type of versatility means that you could do your hair in the morning for work, and transition into your evening plans without having to change your style. While this Dutch braid look uses more of a conventional braided style, the trendy wide braid is one seen in both fishtail and standard braids alike.
Grecian inspired, wrapping the fishtail around the back of the head hearkens back to the origins of the style. This is also a fun take on a half up style, adding a bit of extra flair rather than just pulling the hair back. Weaving the two sides together also eliminates the exposure of a hair tie. While an exposed hair tie isn’t the end of the world, there is something elegant about the mystery of the hair do and the clean lines of the style.
Beginning the Dutch braid at the top of the head elicits a “Mohawk style” that fits with the images of Vikings and Norse mythology. Men and women alike wore their hair in this fashion, adding both height and intricacy to their look. In today’s world, this would be the perfect statement style that is easy to accomplish in minutes. Volume comes from tugging the pieces of the braid once it has been plaited then spraying for hold. You’re left with a look that will stay in place and look amazing!
Flipping around the half up look, this puts the fishtail braid in the back rather than on the sides. Again using a volumizing technique, the braid adds a touch of fun to an otherwise everyday style. With the punches of color in the model’s hair, the parts of the braid stand out even more.
Half up, All out
This style puts the whole half up style together, with wide braids along the sides and the fishtail down the back. Adding curls underneath gives the whole look texture and complements the braided sections. This would be the perfect look for prom or a wedding, particularly if you want a simpler style that still has elegance.
A great way to spice up the average ponytail is to throw a braid into it. Rather than the “braided ponytail” look, however, starting a braid along the side of the head and pulling it back into the ponytail adds a bit of fun but still accomplishes the goal of getting the hair out of the face. In this instance, the ponytail gets even more of a lift with a fishtail braid, curls, and a small bump. A great option for a special occasion, this style works in varying degrees of complexity.
A Touch of Gold
A wide Dutch braid is the focal point in this ponytail style, set off by the accent curls in the front. Adding curls to the ponytail gives the look more volume to match the size of the wide braid. Finishing with a fun clip or comb, like this gold feather, contributes a personal touch to the overall look.
Fishtail and Flowers
This bridal do is elegant and sophisticated, with the right touch of spunk provided by the fishtail braid. The braid is the perfect foil to the cascade of curls, both textures working together but still contrasting nicely. Putting the rose among the curls gives the look that bridal feel, but another flower would work just as well. Something large like a sunflower would be a fun switch up and great for a summer party.
Another half up look, this time the weave of the fishtail braids is less obvious as the wraparound isn’t entirely complete. Pinning the braids in this way and then curling the ends allows the braids to seamlessly incorporate into the rest of the style. This look would be great for work (if you have the time), date night, or any special occasion.
Braids are an awesome choice for brightly dyed hair, as the weave of the plait naturally interlocks the colors with one another. Here, bright pink and purple intertwine with one another to create a cool fishtail look, complemented by the small three-strand braids. Even if you don’t want to go this far out with your dye color, if you have chunkier highlights braids can accomplish a similar look.
This Dutch fishtail braid packs a punch with amped up volume. A great option for those with longer hair, this is a good way to get your hair up and out of the way while still showing sophisticated style. Placing the braid off center adds another layer of interest. If you wanted a more subtle look, just opt out of the volume effect.
Asymmetrical Fishtail Wrap
Using the Dutch braid style, this cool fishtail look wraps around from one side of the head to the other. While we don’t see it in this image, you could finish off this style by bringing the braid over your shoulder or finishing in a bun. A cool up do style finishes braids in a rose shape, adding a touch of flair to complete your look.
A rising trend is the “quarter back” look, which is half of a half up style. This asymmetrical design is both easy and stylish, perfect for work or going out. The simple Dutch fishtail wraps back to get hair pulled back from the face, and finishes in a wrapped tie that makes the whole style clean and polished.
Dutch Snake Braid
This wide braid style curves in an evocative and appealing way, drawing the eye as it moves. A perfect style for long hair, this gets some of the hair under control without pulling it all back. This is perfect for an everyday style, and should stay in place from the beginning of your day all the way until you return home in the evening.
Fishtail with a Twist
Referencing the Greek women who originally wore this hairstyle, the twist of braids is an elegant up do that anyone can do. Begin the fishtail braids (either normal or Dutch style) as though you were going to do a set of pigtails, crossing one over the other in the middle. When you finish the braids, use a small rubber band to tie them off. To complete the style, wrap the ends up into the braids, and pin.
Crisscross and Curls
A beautiful half-back style, crossing the fishtails braids gives the look texture to complement the curls beneath. Fishtail braids have the advantage of being flatter rather than bulky like conventional braids. Using the fishtail braids here keeps the silhouette smoother versus chunking braids coming up of the head.
In this cool interpretation, the fishtail braid begins in the Dutch style, then switches back to the normal braid direction. However, a second switch gives the braid a funky twisted look that takes the style to the next level. On the go or going out, this braid will hold your hair in place and look fabulous.
Ribbon doesn’t just have to go at the end of a braid to lift a style. If you want to move away from the more childish look, weaving ribbons into your braids can add a pop of color or a bit of glitz. This glittery pink ribbon goes well with such light blonde hair, but still has that wow factor you might be looking for in a style. With the Dutch fishtail braids, the ribbon ends up on the inside sections of the braid and almost looks like a braid within a braid. Overall, a unique look that will certainly stand out.
Simple Dutch Fishtails
Sometimes classic is best when it comes to your look, especially if you are on the go like this busy mom. Fishtails have a more sophisticated style than regular Dutch braids, perfect for someone who wants a more mature look. At the same time, fishtail braids are more secure and will stay put when chasing after an energetic preschooler. Just because you have to keep up with a kiddo doesn’t mean you have to look like you are!
Easy Long Dutch Braid
Another classic style, one Dutch fishtail braid is a fun long braided look for any festive occasion. This braid has been given a lift with slight tugging, a great example that you don’t have to go for full volume with that technique. Adding the little reindeer at the end is a cute touch, but could easily be replaced with a flower or butterfly clip (if you’re feeling a bit ‘90s).
This quarter back style gets a twist (literally) as the braid is brought from one side to the other. It accomplishes the asymmetrical style of a typical quarter back, however the element of crossing to the other side changes up the look. Curling the ends gives the style a fancier feel, but would also work with leaving the hair natural.
Wide Fishtail Crown
Goddess-inspired, the crown look is both regal and elegant, sported by ancient Greeks and English nobles alike. Pulling the fishtail braid wide increases the impact of the style, adding both dimension and flair. The decorative comb is perfectly placed and is just the right adornment for this style.
Mermaid Hair, Don’t Care
Braids really are the perfect way to show off dyed hair, especially when you have a variety of colors. This awesome mermaid-inspired blue and green ombre-style works perfectly with the braid, which contrasts the curls nicely. The blue seems to frame the green in the braid, giving color contrast as well as texture.
Braid and Twist
Not only are fishtail braids on trend, twisted hairstyles are also in vogue. For this fancier up do, smooth, wide fishtail braids sit on top of twists before cascading into curls. The twists serve a dual purpose of fashion and function, as they look beautiful and also support the more delicate braid. A slight bump at the top adds a bit of height and balances out everything else going on in this style. Perfect for a wedding, whether you are the bride, bridesmaid, or guest.
No, not pigtails, but rather two types of braids in the same style. Starting with the smooth Dutch braid at the top helps establish the style, then going for a conventional fishtail down the back changes things up. Adding the wraparound at the switch over shows that the change was intentional and part of the style. This look is amazing with the two-tone silver hair, and accents the difference in hair color.
Triple Twist Up do
A gorgeous and intricate up do, fishtail braids are the star of the show in this multi-twist look. The central fishtail braid arcs from one side of the head to the other, this style of braid naturally causing the pretty curves on the left side. The braid, once finished, is gathered up into a spiral in the center. Underneath, the remaining hair is split into two sections to form two more braids, and therefore spirals. Strategic tugs add volume and dimension in just the right places, finishing off the overall look.
Bohemian inspired, the Dutch fishtail braid begins neat and tidy before finishing in a fun (if chaotic) knotted style. Perfect for a day out or just for fun, this look has a personal touch that is hard to ignore. The braid works well to bring out the highlights within the hair, crisscrossing the colors together in a pleasing way.
A cute half up style, the two Dutch fishtail braids come together in a straightforward look. The simplicity works well for the age of the model, still giving a touch of style without going too far. It’s a great way to experiment and try out fishtail braids.
Two-tone Wide Fishtails
When you have a cool dye job, you want to choose hairstyles that emphasize the color choices. This fishtail look is just the ticket, creating almost a tiger stripe look with the weave of the highlights and darker tones. Going for a wide Dutch braid amps up the effect.
Elegant Up do
A double-braided look, the Dutch fishtail braids on top and twisted braids underneath come together to form a beautiful and sophisticated style. The fishtail provides texture to the style, starting in a tighter braid then pulled for volume and softness. Taking the bottom layer and twisting it up complements the fishtail. Loose curls finish the look, perfect for prom or wedding.
This fun half up style using the snaking of the braids is a cool alternative to a standard halfback style. An advantage to using fishtails in this instance is the tighter weave makes interlocking the braids easier and less likely to come undone. The Dutch fishtail braids work well with the curls beneath, a fun textural element.
A great way to add glitz to any style is through rhinestones, in this instance perfectly placed within the weave of the braid. The asymmetrical fishtail braid is a quirky style, but the volumizing technique and gold stones turn this into a glamorous half-up look. Tightening up the braid as it finishes allows it to mesh with the hair underneath.
This beautiful crown hairstyle incorporates several trendy techniques. First, the fishtail braids, tightly woven in this case, establishes the crown. Next, the twists underneath support the braids and add another point of interest. Finally, incorporating a bump and curls brings the look together. Such a style would be perfect for a special occasion, but also would accurate for a reenactment like the Renaissance festival.
Fishtail Messy Buns
Just because you have short hair doesn’t mean you can use braids to your advantage! Dutch fishtail braids are a great way to pull back your short hair and make sure it stays put. Finishing in the messy buns or a space bun is another great trick for short hair to give the style a completed feel.
Wedding Crown and Braid
This wedding look uses the crown design to bring fun and texture to the overall style. The Dutch fishtail braids are strategically tugged to pull out wisps here and there for a distinctive look. Rather than continuing the fishtail alone into the braid below, the two fishtails from each side twist together to make a cool finish to the hairstyle.
Wide Side Braid
Simple but stunning, this wide Dutch fishtail braid makes an impact as it curves down the head and finishes coming over the shoulder. The drape of the braid gives it a natural twist that is cute and fun. Leaving out a couple of pieces as curl elements gives a frame to the face while still keeping most of the hair back.
Nothing like a braid to show off healthy hair! The movement of the tight Dutch fishtail braids makes the natural shine of the hair pop. Perfect for on the go or an afternoon out.
Braided Bridal Crown
Beginning the normal three-strand braid at the top, the smaller braids work into the larger fishtail crown in a simple and beautiful transition. Especially with the flower and decorative comb, using a simpler fishtail crown rather than a more elaborate style keeps this look from going too far over the top. Curls add another layer of texture and elegance, perfect for a beautiful bride.
Fishtail braids are a unique take on a braided look, changing up the style while giving the extra security of the tighter weave. These braids are also versatile, working well in a myriad of styles for multiple occasions. Whether you want a more laid back bridal look or just want to make sure your hair will stay in place for work, you can use fishtails to your advantage. Next time you’re about to braid your hair, try something new and consider the fishtail!
 Katherine A. Schwab and Marice Rose, “Fishtail Braids and the Caryatid Hairstyling Project: Fashion Today and in Ancient Athens,” Catwalk: The Journal of Fashion, Beauty, and Style 4(2), (Fall 2015), 1-24.