Hey, Ladies (mostly),
I've been meaning to post this for a while, and I just keep forgetting. As you may know, I teach English in Japan, to all ages. I am required to wear a suit jacket at work, stockings, and high heels of some kind, though I fortunately don't have any color requirements and can wear separates instead of just suit sets. That being said, I need to wear my hair in a style that is both professional, and that holds up well against hours of chasing children as well as regular teaching. Here's my answer. It's sort of my interpretaion of a French-twisty style. Swirly, no braiding, and I can do it now in about 15 seconds.
You'll need a regular metal barrette (not the French clasp kind, but the kind that's a solid piece of metal like a 'u' with an extra hook at one end to slip over the other side; I just can't find a picture tonight...). Also, a U-shaped hair fork (or a regular short hairstick, though I think the fork holds better) and a couple of U-shaped pins (unless your hair is less slick than mine).
First, pull back half your hair into the barrette to give yourself a firm foundation. You can change the location (high or low) depending on where you want the finished style to go. For most days, I put it right between my ears from the back.
Next, grip all you hair firmly in a ponytail with the BACK of your hand against your scalp. (I use my right hand; you'll need to reverse the next steps if you're a lefty).
Then, grip the hanging tail with your other hand to anchor it, and rotate your right hand until your palm is facing forward. It helps to pull the whole twist a little off to the right as you turn.
After that, use your left hand to fold the tail into an upside-down "U" next to the twist. Making it as tight as you wish, center this "U" directly over the barrette, leaving about an inch over the top, and as much tail as you have hanging down (it will depend on your overall length).
Now for the tricky part. In your right hand, you still have a loop wrapped around your fingers. While holding the "U" shape from the last step in place with one or two of your RIGHT hand fingers, use your LEFT hand to take the top of that loop and pull it over the "U" shaped piece. You now have a doughnut of hair over the barrette. This is your natural hairslide.
Take your hair fork and slide it in just inside the right half of the doughnut, with one prong above the barrette and the other below it (If you use a hairstick, make sure to insert it over the barrette). Slide it under your hair and then out on the other side, making sure it sticks back out on TOP of the hair. This should hold everything down nicely.
Finishing just includes tucking up that last tail around the side of the style, or rolling it and tucking it up underneath. It depends on the texture of my hair on any given day. I use two plastic Good Hair Days U-shaped pins (about two inches long) to finish it off for work: one at the bottom to make sure the tail stays put and one at the top, to make sure the central piece doesn't slip down. If I'm just going out for the day, I often skip this step.
Well, there you have it. These picture were taken at night, with unbrushed two-day-old hair. It looks much smoother when I go to work.
Also, if I'm feeling fancy, I do a braided version. For that, just braid all the hair after putting in the barrette, then insert the hairfork first, and finally wrap the braid around it and pin a bit.
Good luck to all our professional long-haired ladies (and guys, though I wouldn't recommend this style as a solution for YA'LL!)
P.S. Found a picture: http://www.goody.com/Products/Accessories/Barrettes/Sport/Sport.aspx
Click on Soft Touch Barrettes
Have a happy week, everybody!
Bra-strap/41"/As long as it'll stay healthy!
Natural light brown w/ auburn & gold highlights; especially in summer