When most people hear the words box braids, they don’t typically think of versatility. Outside of the occasional high bun or ponytail, braids usually remain straight and unstyled for the six to eight weeks they’re worn. However, celebrity hairstylist and trichologist Kari Williams—who counts Brandy, Ava DuVernay and Willow Smith as clients—believes braids are brimming with styling potential. “The actual braids are just the foundation,” she says. 

“When I am creating styles for my clients, the focus really becomes a conversation about silhouettes,” says Williams. Thinking in terms of shapes opens up the potential for a plethora of looks. Some of her go-tos include curling and crimping the hair to produce volume and enhance definition. Williams says she likes to consider the occasion to find interesting ways to show off her clients’ faces.

“When I’m doing more upscale or red-carpet looks, I like to [further] braid the hair because it adds a touch of elegance,” she says. Williams points out that the flair of intricate braids, such as a demi-crown or faux bang, recalls the deep, historic traditions of this aspect of our culture. “Bringing the essence and artistry of braiding back into present day is powerful and beautiful,” she says. The next time you want to rock box braids, shape them into any of these easy-to-do options. 

Keep scrolling to see eight ways to rock box braids.