35 Gorgeous Wedding Hairstyles for Off-the-Shoulder Dresses

Ensure your hair compliments your look.
Bride wearing an off-the-shoulder wedding dress with groom beside her
Photo: D. Patalano | Shutterstock
Elle Cashin headshot
Elle Cashin
Elle Cashin headshot
Elle Cashin
The Knot Fashion Contributor
  • Elle writes for The Knot online with a focus on fashion, covering gown design trends and shoppable accessories.
  • Elle is a contributor to wedding publications across the country, including Brides, The New York Times Vows and Modern Luxury Weddings.
  • Prior to shifting to weddings, Elle covered lifestyle, culture and celebrity across Chicago as the editor of the Chicago Tribune’s SPLASH magazine, where she interviewed cele...
Updated Dec 19, 2023

Whether you chose the neckline before even starting your search, or the neckline chose you while you were shopping, off-the-shoulder is one of the most romantic wedding gown styles available. The best hairstyles for off-the-shoulder dresses show off that neckline—whether through long loose waves swept behind the shoulders or a classically bridal updo. "The back and neckline of the gown dictates how a bride should wear her hair," says Erin Infantino, founder and owner of Connecticut bridal beauty team Simply Gorgeous by Erin. "Of course, the bride should wear her hair in a way that makes her feel her best, [but] I do love to use the back and neckline as guidance." She has a few favorite styles, especially for the coming year of weddings. "For 2024, I'm loving the piled-high styles that give a nod to glamorous French cinema. This shows off the beautiful neck and feels so modern yet timeless; it also allows the back of an amazing gown to be shown off. I also love soft, touchable 'socialite' waves with the sides tucked behind the ears. These are a softer, less fussy version of the glam waves that have been popular for the last few years. The shoulders and neck are still shown, but in the back, the hair cascades down, creating a very feminine look." We're adding those to our mood board; keep scrolling for a few dozen more styles to inspire.

A Blunt Bob

Bride with blunt bob
Photo: Abbey Regnier Photography

Bangs are back, baby! A blunt blonde bob with straight-across fringe bangs is an ultra-modern style for your wedding day and the best part? It's one of our favorite short hairstyles for off-the-shoulder dresses for the way it shows off the shoulders. (We'll go so far as to highly recommend an off-the-shoulder dress for anyone with this length of hair!)

Classic Hollywood Waves

Bride with classic Hollywood waves
Photo: Calvin Gavion Photography

Christina Michelle, hairstylist and owner of Nola Beauty in New Orleans believes the hairstyle should balance the dress. "For example, if the dress is classic, you should balance the look with a fuller hairstyle, and the opposite applies for detailed jeweled gowns or gowns with full lace: pull the hair back or use a softer curl and style," she says. "Here, I chose a tighter wave because the bride's wedding dress was more of a sweetheart silhouette with a classic satin fabric. My rule is to always allow the eye to move from head to toe." To create these Hollywood waves, Michelle used a 1-inch barrel curling iron (her go-to is the Hot Tools 24K Gold Marcel Iron). "Once the curls have set, I use a dime-size pump of Oribe Gold Lust Oil. I work it throughout my hands before palming each curl to add incredible shine. Once each curl is evenly coated, I separate and place each curl to create an S-shaped wave. I finish with a few pumps of the Oribe Swept Up volume powder to keep the curls in place and then cement it all with hairspray [and] shine spray."

A Modern Chignon

Bride with modern chignon hairstyle
Photo: Erin Wilson Photography

A classic chignon is, without question, among the best hairstyles for off-the-shoulder dresses. But we recommend giving the look a modern twist—quite literally—with sections wrapped one over the other to form the bun. Make sure to slick back the top of the style with a wax stick like Bed Head's TIGI, then throw it in your handbag to keep flyways in place throughout the day.

Timeless Waves

Bride with timeless waves
Photo: Abbey Regnier Photography

Long loose waves will simply never go out of style for bridal beauty—but the look can be brought into the modern day, as seen here, with an on-trend center part. Keep hair tucked behind your ears and use it as the canvas for a pretty drop earring.

A Subtle Crimp

Bride with subtle crimp in hair
Photo: Faith Elliott Photography

Effortless is the name of the game when it comes to beach-bride beauty. Wear your hair down and have your hairstylist use a flat iron, rather than a curling iron, to incorporate the subtlest crimp for a perfectly I-woke-up-like vibe. The look pairs well with an airy tulle gown or something flowy and fun.

A Half-Up Style

Bride with half-up hairstyle
Photo: Abbey Regnier Photography

Half-up styles offer the best of both worlds when it comes to wedding hairstyles for off-the-shoulder dresses: They allow the bride to keep her hair down but sweep it off the face and neck so the unique neckline can shine. A half-pony also makes wearing a veil easy; simply clip it in where the hair comes together.

Tousled Waves

Bride with tousled waves
Photo: Abbey Regnier Photography

For a beachy look, use a texturizing spray before curling the hair, and run your fingers through it thoroughly after. When it comes to tousled waves, messy is A-Ok; we love that this style just gets better throughout a day of dancing and celebrating.

A Face-Framing Updo

Bride with face-framing updo
Photo: Calvin Gavion Photography

An updo is a must if you're wearing a cathedral-length, embellished or otherwise epic veil. However, confidence is key, and if you're more comfortable with hair framing your face, you can do both. Ask your hairstylist to reserve a couple of sections of hair outside the updo to curl and frame the face.

Long Curls

Bride with long curls
Photo: Abbey Regnier Photography

Especially with busy floral or lace gowns, you'll want to style hair simply to let the dress shine. However, that doesn't mean you have to go small. Ask your stylist to weave in extensions that add length or volume to a classically curled-down style, and finish the look with a veil.

A Curly Updo

Bride with curly updo
Photo: Faith Elliott Photography

Your big day is about embracing your natural beauty, so if you have curly hair, we say run with it. Keep the curls, but contain them in a pretty low updo to clip in your veil, then let your off-the-shoulder gown—and your innate beauty—shine.

A Bridal Ponytail

Bride with ponytail
Photo: Abbey Regnier Photography

Classic updos aren't for everyone; if you want to pull your hair off the shoulders but aren't a chignon type of girl, try a bridal pony instead. This one is oh-so-chic, with a section of hair swept down the side and wrapped around to disguise the ponytail holder. Depending on your hair length, curl the ponytailed pieces for a sophisticated finish.

An Intricate Braid

Bride with intricate braid
Photo: Gabriella Poirier

A whimsical knotted braid is a gorgeous option for bohemian brides, especially ones wearing off-the-shoulder wedding dresses. For this style, hair artist Ellen Spada used custom colored 20-inch clip-in extensions to create fullness and length. "I curled her hair and the extensions with a 1/2-inch wand, alternating directions to mimic a natural textured look," she says. Then, the braiding began. Spada used small elastics to make mini ponytails, flipped them under to create a twist, and gently tugged them apart for volume. "Continue grabbing hair from the back of the piece prior to pulling forward, and add in extensions as you work down the 'braid' to achieve the desired fullness and length," she recommends. "Twist and secure the remaining fall-out pieces from around the hairline to look loose and whimsical." Finish with some wildflower adornments.

Modern Tousled Waves

Bride with modern tousled waves
Photo: Sophie Kaye Photography

Your options are endless when your off-the-shoulder gown is clean and understated; you can go big with hair and accessories to contrast the simplicity or keep it cohesive and cool with natural glam and pretty, loosely tousled waves down to the backline. Here, the bride did the latter and pulled the look off beautifully.

Natural Curls

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Bride with natural curls
Photo: Jill Sahner Photography

When it comes to black hairstyles for off-the-shoulder dresses—or any dresses—it can often be harder for the bride to find the right inspiration. "[For this look], we chose to work with her natural curls because they were amazing," says hairstylist Erin Infantino. "It's not as often that brides find inspiration for natural curls, and we wanted to put this inspiration out there." Here was her process: "We refined some finger curls with a curling iron to control frizz, then gently twisted it up while leaving some pieces hanging down to soften the overall look. It's fun and romantic and suits our bride perfectly."

Slicked-Back Waves

Bride with slicked-back waves
Photo: Jill Sahner Photography

Classic waves get a modern update in this style, in which dual front sections of hair are slicked down with product and pulled back to connect underneath the back of the hair (to better stay in place). It allows the bride to wear earrings without getting lost in a sea of hair and draws attention to the face (and glam!).

A Beautifully Messy Updo

Bride with messy updo
Photo: Jill Sahner Photography

"This loose, airy, textured bun is perfect for an off-the-shoulder dress because it still shows off the beautiful open neckline while keeping with its soft, romantic vibes," says Charlotte Ewertz, the New Jersey-based hairstylist who created this look. She set the front section in 1-inch pin curls, then curled the remaining hair and twisted pieces into the desired bun shape to cover a piece of hair padding, pulling wispy pieces out here and there. Finally, she let down the pin curls and gently twisted sections back to add to the bun, but kept the front soft with face-framing pieces.

A Romantic Down Style

Bride with romantic downstyle
Photo: Hannah Rosser

If mega romance is the vibe, look no further. Keep hair ultra soft and down (you can add a wave for volume, but brush it out thoroughly). Then, dot the hair with romantic accessories like delicate florals or butterfly pins. This bride doubled down on the lovely look with a regency-inspired drop waist gown and a hilltop wedding in the California countryside.

A Low Wavy Pony

Bride with low wavy ponytail
Photo: Sophie Kaye Photography

The "socialite waves" Infantino is loving lately get a twist with this low ponytail style. Start with super-soft waves and secure them into a tight ponytail at the nape of the neck, then use a lock of hair to wrap around and cover the hairband. Voila! Instant romance.

An Asymmetrical 'Do

Bride with asymmetrical hairstyle
Photo: Jasmine Marie Photography

While considering a hairstyle for model Brittany Cox (who here dons an Alon Livne White gown), "we wanted something fun and flirty, while also giving it a bit of sexy and sultry," says hair and makeup artist Julie Hirji. "Pulling back one side with the hair did just that. It revealed more shoulder on one side but kept it modest enough on the other side to give a balance." Hirji used water in a spray bottle and a bit of product from Innersense to help define Brittany's natural curls and put moisture back into them then used a 3/8-inch curling iron to touch up any undefined curls.

Bohemian Braids

Bride with bohemian braids
Photo: Hannah Rosser

When considering hairstyles for off-the-shoulder wedding dresses, also consider your venue and climate. For this look, hairstylist Alaina of Ceremony Salon & Spa was challenged with a windy mountain venue. "We needed to style the bride's hair [in a way] that could look good if it moved but had enough structure to look elevated," Alaina says. "We used R+Co Zig Zag at the root to create lift and body, then did some small and bigger romantic braids to give it that structure." She finished with big, romantic but beachy waves a spritz of volume and texture sprays, and a finishing spray for shine.

Long Highlighted Hair

Bride with long highlighted hair
Photo: Katie Griff Photo

Sometimes, a look is less about the style and more about the color—so consider this your reminder to make sure your hair is hued and highlighted to perfection for the big day. We love this bride's blond highlights, which, along with a pair of pretty drop earrings, help draw the eye down to the gorgeous neckline of her off-the-shoulder gown.

A Loose Updo

Bride with loose updo
Photo: Jill Sahner Photography

Sometimes, the most effortless looks are anything bit. Though this updo is secured and pinned to perfection, its loose wave and front tendrils give it a lovely laid-back air. It's like a messy bun, bridal edition—and an excuse to show off a great pair of earrings.

A Wet-Look Updo

Bride with wet-look updo
Photo: Jasmine Marie Photography

Beach brides, lean into the sea spray of your waterfront affair with a wet-look style inspired by supermodels. Here, the popular down hairstyle gets an up twist, with a French twist updo enhanced by wind and water. It's an argument live and let live on your wedding day, allowing the natural elements of the season and venue to enhance, rather than restrict, your beauty plan.

A Bold Braid

Bride with bold braid
Photo: Kayla Rachelle

For outdoor weddings, try a bold braid that gives off romantic boho vibes; the beauty of this style is that, despite being complex to create, it looks effortless and free. Ask your stylist to add extensions to achieve the desired volume and length, and pull pieces out around the face for a natural, windswept finish.

A Jewel-Adorned Bun

Bride with jewel-adorned bun
Photo: Lindley Battle

For shorter or thinner hair, there are other ways than extensions to add a little oomph. This style embraces the bride's hair type by tying it into a simple and slicked low bun—and then dressing it up with a unique vertical headpiece lined with oversized gemstones. It's an edgier take on the classically romantic bejeweled headpiece.

A High Braided Bun

Bride with high braided bun
Photo: Sophie Kaye Photography

If you're going for regal, this look is for you. Stack the hair high on the head in a loosely braided bun and top it with a tiara or glittering headpiece that wraps around. Mirror the glimmer in large crystal earrings for a fairy-tale finish.

A Sleek Natural 'Do

Bride with sleek natural hairdo
Photo: Jill Sahner Photography

There are plenty of ways to embrace your natural hair and achieve a sleek finish, and this look is a perfect example. In this take on a half-up style, the stylist smoothed and secured the front sections around a center part, then let the bride's natural hair be free in the back. It's finished with a feminine tulle bow.

A Low Chignon

Bride with low chignon
Photo: Lindley Battle

Black-tie brides take note: There's nothing more sophisticated and timeless than a chignon bun. This one has a modern swoop and a swath of hair covering the hair band—all creating a lovely canvas to tuck the veil into.

A Natural Afro

Bride with natural Afro
Photo: Lindley Battle

There was an artist on set for makeup, but the model styled her natural hair at this beautiful bridal-styled shoot. It's a lesson for all brides: Sometimes, leaning into what you've got garners the prettiest results. Not to mention, the natural afro is one of our favorite Black hairstyles for off-the-shoulder dresses; it bares the shoulder and perfectly elongates the neck.

A Floral Updo

Bride with floral updo
Photo: Abbey Regnier Photography

Some of the best hairstyles for off-the-shoulder wedding dresses involve pulling long hair into an updo to better put the shoulders on display. An updo like this features intricate twists and curls and gets a whimsical punch with a spray of baby's breath tucked into the hair. Swap in your favorite floral—or mirror the ones from your bouquet—to personalize the look.

A Wavy Bob

Bride with wavy bob
Photo: Sophie Kaye Photography

A bob is one of our favorite short hairstyles for off-the-shoulder dresses, and this one looks oh-so-effortless with loose tousled waves. A flowering hairpiece and veil make it undeniably bridal, but the style still has a beachy vibe, perfect for a seaside ceremony or destination wedding.

Sleek Waves

Bride with sleek waves
Photo: Kitsul Studio

Smoothing serum is the key to a romantic look like this, with soft, smooth waves showing off your gown's off-the-shoulder silhouette. Slicking one side back and securing with a bobby pin—or pearl, beaded or sparkly bridal hairpin—will further show off the dress. Sweep your hair behind your shoulders and finish the look with a diamond drop necklace.

An Extension-Enhanced Bun

Bride with extension-enhanced bun
Photo: Liz Andolina Photography

The bride wanted to show off her back in this artistic off-the-shoulder tulle gown, so hairstylist Mika Rummo set out to create a classic bun with a twist. "It was important to me to create a hairstyle that elongated the silhouette yet was not too tiny as to get lost," she says. "We used hair extensions so we had enough hair to create a dense, piece-y bun. The hair extensions also allowed me to leave her natural hair soft around the hairline, creating a soft and well-distributed silhouette in the hair." And, outdoor brides, take note: "This photograph was taken after the bride spent almost a full hour in the rain taking photos," Rummo says. "She was a trooper, and the hair barely moved!"

Glamorous Hollywood Waves

Bride with glamorous Hollywood waves
Photo: Stella Shots Media

Channel Old Hollywood for a glamorous look with super smooth waves swept to one side. Use a bejeweled clip or headpiece to keep the hair back on one side and showcase the off-the-shoulder dress style. This style works particularly well with art deco-inspired gowns, or at weddings with a vintage vibe.

A Tousled Updo

Bride with tousled updo
Photo: Liz Andolina Photography

"Effortless but intentional" was the goal for this tousled updo, says hairstylist Stacey Triplow. She prepped the hair by curling it with a 1-inch barrel and combing out the curls with texture spray and a wide-tooth comb. Then, "I took half of her hair into a messy bun right at the nape of the neck," Triplow explains. "I left some of the ends out, giving it that effortless appearance. Taking the rest of her hair, I backcombed throughout to give lift and volume while placing her hair with pins." (Pro tip: This style works great for hair with layers.) Triplow finished the look by spraying the front pieces with elastic hairspray and securing them into place with a fork comb.

A Bieber-Inspired Bun

Bride with Hailey Bieber-inspired bun
Photo: Niki Marie Photography

"Hailey Bieber's bridal aesthetic was the inspiration for this look," says hairstylist Keshia Garnett. "I believe it's crucial to find a harmonious balance between hair and makeup when the dress has intricate lace detail." She created a knotted updo using Kristin Ess Soft Matte Pomade and Ultra Fine Workable Hairspray and used a one-inch curling iron for the face-framing pieces. "Over the past couple of years, this particular style has consistently been a favorite among my brides for its elegance and remarkable durability throughout the celebration."

A Close-Cropped Cut

Bride with close-cropped haircut
Photo: Sophie Kaye Photography

Natural, close-cropped hair is a modern 'do, and one that makes a bride look confident and statuesque. It's also a great hairstyle for showing off an off-the-shoulder wedding gown, plus a great pair of earrings. We love the simple flower drops paired with this floral Claire Pettibone gown; for an unadorned white dress, you can go even bolder with accessories.

A '90s-Inspired Bun

Bride with 90s-inspired bun
Photo: Faith Elliott Photography

"I'm seeing a '90s trend moving through fashion and bridal—think chokers and platforms—so this updo was a spin on that," says Sara Hernandez, stylist and owner of Bonita Brides. "If you look closely it's a very 'Phoebe from Friends '-inspired bun, yet more modern and minus the chopsticks!" Another plus? It's an unexpected style with the gown. "The dress has a lot going on with the fringe sleeves. Whereas [others] would probably have done a boho updo, the sleekness and simplicity of this style really let the uniqueness of the dress and natural beauty of the bride shine through."

Tight Curls Updo

Bride with updo with tight curls
Photo: Stella Shots Media

The stylist from San Antonio's Glammed by Kat loved that she could use this bride's natural hair texture—and we encourage other brides to do the same. "I ran some Sexy Hair Play Dirty dry wax spray [through it], and used a 1/2-inch barrel to tighten up her natural curls," Kat says. She finished the look with a pearl headband, an on-trend accessory for the coming wedding season.

A Natural Hair Bun

Bride with natural hair bun
Photo: Staci Brucks Photo

More and more brides are not just working with their natural hair, but celebrating it. Keep your tight natural curls and sweep the hair back into a bun so it's mostly off your face, but let the shorter pieces up front fly. The look shows off the décolleté and shoulders and can be accessorized with a necklace or a great pair of earrings.

A Braided Ponytail

Bride with braided ponytail
Photo: Jill Sahner Photography

If you're torn about deciding what hairstyle for an off-the-shoulder dress, why not combine a few of your favorites? This looks like an updo in the front but has a long fishtail ponytail in the back. It's great for showing off not just the neckline of your gown but also a fabulous pair of earrings, and an opportunity to lean into the the more-is-more aesthetic.

Short Hair with Big Earrings

Bride with short hair and big earrings
Photo: REEM Photography

Shorter hair allows your glam and accessories to truly shine. This short hairstyle for off-the-shoulder dresses is a great example; wear a linear earring to draw the eye downward and highlight the neckline.

A Classic Bridal Updo

Bride with classic updo
Photo: Sophie Kaye Photography

This stunning off-the-shoulder-sleeve gown by Reem Acra called for a classic updo that was equally as bridal; it's one of the more formal hairstyles for off-the-shoulder dresses, after all. Hairstylist Madeline Eleanor delivered with a timeless updo and loose tendrils to frame the face.

A Bow Bun

Bride with bow bun
Photo: REEM Photography

Classic bun hairstyles for off-the-shoulder wedding dresses don't have to be simple. Have your hairstylist leave an open loop, or try shaping the bun into a feminine bow with mirrored sides. As long as the top is sleek and free from flyaways, it will look modern and sophisticated at the same time. Add a hairpin or diamond necklace to amp up the bridal vibe.

Bun with Face-Framing Pieces

Bride with bun with face-framing pieces
Photo: Liz Andolina Photography

Pull some pieces out of a low bun to frame the face (give them a subtle curl with the curling iron) and tease the back for a bit of volume at the crown. It's a classic look that works for both long and short hair and is perfect with a pair of large stud earrings.

A Loose Updo

Bride with loose updo
Photo: Sophie Kaye Photography

Sleek, slicked-back buns are modern and trendy, but a more loosely structured updo with the face-framing piece is a timeless look you'll always look back on fondly. This one has a pretty center part and loose tendrils; we love it for an outdoor garden wedding.

A Bridal Bun

Bride with bun
Photo: Staci Brucks Photo

Modernize the classic chignon with a crisscrossed updo and ample face-framing pieces. Leave enough hair out of the bun (use extensions for volume, if needed!) to curl and tousle the up-front pieces for an effortless yet timeless bridal bun look.

A Wavy Bob

Bride with wavy bob
Photo: Staci Brucks Photo

Straight, blunt bobs are modern and on-trend, but adding subtle waves gives the short hairstyle a boho bridal twist. Use a small barrel curling iron and curl it away from the face, then spritz it with texturizing spray and give it all a light tousle. The more effortless, the better with this look.

Straight Locks with a Hair Vine

Bride with straight hair and hair vine
Photo: Llena Vida Media

Sometimes, less is more. We love this simple straight-hair look for the way it truly brings the focus to the dress (and that's what it's all about, right?). Have your hairstylist add a little volume at the crown by teasing the hair, and accessorize with an understated hair vine that connects to your veil. With less to worry about hair-wise, you can put all your attention into "I do."

A Center-Parted Bun

Bride with center-parted bun
Photo: Liz Andolina Photography

For this bride, stylist Edilaine Bizinha aimed for a sophisticated but soft low bun. "This upstyle allows us to show the bride's upper silhouette and dress detail in the back," Bizinha says. She notes that prep is super important for a style like this, so she washed the hair with a deep cleansing shampoo and light conditioner. She continues: "I used Bedroom.Hair by Kevin Murphy to add volume and texture at the roots, along with OSIS+ Curl Honey #2 by Schwarzkopf for shine and a clean look. I wanted her bun to look luxurious, so I added some extensions and finalized it with just a bit of a firm hairspray so the style lasted throughout the day and windy weather we had."

Long Waves

Bride with long waves
Photo: Sophie Kaye Photography

If your off-the-shoulder gown has a busy, artistic, or sculptural neckline, steer clear of necklaces that might compete in the same area. With hair, however, you have lots of options. Try long, loose waves like these parted on the side and super sleek.

A Bridal Headband

Bride with headband
Photo: Staci Brucks Photo

Adding a headband to your wedding hairstyle—they look especially great with a chic blunt bob, as seen here—is a contemporary and playful twist on the classic bridal headpiece. It works especially well with whimsical off-the-shoulder wedding gowns.

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