When it comes to summer hair, there's something so deliciously perfect about a braid. It gets your hair out of your face. It's a little fancy, but also a little bit adventurous. It's playgrounds and playfulness and dance recitals and olympic gymnasts and a bunch of other seemingly discordant things all rolled up into one. It's practical but fanciful.

It's also a great way to play with volume. If you are not blessed with an abundance of hair, a braid is a great way to look like you have more of it than you do - without that telltale giveaway that is the somewhat overdone sock bun. The ubiquitous nature of that particularly cheat has taken the magic from it, but braid faking is still an unplumbed depth.  I chose my favorite style for hot weather, the pony + bun combo, but these tricks can also work with a low braid, or even a wrap around style. All you need is a comb, some elastics and the willingness to practice a bit.

But first a few tips:

1. Braids work better with dirty hair. Sure, you can coat your clean hair with product, but the messier hair the better it will bend and coil and stick. The hair pictured here hasn't been washed in over a week because humidity and also, laziness.

2. I love what I call the braces bands (remember when you had to wrap rubber bands around your braces?) but which are really just clear silicone hair elastics. These are my favorites, in part because of the handy storage tin, and in part because they are a good size, a good material, don't break easily and stay put very well. Clear works for everyone or you can try to match your hair with black or brown.

3. Give a little tease at the crown before you begin. A little volume at the roots is flattering, but it's also another way to "set" the style and help it last better.

TRICK ONE: The Double Pony Braid

This is great for giving thickness but also extra length, especially for layered hair,

Here's what to do:

1. Make a ponytail with about half your hair.
2. Make a second tail right below it.
3. Combine the two into a braid. I started with a normal braid and then transitioned into a fishtail braid, but messy is better. The goal is to integrate the two pony's into one.
4. Finish with a "braces band."

That's it! Braiding takes a little practice but the more you do it the easier it gets. The real secret to this one is starting with the double stacked ponytails which gives you the length and volume to play around.

TRICK TWO: Weave something in...

I used a bandana, but you could use anything - string, ribbon, even a cheap necklace. The bandana has been sliced to make it thin (I cut two corners off then fold and iron) but you want something that isn't so thick that it won't "bend" into the braid.

1. Make a ponytail (or two, see above, you can combine these tricks!)
2. Tie your addition around the ponytail, leaving the ends to dangle down.
3. Braid the pony tail (I did a simple standard braid) incorporating the addition into the braid.
4. Secure with an elastic or tie off the ends of the non-hair like I did here.

The addition of another material to your hair obviously adds bulk to the braid, but I also think it looks super cool and unexpected. The trick is to let it be a little messy, so it's not too fussy! Don't forget to tag me if you try it - I would love to see how your experiments turn out. Also, let me know if you want a braiding video! I am kind of a non-recipe follower but I would be happy to demonstrate my improvisational technique if you're interested.