The finished product! Looks like my bobby-pin-concealment can still use work.
My hair isn't really long enough to put into milkmaid braids the normal way (as explained quite well over on Tick Tock Vintage), so I developed a little cheater method for shorter hair that still works pretty well and is easy once you get the hang of it. I considered making another video, but since there are a lot of (simple) steps, I figured I'd just keep things streamlined with a little photo-tutorial. Be warned - we took these photos indoors (ick, artificial light!), at about 8 in the morning (ick, undereye bags!), and I didn't realize until editing photos in the evening that the back didn't turn out very neatly this time. Oops! Anyway, although you'll look a little ridiculous during the process (see below), this is a great style for keeping your hair out of your face all day. All you'll need are four hair elastics (the clear kind are great if you've got them - I don't), a brush or comb, and a handful of bobby pins that more-or-less match your hair color (regular sized are fine, mini are better).
Start with brushed hair, either clean or a bit dirty like mine. Insane bumpy waves from wearing it in a bun the day before are optional.
Part your hair in the center and put each side in a ponytail holder.
One side at a time, divide each of your original two ponytails in half to make four smaller ones. You don't have to worry much about how straight the parts on the sides are, as you won't really see them, just try to end up with about the same amount of hair in all four. The two in front should be pretty high on your temples, and the two in back should be just behind your ears.
Take out the elastic and braid one of the front ponytails, tying it off as close to the ends as you can. I tend to tip my head way over to the side as I start braiding, to make sure I'm braiding directly away from my head. This makes the braids flip over more neatly at the end.
Try flipping your braid over the top of your head, making sure the braided part is long enough to cross over your center part. If it doesn't quite make it, undo it and start a fresh braid, repositioning the base a bit higher on your temple. It can take a couple of tries to find the right position. Once you do, braid the front ponytail on the other side at the same position on your temple.
Once your front braids are done, braid the two back ponytails the same way, starting just behind your ear. Once you've got all four braids, pause to allow your significant other to make fun of how silly you look. (This is still miles better than my passport photo.)
Gently pull one of the braids from the back towards the front of your head, keeping it above the base of the front braid. Pin the end of the braid to the top of your head with a couple of bobby pins, crisscrossing the pins to really secure it. Do the same with the back braid on the other side.
Once again, you are looking pretty awesome at this point. Pause so that others can admire.
Now gently pull one of the front braids across the top of your head, covering over the ends from the back braid. Pin the ends in place, but don't put any pins close to the base of the braid just yet.
Pull the other front braid across in front, covering over the ends from the back braid and the other front braid. Tuck the end of the loose braid underneath the base end of the pinned front braid, then gently pin everything into place.
Add extra bobby pins to secure any loose strands, and you're done! You can finish with a little hairspray to prevent flyaways, but I've found everything stays put pretty well without it. Feel free to leave questions in the comments, and I'll answer them next week!