Did They Do Poetic Justice Braids Justice? 14 Celebs Who Rocked Box Braids And Looked Cute (Or Not So Much)

November 27, 2012  |  
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If this year has taught us anything, it’s this my friends: Box braids/Poetic Justice braids/ Patra braids are back! Woohoo! For those of us out in these streets looking to whip some hair that’s not itchy and will help us protect our strands from harsh weather (if you don’t get them too tight, they should protect your hair in general), the return of box braids has been welcomed with open arms. Especially by the African women who sit on 125th street in Harlem looking to put some braids on a fro they assume you want to hide. And while we love box braids here at MN, so do the celebs. From the ones who made the look hot years and years ago to the ones trying to keep it hot in the present, they’re everywhere. But who is rocking them right and who isn’t? Let’s take a look!


The Kingston-born dancehall queen is definitely one of the originators of the famous chunky braided look, hence many people calling them “Patra braids” from time to time. And with her sass and flair (and hella eclectic attire), the box braids have suited her well. Whether pulled up in a cheerleader ponytail with beads and things or reaching way down her back, Miss Patra (Dorothy Smith) kills it every time.

Janet Jackson

But of course. The signature braids that Janet wore in the hood classic film Poetic Justice and even post film production on red carpets and for other events are loved by most people, and they definitely gave the Gary, Indiana-born singer and actress an edge that she was missing before she took on the role of Justice. For the most part, we all call these braids the “Poetic Justice” braids (see the title). I’ve even been guilty of calling a coworker Janet when she started the fall with braids down to her butt. But whatever we decide to crown them, way back when, Janet (Miss Jackson if you’re nasty) rocked them right. Especially the light brown joints.


Another queen of braids, Brandy made micro braids cool while starring in “Moesha” and promoting albums like Never Say Never, but when she released her debut album and was making the rounds in ’94 and ’95, the box braids look was her protective style of choice. What set her apart from other women rocking them at the time was that B-Rocka went for the cropped bob look with hers sometimes instead of dramatic lengths, which actually gave her a more youthful look. Plus, I love that she was one of the few chicks who tried to style her braids, even doing Bantu knots and funky updos with them (aside from the usual bun look). Brandy has tried to bring her box braid wearing days back, and I have to admit, braids do her justice and keep her looking young, because those lacefronts…? I just can’t.


Va$htie Kola

Artist, director and style maven Va$htie Kola actually had box braids, or “Patra-esque braids” as she called them, put in her head back in 2010. The beauty donned the look because she said she had always wanted to get some box braids when she was younger but her mother told her that she couldn’t do so. There’s even video of Kola getting them put in her head, and the end results as you can see were pretty cute. They definitely matched her around the way sense of style. She soon went back to her signature head of curly hair, but we definitely miss the box braid look on her.


Along with Va$htie Kola, Solange was one of the first people to resurrect the box braids look and make that ish very hot once again. While she would occasionally wear them down without much fuss, for the most part, Solo jazzed her braids up, opting to throw them in huge side buns, rocking colorful hats, wraps and hair accessories on them (see her little plastic hair tie balls in the “Party” video). The hair definitely added another layer to her much lauded colorful and bohemian chic attire. Love ’em on her!


Before Bey Bey went solo, for many years (especially the Writings On The Wall days), the singer was rocking braids of all sorts in her head that were of her favorite shade of blonde. But it was just as of recent that the superstar tried her hand at luxuriously long box braids (probably because Solange’s were so fab). However, I don’t know what it was, but I really wasn’t feeling the box braid look on her. It might have a lot to do with the fact that she stayed in her safety zone with blonde (for the love of God, can we get black or maybe even dark brown?), and with her bright red lipstick pairing, it often made her look pale. But that’s just my opinion. Were you digging the box braids on her?

Chrisette Michele

Gorgeous singer Chrisette Michelle was another one who tried her hand at box braids late last year and early in 2012, and unlike many others we’ve seen her do a variety of colors, including a very light brown, a caramel color and pitch black braids as well. It’s interesting how people tend to tone down their makeup with dark box braids, but put on the brightest red lipstick when they’re rocking a lighter shade. I think Chrisette actually looks okay with her black braids and fancy updo, but the light light brown? Once again, I’m just not feeling it.

Shaunie O’Neal

Shaunie the puppetmaster (of course I’m kidding…) is another fan of box braids, as the new TV titan rocked some for the summer. She kept it simple by having the braids pulled to one side in a loose braid perfect for a lazy summer. When headlines started popping up around the Internet about the “Basketball Wives” creator rocking the look, I was ready to throw shade (it’s what I do best), but it actually looks really cute on her. You win this round Shaunie…

Jada Pinkett Smith

Jada likes to keep it young and punk rock even at 41, and she’s been rocking braids for years now in between her hair changes (ya’ll remember her in Set It Off). In 2010 she also brought the box braids look back and did it in ornate fashion with a chic braided puff at the top of her head, which was the style back then thanks to folks like Snooki. I’m digging it on the little “momma” though.

Willow Smith

And in following in the eclectic steps of her chic mum, Willow Smith also tried to get her box braids on, and in an equally colorful way. In the video for “Whip My Hair,” she threw her braids into a vertical heart shaped configuration on the top of her head, has worn a ponytail that was also tucked into a heart, and had both sides of her head shaved with a box braid mohawk going down the middle. She’s a kid, so I’ll play nice and say the braids looked great on her, plus, the styles work for a little lady her age.

Kandi Burruss

The “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star and former Xscape member left her cockatoo short haircut and long weaves behind to hit a few red carpets with box braids. And it actually suited the sex toy making celeb well! With her high bun, side ponytail and the look of pulling some of the hair up and letting the rest fall gave her a hot look. And she ditched her any bright Kool-Aid reds and blinding browns for a simple black shade of braids. Cute!

Cynthia Bailey

Speaking of “Real Housewives,” model Cynthia Bailey rocked box braids when she felt it was most important to look “ethnic”: on a trip to South Africa with the rest of the ladies. I mean, chick even pulled a dashiki out for the trip. And while the look wasn’t bad when it was down long, this pigtail style is a travesty to such regal braids and on her, and I’m not feeling it. You’re still gorgeous though Cynthia!


Ester Dean

Superstar songwriter and new actress Ester Dean stepped out of the traditional box with her braids, and not just in terms of the styles she took on, but also in terms of color. Bright Kool-Aid red? While I would usually hate it (see my thoughts on Kandi’s love of bright red), there was something so hood fab about it that it worked. Especially the high cheerleader ponytail. She’s a funky gal, so this funky style did wonders for her.

Naturi Naughton

The former 3LW singer and actress also took the big box braid leap and wore some black joints on the red carpet that actually made her look pretty sophisticated at the premiere of Sparkle. I’m not in love with her braids (maybe because the bun is pulled back so small and tight), but I don’t hate it either. Cute girl, cute hair. What do you think?

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