How To Style: Dread Shop

There was a time when I desperately wanted dreadlocks. I grew up around the beach, so all it would take is a long day in the sand and salt water and my hair would almost mimic the look. I have very thick and wavy hair, so I think it would be pretty easy for me to start growing them, but I’ve always backed out at the last minute. If you have the right kind of hair though, and you commit, I think dreadlocks add a really cool and unique look to anyone’s personal style. If you’re like me and can’t quite say yes to a full head of dreads, allow me to introduce you to the dread extension…


These soft ombre’d extensions come in packs of 10, and can be styled in a lot of awesome ways. They each have a little clip on the underside that secures to the hair without being visible, and each pack has a variety of strings, beads and flowers that are woven throughout the strands. The easiest way to style them is to distribute them around the head and clip them in at your roots.

dreads in hair

If you have long hair, try to get it as full and as wavy as you can, then clip in the extensions to the underparts of your hair. I like how they slightly peek out to reveal a bit of color.

dread braid

These also look really cool woven into braids.

dread braid

For this look, start french braiding the hair on both sides while incorporating some of the extension with the hair. When the two braids meet, combine them in the center to form one larger braid. Continue braiding while weaving in the extension. Once you are done, loosen the braid a bit by pulling gently along the sides. This style looks better when it is loose and natural looking. Take a few extra extensions and tuck them underneath the french braids on the side of your head, and make a few wraps around the braid before letting the rest of the extension hang down the back.

dread close up

The little flowers throughout the extensions add in such a pretty touch, and the neutral tie die color really stands out against dark hair. If your hair is short, we are also selling some yarn braid ins that aren’t as thick, but can still give the same effect!

waterfall crown braid in

These come in packs of three and have cute little charms strung throughout. I tried braiding one in to Madisyn’s short hair by starting at the crown on the left side, then french braiding down along the back to the other side.

yarn in madisyns hair

I wrapped the rest of the yarn back up to where I started and secured it with a bobby pin, creating a cool braided crown look.

braided crown

No matter what type of hair you have, these extensions and braid ins are a fun addition to mix in with your locks, can be worn in a lot of different ways, and are perfect for festivals! It’s fun to experiment and come up with new styles, but I hope these three will inspire you to try them out :)


Have fun!

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  1. This is so pretty! I would never have thought to use something like this to accent your hair. It also looks amazing in several different styles. I am trying to get more creative with my hair extensions and this would be perfect and different (where I live)! Great info and I am a faithful reader :)

  2. I like this blog so much, but I wonder why you don’t show people with all natural dreadlocks as well?
    I myself am wearing my hair like that for 2 years, and if you look after it properly it looks lovely,
    even with short hair :)

  3. This is pretty appropriative and disrespectful for an organization as white-washed as free people. Dreadlocks are a cultural, ethnic and even religious symbol to some people and cultures – not a trend for ~alternative upper-middle class mostly white girls to put on and off like a costume when they want to be fashionable.

  4. @Anonymous 10:27AM – Thank you for saying this! I wholeheartedly agree. I love FP so much, but sometimes I’m deeply, deeply disappointed in how disrespectful and appropriative their styles & ideas can be :( Please do better, FP.

  5. this is absolutely genius, I love this post. Dreads are something I have always wanted as well, but since i have thin hair it’s definitely a difficult task, thanks for sharing this! I would’ve never known about dread extensions.

    Fellow Blogger,
    Priscilla ivette

  6. Alternatively this article could be called, “How to Appropriate someone else’s culture for fashion”

  7. Additionally, many black women and other women of color in America are told that their natural hair and hair stylings is inappropriate for the work and school space, while many men with dreads are racially profiled for drug use/vending. Aside from the harmful cultural and religious aspects of appropriation, it is pretty messed up to appropriate this style while black people with dreadlocks are often shamed or even punished for their cultural/religious/ethnic expression.

  8. In agreement with the comments above – you guys are super talented and creative but sometimes a little too surface. Dreads are a commitment that speaks about a certain lifestyle and understanding of a specific maintenance. They tell a story, especially when treated as a form of personal expression or sculpture (if you will). You are turning them into a product – a fast track – and it’s kind of disappointing. Still support your vision and asthetic but c’mon Free People you are better than this! Only with Love – Star

  9. I love the look of the new short haired model you have been featuring…it’s refreshing to see ideas for shorter length hair.

  10. i agree that we must all be sensitive to cultural and religious appropriation, but fashion – since the beginning of time – has been influenced and inspired by culture, religion, social class, race, ethnicity, local traditions, climate, etc. i am not sure where we should draw the line. everything form persian rugs to charm bracelets to yoga to the food we eat has some sort of religious and cultural history, and each of us i am sure own or participate in something that was originally a sacred item or activity to another. perhaps by us all celebrating the beauty of these things and sharing ideas we can learn to accept and appreciate our differences more.

  11. Alexandra – I agree with you that everything in our culture is influenced by another thing and/or practice, and that celebrating and appreciating this diversity is a beautiful and important practice. I grew up in one of the most multicultural places in the country – Brooklyn – and it’s diversity has influenced everything about me.
    That being said, distilling culturally significant things and practices into fashion trends is not respecting others differences – it is essentializing their culture, and that is inherently disrespectful. Why do we have to consume everything we appreciate? Furthermore, adding onto the above content about racial profiling and racialized body policing, it’s not appropriate for people to “appreciate” parts of other cultures by adopting them when they are not seen as acceptable for the community from which they originate.

  12. Emma, I completely agree with you and I understand the sensitivities surrounding this topic as I’ve also grown up in a very multicultural community and come from a multicultural family. I’m only saying that as our world gets smaller due to technology and the sharing of information, maybe people adopting ideas from other cultures will help those things be more accepted in general, if not only because it brings up conversations like these that help others learn more about the world. I doubt the person who designed this product or those at FP who are selling it are part of the thinking that deems dread locks unacceptable, but I do take your point that by selling it they are now allowing others to be unintentionally and unconsciously disrespectful. My hope is that although cultural appropriation is generally viewed as a negative thing and can seem to diminish value and significance of certain items and practices, it seems like it is an unstoppable wave of the future and I’m trying to find the positives in it, which will hopefully include bringing more respect, understanding, and acceptance of everyone as it springs conversation and a desire to learn more about each other.

  13. Alexandra, thanks for your thoughtful and well articulated reply! I see we are mainly on the same page and I agree with most of your major points. I agree with you that this mixing is inevitable, but fear that many people do not have the kinds of conversations we are currently having, and thus proceed to mindlessly consume other cultures without thinking the implications through. I definitely see a limit to the spaces which we should occupy in other cultures. Learning, appreciating, sharing are all wonderful. But sometimes taking is not.

  14. Love is all we need! why are we separating ourselves instead of unifying and uplifting? If there were women of color shown, would that matter? I honestly love seeing fair skin women with dreads because the juxtaposition in textures is wonderful! We need to stop being so one dimensional and find the beauty in all things, especially those we don’t understand.

  15. Why is there all this negative talk about cultural appropriation? This is by Free People, it’s about people being free to express themselves. I think people of any color or ethnicity should wear dreads if they want. Many women cannot wear natural dreads because they lack the proper hair texture or they can'[t commit to a full head of dreads. But claiming that it’s somehow wrong to wear extensions? That’s just weird. I wear extensions whenever I want to add a pop of color to my hair, & doing it for a pop of texture is no different. If everyone is free to experience different styles, they will be much more accepting of them & there will be no more discrimination.

  16. the fact that there are no women of color at all in this spread nor women with natural dreads is disappointing. dreadlocks represent more than just “fashion”, and you can’t compare something like extensions to dreadlocks in terms of discrimination. this has a lot to do with racial discrimination over dreads, and an anon here pointed out that “Additionally, many black women and other women of color in America are told that their natural hair and hair stylings is inappropriate for the work and school space, while many men with dreads are racially profiled for drug use/vending. Aside from the harmful cultural and religious aspects of appropriation, it is pretty messed up to appropriate this style while black people with dreadlocks are often shamed or even punished for their cultural/religious/ethnic expression.” THAT is why this is inappropriate. FP should’ve really thought this one over before posting it, especially because the issue of appropriation wasn’t even given as much of an acknowledgement by the author, nor were ANY women of color with natural dreads used. very disappointing.

  17. There is an entire culture/spirituality/ way of life linked to the growing of dreadlocks, its called Rastafari. If you have ever met a true Rasta, or spent time with them you will quickly understand that they take the culture-religion very seriously, are hard core vegan, and have a very involved set of standards by which they govern their lives. Not to mention the political hardships undertaken to get to the point of religious freedom, and more broadly what has taken place in Jamaica to get that country to the point it is today. The problem with SPECIFIC cultural appropriation is that it diminishes the complexity of the people and culture it is from. Out of sight out of mind, and furthermore, many people may not see it this way, but cultural appropriation is especially damaging when the culturally significant items/symbols/designs are being taken from minorities for mass consumption, we already struggle to have a voice, it becomes an added and unnecessary challenge to successfully achieve progress. Again this is falling into the issue of removing the people from the symbol, removing the social responsibility connected to these items, that are still upheld and honoured today. These are complex issues, and practices being completely demised in the name of “fashion”. All of this definately demonstrates freedom, but for who?

  18. I think as a summary, it would be great if FP would provide more education on cultural items. We like to think we live in a world where we all know everything be we don’t, and unfortunately some people abuse these items when they are not educated about it. As a powerful fashion influence you have a strong voice to promote engagement, education and fashion consciousness as well as freedom. One of our fundamental freedoms is the right to learn.

    Im in the same boat as many, I love this brand, but sometimes the posts cause disappointment.

  19. Yeah, okay this is basically the last straw. I’ve been a fan of FP for a while now – mostly their DIY posts in particular. Never bought anything from their website as I felt they are way too overpriced for what their “message” portrays. I’ve always sort of tried to ignore their culturally appropriative ways because I knew they meant no harm. But that’s over now. I’m done giving them the benefit of the doubt because it’s about time they sit, listen and learn about what they’re doing wrong. It’s already been explained in the above comments about what they’re doing is disrespectful, and there are others trying to defend them, lolol shut your white mouths up for a sec and just listen for once. I’m a mestiza/latina and always get disappointed when there are no latinas featured on FP. Hello? I exist! It’s always these twiggy white women. Sometimes you’ll feature one PoC once in a while, usually a black woman, but that’s probably you guys trying to be politically correct, lmao. You try to “embrace” and expose your readers to all these fascinating cultures, only demonstrating them with these clueless little white girls who think they’re cultured because they know how to do beginner’s yoga. This comment will probably mean nothing to you, and you’ll continue taking from everyone else’s culture because you’re sooooo trendy, but I hope at least someone else learns from this.

  20. As a black/ mixed race woman, I don’t understand the offense taken on this post. Its just a hairstyle. Rastas aren’t the only group to wear dreads, and its unfair for them (or just blacks) to be the only ones allowed to wear them. People have been wearing dreadlocks since ancient Egypt. I understand that some people are chastised for having natural dreads, but people wearing fake ones because they like them doesn’t change that.

  21. I love how people are taking offense to this. Should I take offense to the fact that people are calling it Bohemian style when I am ACTUALLY Bohemian. Bohemian is Czech and actually not really that much like the style that we use as a reference today but I’m not going to get offended, it’s just a style. People are getting offended because it is a cultural and racial hair style yet I don’t see asian/indian women getting offended when they see an African American woman walking down the road wearing extensions that came from their hair claiming that they are using their hair in a offensive representation of a culture that is not their own. If someone wants to wear this then it is their choice. Why does it always have to be about race. some people just like the way some things look. Sometimes its just that simple. Most of those “dreds” look like wool strands anyway.

  22. Why are people taking offense to this when it was obviously not meant in and harmful way at all. People from around the world, no matter the color of their skin or their race, can have dreadlocks. It is something that can naturally occur in their hair if it is let to do its own thing. By saying someone else cannot wear dreadlocks (or fake ones for that matter) is creating a divide between races that people have been fighting to remove for decades. Also, by saying someone cannot wear dreads out of interest in them because it is offending someone else who uses them in a religious/spiritual matter, you are saying someone cannot pray if they are not religious because it is offensive to someone who prays to God religiously. There is no need to take offense to something when it was not meant to be harmful in the first place, but an innocent item to create sales in a company.

  23. I love this blog but it so hard to add more women of color. Asians, Blacks, Hispanic, Native Americans, come on. All of these borrowed ideas from different cultures and not a single face to represent any of them. Its sickening. ( oh and the women from the costa rican retreat, the professional surfers and employees of the hotel do not count!!!!!). Feature more women of culture to model and represent FP and Im fine.

  24. Dreads are a hairstyle. No culture has exclusive rights to a hairstyle.

    People who get bent out of shape and offended by white people with dreads or even white people with fake dreads have some pretty stupid priorities. There’s way too much real racism out there. Maybe focus on that.

    Culture is fluid. Culture is a construct. Nobody owns it. Human culture dies if it stops getting appropriated, changed, reused, reinterpreted. Next thing after a ban on white dreads will be what? Telling Asian kids not to rap? Telling kids in Calcutta they mustn’t learn to play baseball, only cricket?

    There is no cultural purity. Dreads in some cultures have religious significance in others they don’t. And frankly, disrespecting Rastafarianism is no different than disrespecting Catholicism anyway, if you’re a leftist: they’re both homophobic, patriarchal religions.

  25. Dreadlocks are natural not cultural… wow people. Im married to a black man with dreads and have an asian son with dreads. Haha you guys are ridiculous for thinking its offensive. Dreadlocks are beautiful on anybody!

  26. Every summer I love to buy new dreads in colorful patterns and styles.
    To the people saying this is disrespectful it is no more disrespectful than Beyonce, Mariah, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj (I could list 100 more) doing their hair blonde. Because somehow I don’t recall ANY of them actually being born “blonde.”

  27. Saying women not from a specific culture shoudn’t have dreads is like saying women with curly can’t have straight hair! Who cares? Wear your hair how you want. If it’s not being done in a mocking or mean way why are you guys getting upset about it. That’s the same as saying a woman shouldn’t have a shaved head or a pixie cut because typically men do!! THIS ISN’T THE 50’S.

  28. I love this blog but you guys are so blatantly disrespectful with cultural appropriation and never bother to at least acknowledge the cultures that this stuff comes from. On top of that these hair extensions are awful and not appealing to the eye. I wish you guys would show more diversity in your women. This blog becomes so shockingly Aryan sometimes despite the obvious fact that “Free People” aesthetic is literally people of color cultures throughout the world.

  29. Free People…so sad…I worked for Free People and when I started I had a headful of long natural dreads. Guess what I was told??? That it wasn’t brand appropriate. Well, leave it to Free People to get behind it now that dreads are trendy and cool. Free People sells an image, nothing more. It’s sad, but it’s the truth. I love the clothes just as much as the next person, but remember what you’re buying into next time you purchase their overpriced product.

  30. Dreads are not limited to certain cultures. Period. Yes, they are linked to specific cultures, but that doesn’t mean they are exclusive to them. I’ve seen people of all sorts of ethnicities, backgrounds, lifestyles with real dreadlocks. Are they being disrepectful? It’s a hairstyle. No different than braiding your hair. Furthermore, I can guarantee most people will have an article of clothing or accessory that they already own that has been inspired by another culture, lifestyle, etc. that you may not even be aware of. That is what fashion often pulls from; It’s not as though Free People is alone in that. Instead of taking offense to such things we should embrace the idea of exploring other cultures and being your own person. This is not a disrespectful product at all.

  31. does anyone really believe that the “white women” featured in the catalog or on line are actually discriptive or in any way representative of everyday white woman?! I sure don’t! I had dreads for a long time in my twenties. I did it as a rebuke of sociatal beauty standards AND b/c I actually think they are damn beautiful! I respect people of color and as a women I especially appreciate women of color. All this “cultural appropriation ” is more divisive than educational. I agree that FP and all fashion/womens mags should diversify not only in the name of inclusion but b/c we are all missing out on the bauty black, asain, latino women can bring to the industry…. But realy, as a “dumb whit girl” , I don’t feel represented either. I’m 5′ and 130 lvs! I don’t have porcelain skin, & I’m nearly 40!

  32. My hair and I will put what I want in it! If yr offended by a flippin hair accesory you seriously need to go out and have some real life experiences! You are spending way to much time reading blogs !!!!!
    Have fun play & don’t judge

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