The key to this look is to give the top section of hair a bit of texture before you pin it back. The texture will add volume and sophistication so you won't look like you're in grade school.
The Perky Ponytail
I love the contrasting textures of this one. You want to slick the hair back tightly before you tie it into a ponytail. (Think Kim Kardashian.) Use a comb to make sure there are no fly-aways and some hairspray to keep the hair smooth. Then, take your comb and tease the roots of the tail to give it height and heft.
For polished waves, get out your curling iron and wrap small sections of hair around the barrel starting mid-shaft. When the curls are in place, do not use a brush! Instead comb through with your fingers.
A Textured Bun
Start with a side (or middle) part. Twist sections of your hair back into a low ponytail. Backcomb portions of the ponytail for texture. Twist the ends of the hair around the ponytail elastic and fix in place with bobby pins. Leave the bun loose and messy as opposed to ballerina-bun perfect.
First of all, don't brush your hair — the messier it is to begin with, the better. Section your hair into three parts and start the braid on one side so that it falls on top of your shoulder. Once you've fixed the end with an elastic, you can pull out strands to give a relaxed, imperfect look. A tip: do your braid the night before and sleep on it to get the ideal roughed-up effect.