Hair has become one of women’s favorite fashion accessories. Long, short, dyed or curled, a hairstyle can make or break any outfit just as much as a pair of shoes. One hairstyle that’s been trending with some of this season’s top looks from Cavalli to Dior is the braid. Milkmaid, pigtails, zig-zags and more, braids are everywhere! I’m sure we’ve all been through our own braid phase once before (cue embarrassing middle school photos) but is there more to this ‘do than meets the mane?
Easy on time and super versatile, braids have been spotted across dozens of different cultures, traditions and economic classes. Although the exact origin of this style is unknown, braids can be traced back to as far as 3,000 years ago in ancient Egyptian culture. Adorned with various types of beads and sported by both men and women, they were common vehicles to showcase one’s wealth (or lack thereof) in society. Travel to other various countries in Africa and you’ll find that braids differ in patterns and designs based on the characteristics of the wearer.
In 15th century Europe, lower-class women wore simple braids as a form of convenience to keep the hair out of their face while cleaning and doing daily chores. Needless to say, baths were very few and far between, so braids also allowed hair to stay cleaner for longer. The more intricate the braid got, the wealthier a person was.
This hairstyle technique made its way into American culture long before it was even dubbed America. Native Americans wore braids to signify both social class and marital status. Styles even varied depending on tribe. In some tribes, the chief or medicine man wore a braid to showcase power and authority. In other tribes, men wore braids to prep for an oncoming battle. But the most common advocates of this style were the females: 2 signified that you were married, 1 if you were single. Braids still remain a strong attribute to Native American traditions and cultures, today.
The braid frenzy has picked up some serious clout in the fash-o-sphere with buzz from industry leaders like Refinery29.com and Glamour and Hollywood favorites like Wizard of Oz and more recently The Hunger Games.
So now that you know the root (pun intended) of the matter, kiss those puny ponies goodbye and complete your summertime look with this playful and, literally, classic ‘do.