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Although mullets and beehives may come and go, braids have consistently remained au courant across centuries, continents, and genders. Even when historical styles are “quoted” in contemporary fashion shows by Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, braids — even when they’re not updated or modified — can look fiercely modern (or just plain fierce).
Braids have been used to symbolize wealth, marital status, age, and rank. They’re also functional, keeping their wearers cool and unencumbered so they can work without getting hair in their eyes.
Let’s take a little stroll through centuries and continents and check out all the meanings and styles braids have taken on, from the simplest single plait to the most elaborate updos.
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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza