French Braids History

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Braids have been popular for centuries
Braids have been popular for centuries (Image: "Meeting It" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: sflovestory (Kristen Holden) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Modeled by everyone from schoolgirls to football players, braids are a hairstyle woven into our everyday lives. The French braid can be worn elaborately or simply, but the style is truly beautiful and part of history.

Definition

According to HairBoutique.com, a French braid differs from a three-strand braid by beginning with a small ponytail in hand at the crown that is woven into a braid that incorporates small strands of hair down the head to the end of the braid. The end is then turned under and secured.

(Image: "Reading Giovanni Battista Niccolini, National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC)" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: takomabibelot (Jim Kuhn) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Origins

Originally called a French plait, the French braid is rumored to have been devised by an 18th-century French stylist as a twist on the traditional English braid. The braid has been around for so many centuries that the exact inventor cannot be verified. The hairstyle is documented as far back as the ancient Mayans.

(Image: "Sarah in Plaza Hotel Lobby_Cuba 316" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: hoyasmeg (James Emery) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Function

Throughout the history of the French braid, the braid's function has always been to contain the wearer’s hair, from the shorter strands on the sides to the longer bulk of the hair.

(Image: "mayan pyramid" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: striatic (hobvias sudoneighm) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Fun Facts

Many celebrities, such as Sarah Michelle Gellar (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), Diane Kruger (“Inglourious Basterds”), and Drew Barrymore (“Grey Gardens”), have been seen wearing French braid styles.

Considerations

Very short hair is difficult to wear in this style, because the braid requires hair from every part of the head. Historically, longer hair has yielded the best English/French braid results.

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