Remember all the way back to 2009 when Alexander Wang sent sweatshirt-wearing models down the runway wearing disheveled, messy side braids? And then suddenly the braid was back. Or so many claimed. But really, it never went away. That's the beauty of the braid: it's eternally cool, and luckily for us, here to stay. 

A couple weeks ago Anya was roadtripping around New Mexico for our nationwide street style series, United States in Style. Besides returning with some pretty awesome stories and a nice haul of turquoise jewelry, she's been wearing lots of braids around the office: the side braid, pigtail braids and the crown headband braid. (Anya introduces us to some of her muses in the slideshow below.)

Being around so much braiding inspired us to take a closer look at the style. Different cultures worldwide have always embraced the braid, considering it a highly symbolic part of their identity. Various iterations have been named for the country that popularized it. See: the French, Dutch and Swiss braids. The styles also seem to be decade-specific: the hippie '60s saw many a double braid, while fishtail braids were big in the '80s. For better or worse. 

In other words, the braid is The Great Unifier, people! Here are some of its best manifestations...and some of its not-so-best...woven into one slideshow.


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  • Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of Louis VII

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  • Mata Hari, Early 1900s

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  • 1910

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  • Czech Republic, 1938

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  • Veronica Lake, 1941

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  • Tibetan woman, 1947

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  • Actress Daphne Campbell, 1947

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  • Opera Singer Blanche Thebom, 1950s

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  • Joan Fontaine, 1951

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  • 1953

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  • Suzan Ball, 1955

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  • 1955

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  • Cher, 1968

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  • Joni Mitchell, 1970s

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  • Roberta Flack, 1973

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  • Traditional Yugoslav Folk Dancer, 1952

  • Brigitte Bardot, 1960

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  • Twiggy, 1966

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  • Jane Fonda, 1972

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  • Melissa Gilbert, 1978

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  • Sade, 1980s

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  • Actress Charlene Tilton, 1980s

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  • Actress Patrizia Pellegrino, 1981

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  • Burning Spear, 1984

  • Valerie Bertinelli, 1980

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  • Nicole Kidman, 1993

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  • Brandy, 1995

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  • Kirsten Dunst, 1995

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  • Anna Sui Collection, 1998

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  • Karolina Kurkova, 2000

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  • Gwyneth Paltrow, 2002

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  • Joy Bryant, 2002

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  • Katie Holmes, 2003

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  • Alexandra Burke, 2012

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  • Alexander Wang, 2009

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  • Busy Phillips, 2011

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  • Katie Holmes, 2011

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  • Lea Seydoux, 2011

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  • Kim Kardashian, 2011

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  • Lily Kwong, 2011

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  • Mamie Gummer, 2011

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  • Kendall Jenner, 2011

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  • Tika Sumpter, 2011

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  • Solange Knowles, 2011

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  • Rihanna, 2011

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  • Amy Adams, 2011

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  • Garcelle Beauvais, 2011

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  • Jennifer Hudson, 2012

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  • Elizabeth Olsen, 2012

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  • Gabrielle Union, 2012

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  • Erika Christensen, 2012

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