Braided Hairstyles

Learn about the many traditional American Indian braided hairstyles and unique ways to wear your hair.


Braided hairstyles vary as widely as those whose heads’ the braids adorn and there is no one right way to wear braided hairstyles. Obviously hair type and length plays a factor in which types of braided hairstyles one can wear and some types of braids are more prevalent in certain cultures than in others. In many cultures braided hairstyles are more prevalent on women than men, but men in several cultures wear braided hairstyles as frequently as women do.

Two particular cultures where braided hairstyles are widely accepted on men and women are African American and Native American Indian. The Native American Indians in particular exhibit the ways men can wear braided hairstyles with considerable dignity. Part of the heritage of the Native American Indians is that hair represents power. The longer a man’s hair, the more he has seen and learned. Men would often wear their hair plaited down the center of their backs and younger warriors would wear two braids off to each side of the head. Women also often wore braids adorned with jewelry or other accents. Even today, both men and women of American Indian heritage wear braided hairstyles.

There are numerous ways to braid hair and numerous names for each braid. The basic differences between different braided hairstyles are the number of strands the hair is divided into prior to braiding and the direction in which those strands are folded over or under one another. The traditional straight braid is what people are most familiar with and involves three strands of hair folded alternately over and under one another from both left and right. However, more intricate braided hairstyles involve braiding with more than three strands of hair.

Braided hairstyles can be an expressive art form, but finding someone who can create intricate braids is not easy. In fact, many hairstylists can create only one or two basic braided hairstyles, if any at all. Ethnic hairstylists are more likely to be able to create a variety of braided hairstyles, but finding a good one can be challenge in some areas.

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