Hairstyles of the Roman Empire
How much time do you spend thinking about the Roman Empire?
The question sweeping TikTok and Instagram has us cackling, but also shocked by just how much time people out there are thinking about… gladiators? Aqueducts? Russel Crowe? We may not have historically (pun very much intended) spent much time thinking about the Roman Empire ourselves, but we must admit, lately it’s taking up a lot of head space. Those ancients’ influence extended beyond their societal inventions, to their clothing, jewelry and to their elaborate hairstyles. So, we’re delving into the fascinating world of hairstyles that were popular during the Roman Empire, from the simplest to the most extravagant.
The Simplicity of the Tonsure
While the Roman Empire was known for its extravagant tastes, not everyone embraced ornate hairstyles. The simplest and most practical style was the tonsure. Tonsure involved shaving the head partially or completely, creating a clean, minimalist look.
The Classic Caesar Cut
Our Millennial and older friends may remember the resurgence of The Caesar ala George Clooney in ER. One of the most iconic Roman hairstyles, the Caesar Cut was named for Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar Augustus. This style featured short, well-combed hair with a slight fringe that extended across the forehead. The Caesar cut exuded an air of authority and sophistication and was favored by the Roman elite.
Elaborate Braids and Knots
Roman women often embraced more intricate hairstyles. Elaborate braids and knots were popular among women of higher social standing. These styles incorporated intricate weaves and hairpins to create elaborate patterns and shapes. The more complex the hairstyle, the higher the woman's social status.
The Chignon and the Bun
The chignon, a low bun at the nape of the neck, was another beloved style among Roman women. It was often accompanied by decorative hairpins and jeweled combs to add a touch of glamour. The bun, on the other hand, was a simpler yet elegant option, involving gathering the hair into a round coil at the back of the head.
Wigs and Hair Extensions
Roman fashionistas were not limited to their natural hair. They frequently used wigs and hair extensions made from human or animal hair to achieve a variety of styles. These hairpieces allowed for an even greater range of creativity and personal expression, and they were often dyed in various colors.
Hair accessories were essential to complete a Roman hairstyle. Women adorned their hair with an array of accessories, including diadems, hairpins, tiaras, and even fresh flowers. These adornments were not only fashionable but also symbolic, reflecting the wearer's social status and mood.
Our understanding of Roman hairstyles is greatly informed by the intricate details depicted in sculptures and statues from the era. These artistic representations of Roman men and women showcase the diversity and creativity of Roman hair fashion. From the simplicity of the tonsure to the opulence of intricate braids and accessories, Roman hairstyles reflected the society's hierarchy, creativity, and love for aesthetic expression. Today, these iconic hairstyles continue to inspire and influence modern fashion, proving that the allure of Roman elegance transcends the boundaries of time. So, next time we're pulling back our hair into a chic chignon with our Silk SlipTie (ahem), we'll spend just a bit more time thinking about the Roman Empire, just like our TikTok brothers and sisters.