It’s March 15, also known as the Ides of March, the day that Julius Caesar famously got whacked. Which makes today a great opportunity to sit down and watch some YouTube tutorials on ancient Roman hairstyles.

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Janet Stephens is a Maryland hairdresser with a side gig as a “hair archeologist.” Specifically, she recreates historical hairstyles, her specialty being those of Roman women, long thought to rely on wigs. She demonstrated it was entirely possible they’d used their own tresses. Her work has gotten her profiled in The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. The Cut spoke to Stephens back in December, and she explained that she doesn’t have a formal classics background—but she does know hair. And one day she was at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore and started puzzling over the construction of an updo on a bust of empress Julia Domna and just had to figure it out. It went from there.

Turns out her work is perfect for YouTube, and so Stephens posts recreations of styles from across the ancient world, as well as more recent periods like the Napoleonic era. Each of the videos offers a bit of background accompanied by stills, before getting into the main event: the actual tutorial.

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Apparently Roman brides also wore flower crowns! Wedding-day festivities for ancient Roman women involved a complex, special, and highly traditional “seni crines” style that required parting the bride’s hair with a spearpoint.

Vestal Virgins wore something similarly ornate and strict; for centuries nobody quite knew what was going with these priestesses’ hair, and Stephens was the first person in modern times to work it out.

This one involves needle and thread. Stephens explains that’s what made the ‘do a status symbol—you couldn’t achieve it unless you had a servant to literally sew your hair into place.

There’s even a look for the kids!

Personally, though, I’m feeling this fifteenth-century look, which is going to look great at the club this weekend.


Contact the author at kelly@jezebel.com.