Inspirational Medieval Hairstyles – Transport Yourself to the Past

by John Griffith

Contemporary fashion is very much inspired by the past. We often look back to different decades, searching for style inspiration with a hint of nostalgia. This is true not only when it comes to our clothes but also in relation of our hair. One example is the increasing popularity of medieval and renaissance hairstyles. Sparked by hit TV shows set in the past, the interest in these gorgeous and intricate looks has motivated many viewers to try them out for themselves.

Renaissance hairstyles are feminine and graceful

renaissance hairstyles, smiling blonde woman, in pale blue dress, with lace and frills, long wavy hair, with a braid and flowers

Renaissance hairstyles – medieval hairstyles for long hair

In medieval and renaissance times, long hair was seen as a symbol of wealth and high social status. In order to have strong and thick tresses, a person had to live in comfort and have a healthy, rich diet, which was sadly not accessible to the majority of people at the time. What’s more, a woman’s long hair implied that she has plenty of time for grooming and doesn’t need to work for her keep. In a similar vein, the various intricate braided hairstyles popular at the time, often too complex to be achieved on one’s own, suggested that the lady in question has servants to help her dress and prepare. Diadems, wreaths and tiaras (for women of noble birth) were often used as hair accessories during this period, as they too alluded to the wearer’s wealth and power.

Intricate braids decorated with wildflowers were very popular among medieval ladies

renaissance hairstyles, woman looking to one side, blue-grey rough fabric top, long straight blonde hair, woven into a crown-like braid, and decorated with flowers

Lush contemporary braid, inspired by renaissance hairstyles

renaissance hairstyles, long wavy blonde hair, with two rows of side-woven braids, coming together in one, black blazer and pink background

How to do medieval hairstyles – Renaissance hair dos

Free-flowing waist-long hair, decorated with wreaths or ribbons, was popular among young, unmarried women. Flowers were especially favored due to their fragrance and because they symbolized innocence and purity. In addition, they were accessible to everyone, not only the ladies with high social standing.

This simple style is perfect for romantic and free-spirited souls

renaissance hairstyles, messy curly hair, and a wreath of pink roses, worn by young woman, with blue eyes

Medieval hairstyles for women as depicted in art pieces

Medieval and renaissance artworks give us plenty of ideas about what the hairstyles of the period were like. By closely studying paintings from the era, fashion historians (and fans) can recreate some of the looks to the very last detail. You can even try for yourself – it might seem complicated at first, but you will soon discover that some of the hairstyles depicted can be achieved quite easily at home, alone or with the help of a friend.

Replay the past in the comfort of your own home

renaissance hairstyles, young woman with hairnet, decorated with pearls and gold, hair woven in green ribbon, next to to her is a medieval painting of a woman, with a similar headdress

Renaissance women’s hairstyles in contemporary TV and films

Although TV shows, films and computer games try to show us what medieval and renaissance hairstyles were like, they can only give us a glimpse of the possible variations. Undoubtedly, there are many unique looks, which were not documented by artists and have since been lost to time. Nevertheless, if we use the information we do have and add some of our imagination, we can create lovely hairdos inspired by the past.

This simple and charming look is truly timeless!

renaissance hairstyles, smiling girl with long, wavy blonde hair, partially tied back, wearing pale brown renaissance dress, and carrying a basket with flowers

Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette – the fashion icon of the late Renaissance

renaissance hairstyles, kirsten dunst, dressed as marie antoinette, with pale pink, frilly and shiny dress, pink curly hair in side ponytail, and green wreath with white flowers

Gorgeous Renaissance braid hairstyles

Braided hairstyles were immensely popular during the middle ages and early renaissance. While the rich ladies had servants to help them create complex designs, the common women opted for simple styles, which prevented their hair from getting in their way during work. Married women of the era usually kept their hair hidden, as loose, free-flowing locks were considered sexually provocative. Thus, hair was often braided and tucked it under a headscarf.

Intricate braid design, resembling a sword

renaissance hairstyles, dark blonde hair, braided in a complex style, with several differently sized braids, coming together in the middle

Braids, flowers and ribbons – the perfect medieval hairstyle!

renaissance hairstyles, dark blond hair, woven in two braids, with more differently sized braids and twists, in the upper part of the head, decorated with white ribbon, and small pink flowers, medieval women hairstyles

medieval hairstyles, dark brown hair, partially woven in several braids from each side, joining together in the middle, to form one thick braid, clear and green beads in hair, green top with leaf pattern

medieval hairstyles, woman dressed in black leather vest and white shirt, with armlets and black skirt, wearing her very long, dark hair in a single thick braid, decorated with flowers

Why not try it yourself? Watch this tutorials to learn how:

This video will teach you how to get the perfect flower crown look:

Before marriage, it was acceptable for girls to leave their hair uncovered. They either braided or tied it, or simply let it flow free over their shoulders. After getting a husband, women were required to keep their hair hidden, as loose hair was associated with loose morals, or even witchcraft!

Charming daisy wreath

medieval hairstyles, woman in turquoise long-sleeved dress, with a high collar and tassels, wearing a daisy crown, over her free-flowing, brunette curly hair

medieval hairstyles, red-haired lana del ray, with hairstyle inspired by the middle ages, curled and falling over one shoulder, and decorated with colorful flower crown

What are the most popular braids?

Women from the middle ages were ingenious when it came to creating new braiding patterns. In fact, they invented most of the braid varieties we have today! Would you like to try a medieval braid look for yourself? If so, check out our amazing suggestions:

Cute side braid

medieval hairstyles, close up of girl with ginger hair, woven into a side braid, going round her head

medieval hairstyles, dark red hair, with a hoop-like braid, and a simple hair knot, medieval women hairstyles

medieval hairstyles, girl holding wooden bow and arrows, with red partially braided hair, forming a complex pattern at the back of her head

Medieval hair accessories

Hair accessories have been a popular part of women’s styling since antiquity. In medieval times, they started becoming more sophisticated and lavish. Deft craftsmen used precious metals and stones to create hairpins, diadems and tiaras, which beautifully complemented the ladies’ intricate hairstyles.

Eye-catching butterfly hair ornament 

medieval hairstyles, long ginger hair, decorated with a wire butterfly ornament, featuring many black beads, worn by woman in pale, olive green t-shirt

medieval hairstyles, woman with brunette hair, braided and put up, wearing a retro embroidered dress, silver earrings and a peacock-tail hair ornament

elizabethan hairstyles, woman with auburn hair, partially tied back, and decorated with silver ornaments, wearing an unusual, antique grey and yellow dress

elizabethan hairstyles, long straight dark brown hair, with a braid on each side, joining to form a single braid in the middle, and decorated with ornaments, made of gold and pearls

Let our collection of hairstyles inspire you!

elizabethan hairstyles, dark brown curly hair with highlights, decorated with a single side braid

elizabethan hairstyles, six images showing examples of hairstyles, inspired by history, plaids and curls, buns and bows, on blonde and ginger hair

Many contemporary celebrities choose hairstyles with a hint or renaissance aesthetic

elizabethan hairstyles, taylor swift wearing a black dress, with mesh details and metallic decorations, her blonde hair woven in a messy, renaissance-like style

Gorgeous braids and luscious soft curls – a match made in heaven

elizabethan hairstyles, woman with light brown hair and black dress, styled with soft curls, and decorated with twists and braids, joining at the middle

elizabethan hairstyles, blonde hair woven in a simple braid, with a green and gold-embroidered ribbon running through it

elizabethan hairstyles, smiling young woman, wearing white jumper and red lipstick, with brown and blonde ombre hair, braided in a two-tone-plaid, and tied in a wavy ponytail

Renaissance clothes and hair

elizabethan hairstyles, blonde young woman, with hair tied back at the top, and let to fall in curls at the bottom, wearing renaissance dress, and a crucifix necklace

middle age hairstyles, woman with straight dark hair, wearing a green headdress, decorated with pearls, and a dress in the same color, with large sleeves, and golden details

Modern hairstyle with a renaissance twist!

middle age hairstyles, dark wavy blonde hair, with two rows of side braids, worn by woman in white sleeveless top

middle age hairstyles, brown and blonde wavy ombre hair, decorated with two rows of braids at the top, worn by woman in white dress

middle age hairstyles, smiling young woman, with brown hair parted in the middle, and tied back with a pearl diadem, sitting with folded arms, wearing a white, embroidered folk shirt and shorts

Romantic medieval do’s are an ideal choice for your wedding!

middle age hairstyles, blonde curled hair, with a single side braid, decorated with white flowers, close up shows the braid's pattern, medieval women hairstyles

middle age hairstyles, smiling bride with white veil, blonde hair falling in lose curls, with a tiara made from twisted hair strands, decorated with pearls, pink and white flowers

middle age hairstyles, blonde hair with twists and braids, shaped in a bun, with differently colored ribbons woven into it, worn by woman in a patterned top

middle age hairstyles, dark brown long wavy hair, decorated with a golden diadem, featuring curly details, and several flowers

middle age hairstyles, dark-haired woman in heavy makeup, looking to one side, dressed in a white sleeveless dress, and wearing her hair up, decorated with a braid, curls and loose hair strands

Beautiful celtic warrior with braided hair

medieval braids, red-haired woman, long hair decorated with two braids, wearing a green and pale brown dress, with a fur cape, jewelry and ornaments from gold, amber and silver

medieval braids, brown wavy hair, partially braided, to form a rose-like hair knot at the back

medieval braids, four examples of hair inspired by the past, messy bun with loose curly strands, long blonde hair with braid, braided brunette hair with gold ornament, curled blonde ponytail with flowers

medieval braids, four young women with messy braids, three of them have blonde hair, wile one is brunette, and wears a diadem with flowers, renaissance braided hairstyles

Renaissance hairstyles suit every face shape and look great in any hair color!

medieval braids, blonde woman with pink lipstick, and black eyeliner, wearing a pale cream tulle gathered top, updo with a crown-like braid, and several loose strands

medieval times hair, young woman with red lipstick and dress, with floral embroidery, wavy blonde hair, and a chunky locket

medieval braids, close up of wavy ginger hair, with two rows of small braids, joining in the middle, decorated with gold ornaments

medieval times hair, smiling blonde woman, with wavy natural hair, wearing red lipstick, and ornate gold diadem, with black stone

medieval braids, blonde braided hair, forming a voluminous bun at the back, decorated with silver ornaments, worn by woman in dark grey mantle

Don’t be afraid to experiment with unusual hair accessories

medieval times hair, blond natural curly hair, decorated with a crown made of golden wire

medieval braids, young woman wearing green embroidered dress with hood, long ginger hair, decorated with several braids, and many feathers, strong green eye makeup, renaissance braided hairstyles

medieval times hair, straight dirty blond hair, decorated with a flower wreath, made from brown twigs, green leaves and white flowers

medieval braids, long straight dark blonde hair, with several small braids at the top, coming together in a bigger braid in the middle, and decorated with purple hairbands, and silver flowers

Travel back in time to the middle ages!

renaissance braids, blonde woman with long, straight hair, with crown-like braid at the top, decorated with small red flowers, wearing a blue-grey dress, with brown leather belt

medieval times hair, woman in profile, with brunette hair styled in an unusual hairdo, featuring loose curly strands, and twisted sections

medieval times hair, smiling blonde woman, wearing red embroidered dress, hair twisted around a pearl and gold diadem at the top, falling in loose curls at the bottom

Delicate and feminine styles for red hair

medieval times hair, wavy ginger hair, twisted like a crown at the top, decorated with a pearl and gold ornament, worn by woman in white, long-sleeved dress

renaissance braids, woman in theatrical make-up, wearing red wig, with one braid over her shoulder, a twisted diadem and pale green dress, with gold sequins

renaissance braids, long ginger hair, curled at the bottom, with two rows of braids at the top, and a silver tiara with white stones, worn by woman in white, sleeveless corseted dress

renaissance braids, messy and wavy red hair, with a single side braid, decorated with three white flower ornaments

Regal hairstyles that will take your breath away

renaissance braids, long dark brown hair, with blond highlights, curled at the ends, with crown-like braids at the top, worn by woman in white, long-sleeved dress

renaissance braids, long blonde messy braid, decorated with lots of tiny white and blue flowers, worn by woman in white off-shoulder lace dress

medieval times hair, brunette with dark curly hair, wearing a minimalist silver crown, and a beige dress, with frills and lace

medieval times hair, dark blonde hair, with several twisted strands coming from both sides, and uniting in the middle, blue top with embroidered details

You can choose a magnificent complex do, or go for a charming, simple sweep

renaissance braids, braided blonde hair, with several layers of braids, forming a bun at the back, black feather earrings

smiling young woman, with black mascara, facing to one side, with pale brown straight hair, decorated with a medieval-inspired twist

Fun suggestion for a costume party or Halloween celebration

woman with red lipstick, black eye-make-up and blonde wig, wearing a black top, and dark grey velvet cape and hood, renaissance braided hairstyles

woman in blonde wig with curly ends, wearing black tight dress, and grey velvet hooded cape, heavy make up, and theatrical pose

renaissance braids, tutorial showing how to make a messy-half braid, in five easy steps, brunette hair with bangs

rooney mara, with dark hair parted in the middle, and small renaissance-inspired hair knot at the back, wearing white long-sleeved dress with lace details

renaissance braids, dark honey blond hair, woven in a messy braid, tied with black ribbons, worn by slim woman, in red open-back embroidered dress

Medieval hairstyles look great on big AND small ladies

teenage girl wearing knight-like armor, with messy brown hair, decorated with two small braids, and silver ornaments

small blonde girl, with hair styled in renaissance-like hair bun, wearing a shiny, dark blue dress

Mix different styles for a unique, head-turning look!

unusual hairstyle for ginger hair, made up of curls, twists and braids, worn by woman with red lipstick, looking to one side

close up of kate middleton, natural brown wavy hair, tied back at the top, smile and green eyes, natural looking make-up, earrings with blue gems

straight auburn hair, with five crossing braids, joining in the middle, seen from two angles

hairstyle with several braids and a bun, decorated with white ribbon, worn by brunette woman, seen from two angles

smiling woman dressed like a medieval lady, brown wig with curly ends, two rows of plaids at the top, shiny brown dress, with gold details and lace, renaissance braided hairstyles

Beautiful and understated hairstyle with a subtle reference to medieval fashion

blond hair with small side twist, braided at the bottom, decorated with golden string, and a green embroidered ribbon

light blonde hair, with messy voluminous braid, decorated with delicate silver ornaments, and small white flowers, worn by woman in white, free-flowing dress, with lace neckline

brown and blonde ombre hair, tied in high ponytail, with several braided segments, worn by woman in pink top

brown braided hair, inspired by medieval times, with two tight braids, forming a bow detail at the top of the head

straight brunette hair, with two rows of differently sized braids at the top, going round the head like a crown, decorated with tiny black rose ornaments

John Griffith

John Griffith is a young, passionate journalist. Writing has been John’s hobby ever since he was a boy. He has worked in some of the UK’s most successful news portals over the course of his professional career but found his forever home at Archzine.