In Praise of Meryl Streep’s Perfectly Unkempt Braids on “OMITB”

Hulu / Patrick Harbron

Meryl Streep’s onscreen hairstyles run the gamut. There was her shaggy mullet in “Silkwood,” those short brown curls in “Julie & Julia,” her long blond waves in both Mamma Mia movies, and lest we forget her silver bouffant pixie in “The Devil Wears Prada.” No disrespect to Julia Childs or Miranda Priestly, but my unexpected favorite has turned out to be Loretta Durkin’s braids on “Only Murders in the Building.” Throughout season three of the Hulu series, Loretta styles her gray-blond hair in various braided styles I find myself fixating on even more than the mystery of Ben Glenroy’s murder.

When we meet Loretta, she arrives to audition for Oliver Putnam’s Broadway play with milkmaid braids encircling her head and wispy side bangs framing her face. Throughout the season, she pops up with the same crown-like style and a few other looks, including braided pigtails with wavy ends and a low side-swept ponytail. When I give myself braided pigtails, I wind up looking like a toddler, but Loretta? She’s a boho goddess. A low-maintenance theater queen. Is she also a suspect in the case of Ben’s death? Maybe, but hey, at least her hair’s on point.

Loretta’s casual, slightly unkempt braids are a welcome departure from the perfectly slicked-back buns that seem to be everyone’s go-to these days – perhaps that’s why I’m so captivated by them. There are countless occasions I’d wear Loretta-style braids for: work-from-home days, hungover brunch with friends, late-night concerts. They’re also the ideal hairstyle for chilly fall days when you don’t want your hair to get tangled up in your scarf or matted down by your turtleneck. (Long-haired folks, you know the struggle.)

There could be more to Loretta’s braided hairstyles than meets the eye.

Symbolically speaking, there could be more to Loretta’s braided hairstyles than meets the eye. Several times this season, we see Loretta wearing braids in flashbacks to her childhood and adolescence. She has blond braided pigtails while watching a play as a young girl, milkmaid braids while practicing ballet as a pre-teen, and braided pigtails again while reading from a script as a young adult. I’m just spitballing here, but perhaps the braids connect her to the hope she’s had for a big break since youth? She’s still clutching to that desire for fame in the present day, which led her to land a role in “Death Rattle, aka “Death Razzle Dazzle.” I wouldn’t put it past the show’s hair department to sneak some deeper meaning in there.

While we race to season three’s sure-to-be-shocking conclusion, let’s take a moment to celebrate the undisputed hair icon that is Loretta, shall we? Join me in admiring her Pinterest-board-worthy hairstyles below.

Related: How to Get Mabel’s Makeup Look in “Only Murders in the Building” Season 3

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