Headbands to Headscarves

As of this month, I have been covering my head in some fashion for five years! Those of you who have been paying attention are surely thinking “wait, Melissa hasn’t been married that long!” – and you are correct. Head covering was so important to me that I took the time to figure it out emotionally, spiritually, and physically in advance.

You see, I started the journey to covering my head once I knew we were going to get married. Though there was 18 months between the two, it was a very valuable time and growth experience for me. I always saw that one aspect of head covering was the visible distinction of being “off the market” for lack of better phrase. While no one would know that wearing a headband, ribbon, or wide headscarf  was for such a purpose – I did. The other driving factor was my propensity to headaches. I had to adjust to having something on my head and learn how to work that so that it wasn’t a headache trigger.

I started with cloth headbands and skinny fabric tied as a ribbon. Then I moved to wider pieces of ribbon and skinny scarves. Next was slightly wider scarves. Finally I reached the point where I was wearing scarves that mostly covered the entire top of my head or hats on a daily basis. The transition from that to a scarf which covered all my hair once I got my married was subtle, but vital. I had been building up my tolerance – emotionally, spiritually, and physically – over the past 18 months, and by the time I woke up and needed to cover it all, I was ready. I knew what I was getting into and was comfortable with my decision. Over the next 3.5 years. I experimented with how much hair I was comfortable having out and what sort of coverings worked for me. I’ve done chunky visible bangs to not a strand exposed, and everywhere in between. I wear hats, caps, berets, snoods, pre-tieds, scarves, and/or a sheitel. There is no one size fits all way to cover and my choice on any given day depends on where I’m going, what I’m wearing, and how I’m feeling.

I don’t know what headcovering will look like in another few years, but for now, I’m grateful for the past five years of experience and growth.

I now present a slideshow of a sample cross-section of my head covering styles over the past five years…

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Review: Wicking Headwrap

I have mentioned on more than one occasion that I have a great love for the scarves and hats produced by The Style Underground, so when Julie (its divine owner who I hope to someday meet in real life) offered to send me the Athena Moisture Wicking Headwrap to review, I couldn’t resist! You see, I wore her last wicking hat (the predecessor to the Yoshi braid hat) extensively, including for a half-marathon, but it was a bit bulky and this upgrade seemed more streamlined. Here is the product description:

High performance yet feminine, the navy moisture wicking fabric of this pre-tied will repel sweat away from your scalp to keep you feeling fresh. Perfect for the gym, outdoor sports and hiking, and hot weather.
Two snap clips, one at the front and one in the back, make this completely slip-proof. Features a seamless edge and perfectly-tailored pleats, which can be positioned in the front or back. Keep your hair in place by wearing this with a stocking cap underneath.

When my package arrived, I was excited to see what the fabric felt like.  It was in fact very airy and reminded me of the shirts given out at races – definitely a good sign.  Julie had also included the stocking cap, however I have to say that I have bought them from her before and do not find that they fit my head well.  I am sure its a great trick though, as I have had more than one person suggest this as a means of controlling my fly-aways.

After the gym, and still in place!

Unfortunately my gym-time has been pretty non-existent for awhile, but when I finally got to go, I was excited to try out this headwrap.  I paired it with my standard gym attire, a long sleeve light weight wicking jacket and wide leg yoga pants (I have safety concerns about wearing a skirt at the gym, so it is the one place I make an exception) and was ready to go.  It took me a  few tries to find the right placement so the clips didn’t pull at my very fine hair, but after just a few moments I felt like I was ready to go.  So I hit the treadmill, free weights, and dance floor – and never once had the need to readjust my headcovering! I was amazed when I walked back into the locker room, took a moment to really look in the mirror, and saw that it looked like it was in just the same place as it was when I walked out an hour earlier.  To top it off, my head wasn’t sweaty and I hadn’t felt overheated even once.  All very important in a gym-friendly headcovering!

Ready for a day out and about

After such a great first run with it, I felt that I should take it to the next step and wear it for a day out and about.  While it is definitely not the temperature outside these days to make one want a light weight head-covering, I know those days all too well and its always good to know what you can count on to make it a bit easier. So one day when I was going to be out and about for awhile, I built my outfit around it (not the first time I’ve done such a thing) and off I went again.  Again, I had to play with the clips to get them right without pulling.  However, this time I did find myself needing to adjust it periodically – the clips and my ponytail weren’t seeming to align well, though keeping the gathers opposite of my natural part seemed to help.

This is the clip. There is another at the nape of my neck.

I’ve worn it a few times since to try to figure out the clip thing, and I think its just a learning curve.  Each time it seems to get a bit better as I figure out what works with my head and hair.  This is not unusual for me and headcoverings though, so its definitely not a deal breaker and it has definitely gotten better with practice.  Even when they pull a bit, they do not give me headaches like some others have which is a big relief.  There is also no elastic in the wrap which helps in the no-headache department.

Overall, I am very excited about this headwrap.  The fabric is great for a hot day and it is casual enough for the gym, but the pleats also make it nice enough for running around town.  In some of the other materials, you could easily dress it up for a night on the town or a business meeting. The clips help it to really stay in place well and it is quick to slip on. In fact, I got word that Julie is looking to launch a pre-tied version of the Royal Turban soon, in “lightweight fabrics fit for springtime and in solid colored charmeuse for eveningwear” and I can’t wait.

I have to conclude by saying that I first connected to the site when Jessica discovered the scarf tying videos.  Since then my ability to look good in any situation has greatly increased due to the combination of classy and high-quality scarves and unique ways of tying them. I have also found both Julie and my fellow-fans to be full of great advice in moments of difficulty or when looking for a creative solution on how to feel pretty and rejuvenated when a cut or color isn’t going to have the same effect it once did.

And in case you’ve somehow missed learning about this great resource until now, I’ll share the description as well.

The Style Underground is a handmade accessories line that offers luxury headscarves and scarf-tying video tutorials. Our goal is to design fashion-forward headscarves that are slip resistant and easy to tie, then teach you how to rock them.The scarves, hats, and pre-tieds are carefully constructed by hand in our studio and in a local Connecticut couture dressmaking atelier. They’re made with fine fabrics, close attention to detail, and professional equipment.Our devoted fans and customers are enthusiastic about covering their hair with style. If you need some advice about wrapping a headscarf, or just need some encouragement, post on our Facebook fan page and you’ll get plenty of responses!
This headwrap was gifted to me for review, however I have still provided my complete honest feedback. The links are not affiliate links and we receive no compensation for any purchases made as a result of this post.

Q&A: Baby wearing and head covering?

Post by Melissa

A good friend recently asked me the following question and I knew I had to come ask you all:

A friend of mine who likes to baby wear also covers her hair (scarves, generally). But kiddo is starting to pull. Any tips/tricks to keep head covered against baby hands?

Since I am not yet a mom, I am able to be intentional in my head coverings when I am going to be spending prolonged amount of time with kids.  I tend to wear the beret style hat/snoods which are easily adjustable as they get touched and pulled. However, I know many moms who wear tichels full time, so there has to be a trick, beyond just waiting for them to learn not to touch.

So dear readers, do you have any insights about how to keep little hands away from a covered head?

how long is the hair under there?

Lately I’ve been struggling with the length of my hair. It has been many lengths over the years, and that includes the past year while covering it.  While there have been pros and cons at each length – I cannot seem to decide what feels like the right choice at this stage in the game.

So tonight, I have no great insights of my own, I just ask – fair covering friends – how long is your hair under there? How did you decide what length to keep it?

How much is enough?

Coverage that is.

Post by Melissa

I feel like I am on an ever evolving path in my religiosity (didn’t know that was a real word, awesome!) and outward expression thereof. Lately this has been affecting many aspects of my life, as well as D’s, as we reevaluate some of our choices and alter our plans to move forward. Just as Jessica and R’s plans were drastically changed with one phone call, so to did ours.  However, ours are not solid enough yet for public consumption, so you’ll have to wait to hear the details. In the interim, you get more glimpses into how this affects our lives and how it plays out in my head.

Right now, I’m facing a conundrum over how to cover my hair.  While I am comfortable in my modesty level with my clothing and have taken steps to continually express myself while being consistently tzanua, I don’t feel the same confidence in hair covering.

As I’ve mentioned countless times on this blog, I like having variety and I like covering my hair.  However I feel almost hypocritical when I leave some showing, as most of the time I fully cover and am vocal about finding it to be a meaningful experience to do so.  I don’t think tying a scarf in such a way that the last inch or so of my hair hangs out is inherently bad, I’m just not sure its consitent with tying a scarf so that none of my hair shows.  Espescially not when doing so interhchangably.

So this Shabbat, I pushed myself a little. I straightened my hair on Friday afternoon and when I got dressed for Shul on Saturday morning, I wore a scarf tied so the bottom bit hung down. I even put a fun flower pin on it.  I felt like I looked pretty, and I got a lot of compliments. Does that somehow take away from the mitzvah and modesty though? I wear scarves tyed in a pretty way and don’t think its a problem, why should this be?  Aren’t we supposed to beautify mitzvot anyway? Isn’t that why we have beautiful mezuzot, chunkiot, and Shabbat candle sticks?  Isn’t that one of the reasons for Chazanut, and even choirs?

I wish I had the answers, but right now, I just have musings.  Please share your own musings and insights with me, I would love the feedback…

Tzniut and Interviews

Post by Melissa

Lately, I’ve been on a spree of professional interviews, and every time I pick out my clothing, I go through an internal debate about what to wear and how to cover my head.  So despite the conversations I’ve been engaged in on this topic elsewhere, I thought it would be interesting to hear your thoughts as well.

In the warmer months, I don’t feel so weird about my clothing choices.  Typically I will wear a knee length pencil skirt with a shell and blazer.  Before I was dressing tzanuah (modest) this was also pretty much what I would wear on summer-time interviews.  This look doesn’t becomes out of place until you are wearing it with leggings and boots and a long down coat when it is 20’F and snowing, as happened to me this past winter.

I think the more difficult part is headcovering.  As previously stated, I will not wear a sheitel, so there goes that option for blending in.  In some of the places I’m interviewing the clientèle is lower-income people and a simple tichel may look more like a “do-rag” in those settings, even if it is tied nicely.  So I have mostly taken to wear nice crocheted snoods (as seen on me in the above photo) but even that doesn’t always feel appropriate.  I feel that it is important to cover my head in a way which I am comfortable doing if offered a position, but its hard to strike a balance of what is also interview appropriate.

I also then feel the compulsion to comment on my hair covering. So towards the end of my time asking questions I will typically say something to the effect of “I cover my hair for religious reasons.  There are a variety of ways I can do this which can be discussed if you chose to hire me.”  This never fails to feel awkward, but I sometimes feel like if I don’t say it, it is as though I have avoided the pink elephant in the room.

So I ask you, my beloved readers, what do you do (or have you seen done) which is appropriate, in all meanings of the word?  What would you wear? Would you speak up about it?

I have to add, this week I interviewed with a Jewish education and outreach program which is run by a religious person, and it was so nice to know I could wear my tichel (tied in the Urban Wrap style from Style Underground) and be accepted.  Though I have interviewed with many Jewish organizations, this was the first time my interviewer (who would also be my boss) was a religious person, and it really made such a difference in my comfort level!

Reflections on a year of hair covering

Post by Melissa

If I have learned anything in the past year of full time hair covering, it is definitely that anything with elastic is amazing and variety is the spice of life. I also have found that having super fun hats for special occasions makes the attention received for having your hair covered about more than just your hair being covered, it becomes also about your extravagant hat. Sometimes going big and making a statement makes it easier to be different.

I spent the year (or-so) before my wedding building up a collection of hats and scarves and getting used to having things on my head, as I had never tolerated that well in the past.  When we first got married I wore a lot of hats which came just above my ears (think baseball cap sized, but more fun and stylish), pre-tied bandannas, and rectangular scarves tied in a simple bun.  It was not uncommon that whatever I chose would drive me crazy, and by lunchtime I would be in the stores across the street from my office searching for something else I could put on my head that day. My hat and scarf collection grew rapidly in the early months as I truly struggles with what I felt comfortable in, both for modesty reasons and physical comfort.

Come winter, I quickly discovered an additional complication.  It was difficult to cover my hair nicely and not have my ears freeze off! I was able to find a few nice hats/caps which served double purpose, and then had my sister-in-law crochet me a headband I could wear with my tichel to keep my ears and forehead warm.  The combination served me well in the colder months.  However as spring approached I was looking for something different again.  I had started to grow my hair out a bit, after having kept it chin length since cutting 9″ to donate after the wedding, and the length was getting to be difficult to get under the scarf well without a lot of bobby pins (which often give me headaches).  At this point I was introduced to a woman who sold beautifully crocheted snoods, and bought two to try out.  D and I both agreed that they looked nice, and I soon bought a few more from her as well as some more casual slouch-hats that could serve the same purpose.

Recently Jessica found a blog with videos on more fun ways to tie scarves which introduced me to my current favorite hair covering supplier – The Style Underground.  I have not only found scarves which are slip resistant because of how she makes them, but they are gorgeous to boot and Julie (the designer and owner) is a fabulous woman to interact with.  (She isn’t even aware I’m saying these great things about her, so trust me – its worth checking out!) I have recently started trying to adapt her video style inspirations to work with my shorter hair, and get so many compliments on the new way I wear my scarves most often.  I have found the Urban Wrap to be very comfortable and with much less pressure than I had anticipated, and by wrapping it so much across the head, the weight is more evenly distributed which reduces the weight being on the back of your head causing it to slip down.

I have had friends who are just getting married, or just looking to cover their hair, or looking for a new way to cover it ask me about my process and what I found to be the best, so I shall leave you with some partign words.  I think that what works for me right now, may not be what works for you or even for me down the road.  The journey is important when taking on this mitzvah.  It is crucial to experiment and slowly build a stash of head coverings that work for you and have variety.  No matter how much you may like one look, there will be days where you just want something different, so allowing yourself to play around with different options keeps head covering a fun part of getting ready and not a mundane obligation.

Do you have insights or questions about hair covering? Please share!