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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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…

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!