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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Sneakily Styling Scarves

I love scarves as headcovering on a daily basis, however I don’t like always looking the same. So while I have watched many a Style Underground video to get inspiration, I’ve also found a few creative ways to expand my scarf styling repertoire lately which I wanted to share.

My hair is roughly shoulder length, and grown out from a pixie cut so it still has lots of layers and thus doesn’t make a great bun or really give bulk on the back of the head for styling and generally not looking hairless under the scarf.  To combat this, I have started wearing a hair donut (shown to the right) under my scarf. I pull my hair up into a messy ponytail where I want to have the nice bun look at, and then simply place the donut around that pony. I don’t roll it all fancy like people who would use it properly do, since it doesn’t show anyway.  This gives the illusion of a fuller bun, and also allows some bulk on the back of my head. (These are widely available on amazon as well as drugstores, grocery stores, etc.)

Another side effect of my grown out pixie cut is an inability to form one solid ponytail, so I often wear a wig grip headband under my scarf which serves a double purpose.  It both helps my scarf stay in place without pins, and hols all my short pieces securely under the scarf too so they don’t become escape artists.

I also miss having a bit of volume in my hair, and one day while strolling along with a friend I saw some Bump Its on crazy clearance and I wondered if it would work.  Well, it does! You do have to style the hair over it otherwise the teeth of the comb show through the scarf, but its a great way to add some height to your look. It also allows me to do some of the fancier styles which you need a high ponytail to really bulk up. I mostly use the middle level of the three, it gives height without being so obvious. When I do this, I can also wrap headbands or second scarves better because you have more surface area on the head to balance it out. (These are all over amazon for under $2!)

Most simply though, I sometimes just tie a second scarf underneath to give some bulk and fullness.  If you want to have an extra touch of color, you can layer it so it sticks out or wrap the tails visibly, or if you want to be sneaky, you can wrap it totally underneath and only you will know.

What other sneaky tricks do you have to mix up your look for scarves?

Talia wore a Tichel!

As I mentioned in a recent post about my Purim wig wearing experience, my good friend Talia got to be me for a day – headscarf and all. While I was wigging out (ha!) about the feeling of hair and interesting reactions, she too had an interesting reaction.

Here is just a brief excerpt:

I arrived at Mel’s house at 7:45 am. She was dressed as me and I was dressed as her. Her husband had a good chuckle at us and we went to work. We picked out jewelry and then got down to the good part. I had to pick out a scarf to wear and she had to get her brand new wig situated. Yes wig. My dear friend, who hasn’t had hair graze the back of her neck in more than two years, purchased a ‘lovely’ (read: cheap) red wig to mimic my hair. We dissolved in giggles and I helped her position it. Then it was my turn. We picked out a lovely plain brown scarf and then a fun, silky giraffe print scarf to top it off. She put it on my head and tied it for me…

WOW.

I went from wacky single to mature married lady in one quick tie! It was a complete change for me… I felt different. Modest. Amazing. We drove to work and stopped at a fruit and veg mart to get some goodies for our co-workers. I felt funny… oddly conspicuous and inconspicuous at the same time. For a minute I wanted to shout… “THIS ISN’T ME! I’M NOT MARRIED YET!” but I also wanted to revel in the respect people paid me. More than anything… I started getting a crick in my neck! I felt like I had a work of art on my head and I couldn’t move.

Its funny how different reactions can be. For more of Talia’s – check out her full post on Talia, She Wrote.

I’m wearing a wig!

Yes, you read that right – Melissa, the woman who doesn’t wear wigs, is wearing a wig.

Luckily, its just for a Purim costume and I shall return to the world of scarves tomorrow, but for today I am be-wigged – and its weird! Aside from the obviously very different look, it feels weird physically, mentally, and spiritually.

@thdpr and @melschol - but who is who? (Post by Melissa)

The first question I’m sure you have is – what were you and what did the wig look like? Well, thats simple.  My dear friend Talia and I decided to be each other at work. We wanted to celebrate but also be work appropriate, and so a brilliant idea was born.  We wore outfits that were totally how the other dresses (and each other’s work name tags just to clarify), but the crux of it was clearly our “hair” – my be-scarfed head and her beautiful red hair are quite distinct. So today, I am wearing a wig. I’ll be back later to reflect on the experience!

***

Ok, it is now motzei Shabbat, and the wig has been packed away and I can take a moment to reflect on the experience.

Overwhelmingly, I just didn’t feel like myself.  Maybe it was that the color was so far from my own, but I think it was more that it just didn’t feel true to who I am and my ideals at this point in my life. Plus, I was super freaking hot! I honestly felt like I was over heating all day, and while it was unseasonably warm, it was still only  ~65′ – I can’t imagine having it on in 85′!

The biggest shock to me though was number of comments I got about how pretty/beautiful/etc I looked with a wig on and subsequently “why don’t you wear a wig.” While I so know that our society values hair as beautiful, it was still striking to see how much it really affects people’s views of each other.  That having on a (very cheap) wig made such an impact on my appearance that people felt compelled to comment as amazing to me. So, while my vain inner voice said “what, so I don’t look pretty normally?” my rational voice reaffirmed the sephardic reasoning for not wearing a wig, and my overall non-sheitel status. (Though ironically on Sunday I am attending a Sheitel Sale, though that is primarily to support the friend hosting it and to get a WiGrip which I have heard such amazing reviews of but would love to try on before committing to.)

At the end of the experience, I am honestly so glad to be back to my scarves and hats, though I do have an increased appreciation for women who wear sheitels daily and there is still the lingering inside me to own one for fancy events.  However, I am sure all I will have to do to sway myself back to reality now is to remember how hot I was and how uncomfortable I was with people telling me how good I looked. For my physical, mental, and spiritual well-being – I really need to stick to scarves.

I am who I am

I think my grandparents (z"l) would be proud Post by Melissa

I think my grandparents (z”l) would be proud
Post by Melissa

I recently spent some time visiting my family, and while there went through some old boxes. In one of them was my “Bat Mitzvah Binder” – the beloved 3-ring binder with the handpainted cover by my tutor’s wife (who happens to actually be an award winning artist) and still filled with copies of the service, torah/haftorah readings, and most importantly – my speeches!

I re-read them and was amazed at how much of what I said ~17 years ago still rings true. While my practice of Judaism has changed a lot over the past decade (the changes didn’t start so early), the mentality behind it is still the exact same. Though I now wear a tichel and not a talit, its still the same girl underneath the fabric.

I’m pretty proud of my 12 year old self for this speech, and my 29 year old self for still knowing who she is and where she comes from.

Bat Mitzvah – Shabbat Morning Speech (with original grammar and emphasis)

July 1995

Coach, family friends, and congregants:
The portion for this week is Pinchas. It refers to five different matters.

First, is the story of Pinchas, the grandson of Aaron, who by his special actions was rewarded with high priesthood.
Second was taking of a second census of the Israelites. Almost forty years had passed since the people had been counted after the Exodus from Egypt.
Third, the women’s rights of inheritance was affirmed.
Fourth, Moses appointed Joshua as his successor, after he goes to Mount Abarim to get a good view of the Promised Land since he was not permitted to cross over into it.
And the portion ends with a description of a variety of sacrifices to be brought to the tabernacle for daily festival worship.

The central theme I would like to discuss today is the third matter, that of women’s right of inheritance. I chose this topic because I feel all people should be treated equally. Upon the death of Zelophad, who was a descendant of Joseph, his five daughters asked for their fathers possessions. They stood before Moses to state their case. Now, you may think that this was no big deal, but it as. They had to be very persistent. Earlier Moses had appointed other people to act as territorial consultants and judges to listen to, and solve the lesser problems and conflicts that arose among the people. The daughters were not satisfied with the first decisions, that they as women, could not inherit their fathers estate, so they kept questioning the decisions, until they got equal rights to inherit. One thing should be noted here. that is, that the five daughters stood at the doorway of the tent with the others of the camp. They were not forced to stand someplace else because they were women. The daughters told Moses and the other elders, that their father died in the wilderness of natural causes, and that he was a strong believer, and a follower of G-d. They asked why their fathers right should be done away with just because he had daughters and no sons. The daughters felt that they should be able to inherit their fathers possessions and to carry on his name. Moses however, did not know what to do, so he consulted with G-d. G-d said first, before anythign else, that what the daughters said was right, and that their fathers possessions would be given to the five daughters. This is the only place in the Tprah where G-d said “Cane dourot” or “you speak right,” and this one act, changed the future for all Jewish women. This started the women’s rights movement in history. Sons still had the first right to animals, property, etc., but daughters came next preceding the remainder of the father’s family.

This is all very important to me. At this time, equal rights were a strong concept and in a way, a law. Without these laws or Mitzvot, I know that I would probably not be on the bimah today. I hoever, wish that this tradition would have been used ever since biblical times. Unfortunately, many traditions were lost during the Middle Ages and until very recently, traditions and Mitzvot women were not required to do BECAME things women could not do. I am aware of the fact that many of you were not able to wear a tallit and have a Bat Mitzvah because you are women. Some people may still think that my being up here today is very wrong or surprising, and I respect that, but I wish to fulfill the mitzvot in the Torah to the best of my ability. That is why I wished to receive a tallit and have a Bat Mitzvah. Not to make a statement, but to fulfill the mitzvot that they represent.

I chose this portion, Pinchas, for my Bat Mitzvah specifically because of the story of Zelophad’s daughters and its call for women’s rights. By my being up here today, I am setting an example with the women of my generation. W are doing this in the hope that this tradition will not be lost again.

I would like to thank a few people at this time. Thanks to all of my friends and relatives who came in from out of town to be here today. Thanks to my friends for coming even though they have no clue what it’s all about, except that it took away from my phone and socializing time. And a special thank you to Coach because without you I could not have done any of this today. My family and I would like to thank you all for coming and invite you to join us for the kiddush next door after the service. But please, don’t eat or drink anything until the blessings have been said.

Happy occasions when shared with family and friends become cherished memories. Thank you for being a part of that memory, and sharing in our joy as I become a Bat Mitzvah.

Shabbat Shalom!

 

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?