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I belong to a liberal community where married women do not cover their hair. But occasionally I visit other communities (generally Modern Orthodox or Lubavich) for Shabbat and I would like to fit in when I do (meaning I don't want to stand out and I don't want to make others uncomfortable). I do not have the automatic fashion sense that is often ascribed to women.

I've seen women wear scarves, caps that they can tuck their hair into (like snoods, but solid), and dressier hats that cover some but not all hair. Assuming that I want to use either a scarf or a cap for simplicity and cost (I assume the dress hats are expensive), what is the easiest thing that I can do to fit in, with my medium-long hair that I'm not going to cut? I recently tried to cover my hair with a scarf (tied bandana-style, with the knot behind my neck) but couldn't quite figure out what to do that would stay in place, and it left a lot of hair showing. The caps I've seen some women wear seem like they'd be big enough to stuff my hair into, but I'm not sure where to shop for that and if there are any tricks to wearing them. I'm a little too shy to approach random women in Kosher Mart to ask these kinds of questions.

Can somebody help me out with some "hair 101 for visitors"?

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    A snood might be the simple and inexpensive solution that could go with various blouses. – Mike Dec 22 '14 at 23:44
  • @Mike a snood is simple and inexpensive but might not really "fit in" in either a modern orthodox or a Chabad community, as the OP requests – Daniel Dec 23 '14 at 0:02
  • Monica, are you asking "how do I tie a scarf?" or "what is a better option?" – Daniel Dec 23 '14 at 0:05
  • @Daniel either -- how do I tie a scarf so it covers enough of my hair to be ok in those settings (and stays put!), or what can I do instead to satisfy the tzniut norms of the community? My level of scarf know-how is "bandana 101"; I can tie a knot under the back of my neck, but that leaves a lot of hair showing and I don't know if that's good enough. (Also, when I did that recently, it kept sliding around.) – Monica Cellio Dec 23 '14 at 0:08
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    @Mike thanks for the hint. Some of the caps I've seen are basically a solid version of that (with a brim, usually), so if I knew what that was called I could try shopping for that. – Monica Cellio Dec 23 '14 at 0:09
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Black is always elegant. Always. Simple is best.

Infinity scarves come in a variety of materials but the easiest ones to use are the stretchy kind. I have a few hundred scarves and they stay in the drawer most of the time.

The only ones I actually wear all the time are believe it or not, from the dollar store.

I have a plain black cotton infinity scarf that I paid three dollars for and I can wear more than a few interesting ways.

Firstly it can be put over your head, turned once and looped over again to create an elegant look that leaves a little hair showing. This looks swoopy and has a lovely flowing look.

I also have wrapped it tight from that style into a turban like look just to get everything off my neck on a hot day.

Sometimes I will cover my head with the scarf and pull it tight around my bunned ponytail looping it like a scrunchie hair tie. It's not a fancy look but it's practical for covering everything nice and tight.

From doing this with a plain cotton scarf I then have the freedom to put a hat on as if the scarf were my own hair. I have a few cute hats, a beret, a saucy little derby and one little felt cap that has some pretty little feathers and a bow but honestly let's be real I actually throw on my camouflage ball cap when we go hiking with this style most often.

Tying on a stretchy infinity scarf gives you the same hat options you have without the cover because it acts like your own hair.

Back to the first way of wearing the scarf, sometimes I wear two. For example I do the third style with plain black and then I have a gorgeous long flowery looking scarf I casually wrap around not worrying about what shows because I have the black one on under it. I also have a collection of super cute non stretchy infinity scarves including one full of stars that I absolutely adore.

But my best advice is just play with it. Have fun. Go get some scarves that are neutral and match your favorite clothes. Play with your look until you love it and own it.

Really what you feel good in is the best way for you to go.

If you can't get the hang of infinity scarves don't worry, I also went to an African store which surprisingly sold very cute kippot that fit my son and they often sell what looks like the knee to the thigh of a pair of stretchy slacks. These are my go to when I don't feel like messing around with scarves.

The reason why I'm telling you what they look like is that after buying every print they had I still didn't have a plain black one and plain black is my thing.

You can easily cut off the leg of a pair of tights and sew it at the knee and thigh to make this easy head cover. I love to sew and maybe one day I'll whip out a pattern for sewing one from new materials.

I really wish I could show you pictures of all my styles and how easy it is to cover up and look smart.

Best of all aside from being modest and all the benefits of modesty, your hair will thank you. With less environmental toxins, sun bleaching etc. My hair is now healthy and starting to curl again naturally.

For all the efforts, time and money women put into their hair just to abuse it with blow-dryers, curling irons, straighteners, dyes, sprays and Junk it is just so much easier, fun and practical to cover with scarves.

This is my second year covering my hair every day, it takes a while to figure it out , just keep playing with your style, keep it simple, keep it modest. . . And if all else fails pins are your friend. An elegant broach will keep any unruly scarf in place especially on a windy day walking to the shul.

I've got one that says "Mother" and a lovely gold rose. Make your look your own. Don't worry about fitting in, you're Jewish be "Set Apart" and be yourself.

Hope you have fun trying out some of my scarf styles yourself !

  • In Toronto I saw a hat that was over $300. Haha No. Best tip for buying gorgeous hats - thrift stores. Anyone who would waste hundreds of dollars on a Hat while there are parents trying to put kosher food on the table and pay for decent schools... Is just silly. Being practical is far more important than being stylish in my opinion. No one is going to care how much you spend as long as you're doing the right thing and if they care more about the hat than who's in it they aren't worth the time. – Rebecca Burns Aug 26 '16 at 4:47
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    Thanks! I hadn't heard of infinity scarves before. I was trying to figure out how to cover my hair with a rectangular scarf and not figuring it out. – Monica Cellio Aug 26 '16 at 15:22
  • I've been there before Monica. Square scarves don't look elegant at all no matter how hard you try to get creative. Long scarves and infinity scarves make life so much easier. I hope you have a lot of fun trying out the many ways to wear your scarves! – Rebecca Burns Aug 26 '16 at 16:38
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    These are great suggestions, thank you. When you get a chance, can you upload pictures of the specific options you suggest? Even just one or two of you showing your style would make this answer really shine! – speedfranklin Aug 26 '16 at 16:50
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http://www.doubleheaderusa.com/results.asp?catid=98 http://www.headcovers.com/headwear/hats-turbans/

The first website is actually a friend of my wife's so you know, cheep plug. But she really does have a lot of items. The second one is from a quick 'head covering option' search. (Apparantly Jewish women and cancer patients shop for the same items.)

There is always the inexpensive wig option like http://www.paulayoung.com/category/brands/paula+young+wigs.do Some of the women in my family do that, such as my mother and mother in law. But it's a generational thing. My sister and wife would never. Some of the Lubavitch women are very ritzy dressers so if fitting in is important, you might want to think twice. But from what I've seen, the Lubavitch women in Pittsburgh seem to be down to earth in that respect.

As far as modern orthodox, many women in modern orthodox communities don't cover their hair either so you probably won't stick out or feel uncomfortable going without any covering, but if you are asking this, I guess the crowd you are talking about either do cover their hair or you aren't sure what to expect.

But the best advise would be to observe and inquire. Not like a neurotic teenager of course, but most women don't mind and actually appreciate being asked 'where did you get that great hat?'

  • Thanks. Some of those caps look like they're close-fitting (not surprising if designed for cancer patients); a recommendation for something that can handle medium-length hair underneath (perhaps w/recommendations for the best way to distribute hair inside) would be helpful. I assume that wigs are meant for people w/very short hair. This question came up for me most recently on a visit out of town (where I hadn't been before); I knew that not everybody fully covered hair but something was needed, hence my scarf attempts. (I saw mostly dressy hats, it turned out.) Want to do better next time. – Monica Cellio Dec 23 '14 at 3:15
  • I don't know if the plug is cheap or not. – Dr. Shmuel Oct 30 '18 at 12:32
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The easiest option would be a solid snood, but you can also see some easy ways to tie a tichel (scarf) here. You can buy a scarf anywhere, but make sure you get one appropriate for the weather (e.g.: thin material for the summer).

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