Friday, November 23, 2012

How to: 6 Tips to Rock Your Headscarf

Oh, I love scarves! I loved them pre-can’t-sir diagnosis, and I love them even more now. 

See that groovy skunk stripe?
Awww, yeah!
After all, it’s winter and I have a shaved-and-soon-to-be-totally-bald head with a gorgeous skunk stripe right down the middle and the cherubic beginnings of my new wrinkle-free face thanks to the early chemo steroid-puff. That means I'm cold, I'm trying to figure out how best to add some angles and shape to my face, and I want to try to play up my best features, all while being comfy and cozy, since most my days involve some form of medical intervention! Whew, that's a lot of work!

What I am not a huge fan of on me when it comes to scarves, however, is the basic bandana-tie-down look -- you know, where the scarf lies flat against the forehead and then gets tied in a knot at the back and poof you’re done, like this -- which does nothing but make me look like I have a big ol’ round head and no hair or angles left in my face. If it works for you, awesome. But, me, I need a little more help.

Here are some tips I’ve used that I think create some pretty awesome looks. I’d love it if you’d share yours in the comments!

Blondie, one of our quinetessential
rock goddess icons.

#1: Turn up the Volume. Just like gorgeous 80s Rocker Chick hair, a rockin’ scarf look starts with good height and shape. Keep in mind, we’re not trying to hide hair loss here. We’re making a fashion statement. We’re using the scarf to help accentuate our best features and accessorize our look and most of all, to feel GOOD. Scarves worn well make your face look awesome by highlighting your eyes, lips and angles (even the ones that seem to be disappearing or arriving!), and take an outfit from so-so to fabulous.

#2: Build a good foundation. Scarves need to feel secure on your head, so you feel secure wearing them out in public. Especially if you’ve not been much of a headwear person before, a headscarf can suddenly feel like a major walk on the wildside. That’s a good thing. Now’s as good a time as any to fly your freak flag, baby! People are going to ooh and ahh over your scarf when you wear it with style and confidence. My experience has been they have no idea I’m bald underneath and just oogle that I’m wearing such a dramatic look. But it really starts with rockin’ your scarf with confidence. And confidence starts with keeping the dang thing in place!

I use 2 elements under most all of my scarves to accomplish objectives #1 and #2:
I start with a scarf liner (no, I don’t wear the bangs, but if you find some you like, I say go for it).  And after adjusting it, I put a cotton/spandex 3-seam basic turban in black, wine or brown over it. The scarf liners look dorky, but they’re seriously amazing. These suckers add like a diaper’s worth of volume to your noggin right off, giving you a shape you can really do some nice folds over, and they give you a sturdy elastic band to start anchoring to.

I’ve worn the layers both ways, but generally, I like to wear the turban over the scarf liner: it gives a cleaner line over the liner, and adds a simple solid dark base for under the scarf in the unlikely event my scarf shifts slightly during wear, rather than seeing the weird white elastic exposed on the liner. With these two foundation pieces in place, I also get a much better hold for the scarf itself than on my bare head -- and less slipping and sliding means more confidence.

Me, rockin' a simple crown look.
Note the difference some foundation
volume makes.
#3: Choose the right size scarf for your look, and one that you feel confident wrapping and wearing. The truth is, you can wear just about any size scarf as a headscarf. It’s all about the look you’re going for and personal style preference. If you’re just starting out, my experience is that 35”-36” squares offer the easiest place to begin to learn to tie some basic looks with just enough fabric to give you coverage and confidence, without having too much leftover volume to try to get all snazzy with knotting and such. 

Once you feel good about tying this size, the next easiest type to tie are fringe-free rectangular scarves. The trick here is enough width to adequately cover your head, while not adding so much volume through length that you end up with a total turban look (unless you’re after the Swanky Sultana look!) I have a couple of these inexpensive but beautiful prayer shawls from India via CostPlus,  and I absolutely love them. 

As you continue in the world of headscarves, you can also explore wilder things like really huge wraps, and fringed scarves. See what makes you feel good and looks good with your outfits. That’s what it’s about!

#4: Be aware of how different fabrics will act on your head. Especially when you are starting out, this is soooo important. Here are a few of my learnings:

From ACS' TLC website.
Challis (soft, lightweight and usually wool, cotton, rayon or blend):
I grabbed this one to start, because it wasn’t too spendy, and it said it was warmer for winter. It is a doll to tie and a nice fabric, and great to create a rather basic look and get your confidence under you.

Viscose: (a kind of rayon, super soft and flowy) I also picked up one of these, thinking it looked so soft and comfy. 
Come to find out, it is super soft and comfy, but it looked horrible on me! Like a squidgy t-shirt wrapped on my head! I couldn’t ever find a way to make it tie that I liked, and I don’t feel all the comfort anyways because I was using foundation materials. But, it was great to understand how the more blousy fabrics may or may not work for me. 

100% Rayon (crisp, lightweight fabric): So fantastic to tie, especially if you are interested in using larger rectangle scarves like this one or this one to create unique looks. You may even have a bunch of these around the house already if you’re a scarf-wearer, so you can reuse and repurpose! 

This fabric is really nice for some of the more intricate styles of head wraps. It's much more turban-inspired than straight scarf wearing, which only makes me love it more. Plus, it just knots up really nice, and feels really secure and tough on your head. Awesome!

1 of my first days with silk, so I was
still learning to go
wild -- but check out that volume already!
100% Silk: For about 10 years, I’ve had some beautiful Chinese square silk scarves lying around that my mom brought me back from a trip, that I’ve never figured out how to wear as neck accessories, so I thought this was the perfect chance to try them. I admit, I absolutely love the richness of silk scarves, and once I figured out how to tie my old ones, I couldn’t resist splurging on this one, too

Check out the color. Amazing!  The real trick with silk -- and I’m sure you already know or can imagine it -- is that it is very slippery. You need to get a good sized scarf but not too large, or you end up with a lot of fabric to worry about securing -- 35x35 is really the best in silk, I find. 

Build your foundation. Pull it just a bit more forward more than usual. Tie it tight. If you’re still worried it will move too much, you can pin it to your foundation elements. It probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere, but better safe than sorry. 

Not the best photo... but it gives you
the idea for a super simple look,
using the Betsy Johnson silk-rayon scarf.

Silk-Chiffon (super lightweight, sheer silk fabric): OMG, how I love the feeling of silk-chiffon! And the patterns and brights. Again, a total splurge, but I love Betsey Johnson so much, and butterflies, so it was irresistable. And this one: hello animal print! 

One thing I love about silk-chiffon is that it is a very low-volume fabric, meaning it’s good for when you don’t want to go massive on your headscarf, want to wear it under a hat, or need to repurpose as a headband over wigs. The downside is, you can see through it pretty easily, and it doesn’t have a lot of volume by itself, so you’ll need those foundation elements, and in coordinating colors, and may wish to pin, because it moves even easier than silk. 

But, the looks are amazing, so definitely be bold and give it a try!

Another silk-chiffon, tied-Rosie-the-Riveter
style, and accessorized with a glittery little

#5: Practice tying and wearing your scarves at home. I admit, I often tend to just dive in, tie a new scarf on, and run out the door. But, the goal here is to rock your scarf with style and confidence. That's why I have so many dorky photos of myself! I try stuff on, and take iPhone shots to get comfortable with my new look. All this stuff on your head feels way different from your normal hair. The layers can be comfy, or suddenly too hot. Foundation layers can go from seamless to all pinch and poke. Large scarf volume that seemed awesome when wrapping can suddenly feel heavy. Intricate knots can pinch your neck. Simple tucks or folds can come loose and create tails when you were going for smooth. It’s ok to take some time to get comfortable with all this new stuff. Unleash that little girl inside you, and better yet, invite some friends over for a dress-up and make-up day or even a totally cheesy slumber party! Have fun!

The goddess Erykah Badu:
rockin' it beyond all measure.
#6: Honor your headwear as a connection to your divine femininity and your global sisterhood. One truly empowering thing to remember is that women all over the world wear headscarves every day for reasons of fashion, faith, culture and tradition -- and have done so for literally thousands of years. If you’ve never been a headscarf wearer, it’s easy to imagine others will think your new look is just about hiding hair loss. In fact, most people I encounter haven’t even realized I was bald! They just thought I was rockin’ an amazing style! As an alternative to worry, I encourage you to use this as a moment to empower yourself and connect energetically with the incredible, strong women all around the world who rock this look every day for reasons all their own.

Here are just a few places I draw some basic inspiration from -- you can also search YouTube for the terms similar to those below, or whatever else you can think of, and find just about everything you can imagine!

Now go rock the sh!t out of your scarf and show me how you did it!

Ready to rock the sh!t out of your wigs? Check out this post for some tips.

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