Hair scarf style suggestions?
April 10, 2016 9:09 AM   Subscribe

Looking for ways of wearing a head scarf/wrap/bandana/etc that look BOTH definitely feminine AND appropriate for a young secular white woman. I'm trying to avoid looks that are unisex or tomboyish (which tend to make me, a trans woman, look more masculine than I'm comfortable with). Does such a thing exist?
posted by nebulawindphone to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Do you want to cover the entire head or just show off the scarf? If the latter, I think of #5 on this list as a very traditional, old-fashioned feminine way of wearing a head scarf.
posted by telegraph at 9:29 AM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Depends on the scarf dimensions and the length of hair. I usually use rectangular scarves 10-15"x36-48" and fold them into a 2-5" wide strap (this can also be done using a squae scarf folded on the diagonal). Wrap around your head like a bad hippie headband and tie a square knot, pulling everything snug (tight on your head, and a fairly tight knot - it will pick loose with some effort when you need to untie it, I often leave mine tied). Now shove it down so it's hanging around your neck or over your eyes, and brush all your hair back away from your face; put the knot in back, and slide the front of the scarf up (it's a tight fit. If it's not a tight fit, it falls out of my hair immediately. ymmv.). You are now wearing a scarf headband with fluffy scarf ends trailing down your back. Granted, this could be semi-masculine if the scarf in question is a cotton bandanna, so choose something floofier. I usually use silk or rayon. Experiment with diffeent materials/opacity, and the difference between folding for a 2" wide headband (function) and a 5" head cover (drama and style). I have done this with my hair every length between a shaggy pixie and super long (low-back). Can be negotiated to pull visible bangs out the front, but I usually use it to slick all my hair back out of my way.
posted by aimedwander at 9:35 AM on April 10, 2016

Heh, I came in to ask literally the same question as telegraph -- cover your hair, or show off the scarf? If show off the scarf, do try her #5. Having some bangs, loose pieces, or even just visible hair in front of the scarf/headband is a more feminine, more frivolous look. (Covering the front hair is a more religious/cleaning the house/older lady going motoring look.) Protip: I use a skinny elastic headband in a color that coordinates with the scarf, and then sort-of fold the scarf around it to hide it, to hold the scarf in place. Otherwise my hair slowly defeats the scarf and it falls out. With a little practice you can do this so it looks like the scarf is the only thing there.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:36 AM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

If your hair is long enough, pulling a little bit from right in front of your ears out from under the covering to frame your face can really help. Think femme sideburns, I guess. If that's not an option, try for a touch of bangs. Not, like, a stock of hair sticking out on its own, just a few pieces. (Apologies if your goal is to cover your hair for religious/other purposes.)
posted by teremala at 9:39 AM on April 10, 2016

I've answered before. Wear it like a pinup bandana. Any square scarf about 22" square will work. I'm sure larger may be okay too (I have a small head.) it's very easy. Here's like me wearing it all the time.
It's great because it looks like I tried when really my hair underneath is a mess (I have a buzzed undercut with a long top section.)

There's some good YouTube tutorials for how to tie headscarfs. Here's how I do mine.

You can use any fabric that's scare and about 22" ish. One of those I made myself. Cotton works best for me as other stuff may slip. I've also found that if something is a bit larger you'll want to fold it a little more unevenly then tuck the middle side of the shortest part underneath itself so it doesn't poke out the front. You'll only want to tuck one layer of fabric around the front knot.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:05 AM on April 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

And I forgot to mention - I'm on my phone so it's difficult to compose properly - that you can really style this look however you want. It just depends on what fabric you use. I primarily use the traditional bandana patterns but I veer toward vintage and alternative looks and I feel they match pretty much anything with solid colors and a classic print. But I also plan to get some really cute girly ones and always am keeping an eye out for fabric to turn into one. I just hem the edges. Though I have an insane collection already soooooo.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:13 AM on April 10, 2016

Though this isn't styling advice exactly, if you dig around in vintage shops for smallish silk scarves you can find some very clearly feminine patterns for a good price (just hand wash them carefully before wearing!) Silk always scans as utterly femme and gives off the "breezy, pretty without trying" vibe to me, however it's worn.
posted by zinful at 11:24 AM on April 10, 2016

If you don't have bangs or shorter pieces in front, you might want to think about getting a cut that incorporates these sort of layers, especially if you have a high forehead or hairline.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:59 PM on April 10, 2016

I love this bunny-ears style of tying a headscarf. You can wear it with all kinds of different hairstyles. Just fold a square scarf into a 2-3" wide long rectangle and tie it so that the points are on top of your head -- either centered or off to the side, angled however you think suits your face. Cotton scarves work better for this because they're a little stiffer than silk. You can always tuck the bunny ears in if you wish to be a little more low-key -- then it just turns into a headband.

Also, you might have luck searching for "retro head scarf tutorial" or "vintage head scarf tutorial".
posted by ourobouros at 3:29 PM on April 10, 2016

For bandanas and smaller scarves, one of the things that I've noticed is that tie in front/on the side = feminine coded, tie in back = masculine coded. For example, using this page that I found off of Google and am not necessarily endorsing, the classic, pirate, and boho styles will parse as masculine, and the pinup, Rosie the riveter, hippie, and dainty styles will parse as feminine. When I'm dressed relatively androgynously, the position of the knot has, in and of itself, been enough to change how people read my gender.
posted by mishafletch at 4:06 PM on April 10, 2016

I am looking for something to cover my hair, or at least keep it kind of restrained. (One goal here is to be able to look vaguely classy in situations where I can't do my usual frizz-taming routine for whatever reason — though I also just like scarves and finding new things to do with them, so hoping for two birds with one stone.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:47 PM on April 10, 2016

I usually wear mine as a headband, with the knot tied off to the side.

Some other suggestions.
posted by fiercekitten at 8:03 PM on April 10, 2016

appropriate for a young secular white woman

Appropriate for which situations?

I definitely hear you on wanting an easy bad-hair-day solution. (It's why I love tuques, the only good things about winter. Everyone excuses hat hair, because it's the hat's fault. No one can criticize you for wanting to keep warm in winter.)

I feel like scarves are definitely statements, though, and if you're a white, secular lady, it's hard to incorporate them into a wardrobe if your style's not tres whimsical or vintage-inspired, or if you work in, idk, most environments, or aren't *very* young. (Personally, I only wear [silk] scarves to bed, over a serum-coated braid or wrap for frizz prevention. And only rarely because it's a PITA.)

I'd figure out a quicker frizz-taming routine. (Try L'Oreal EverCreme Nourishing Leave-In Spray (on dry hair) + a serum like Chi Silk Infusion or OGX's Renewing Moroccan Argan Penetrating Oil. Or just Kerastase Oleo-Relax Serum, if you've got change for it, it's the best. One or more of those products, then, a braid, bun, or updo is doable in 5 minutes or less, with some practice [and lowish standards, if you're me :/].)

Hair around the face def softens things (for all women). I agree with keeping some bangs or layers out if you're going to go for the scarf.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:52 PM on April 10, 2016

Yeah, I'm definitely looking into better anti-frizz solutions too. But like I said, I do also just like scarves, which I guess may mean it's time to fess up to being Tres Whimsical and just run with it...
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:38 AM on April 11, 2016 [4 favorites]

If you fall in love with a scarf style that looks lovely when you first install but doesn't do a whole lot from a practical stay-in-place perspective, just slap little clips or bobby pins into strategic locations; it's often pretty easy to clip your hair in place along with a bottom layer of fabric and have another layer on top that hides the pin completely.
posted by aimedwander at 10:54 AM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

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