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In Praise of the Headscarf, Sassy Mama


Let me put it out there: I LOVE a headscarf. It is the single most important item in my Singapore wardrobe. In fact just writing this month’s column has me positively giddy. I possibly need to get out more.

But it’s not just me. The enduring appeal of this slip of silk has made it one of the most iconic sartorial pieces of modern times. Yes, the origins of the headscarf were linked to female social propriety, but its modern interpretation is far more rock and roll. From wartime messages smuggled in headscarves, to the retro glamour of iconic female stars and even the actual Queen of England: all powerful pioneering women who took the look in their own direction. The wearing of the traditional hijab is also being reinterpreted as a positive choice for liberated young women, with fashion’s insta-influencers leading the way. So the headscarf isn’t just a fashion choice, ladies, it’s a whole MOVEMENT! (Kind of.)


Women’s lib aside, my love of the headscarf also runs a little deeper (or shallower depending on how you look at it). Since experiencing Singapore’s ‘challenging’ humidity levels the headscarf has been my lifesaver.

At this stage I should mention my hair: Grace Coddington minus both supermodel credentials and the American Vogue seal of approval sums it up most succinctly. So it feels good to get it under wraps, particularly when I have an early morning, three-point school run on my hands.

True, I often take on the faint air of the cleaning lady regardless of the rest of my outfit. But it always makes me feel like I’ve got some sort of ‘a look’ going on, even when I’m wearing the most basic getup, and adds an injection of colour or print into whatever I’m wearing, Plus anything that turns a bad hair day into something acceptable, let alone vaguely chic, in less than a minute is right up there in my book.

So I am borderline elated that for the last few seasons the ever-present headscarf has been positively storming the catwalks. And from first peeks at resort 2017 the trend shows no sign of abating; the current penchant is for the classic ‘babushka’ style of tying under the chin.

A browse online will give you dozens of alternative scarf tying options if the babushka is one ladylike step too far for you. Or channel the increasing number of celebrities endorsing the look in all manner of ways, for everything from the red carpet to street style.

Add to its versatility the fact it is a look that doesn’t need to break the budget: even if you splash out on a classic Hermès investment piece (surely the holy grail of headscarves) it will cost a fraction of a designer outfit, but a vintage find, or increasingly a high street number, will achieve the same effect. And with its ‘one size fits all’ appeal, this is a catwalk trend that genuinely transcends fashion’s usual boundaries. And that’s got to be the most liberating of all.

P.S. You may spot me working babushka style on the school run one of these days. If so please walk on by. It’s all in thename of research.



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