Either by the power vested in the algorithmic gods that colonize the discover feed on Instagram or the simple possibility that a new trend (The Cut calls it “Bath-leisure“) is populating the app, I have been noticing with escalating frequency more and more women posting photos of themselves almost completely done up — sunglasses in tow, earrings in lobes, bathrobe on body and terrycloth towel on head.
It may have started at MTV’s European Music Awards last November, when Rita Ora showed up in full bathrobe and towel and boat loads of diamonds to boot. Or maybe it was Rihanna, who right around the same time appeared on the cover of Vogue with a Pucci beach towel wrapped around her head.
I can’t know for sure but I do know it sparked a movement, some version of a hankering to post carefully articulated selfies replete with robust accessories and lots of makeup and beach towels. What’s more? I like it. I really, really like it. I can’t wait to wear beach towels as hats this summer with nothing but a bathing suit and a variety of beaded necklaces, earrings — name the jewelry-type, I will probably try it. I am so excited, in fact, that using a trio of Turkish bath towels purchased on Amazon (fun fact: the history of towels dates back to 17th Century Turkey, and more specifically Bursa, which is a city that I would pronounce, “buhr-suh,” if my dad wasn’t Turkish and I didn’t know better, e.g. booorrrRrRr-sah!), I styled three looks from the neck up to consider for January and beyond.
Because the towels I wear here are not traditional terry towels and are those of the aforementioned Turkish variety, they look a lot more like headwraps than they do bath towels; and while headwraps have been worn by several cultures centuries and decades over, there is distinct historical rooting in African culture. The name varies by country: in Nigeria, women wear Geles; in Malawi, women wear dukus; in Zimbabwe, a headwrap is called a dhuku; in Botswana, a headwrap is referred to as a tukwi.
In America, the history of the headwrap, which dates back to the 16th century, tells of oppression, discrimination and ultimately, liberation when slaves were forced to wear head coverings. As early as the 1800s the wraps were used as a symbol of rebellion, and by the Civil Rights and Black Power movement of the 1960s, they were used to symbolize black pride.
Journalist Liana Aghajanian wrote about the complicated history of headscarves in their many forms and of their many cultures (from the Muslim hijab to the Jewish tichel). I recommend a read, and then a look The Wrap Life.
All that is to say, headwraps and headscarves, while beautiful, are not the trend I’m looking to approximate. Instead, I am aiming for that right-out-the-shower (mid-day) bath towel twist, which makes me look so much more like a lady of leisure than I actually am. It is possible that the next time you see me, I will be wearing all of what’s above — from the Amazon towel to the Gentle Monster sunglasses, to the cascade of necklaces (the longer strand of pearls is Mikimoto, the shorter strand is Roxanne Assoulin), to the earrings (by Céline) and all the bracelets/that ring (Roxanne Assoulin and Nina Kastens/Retrouvai). Oh! And if you’re wondering about the flowers, Pop Up Florist.
For my next trick, I tried not to have my hair so firmly wrapped into the aforementioned towel because, I don’t know, variety is the spice of life. My armpits are partially shaved as they’re the last area on my body I can still reach and per the accessories: Aurélie Bidermann earrings, a Roxanne Assoulin choker and tube necklace, Aracano horn pendant and those are Agmes cuffs and a Tohum beaded bracelet on my wrist. I would totally wear this to a wedding. You?
And finally, in what is perhaps the most emblematic of my style (volatile, colorful, easy to get sick of), here I am with a muted towel so that I could really go HAM with the accessories. This look has everything (sung to the tune of Bill Hader’s Stefon, RIP): bracelets you could use to suffocate your wrists (Aurélie Bidermann, Roxanne Assoulin), necklaces that double as cage fighters (Lizzie Fortunato, Roxanne Assoulin), sunglasses for a blicken (Adam Selman), which is that thing where you blindfold a chicken and see if they can get around, and, of course, a daisy (Dannijo) for my ring finger. Fin.
Photos by Edith Young.