How Headwraps Can Change Your Life (And Look)


was still in single digits when I became aware of Erykah Badu, and I was mesmerized. Everything about her was beautiful; her soulful voice rang through my scrawny body and rocked me in ways I had never experienced before: Her songs made me want to write poetry and learn how to sing. What did those pendants hanging around her giraffe-like neck mean, those rings on her slender fingers? It was hard to discern whether I was more captivated by her sound or her style, but what got me the most, unquestionably, were her headwraps. They were perfect.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I began to experiment with incorporating headwraps into my own styling. During my young teens, I dabbled in the classic headwrap-as-bun and leaned into the silk-scarf-styled-as-female-durag look popularized by video vixens of the early aughts, but these looks were mild mannered compared to the high-pilings of twisted fabric Erykah was known for rocking over her locs (and later over close-cropped hair).

A few years ago, I cut all my hair off because I “needed a change,” and it was then that I graduated to a grown-up wrap game. It changed. my. life. Late for something and hair’s not done? Throw on a headwrap. Need to add an exciting element to an otherwise boring outfit? A headwrap’s your girl. Wanna keep that protective style in for a few extra days but also change up how your head looks out in the world? You guessed it: a headwrap. But while they present many easy solutions, they aren’t always the easiest to style or tie. So in celebration of Black History Month, I offer you a styling adventure featuring one of the most iconic pieces of Black pride fashion: the headwrap! Shall we?

The Knot Today

The secret to this styling is twofold: First, keep the headwrap’s design simple. So many of my headwraps are made of very loud prints, but for this look, I let the patterns below my neck do the talking. (“You sure looking foine,” they said.) This wrap technique is also one of the easiest — it’s just three knots tied in succession at the top of my head and then tucked back into the wrap at my crown. Boom.

The Turtleneck Turban

You may think you’re seeing all the components of this look — the pale green headwrap; the shimmery, bell-sleeved half-zip; the necklace that resembles a bike chain. But what if I told you a black turtleneck was also a part of the equation? Because it is: It’s under the headwrap, sitting atop my head like a giant apple waiting to be pierced by an arrow. One of my favorite headwrap hacks is using more fabric (either a shirt or another headwrap) to give more volume and lift to what will ultimately become a turban on my head. This is how to get a more Badu-like look if you’re lacking in the dreadlock department.

The Double Bun

This is one of the easiest wrapping techniques there is. It involves making two buns: One with your hair (at the top of your head, like the inverse of a ballerina bun), and then one with the scarf around your hair — et voila! I used to wear my wraps with huge hoops and huge hoops only, but removing earrings from the equation highlights the wrap as a focal point in the look, which is why I chose to style with more chunky jewelry — but only on my neck and wrist — here.

Photos: Bridget Badore

Emma Bracy

Emma is the Associate Editor at Man Repeller.

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