Thursday, May 26, 2011

Types of Headcoverings for Women

I won't pretend this is an exhaustive list; it won't be. However, it will certainly be more than enough to get you started! (In the future, I'll do a post for men too, but that requires a bit more research on my part!) This post also does not discuss the halachic issue of how much hair should/must be covered.

As an unmarried woman, I don't cover my hair, and this means I don't know as much as I could about this subject.

Think of this post like the "Halacha in a Nutshell" series: just enough to give you a good overview and help you to not look dumb in casual conversation!

Sheitel: Sheitel means wig in Yiddish. A sheitel may be paired with another type of hair covering, which gets pretty confusing when you're learning about how much hair should be covered. (Because then you see women who have covered all of their hair, but look like they are only partially covering.) There are two types of sheitels:
  • Full sheitel: A full wig. The woman's hair is entirely covered.
  • Fall: This is a half-wig. You can tell when someone is wearing a fall because there will be a large headband of some kind. The bangs and maybe some more of the woman's hair may be exposed, but the rest of the hair will be a wig. Example 1, Example 2, Example 3, Example 4.
Tichel: These are scarves that are very popular in Israel and have really gained in popularity in the United States. I'm always particularly impressed with the Kvetching Editor's skill with tichels, based on the random "this is what I look like today" pictures she posts sometimes. It is unreasonably fun to watch YouTube videos about how to tie tichels (Example). The possibilities are endless! Example 1, Example 2, Example 3, Example 4, Example 5.

The "pirate" look: Just what it sounds like! A headscarf (that may also be a tichel) worn like a pirate :D Example 1, Example 2. The Jewish female world is divided into two groups: those who wear the pirate look and those who make fun of the pirate look.

Hats: This seems relatively self-explanatory. Here are a few common categories of hats in the orthodox community:
The chaponne: These are also known as beanies and toboggans. There is a greater variety than you think! Example 1, Example 2 (note the overlap with the newsboy cap), Example 3, Example 4 (note the overlap with the newsboy cap), Example 5.

Snood: I'm not sure how to describe a snood, so here are examples. Example 1, Example 2, Example 3 (this is the extremely common look), Example 4, Example 5, Example 6. Don't get confused by the snood scarf (and here)! Here is a video about wearing snoods.

Turban: Every so often you see one, but it's usually accompanied by a frumpy Shabbos robe and a bad stereotype :P  Example

The doily: This is not common in the orthodox community, except in a few areas. Primarily guests and older women will wear them and will only wear them inside the synagogue. Example 1, Example 2.


  1. I like the "basic" intro on headcoverings for women!

  2. I always found the newsboy cap phenomenon highly unusual. How did a formerly near-exclusively male piece of headgear become so acceptable with frum women as well as non-Jewish ladies? Wouldn't happen with denim jeams (or even skirts in some communities).

  3. Check out this article about my brother's friend's mother-in-law - she unclipped her sheitel to get away from a bank robber!

    1. This article seems to have been pulled since Josh linked to it.

      If anyone else is interested, you can still see it at :)

  4. The Curmudgeonly Israeli Giyoret says:

    When one of my sons was 3, he referred to his nursery school teacher, a nice Sefardi haredi lady, as "Yehudit, the one with the scarf like a pirate". Yehudit had a short, tight scarf, and definitely kept all her hair IN. Generally, the Sefardic rabbis rule that wigs are immodest.

    And you Omitted that fashion classic, the Great Gazoo, favored by some American haredi women now in their 60s or thereabouts. They wrap the head in several scarves so that it looks huge. We used to refer to this as "th Rebbitzen hiney-head look".

  5. TCIG - Do you live in Israel? If so, look around the dati leumi world for the "several scarves around the head" look. I recently bought a mitpachat which is 6 strips of fabric sewn together. I wrap each side around my head once, so I have the look of several scarves - and the volume of one. :)

    There is also the "beehive", a look favored by French women - chareidi and dati leumi.

    Chana in Ramat Gan

  6. Okay, I made this comment once before on your blog
    site, and I'm happy to do it again - the 'Musis'
    (that's slang for Moslems y'all) have us on this one. They just do this one better. Good luck jadies.

  7. I am trying to convert and I wear my head covering is a triangular scarf that when I tie it in the rear, forms 2 small peaks on my head and hangs down to the nape of my neck. I keep the crown covered and the front of my hair shows. I live in a community with absolutely no Orthodox Jews but A LOT of Amish and Mennonites. My husband is Orthodox by birth and is stationed at the local Air Force Base. It looks a little more conventional and acceptable by local standards. I'm about to start college to become a paralegal and it looks better with modest business attire.