Myth: Sheitel = attractive, and tichel = unattractive.
Truth: Flattering headcovering = attractive, and unflattering headcovering = unattractive.
I happen to love it when I see a woman wearing a pretty sheitel. If the sheitel is clean, neat, and flattering to the woman, then it works. I have seen women wearing sheitels that are messy and/or unflattering and I don’t like that, but a flattering sheitel does work. I’m not envious, though, because I don’t like sheitels on me. The concept just doesn’t suit my personal style, so I stay away from them. Instead, I feel great in my mitpachot.
Notice that I use the term “mitpachot.” Technically, it’s the Hebrew word for headscarves, while “tichels” is the Yiddish word. But to me, a tichel was a small triangle worn by hair coverers when they didn’t need to look pretty. (When they wanted to look pretty they wore sheitels.) I admit that that negative connotation is entirely mine, but there it is. Having said that, today’s tichels/mitpachot are definitely not like that anymore. They’re larger, softer, more versatile, and come in beautiful colors and prints. There are so many different wrap styles that every woman can find a style that flatters her, just as she can find a hairstyle or sheitel-style that flatters her.
The problem is that there are still people who equate sheitels with attractive while equating tichels/mitpachot with unattractive. And that’s wrong.
From me, you get the truth.
As I said above, I do love sheitels on other women. To me, they’re a valid headcovering and when they’re clean, neat, and flattering, they can make the woman look beautiful. And they’re appropriate in most situations. You can’t go wrong wearing a great sheitel for weekday work, dressy casual, Shabbat/Yom Tov, and special events.
Having said that, a great sheitel is one option. When you want to look good, it’s not the only option. There was a time when it was the only option, but that was a long time ago. Even when I was growing up, hats, berets, and mitpachot came out and gave women more options. Eventually, non-sheitel coverings became more and more accepted at most workplaces and at special events. Many of my friends from the headwrapping community wear their mitpachot to work with no issues. I even advised two different women on headwraps for their job interviews and they both got the jobs (one of them got an offer that was better than she expected to get).
I have often said that hair covering is a deeply personal mitzvah, and therefore every woman needs to find methods of covering that work well for her and that leave her looking and feeling her best. Otherwise, she may resent it. Notice that I said methods in the plural. No woman should feel limited to just one “nice” hair covering, especially with all the options available.
Having said that, if the covering is not clean, neat, and flattering, then it won’t work. Hats and berets come in a number of different styles and colors, so you need to try them and see what flatters your face and body. Yes, your covering needs to be in proportion with your overall body shape. For example, plus-size women do better with wider berets and wider-brimmed hats because that keeps things balanced, but petite women need to avoid going too wide so as not to get a mushroom head. With mitpachot, once you have the colors right, it’s all about how you wrap them. I like a little height on everyone. Many of the more elaborate wrap styles do need some extra volume, and as long as you don’t overdo it, it looks wonderful.
As usual, I do not think that most snoods and pre-tieds are flattering. There are “beret snoods” that look more like loose berets and those can look good. However, I don’t recommend wearing them for special events; they just don’t come off polished enough for those. Pre-tieds sometimes have tails that are long enough to wrap over the head and that does look good, but if the tails are too short for that, then it’s not flattering because it sits too flat.
There are those who think you cannot go wrong with a sheitel. Not quite. I have seen women wearing sheitels in colors that don’t flatter or in styles that don’t flatter. Yes, that can happen. In those cases, I do recommend that the women either get those sheitels fixed so that they do flatter or get different ones that flatter.
The bottom line is that while a clean, neat, flattering sheitel is definitely attractive, so are clean, neat, flattering non-sheitel coverings. If a hat, beret, or mitpachat does make you look good, it doesn’t deserve to be dismissed as unattractive just because it’s not a sheitel. We women have options that can not only make us look physically attractive but can express our personal style, and we should take full advantage of them and rock them like no one’s business.
Meira E. Schneider-Atik is a wardrobe organizer, personal shopper, jewelry designer, and fashion writer/blogger and speaker. She helps women look great while saving time, effort, and money, all within tznius guidelines, and she’ll add to that with custom-designed jewelry. Read more about her ideas on her blog- www.truetzniutistruebeauty.wordpress.com. She also has a YouTube channel, “Look Your Best in Mitpachot,” where she does head-wrapping tutorials, and she is also available for private demonstrations. She can be reached at (718) 644-6135 or at MESAtik@gmail.com.