My fashionistas, when in Rome (do as the Romans do) something that you say that means that when you are visiting another country, you should behave like the people in that country. It is polite, and possibly also advantageous, to abide by the customs of a society when one is a visitor. Some people like my partner goes to an extreme level that either he already knows how to speak the local language or he will make sure he learns it (like the natives) before making a trip to a foreign land. So, secret revealing time: he is currently mastering Chinese (after French, Spanish and Italian) means that sometime in near future we will be heading off to China (Ta da..one travel wish list secret revealed!) But if adapting local mannerisms or able to speak local language are a way bit too much to ask for, the least you can try is to dress like them. If not everyday, but once during your stay! So, here I am, tested and tried an African-Arabian headwrap during my recent trip to one of the countries in Northern Africa.
Before I went to Morocco I had my research done on native wears and boy! Tripadvisor, Lonelyplanet or all possible travel sites’ reviews were tad scary – warning and advising me on what to wear, especially being a tourist in the city. “No shorts, no bare shoulders, etc.” Of course it is an extremely conservative culture, but at the same time becoming very modern and westernized. December is their winter time, so, for me, the weather wouldn’t permit any skin-show either, even though I would always bring a scarf with me or wear long sleeves incase I visited a mosque or just wanted to be a bit more respectful walking through religious areas etc. I wore long skirts, trousers and tops with sleeves on most occasions and was completely fine and accepted.
The verdict: People make much more of a big deal about it than it really is. Wear what you want, just be respectful and comfortable about it.
Having said that, what makes us want to travel and explore the world’s exotic locales? The cultural differences we encounter, of course. Being able to understand our fellow humans from the intimate standpoint of where they come from and what they believe — and where those beliefs come from in the first place — that’s what travel is all about. Donning an African-Arabian headwrap when in Morocco was my way to embrace African-Arabian culture for the first time and paying a tribute to this underrated fashion statement – headwrap. Headwraps might not be the first hair accessory you think of when your outfit is in need of something extra, but why not? In true fashion-comeback glory the African-Arabian headwraps have made a resurgence onto the scene with everyone from Prada – Giorgio Armani embracing the trend with open arms.
Need another reason to try this trend? How about the fact that you can make one out of a scarf that you already own?! It can be out of silk material, linen or cotton. I have done exactly that with my decade old tie-dye dupatta ( a type of scarf worn with Indian three-piece suit).
Wearing an African-Arabian headwrap was versatile, fun, and bold. Wraps are just the same as rocking a turban but with a African (Western) twist. These two head wear pieces are beautiful accessories not to be understated as an everyday favorites. It can make you look ethnic or edgy …depending on your mood. It also adds a certain charm of old Hollywood glamour while keeping touches of modern day elegance.
Here are some of my rules for the wrap-wearing look to be pulled off as a success:
Eyebrows: Must be immaculate! It doesn’t matter if they are threaded, waxed, shaved off and drawn on or plucked, or au naturel like me (yes! I have NEVER done my eyebrows. I’m not, but they are virgin!) Just PLEASE have them nicely shaped as they define the structure of your face. If you are wearing oversized sunnies, just ignore this, your brows will be covered anyways like mine did.
Make-up (eyes, cheeks, foundation/and concealer): Remember as you are showing of your head-wear as a key part of your look, your face IS the focus. Make sure that your foundation/ and concealer is done very well. Eye make-up Bronzer/and blusher are also necessary. Or you can just add mascara and the eyeliner; the subtleness will vary according to the occasion and the outfit you choose to wear, but please, if you can’t put on make-up properly, have someone else do it. All I have is ME whether on holiday abroad or at home in London.
Lipstick : Nude, Red, Orange, Coral, Pink, Aubergine, Brown; Or if you don’t do lipstick, have a nice colored glossy lip-gloss. But you know what! Do a bold red mouth, I insist!
Clothes: If your wrap is a combination of bold colours and patterns, then your outfit should be minimalist (and vice versa). I would say you can rock the block colors, but do avoid too many patterns at once unless you know exactly what you are doing! Or if you are someone that likes to be simple, or you want the ‘effortlessly chic’ look, then you could have a bold color turban, with a neutral color like white or black top/tunic and matching or denim bottoms. Please remember that everyone is different , so don’t go over the top ! I kept my wrap look simple in a black velvet tunic top with tribal embrodery in the front neck paired with a plain black linen divider.
Accessories: Some may say that this is the most important stage to tie in the entire look you are going for example : Nubian queen, bohemian-chic, urban-street-chic, look-at-me-i’m-just-fierce-chic etc. For this look, focus on EVERYTHING ! -the earrings, necklaces, bags to the nail polish color (and feet).
Shoes: It depends entirely on your outfit. If you are wearing it out, you can have open toe heels, or courts. If you are just going down the street and want a cultural vibe, you can have on sandals or espadrilles just like I did here. I bought this olive green babouches (traditional Moroccan slippers) from the Jemma El Fna Medina just the night before we shot these pictures and voila! What a match!
And one more thing …
Work them sidewalks, pavements, show off that confidence in the workplace corridor on your way to the elevator; lift your head high when you are on that escalator, and make every other female envy your beautiful head wear!
-Whatever, wherever; DO IT AND OWN IT !!! Just own it!
Tying a wrap may seem to be a little tricky at first but practice makes perfect. In my case, I’m my own stylist, sometimes dress-maker, designer, sewer, beautician, make-up artist, spa therapist- you just name it, I do it myself (well… most of the time)! So like I did in all other holidays, when I was conceptualizing, planning and packing my wradrobe, I have practiced this in front of the mirror once and I happened to get it correct in the first go.
But if you are lazy and lucky, I’m sure you must know a person that may help you as well 🙂
What I Was Wearing?
Headwrap Tie-dye Indian Scarf from Dilli Haat, India
Zara Hand Embroidered Velvet Dress
Black Divider by Moi
Babouches from a Souk in Medina Jemma El Fna, Marrakech
Traverse Box Clutch (I had the worst shopping experience EVER with this designer, so not sharing the details)
Beaded Necklaces from Dilli Haat, India
Silver earring from flea market in Bangkok (Gift from my partner)