Accessories are my greatest passion on this plane of existence. I love to dress up whatever I am wearing to the umpteenth degree. But there’s one accessory that has always felt just out of reach: The headwrap.

Sure, I’ve covered a bad hair day with a scarf or two, but I’ve never worn a full-blown headwrap, the kind that covers up all of your hair. That is, until recently, when my beautiful blogger friend, Paola Mathe, invited me to try on her gorgeous headwear.

Paola is one of those magic humans who is fun, adventurous, smart, and absolutely breathtaking. One could never feel anything but awesome in her presence. A Haitian immigrant living in Harlem, Paola represents her home country and her New York neighborhood with flair. Watching her journey unfold has inspired me on many levels.

Headwraps are a very important cultural accessory to not only Haitians but many other Caribbean and North, Central, and South American-based communities of African descent, as well as their original neighborhoods in sub-Saharan Africa.

In addition to being worn by those of African heritage, crown-like head coverings, kerchiefs, and turbans are associated West African culture and, subsequently, many African-based cultures in the western hemisphere.

Paola and I agree that celebrating other cultures is an enriching experience that brings out the shared beauty we all possess.

Women wear headwraps for reasons ranging from religious displays of modesty to utilitarian use (i.e. carrying things) to pure adornment. Paola, who sells headwraps through her e-boutique, Fanm Djanm, encourages everyone to try out this “strong woman” accessory, which as been tested true by our strong female forebears, who we should honor. (Fanm Djanm is Creole for “strong woman.”)

She believes that all women have strength inside of them, and like her, I seek to channel this power for the good of those around me.

There are so many ways to wear these pieces, and they are surprisingly very easy to execute. We tried out three styles to show you the incredible versatility of a strip of fabric, but the possibilities are truly endless.

The Nefertiti

Danielle headwraps

Danielle headwraps

  • This style begins by shaking out your hair and placing one end of the fabric on the back of your head, leaving the rest of the fabric off to one side while holding it in place.
  • Wrap the long end of the fabric around the front of the head with your free hand, twist by the ear and tuck the end in wherever you can to make it secure.
  • You can fold the fabric down into itself to make a lip on the top, or you can tuck it to cover the rest of the hair.

Half-Knot Style

Danielle headwraps

Danielle headwraps

Danielle headwraps

  • This time we fold the fabric in thirds horizontally to make it thinner. You can do this with hair loose or in a ponytail.
  • Place the center of the wrap on the nape of the neck, and tie a knot on your forehead.
  • Continue to tie single knots until there is no extra fabric, arrange to one side, and tuck in the ends.
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  • Jael James

    I live for a good headwrap. Wore my first one on a visit to East Africa more than a decade ago and have been rocking them pretty regularly since. I wear them for different reasons, but always feel a connection to my culture and my ancestors when I do. Sometimes I wear them for a quick cover up when dealing with my hair is just an overwhelming thought. Other times, I wear them because, as a woman who’s always gotten compliments on her hair, I feel like people make too much of a big deal about it and I want to cover it up; not out of shame, but as more of a statement that I don’t want to be noticed or remembered just for my hair. Then, there are times when I wear it just to let “others” who like to ask, “What are you?” know that I’m a sista all day every day and proud of it. At all times, though, there’s always a sense of beauty and style that I get from wearing a headwrap. YouTube and Pinterest have given me so many options here and I really hope that more women embrace them.