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Fashion History Of The Turban

By Cathy Mercer

For centuries, the turban has been a staple part of many cultural and religious dressing styles throughout Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In some societies, the way the headdress is wrapped, as well as its color may have significance as far as social standing or status within the faith. In the Western world, it has become something of a fashion statement.

Traditionally speaking, the headdress is formed by wrapping a long scarf made of cotton, linen or silk around the head multiple times in a particular fashion to form a specific design. In modern times the name has come to mean a wide range of close fitting brimless caps worn by both male and females. Many are actually wound and sewn in position prior to being sold.

It was the later part of the 17th century when this type of fashion was first debuted in the Western world, though at that time it was it was still worn mainly only by those who belonged to specific cultures or faiths. In the early years of the 20th century, the beautiful female stars of the silent movies began to sport these exotic head pieces. As the 1930's rolled in, every socialite wore them as a symbol of her prime breeding, exclusive education and worldly experience.

The head pieces were soon being made of expensive fabrics and covered with lavish and pricey embellishments, making them the height of fashion and glamor. They were exotic and beautiful and gave a woman an air of mystery. Celebrities made them even more popular by wearing them with such elaborate adornments that they appeared to be crowns on the heads of royalty.

This style was not one worn exclusively by the rich and famous. During the 1950's and 60's, women of working and domestic classes made the trend their own by creating simpler versions of more practical fabrics that they could comfortably wear while tending to their duties each day. A terry cloth variation evolved as a fashionable way to dry hair after a swim or shower.

The style gurus in the 70's transformed the wrap into a new type of hat. They were manufactured as ready made pieces that could simply be slipped on and hair was allowed to flow loosely out from beneath the covering. The adornments became larger, though a little less lavish, as was the trend of the era.

Throughout the next few decades, the popularity of this headdress lost its mass appeal and its popularity faded quite a bit. However, in recent years, there seems to have been a resurgence of this fashion choice. Women are wearing even more variations on the style than ever and they have become the covering of choice for many individuals who are undergoing chemotherapy or suffering from hair loss.

Although for centuries the turban has been used to symbolize a person's culture or religion, it has also become a fashion statement in many Western societies. With hundreds of variations on stylish ways to wrap a scarf, more and more women have begun to realize that the trend is not only beautiful but practical. The fact that they are also being produced as ready made caps has made them accessible choices for even more individuals.

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