Headwrap at the office?
The short answer is Yes! The long answer is Maybe and what you don’t want to hear is No. It all boils down to this: You have got to read the room!
First thing to know about me is that my headwrap is such a strong expression of my style and my heritage. So, it is my absolute go – to when I want to feel regal, and confident and put together. I remember the day, years ago, when I went in to the office – where I work today- to sign my contract and meet my soon to be colleagues. Now at the initial interview, I had served up a classic corporate look in a grey pant suit and forgettable hair but on this day, I happened to be wearing a headwrap. As we were talking I could see their eyes occasionally drifting above my eye level and just before I left the room, I caught my reflection in the window and remembered I was wearing a headwrap. So I asked ‘Erm, can I wear a headwrap to work here?’ and my then colleague answered ‘ Yeah, I don’t see why not?’. I was so happy because headwraps are such a big part of my daily wardrobe.
In hindsight I think a couple of things worked in my favour. Firstly, the dress code was ‘business casual’. Secondly, it is an international community and I was only the second black woman hired at the company and certainly the first African, so there was probably a tiny element of fear of offence if they had said no… like what if I am wearing it for religious /cultural reasons? Whatever the case, I took their answer as gospel truth and ran with it. I showed up on the first day in a bright pink dress and cute little headwrap and became known for my bold and colourful headwraps and afro-centric style. I did stand out and truthfully wasn’t always comfortable with the comments that my colleagues would sometimes make about my headwraps (but I forgive their ignorance). I realised being a minority woman of colour I would stand out anyway, even if I wore a grey suit and pulled my hair back in a bun. So, I did me.
I have worked at couple of tech firms in Kenya in customer facing roles and frankly the dress code and company culture there would not have allowed me to wear headwraps. I have also worked at a diplomatic embassy in Brussels and whereas the dress code was very formal, because it was an African embassy, my headwraps were acceptable as they are part of African dress. So luckily for me I have been able to wear headwraps for most of my working life.
That said, there have been times, like when I have attended work interviews and certain events when I felt (not known for sure) that my headwrap would be a distraction. You never want for people to be more concerned with what you are wearing than with what you have to say. So read the room and make the right choice. Say you are a lawyer and going to court… a headwrap would not be appropriate in that situation, but there will be occasions that will allow for you to wear them even in the office. So here are a few pointers
- Get confident: Only wear a headwrap to work when you feel sure about it. If you are worried its going to fall or come apart in the middle of your presentation…leave it at home.
- Style it right: Maybe choose a subtle knotted turban style over a large and fancy bow
- Print or plain? Maybe you could get away with a plain solid coloured wrap but a brightly print one would attract the wrong attention?
- Test the waters on dress down Friday instead of board meeting Monday 😉
Knotted turban VS Big Bow
welcome | karibu |bienvenue
This website has been a long time coming but please stay tuned for all things headwraps and haircare! If you would like me to discuss something specific all you have to do is ask.
PS: in case you are wondering, Karibu is Swahili for welcome 🙂