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The Turban Through Fashion History

By Cathy Mercer

For many centuries, various cultures and religious groups have use the turban as the primary headdress of their accepted type of dress. Some societies even use the various wrapping techniques and colors to signify an individual’s placement among their peers, or their job. In some Western countries, this covering has become a growing fashion trend.

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.

This interesting piece of fashion was first introduced to the Western world in the late 17th century and was basically only worn by those of a particular faith or culture. In the early 20th century, sirens of the silent silver screen began to wear them as exotic head pieces. By the 1930′s, this type of covering was being sported by many a socialite as a symbol of great breeding, high education and extensive travel 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.

Over the next couple of decades the style began to lose its appeal and its popularity faded. Recent years have seen this trend burst back on the scene but with a modern twist. Today, women are wearing hundreds of variations on the traditional styles and adding new twists that make them fashionable enough for daily use and perfect for individuals who are suffering hair loss or undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

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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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Mercer, Cathy "The Turban Through Fashion History." The Turban Through Fashion History. 23 Apr. 2014. 25 Jul 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Mercer, C (2014, April 23). The Turban Through Fashion History. Retrieved July 25, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Mercer, Cathy "The Turban Through Fashion History"

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