So I’m not a fashion blogger, but I couldn’t resist this post. Despite strong ties with/influence from Europe, Tunisia is an obviously Muslim country. The beautiful call to prayer can be heard five times a day from mosques in every neighborhood. Declining to order alcohol at a restaurant doesn’t brand you as weird and cheap. And although there is plenty of visible female hair, many women do wear the hijab (Muslim head scarf). It was actually suppressed during the administration of now-deposed President Ben Ali, so it’s now enjoying a bit of a renaissance here.
The hijab is especially in fashion among younger women, who tend to make it so deliciously stylish that I feel a little jealous. One of my favorite styles here is the one pictured above, or variations thereon. I love the femininity of the ribbons and netting, and the big knot at the back. Another delightful style I’ve seen several times is an elaborately-pinned scarf that leaves the hair covered, but the ears exposed, to showcase earrings. To me it looks a little like a classy medieval princess. Scarf textures are another realm for expressing individuality. My favorites are the sheer floral prints and the sparkly metallic scarves.
Then there is this lovely tutorial on a complex but beautiful criss-cross hijab style:
In fact, I spent quite a while today on youtube, discovering all the inventive and elegant ways it is possible to modestly cover one’s hair. From a quick summer style to a floral wedding hijab, there are hijabs for every style. Except mine, which is non-Muslim. I did have one moment of glory on my birthday, in which the staff at Hotel Dakyanus in Tataouine presented me with a real Berber scarf and showed me how to put it on (a complicated combination of draping, rolling, and tucking, which I never replicated with complete success).
Oh well, I have also noticed plenty of casual hijabbers in Tunisia. They wear scarves, but leave some hair showing in the front. Or the back. I’ve found that a scarf thrown over my hair (and a little over my face) does cut down on unwanted male attention (either because they’re not looking, or because I can’t see them). Tony got me some lovely scarves in Florence, which I’ve mostly worn around my neck in various Italian styles (I could write a post on that too, but I won’t, because I’m not a real fashion blogger). They now do double duty, since I am incorrigibly bad about going out with my hair wet (a huge taboo in Muslim countries). It takes ten seconds to toss a scarf over it, and then nobody knows. A scarf is also useful during the changeable Tunisian spring. You can wear it as a shawl in the wind (or even a light rain), or cover your face with it to take a nap in the sun on the beach. Or fold it up as a pillow to keep the sand from getting in your hair. I’ve even been known to use a scarf as a dramatic butterfly-bow sash over a skirt. (no, you really don’t want to see. I’m not a fashion blogger, remember?)
When it gets a little warmer and my Florentine cashmere scarves are too hot, I’ll be sure to find some light, gauzy Tunisian scarves to replenish my wardrobe. Even if I have to wear them somewhere other than in a sophisticated confection on my head.