Hasidic women customarily wear a head covering after they get married. There are various types of head coverings, and each type is different not only in appearance, but also in degree of stringency. Yet the headgear doesn’t really reflect a woman’s piety, because it is determined by what the family tradition is. What the mother wears, the daughter wears. On occasion, a woman may choose to deviate from the family headgear. Or it can happen that parents agree on a different headgear at the time the marriage is arranged, per the engagement negotiations. I think it is fair to say that a family’s headgear is a factor (among other factors) that is taken into consideration when a match is arranged.
Of course, headgear have gone through many changes in the world of Hasidic fashion. While the main elements remained constant, hat styles, wig styles and scarf styles have varied widely over the years.It is interesting to note that in Hasidic vocabulary people often refer to families based on headgear tradition. For example “they are a hat family” as a description of a family if the mother and married daughters wear hats on their wigs, or “they are a shpitzel family” etc. That’s because, as I said earlier, headgear reflects a socio-religious status in the community. Any family that wears any type of scarf headgear (there are a few types, see below) can be a “tichel family”, tichel being Yiddish for scarf.While some sects are likely to have more of one headgear than another (i.e., shpitzel would be more common in Satmar and a frisette in Skver) the headgear does not symbolize affiliation with a particular sect.
Headgear are generally worn outside of the house. At home or near the home, a woman wears a more comfortable turban or pre-tied scarf called a bandana. These turbans/scarves/bandanas are chosen to fashionably match the woman’s housecoat.
THE LIST OF HEADGEAR:
Note: I’ve tried to organize the list of headgear by degree of stringency, from most stringent to least stringent. If there were slight variations in the headgear style that do not reflect variations in stringency, then I did not give it a separate entry, in order to make it clear that the piety level is equal. (And even with this degree of detail, we are still not covering everything. There’s more to say about headgear on holidays versus weekdays, but let’s get an overall sense instead of nitpicking details.)
We begin with most pious:
Plain Black Scarf: Only a black scarf. This is very Israeli and is not common in Williamsburg.
Shpitzel: The first layer is a net over the head, with some type of weaving at the net’s edges, to frame the face from ear to ear. There’s another layer of turban liner for height, and a scarf on top, which is tied in the back and kept in place with pins. The scarf is often silk, fashionable and designer, and folded so the desirable colors show in the front.
Aroifebinden – when the ends of the scarf are tied back up
Aroopgebinden – when the ends of the scarf hang down
Another variation that DOES vary by degree of piety:
Imgedri’vlt – when the shpitzel itself (the part of the thin first layer that shows only in front) is made of a flat, silk-like fabric.
Gedri’vlt – when the shpitzel layer that shows is made of synthetic hairs. This is less stringent.
Front or Frisette: Interestingly, the term frisette seems to originate from the Frenchfrisette and is indeed similar in style. The first layer is a short wig with bangs or other style of the wig above the forehead. Only the front of the wig shows. This layer is followed by the same elements of the shpitzel: a turban for height, and a scarf.
Aroifebinden-when the ends of the scarf are tied back up
Aroopgebinden-when the ends of the scarf hang down
PS: This is the headgear I wore when I was Hasidic.
The last is considerate very liberal headgear in Williamsburg, and women are often asked not to enter a synagogue uncovered.
In Williamsburg wigs (especially the covered wigs) are usually a blend of synthetic and human hair and they only come down to the shoulders.