Samantha: Our Historical Clothing Expert Lady Wrap Star!

I am literally bouncing with excitement that I get to introduce Samantha to you!  She’s a professional seamstress, and historical clothing expert!  Her love of hair covering stems from her truly understanding its roots and how it connects us to the women that came before us.  Read on, read on!!

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Hi Samantha, can you tell us a little about yourself?  Your background, where you live, favourite things, how you spend your time, hobbies, etc.?

I was born and raised in Southern California, but have spent the last four years in Michigan and then Virginia (hopefully permanently!). My husband is Michael and we recently celebrated our second wedding anniversary. For my entire life I have loved all sorts of creative activities, from writing and drawing to singing and dancing. Now most of my creative energy is focused on sewing, although I still create sketches for most of the projects I make. My husband and I met through our mutual love of historical clothing and living history reenactments, so that is often how we can be found spending our weekends and vacations (when we’re not sewing…).

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What led you to start wrapping your hair?  How did you find Wrapunzel?

I feel I have always been drawn to head coverings, whether they were hats, caps, bonnets, or scarves. When I covered my head, I felt peaceful and safe. Something about it just felt “right”! Some of my early wrapping attempts as a teen were met with gentle jokes from my family, who probably chalked it up to my artistic nature. My dear friend Maggie helped me embrace my interest in wrapping my hair a couple years ago, and bought me my first Wrapunzel kit! I had seen some Wrapunzel images around the web, but Maggie was my true introduction and inspiration. Watching her cover her hair every day gave me the courage to begin wrapping more often with confidence. This past year I have also been struggling with a physical injury that has severely limited how much I can sew (which is a bit difficult when you believe that sewing is your calling). I began wrapping much more often because of this. Wrapping has provided me with an alternative outlet for expressing my creativity and myself. I’ve been able to divert some of my creative energy from sewing to coming up with new wraps and outfits. It’s been very therapeutic. 

Can you tell us about your style and your greatest fashion inspirations?

The best way to describe my style is “eclectic”! I am inspired by so many things for my everyday wardrobe, like vintage fashions. I really like my outfits to look cohesive and thoughtful, which is something I see a lot in vintage fashion. That doesn’t mean match-matchy, just complimentary. I also think about whether or not a particular garment or outfit is flattering to my body type and/or coloring. But perhaps most importantly, I wear what brings me joy! And that extends to covering my hair. I believe I have many different facets as a person, and my clothing reflects those different facets. So I might wear completely vintage clothing one day and very modern clothing the next day. It might be preppy, boho, or punk, whatever fits my mood. 

What is your FAVOURITE thing about covering?

I honestly think my favorite thing about covering has been the connections I have made with other women that I wouldn’t have otherwise made. It has deepened existing friendships and acted as the catalyst for new ones. Women at work have told me how much they like my different wraps and brought in their own scarves so that I could show them some techniques. I might not have gotten to known them if it weren’t for covering! The Wrapunzel community is one of the most beautiful groups of women I have ever encountered. I always feel uplifted when I see women of all different faiths and walks of life being brought together through a mutual love of covering their hair. 

Has covering changed how you feel about yourself and the world around you?  If so, how?

Covering has made me much more self-conscious–and I don’t mean in a bad way! I am much more aware of how I conduct myself in public–partly because I just feel different when I cover and partly because I know that people are more likely to notice me when I cover. I want to be the best version of myself that I can be when interacting with other people, and covering helps me do that. Having my hair covered reminds me that I wear a crown on my head as a daughter of the King! I have also noticed that covering really makes me feel safe. My husband recently went abroad for two weeks and we had very little contact. I really embraced covering my hair during that period, and it helped me feel safe even though we were apart.

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I know you are a historian with a speciality in historical clothing.  Please tell us about this and how does hair covering relate to what you do?  What can we learn, as women that cover today, from the women that covered before us?

My husband and I both work for museums and specifically create and wear historical clothing. Most of the pictures I post in the Wrapunzel fan group are taken in my museum’s costume shop, where I work. Clothing of the past is beautiful and fascinating for many people, but I also believe that clothing can tell us so much about a culture at a certain point in time, as well as tell us something about ourselves today. For most of the time periods we work in, women have some sort of covering on their heads, whether it’s a cap, bonnet, hat, or turban. While the ancient roots are in modesty, it is mostly for fashion! There’s also a practical reason that women covered their hair, especially with caps, because it helps keep the hair clean from dirt and the ash and smoke of working and living with fires. One of the most common questions we get wearing historical clothing is “Are you hot in that???”. I was so excited when I watched Andrea’s video addressing his very same issue, because her answers were exactly the same as the ones we tell visitors who ask us that. People of the past weren’t stupid. In many ways, they were smarter than us about things we have forgotten because of technology. Wearing all natural fibers, keeping your skin covered from the sun, wearing light colors—the people of the past were experts at dressing for the weather. 

Women today often don’t wear hats or anything on their heads unless it’s for a specific activity. Whenever I feel nervous or odd for having my head covered, I remember that women across cultures have been covering their heads for thousands of years, and it’s really only within the last 50 years that it has fallen out of fashion for Western women. Women have had their heads covered for much longer than they haven’t!

The “Girl with a Pearl Earring” has been very popular with Wrapunzel ladies, for good reason! But the late 18th-early 19th centuries (think Jane Austen) saw a huge craze for turbans and other wraps. I suggest checking out paintings and fashion plates from 1790-1830 on Pinterest for more historical wrapping inspiration!

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Do you have any hopes/dreams/wild predictions about where this trend is going to take us in the future?

I am really hopeful that head scarves will become even more widely worn by women. I already see wide, twisted headbands being popular, and turbans and scarves are widely worn in the vintage community. Scarves in general are so “in” right now, and I think women want more ways to wear them than just around their necks. I definitely think it’s a trend that is growing, which is very exciting!

Please tell us about how you choose your outfits in the morning!

There are a few ways I come up with outfits. I either plan them out completely the night before or I frantically run around in the morning trying things on! Both ways have been successful, although I think the outfits I plan beforehand are a bit better. I get really excited when I buy a new scarf, piece of jewelry, skirt, etc., and often build an outfit around that new piece.

And finally, what are you grateful for right now?

I have so much to be grateful for right now, from a job I enjoy to a loving family to a roof over our heads. But at this very moment I think I am most grateful for my husband, who always supports me and never gives up on me. 

17 thoughts on “Samantha: Our Historical Clothing Expert Lady Wrap Star!

  1. Samantha, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience. I also sew, but mainly quilts since I have the hardest time trying to get clothes I make to fit. Six-gore skirts seem to be the easiest thing I can make and get to fit.
    I, too, have physical problems, mainly eye spasms which make it difficult to sew straight seams so when things are worse, like you, I love to express myself through my scarves and tichels. I love color and using it as self expression.
    I also am history buff, and have noted how women have traditionally either covered their hair or wore hats.
    Being an RN, my greatest thrill in nursing school in 1970 was receiving my nursing cap. I mourn that nursing caps are no longer worn. And as you most likely know, each nursing school had its special cap. During my first jobs, it was fun to see the various caps. Mine looked like the usual nursing cap, but my friend from Hunter College had cap reminiscent of the caps worn by maids in the 19th century.
    Thank you for your story, and I would love to see a tutorial on the third wrap down in the story with the tail using the animal print and black. It looks fantastic.
    Do you have blog on sewing and clothes? I would love to see some of your original clothes and how you go about designing them as well as get them to fit:)
    Thanks

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  2. I always enjoy seeing your posts on the fangroup, Samantha. I am fascinated by the anthropological aspect of history, so I especially like those posts. Your second picture here (in your historical garb) looks like a painting – so lovely!

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  3. It would be nice if Samantha had time to make some more skirts for Wrapunzel to sell on the web site. What do you think Andrea?

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  4. Great interview. So happy you are a lady wrap star! I have thought about some of the things you have said on my own recently. Firstly wrapping feels right to me. Not even from a religious or spiritual aspect. But fundamentally it feels like what I should be doing. I am a more calm person wrapped. But there feels like there is something much deeper. I have begun to be interested historically in why have women wrapped. I became aware that it had been going on for so many many years and just have a real interest in the practical reasons aside from fashionable reasons. So your interview/article really touches a cord for me. Thanks.

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  5. Love, love, LOVE the green scarf! I’d like to see how the back looks and how its wrapped. (I’m new to wrapping, so, excuse me if its just a simple, easy to do one)

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  6. Great post! Samantha has always been such a sewing inspiration. I never noticed that her head is always covered before! I wear a lot of historical clothing as well and coverings were just a part of how things were done in the past. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. I love this! I have recently been trying to dress in clothes that make me feel like my true self, and as a new wrapper, trying to coordinate my scarves with my outfits. You look so natural with your hair covered. Truly, you make it look like everyone should give it a go. Thank you for sharing!

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  8. Unless it’s been discussed before, I’d love to know where she studied/attended school in her field. Also I have a marvelous book to suggest. It’s the catalogue (and then some!) from an exhibit I saw last year at Jerusalem’s Israel Museum, called “The Jewish Wardrobe”. Amazon sells good used versions for less! I’d love to know if it’s already in Samantha’s collection. Also, am I the only one who noticed that the word “tichel” derives from the Yiddish word “Sterntichel”?

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  9. Ah! I have read your historical costuming blog for a long time now (From which I get endless inspiration), so it is splendid to see you in the wrap community now as well. 😀

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  10. Yay! A new Lady Wrap Star! Samantha, your historical photo really does look like a painting – you reflect timeless beauty. That connection with women in the past resonates with me, too. Life can seem so unmoored sometimes and wrapping helps me find balance. Do you have a Pinterest or other account with your historical costumes? Would love to see more of your wraps. Thanks for sharing your story!

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  11. Samantha, someone mentioned that you have an historical clothing blog. I would love to read it. Being a quilter, I know that there is a correlation between historical clothing and quilts in particular the fabrics and patterns. Do you specialize in any particular historical period or country?

    Please let us know how we can access your blog?
    Thanks. Diane
    PS: I don’t do Facebook so this is the first time I have seen you and heard your story.

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