Headcovering - finding a way to do this as a modern Plain



I'm of a liberal Quaker tradition, and I work in a fairly senior position in the health service in the UK.


I've always kept a version of modern plain, being someone who has short hair, very seldom wears makeup, having a relativly small range of clothes in my wardrobe.


I also have fair, easily burning skin, so have covered up more than typical fpr my culture (I grew up in NZ) out of sheer necesity.


I am sensing a calling to start head-covering. My own meeting will ask why but not be overly concerned. My boyfriend who also dresses a version of modern plain and always wears a hat outside will see no issue.


What I am struggling with is how I will deal with this in my work-life. I've looked at our dress code and I can fit within it, but I don't know how either professional peers or clients will interpret this.


Has anyone else had this experience and could give me some indication of your experience.


In peace



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I am a liberal Quaker in a very liberal meeting in WA State, USA.  I started feeling the call to cover more than three years ago.  The call to cover came before the plainness, oddly enough.  I've always been a fairly simple, modest dresser, though, so the rest wasn't a huge leap.  I waited, thought, and discussed the leading for over a year before starting to wear wide headbands or bandannas each day.  After less than a year of covering, I also transitioned to long skirts and matching shirts in simple colors (blues, browns).  My coverings are now nearly always simple navy cotton triangles tied like a bandanna.  It has been a strange journey.


I don't wear kapps, though my heart is tugged to do so at times.  There are very, very few plain folks in this state, and none within counties of me.  I feel that, for me, to dress in a way that attracted even more attention would somehow not be in keeping with Quaker witness and plainness.


I don't know that I have much wisdom about the work issue, as I currently work largely from home, though for a public school.  I'm not sure how my dress would be received in an interview or local school building situation.  I have received some looks at staff meetings and at field trips, but haven't had too many comments, and actually no questions.  Sometimes the lack of questioning makes me uncomfortable... I feel like I don't know what (or if) people are thinking.  I'm still trying to let that go.


My added challenge is that I'm a lesbian, and my dress makes me nearly invisible to the gay community.  That makes me sad, but does not override the strong and certain leading I had to this way of life.  My meeting has not said or asked anything.  I do wonder sometimes what they think.  (I used to have closely cropped hair and wear jeans.)


It sounds from this thread that you are stepping out on your plain journey.  I hope you are healing well, and am glad that your medical procedure gave you an easy way to start.  Travel well.




I'm struggling with covering. It's definately calling me and I don't know what to do. A year ago I had my hair cut up to my shoulders (shorter then ever) which ment it could be easily contained in a triangular scarf work every other day. This didn't attract any attention as hippy style scarfs were in fashion. Now my hair's going down my back again and it pokes well out of the scarf and gets in a knotty mess. What I'd like to do is go back to my pre-Quaker bun but but with the triangular scarf. The problem is this will be an obvious act of covering and I'm anxious of the reactions I'll get.

I work in an enviroment where I need to be very smart and professional looking to face outside organisations and also where femininity is viewed with some distaste. I live in the UK where there's no understanding of the language of plain or simple dress. I know I'm being nudged towards covering but could anyone give any words of advice. My friends know I'm a Quaker as they came to my Quaker wedding.

Today someone came into my office and didn't know where to look when addressing me because I had a skirt, hair scarf and long hair. She couldn't even speak to me properly, I think she was terrified I'd start trying to sing hymns at her or something.


Hi Elizabeth,

I'm not much use on the matter of long hair having been shorn short for the longest time...I have hair that requires way too much attention if it gets beyond about 2 inches long - the curse of very curly hair. However, I do wonder if you did a french pleat or another of the flat buns whether it would lie smoothly under a head covering.

Modern plain is generally more subtle than more traditional plain - so for example I wear trousers and a tunic a fair bit at work, but it fits with plain because it is modest and in simple colours. In one of the plain threads there is a link to one of the Muslim clothing sites which has what I would call smart business clothes but those that fit with hijab - that might help.

I am also feeling my way with headcovering at the moment - a really tough week at work made for it being a source of anxiety for me.  I know it was not the covering persay, but rather my feelings about being more visible than usual which triggered anxiety. I guess I really do need these two weeks off on holiday!

One of the things that might be useful is if your have a workmate who you would trust to give you an opinion, you might want to talk to her about the experience with the woman who came into your office today - because it is easy to assume that the reason someone is "off" with you is personal - when it could be something else. If it does turn out that your workmates do worry about the whole "singing hymns" bit (LOL-reminds me of a quaker joke - why do Quakers sing so slowly? - So they can read ahead and see if they agree with the words), then perhaps looking at some of the headscarf ideas used for people suffering from alopecia or going through chemo - again it is not as simple as plain dressing, but it is a good compromose.



Dear Helen

  With so many Muslim women covered up in Britain, and with all the fear of PC you will have no worries! Seriously though, do as the Light calls you, you will know when you are ready, and just do it. I live in Canada where Muslims, Mennonites, Hutterites, Amish and even Old Plain Quakers wear head coverings. Lets face it what you are proposing is minor compared to some tattoos and body piercing one sees these days.  In the Light.  Rob

Actually, my experience directly contradicts this - most people are much more worried about my head covering than the tattoos and body piercings.  Modesty is a major political statement, tats and piercings are common currency.


I also live in a part of the UK where there are very few Muslims, so very few women cover around here.  Most comfortable I felt was a day up at a university where there were a lot of black women with head coverings - I got heaps of smiles from them too!

Friend Karen

  The term Plain is used rather loosely but in Borden Saskatchewan there is a conservative Meeting( the only one left in Canada) which had a plain dressing couple several years ago, the rest were farmers, who were plain by city standards. Plain dressing is rare but simple plain living is far more common and can be seen in many Meetings across Canada. As a farmer who farms traditionally,( no chemicals) and who is happy with a frugal life style compared to most in society, I would be considered by many to be living simply, as for plain, jeans and a long sleeved shirt are what I wear all the time. I often wear braces and a straw hat in the summer. I always avoid caps with advertising, also jackets and logo tee shirts. I never worry how I look as most folks pick on my accent long before they notice my dress! 

Greetings, Helen Gibbs.

Covering on the job has not been a problem for me. I've been doing it for so long now, I'm not sure people would know who I was if they saw me without a hat on.

Absolutely nobody asks me about my cap at work.

I am an administrative assistant (we used to be called secretaries) for a group of research scientists in a very large company where both business casual and formal business attire are worn.

About 18 months into covering due to religious conviction, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I lost all my hair at 15 days after my first chemo treatment. In addition to sewing some full-coverage headcoverings I accumulated a small collection of cotton knit beret-style hats from Parkhurst of Canada and an Internet supplier based in Israel whose clientele are primarily Orthodox Jewesses.

My hair grew back. I kept the hats. I'm still wearing them. I keep my hair short now. I wear simple, traditional feminine business attire, which in the cooler weather is often a dark skirt suit and a white shirt or blouse, and generally put on a cotton knit beret-style cap, which I wear on the back of my head. I've got one on in my profile picture. 

Sometimes I wear slacks or jeans when I'm away from the office, but the beret-type headcovering still works because the style is so generic.

You will probably eventually find something that will suit you, keep your head covered, and become so much a part of the way you look that your coworkers won't even see it anymore. It will become second nature to put it on, and you'll feel undressed without it.

I wish you peace.


I am very lucky where I live because I am certainly not the only plain dressing person. Pennsylvania is chock full of Amish, Mennonite, German Baptist, Orthodox Jews, and Muslims. I've settled down to snoods http://katiesmercantile.com/bonnets_snood.html  and tichels (scroll down to photo 3) http://thecrunchyjew.blogspot.com/2011/03/scarf-love.html


They both work quite well. I have dreadlocks down to my back so I put them into two big braids and then pin the up. Both covers looks very smart.  I wore jeans for the first time in a very long time to volunteer at a horse show (I was concerned my long skirt hems would get sodden in the wet grass), but still felt comfortable because I wore my cover. 

I'm thinking that I might be more conservative than plain.  My dresses and jumpers, snoods and tichels are patterned, but my dress is conservative and modest. 



Hello Helen,

I began wearing a cover full time in November of last year and I also wear modern plain while at work for now until I have gathered enough plain dresses to wear them full time.

I've actually only gotten a few questions from people here at work. I think most are afraid to ask, but I gladly told those that asked about my decision (I'm sure they told everyone else!)  :-)   I work at a university and one student thought she was being cute and was picking on me about "that rag on my head" and I let it go the first few times, but finally had to tell her that her constant picking was a bit offensive to me.

It was very scary when I first started wearing the cap at work and I started with small lace veils, went to plain bandanas and then to the cap, but I believe that everyone has accepted me now. I feel comfortable continuing on my plain journey here as well.

Just trust in the Lord and make that step!

Blessings with your journey,



Greetings Helen and all:

I understand your predicament.  I work for a corporation for many years while I have to work.  They consider me odd as I am not practicing the same tactics they do but otherwise I prefer to remain invisible for the hours I am there. 

On my own time I do cover and prefer it..  at work I do not because I do not want to call attention to myself.   I do not eat like them or think like them or talk like them.  I do not attend their parties and celebrations.  I am quiet, mind myself and go about my business as required.  When I leave their employ for the night or weekend I am once again free to be me. . . to be at peace, and cover as necessary.  I do dress plainer than they. . . and modestly.  Mostly they just think I'm strange but because I do a good job, they leave me alone.   

My husband at home, a difficult situation,  does not have any faith and makes fun of me when I cover.. . .I ignore it.  I married him years ago when I didn't know so much.  I take it one day at a time, hoping and praying that one day I can live and be free to be fully me, plain, simple, covering and peaceable, meaning not to be made fun of. 


http://www.etsy.com/listing/99549225/natural-linen-snood-head-cover... <-- This is my latest covering. No questions at work. I've worn net-type snoods to work a couple times before, but this was the first time I wore a fabric covering at this job. One coworker said "hey! Great idea keeping the hair off your neck in this heatwave!" and that was it. I'm not wearing it fulltime, and there is a heatwave (and I have seat-length hair) so this makes sense (and has sort of been my "excuse" as I experimented with covering in 2010, but people I've met since then aren't used to it...though they are used to my "unique" style). 

Hello, Helen.

Have you had a chance to speak with your supervisor or employer about head covering? Maybe you have. Is he or she an approachable and kindly person? Maybe you've already done so. If not, then ye might consider it in private. . .

What I am struggling with is how I will deal with this in my work-life. I've looked at our dress code and I can fit within it, but I don't know how either professional peers or clients will interpret this.

 What do others think of ye now? It is what thou art within that is of more importance. Yet I can see thy concerns in a place of business. Haply you know better those ye work alongside and those with whom you have contact, if so, thou might have some glimpse of what to expect. We can only offer limited advice.

My wife has covered since the summer of 2000, and has changed her type only very slightly since. She felt peace about it. She had difficulties at first with doing so, as she thought she wouldn't seem feminine or pretty to me any longer. This was not the case, not an ounce of it.

I don't know if this is of any help to thee or not. I trust it may though.

The peace of God be with you.


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