Editors Note: I am quite excited to publish this post. The post has been a long time coming, and there is a bit of a story to it. It serves as a follow up post to one I published a few months back which discussed a man matching his turban with his tie. Soon after it was published a reader emailed me about the post. It turned out that he himself was a turban wearing man himself and the post hit on a personal note for him, for he said he had over 80 turbans in his collection. I asked him if he would be willing to write a post on his collection and how he wears his turbans. Thankfully he obliged and wrote what we have below, which I find to be very interesting; and frankly, bad ass. A big thanks to Gunpreet for writing this. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I have.
I am a proud turban wearing Sikh. The turban is not simply a piece of cloth that I wrap around my head, it speaks volumes about my character, values and personality.
Traditionally, the turban was a sign of royalty. Turbans are worn globally, however, the vast majority of males who wear a turban in the Western world are Sikhs. Sikhism is the fifth-largest religion in the world with over thirty million adherents. The turban is a symbol of honour and self-respect. Perhaps most importantly, it helps to preserve the Sikh identity.
I first started wearing a plain black turban in 1998. For a few years, I stuck to the conservative colours: black, white and navy blue. But, I`ve always had an interest in fashion and an eye for detail. So, a few years ago, I decided that I`d start experimenting and matching my turban colour to my outfit (pattern or solid colour on a dress shirt, bowtie, sweater, t-shirt etc.). Having visited numerous Indian clothing stores, I already knew that turbans were readily available in hundreds of colours.
But first, allow me to explain the basics – styles, fabrics and colours. There are a few different styles of turbans. The style of turban that one chooses to tie is based on personal style and preference. My personal style is a turban that has origins in the UK/Africa (see photos). As a result of the shorter length, the turban is more compact than other styles. In terms of the fabric itself, there are two main types of materials: cotton voile and rubia. My preference is for the cotton voile fabric as it’s lighter and thinner. I’ve bought all of my turbans in stores located in Toronto, NYC and New Delhi. Generally speaking, the colour of the turban doesn’t have a lot of significance (although red/pink are commonly worn at joyous occasions such as a wedding). For obvious reasons, I don’t wear bright colours to somber occasions.
So, how did I get started? Initially, I took a few items of clothing to the stores and matched them shade-for-shade to turbans that were available for sale. It’s also possible to get custom dyed turbans, but I’ve always bought mine “off the rack”. I’ve also bought quite a few turbans for which I didn’t have complimentary outfits for simply because I loved the colour. I would then use this as an excuse to go shopping for new articles of clothing.
With every passing year, my collection has grown larger and larger (see photo above). I’ve acquired somewhat of a reputation for matching my turban to my outfit. More often than not, the matching will be obvious. Sometimes, I’ll have more fun with it and match the turban colour to a more discreet pattern (e.g. polka dots) or item (e.g. a pocket square) – just to keep my friends on their toes. In my closet, I know exactly which turban will compliment a particular article of clothing.
Since purchasing my first black turban, I’ve added another 80+ colours to my ever-growing collection. Details are important and I’m a firm believer that in order to pull off the look, exact shades matter.
Some people (including strangers) are kind enough to compliment me on my colour co-ordination and many others ask why I do it. Quite simple really – initially, it began as an opportunity to marry my Sikh identity with my interest in modern fashion and slowly evolved into an extension of both my personal brand and style.
Gunpreet Rekhi is a management consultant residing in Toronto. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.