‘Bathleisure’: An Instagram Trend You Might Be Wearing Right This Second

Either by the power vested in the algorithmic gods that colonize the discover feed on Instagram or the simple possibility that a new trend (The Cut calls it “Bath-leisure“) is populating the app, I have been noticing with escalating frequency more and more women posting photos of themselves almost completely done up — sunglasses in tow, earrings in lobes, bathrobe on body and terrycloth towel on head.

It may have started at MTV’s European Music Awards last November, when Rita Ora showed up in full bathrobe and towel and boat loads of diamonds to boot. Or maybe it was Rihanna, who right around the same time appeared on the cover of Vogue with a Pucci beach towel wrapped around her head.

I can’t know for sure but I do know it sparked a movement, some version of a hankering to post carefully articulated selfies replete with robust accessories and lots of makeup and beach towels. What’s more? I like it. I really, really like it. I can’t wait to wear beach towels as hats this summer with nothing but a bathing suit and a variety of beaded necklaces, earrings — name the jewelry-type, I will probably try it. I am so excited, in fact, that using a trio of Turkish bath towels purchased on Amazon (fun fact: the history of towels dates back to 17th Century Turkey, and more specifically Bursa, which is a city that I would pronounce, “buhr-suh,” if my dad wasn’t Turkish and I didn’t know better, e.g. booorrrRrRr-sah!), I styled three looks from the neck up to consider for January and beyond.

Because the towels I wear here are not traditional terry towels and are those of the aforementioned Turkish variety, they look a lot more like headwraps than they do bath towels; and while headwraps have been worn by several cultures centuries and decades over, there is distinct historical rooting in African culture. The name varies by country: in Nigeria, women wear Geles; in Malawi, women wear dukusin Zimbabwe, a headwrap is called a dhuku; in Botswana, a headwrap is referred to as a tukwi.

In America, the history of the headwrap, which dates back to the 16th century, tells of oppression, discrimination and ultimately, liberation when slaves were forced to wear head coverings. As early as the 1800s the wraps were used as a symbol of rebellion, and by the Civil Rights and Black Power movement of the 1960s, they were used to symbolize black pride.

Journalist Liana Aghajanian wrote about the complicated history of headscarves in their many forms and of their many cultures (from the Muslim hijab to the Jewish tichel). I recommend a read, and then a look The Wrap Life.

All that is to say, headwraps and headscarves, while beautiful, are not the trend I’m looking to approximate. Instead, I am aiming for that right-out-the-shower (mid-day) bath towel twist, which makes me look so much more like a lady of leisure than I actually am. It is possible that the next time you see me, I will be wearing all of what’s above — from the Amazon towel to the Gentle Monster sunglasses, to the cascade of necklaces (the longer strand of pearls is Mikimoto, the shorter strand is Roxanne Assoulin), to the earrings (by Céline) and all the bracelets/that ring (Roxanne Assoulin and Nina Kastens/Retrouvai). Oh! And if you’re wondering about the flowers, Pop Up Florist.

For my next trick, I tried not to have my hair so firmly wrapped into the aforementioned towel because, I don’t know, variety is the spice of life. My armpits are partially shaved as they’re the last area on my body I can still reach and per the accessories: Aurélie Bidermann earrings, a Roxanne Assoulin choker and tube necklace, Aracano horn pendant and those are Agmes cuffs and a Tohum beaded bracelet on my wrist. I would totally wear this to a wedding. You?

And finally, in what is perhaps the most emblematic of my style (volatile, colorful, easy to get sick of), here I am with a muted towel so that I could really go HAM with the accessories. This look has everything (sung to the tune of Bill Hader’s Stefon, RIP): bracelets you could use to suffocate your wrists (Aurélie Bidermann, Roxanne Assoulin), necklaces that double as cage fighters (Lizzie Fortunato, Roxanne Assoulin), sunglasses for a blicken (Adam Selman), which is that thing where you blindfold a chicken and see if they can get around, and, of course, a daisy (Dannijo) for my ring finger. Fin.

Photos by Edith Young. 

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  • Babs

    I am reborn

  • Elisaaa

    this head covering history article is excellent; thank you for linking 🙂

  • Lauren Thompson

    Blicken. Yes. Bless you and Stefon

  • Robin

    Absolutely adore this even though I just switched from drying my hair with towels to old t-shirts in hopes to not break it anymore

  • Kristi Ellis

    Love that this story not only looks great, but is culturally aware anddddd that it’s capped off with New York’s hottest night club reporter, Stefon https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8413b03ac8b3b5f5135fbf7b74510411d52571e230c007dc75e4403d17134361.gif

  • Michelle

    Yes yes yes. So happy Leandra has been writing so much lately. Yes.

  • Love your jewelry! Wow! The towel on the head is always tres chic. One of my favorite photos of this style is below (by French photographer Jean Philippe Lebée):

    Eva | http://www.shessobright.com


  • Holland Kennedy

    this trend is so glamorous and classic, and I’m not even sure why. I’m into it.

  • Lookin’ cute!

  • Cute story and great photos of you!

  • Adriana Radinovic

    I love the article and the trend but would this be considered cultural appropiation?

    • Erin Dapper

      i don’t think so, leandra is very culturally aware with this topic and addresses it beautifully. to be honest, it’s something taken from the bathroom! mario testino even has a running collection called “the towel series” of celebrities being photographed in their towel head turbans. if i’m wrong though someone please tell me!!

      • Adriana Radinovic

        I am just genuinely curios because she does list the names of couple of countries where women wear this every day. The only thing is that the towels in her pictures don’t really look like actual towels (Mario Testino) and they look more like scarfs which resembles to what women wear in the African countries that she lists in the article. I guess I would consider it cultural appropriation if she wore it outside the house in the way the women in some countries in Africa do. Not really sure…

        • Erin Dapper

          yeah i totally get what you mean. it’s a tricky one. i don’t have a problem with it, but i don’t have the place to say that really because i’m white and have never had to face cultural appropriation or cultural misinterpretation. i think the point here is that leandra has gracefully addressed the cultures and made this trend inclusive for everyone!

          • Pandora Sykes

            It’s a towel, guys…!

        • Basil

          But given Leandra is Jewish and many religious women wear headscarves, it wouldn’t be appropriation right? The styling can be different for tichels, but it’s still a head wrap

        • KeiKei

          She specifically stated that she is trying to rock the I’m lazy and cute in a towel look. Read the article.

        • KeiKei

          All that is to say, headwraps and headscarves, while beautiful, are not the trend I’m looking to approximate. Instead, I am aiming for that right-out-the-shower (mid-day) bath towel twist, which makes me look so much more like a lady of leisure than I actually am.

    • Mary

      People who are not of color or of a certain religion can’t wear (bath) accessories on their heads? That’s a new one. The towels she is wearing are a brand of bath/beach towels and she chose them for their aesthetics, including the fact that they wrap better than bulky bath towels and maybe even because she has Turkish roots, unironically. To foil your cultural appropriation comment, consider that this trend could in fact be an homage to those cultures that have traditionally worn wraps on their heads. Or, a trend that allows a more casual if not intimate view into women’s lives, thereby promoting natural, authentic beauty. If everything were cultural appropriation, we’d be walking around naked.

      • AdrianaR

        I wasn’t referring to a bath towel wearing around your head after you shower or at a pool, etc. Let me clarify, if I would wear a scarf around my head in public just as a part of my outfit copying what women in some African countries wear is cultural appropriation to me. If I wore it to church because of my religious beliefs then that wouldn’t be cultural appropriation. Culture and religion are different things. You can be same religion as someone else but come from different cultures. I am not talking about the religious part of it, I am talking about the cultural part since the head scarf would be a fashion accessories if worn by someone whose culture doesn’t origin from any of these African countries.
        Do you remember the Marc Jacobs’ show few months ago when all of his models had dreadlocks? Remember articles and news talking about the cultural appropriation? How would wearing a scarf in public, that is taken from a different culture, would differ than the dreadlocks? And again, I am not talking about wearing a bath towel around a pool or beach. I guess there is a fine line here. I didn’t grow up here so to me this is really confusing.

  • Allegra

    thank you for including culturally aware commentary and acknowledging the origins/similarities between this trend and traditional head wraps. also you look cute 🙂

  • Basil

    Inspirational and educational!
    I sometimes wear a tichel (headscarf) namely on Shabbat and to synagogue, but given I have small kids and don’t go as often, my head covering recently has been downgraded to whatever is closest (often a bobbly hat). But I’ve been inspired by my son’s nursery teacher who wears a tichel. She looks so regal, and when I wear them I also feel like a Queen. You can go large with accessories which is so much fun, particularly earrings

  • GREEN 😍🌞

  • KeiKei

    IRL. I so seriously rock this look when I deep condition my hair … did not know his was on the gram. Lol

  • wln001

    Glamour actually coined “bathleisure” before Vogue–in their January 17 issue.

  • Ashley Napoli

    So much fun! I really like the turkish towels from https://www.anatoli.co/
    She’s a Turkish native and sells her designs at pop-ups and markets here in NYC. https://www.instagram.com/p/BdmwTyzFrlI/?taken-by=anatoli.co Her towels can also be used as kaftans, scarves, and throws for your couch!

  • BK

    Pleased to see the return of the #armparty!!!!

  • Absolutely love the jewellery. The towel-on-head- probably wouldn’t suit me as I like to show my head off, but if you can rock it, flaunt it, I say. Sunglasses n’ all!

  • Keisha

    I am loving the Aurlie Bidermann earrings. You’re so pretty!

  • Margo Cleveland

    The hair is the longest, least fun part! Very into the trend.