'I suppose not everyone takes pride in how they look' - Is it unacceptable to wear a bonnet in public?

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A model walks the runway at the Fashion East show during London Fashion Week on 17 February 2019 in London, England.
A model walks the runway at the Fashion East show during London Fashion Week on 17 February 2019 in London, England.
Photo: Getty Images

Satin bonnets have been lauded for their benefits. They keep hair healthy and barely slip throughout the night.

From maintaining hairstyles to assisting in preventing dryness and breakage – the popularity of the bonnet has increased in the past few years.

With this rise in popularity there have been a contentious debate about whether it is ‘appropriate’ to wear this hair care item outside of your house.

Much like the backlash faced by people who wear pyjamas outside, bonnets are seen as sleepwear.

However, there is something to be said about the notorious pyjama wearers – they have influenced fashion to the point where relaxed satin shirt and trouser sets, which closely resembles a pyjamas, have become fashionable, a satin slip dress has become a classic trend yet it looks strikingly similar to a night dress.

According to the Times of India, pyjama-wearing is 3000 years old, and WWD magazine reports its entrance to mainstream western fashion goes back to the 1970.

The question remains though, is sleepwear influencing fashion seen as a positive thing?

Society will not let us forget how abominable it is to wear clothing items that are perceived to be for sleeping outside the house.

A few years ago, journalist Wendy Knowler tweeted her disapproval at a family who visited a petrol station wearing pyjamas.

To her, age seems to be a disqualifying factor as to who is permitted to show up in public spaces in their sleepwear.

More recently, a girl made waves on TikTok for not only wearing pyjamas and slipper outdoors but topping it off with a gold and brown printed bonnet.

READ MORE | 5 reasons why owning a satin bonnet is a good idea for your hair, skin and more 

And then there are people who ague that one shouldn’t enter common spaces in the household while wearing sleepwear.

The wider public would say as long as you’re indoors in your own home, sleepwear isn’t an issue while others may add that being within the confines of your yard or where neighbours cannot see you, is acceptable.

There are a few who seem to be igniting this debate by wearing a bonnet wherever they please because ‘it’s a look’.

So, where do we draw the line?

This is what TRUELOVE readers have to say:

Futhi says, to her, bonnets are simply a part of sleepwear.

“Bonnets are great. They do wonders for our hair. From sealing in that moisture, protecting our styles etc. However, they’re part of our sleep garments in my opinion. We wear them when we’re home, relaxing (sealing in that hair moisture), and when we sleep. They were not as accessible before but now even shops like Dis-Chem has. I suppose not everyone takes pride in how they look like in public. It does look very tacky. Overall, it’s great for our hair.”

Sandisiwe says the phenomenon of wearing bonnets in public needs to be addressed and says the youth are the culprits.

“Maybe you should come up with a doek silk quality of similar design, clearly we're in love [with] the look,” she tells TRUELOVE.

Kulani is a reader who also happens to sell bonnets.

She says her customers even ask for colours that match their outfits: “Some of my clients buy different colours to match with their outfits for outdoor and it is merely those who wear doeks for ‘ukukotiza’ or church so I have seen them rock the bonnet so beautifully.

“I, however, only use it for night time.”

Kulani adds: “This is the same as saying women shouldn't go to the public with head wraps (doeks) as others use it for sleeping. So, bonnets are slowly replacing doeks and berets and people must get use to the fact that someone can rock it the way they see fit."

Liyema says when she first bought a bonnet it was because her friend makes them and she thought they are stylish.

“I genuinely knew nothing about the pro’s of wearing one.”

“Once mine arrived and I started putting it to use I understood the “why a bonnet?” It’s really comfortable, it’s cute, makes me feel classy, I don’t sleep with a doek, I use a bonnet,” she laughs.

“I love wigs, sometimes the installation is too good and I need it to last longer, my bonnet keeps the lace down and prevents my hair from getting tangled. Also, you don’t grease your pillowcases with hair product because your hair is all nicely tucked away,” Liyema explains.

READ MORE | Use heat protection plus 6 other tips to keep your hair growing

With all these benefit, she also says wearing a bonnet in public is not out of the question.

“Wearing a bonnet outside the house is OKAY but where are you wearing it to? Sometimes I need to go for a snack run and I’m not in the mood to do my hair because I’m relaxing in the comfort of my home, best believe I’m wearing my satin bonnet to Spar. I’m obviously not going to a nightclub with a bonnet but McDees? Petrol station? Dropping my son off at my mom’s house? Definitely. As long as it’s clean,” she says.

However, she admits: “To some extent, I’m also heavy on the ‘I bought it, so you don’t get to police how and where I wear it’… though I may judge you if you come to dinner with a bonnet on.”

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