Friday, October 8, 2021

A Shmidgeon More About Shemaghs

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
I thought I'd written more about the various uses of the shemagh on this blog, but it turns out that was in a podcast segment that wasn't transcribed. 

A shemagh (properly pronounced shuh MAAG, but most Americans shorten that to "schmog") is the Swiss Army Knife of clothing. It's a 42 x 42" square of cotton or cotton-poly blend cloth, and it can do anything that a bandana can do and more besides. The "more besides" is what I want to focus on today, because unlike a bandana a shemagh can wrap around your entire head. You can wet it to keep you cool in the heat, or filter out smog or smog. Most importantly, it protects you from the sun and airborne irritants without making you overly hot -- at only four ounces, it's very lightweight and very breathable fabric. 

The hardest part about wearing a shemagh is learning to tie one. There are various methods of tying it, along with a few tricks that I'll share with you.   

This is my favorite method:

However, this method has a lot of utility, although I could never get it to work for me:

This video shows 17 different ways of tying them. Some are more decorative than others:

You'll note that every single method involves the shemagh starting out as a triangle, which is why I stored mine the way that I did. 

Finally, this method is known as Berber style, and it comes to us courtesy of LawDog. I am not sure if this will work with a standard size shemagh or if it requires a different length.

Tips & Tricks
  • Wear a ball cap. Not only will the brim of the cap keep the sun out of your eyes more efficiently than the shemagh ever will, but the cap also helps provide a frame for the floppy fabric when you're wrapping it around your face. This is more helpful then you'd think, as shemaghs seem to like giving you tunnel vision. A cap brim keeps your field of view clear and your eyes shaded. 
  • Beware of fog. If you wear glasses, a shemagh is a great way to fog them up if you have it wrapped over your mouth. I've found that the fogging is mitigated somewhat by breathing through my mouth rather than my nose, but not entirely. Alternately, you can uncover your nose and keep only your mouth covered, although that eliminates a lot of the benefit of having something to protect against airborne irritants.  
  • Research your colors before you get one. Red, red and white, black, or black and white shemaghs are typically associated with a country or political movement, so don't be a dumb westerner and wear a thing without realizing you're making a political statement. Olive drab, foliage green and coyote tan are all good choices. Yellow is probably okay, but if you're in an area with a gang presence, blue (the color of the Crips) is probably not a good choice, as is the aforementioned red (the Bloods). 
You can buy a shemagh at Amazon with Prime shipping for the princely sum of about $10 (depending on color choice). 


  1. I don't think Antifa thinks black is "politically neutral". Just sayin'.

    1. Good point. I originally wrote that in 2014, before Antifa became a household name. I'll change that now.


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