Are there fashions in yarmulkas?

I ask because I noticed a young guy the other day wearing one at a distinctly jaunty angle and it made me curious. Was it a fashion statement? Just personal taste? Or had he just got dressed without looking in the mirror?

I dunno, but I do know that there was a guy at my cégep who had a yellow-smiley-face yarmulke. No foolin’.

;j (has never been more appropriate)

The Jewish presence this board has and no-one’s going to answer to my question? Sheesh, you’d think it was mind-numbingly mundane or something… :stuck_out_tongue:

Yup. Different styles, sizes, materials, and placements of a yarmulke reflect the background and personal taste of the wearer. (Orthodox Jews are notorious for categorizing the religious orientation of others at a glance based on their headgear and other clothes - see here for an example that’s meant to be a joke.) My brother, for example, a popular, laid-back modern Orthodox college student, wears a medium-sized, crocheted with subtle geometric pattern yarmulke on the front half of the top of his head, but not at the very front, a now-passe look popular when I was in high school. Patterns crocheted with louder patterns, like sports team logos or the smiley-face matt mentions tend to be limited to high school-age guys and down, although you’ll sometimes see them on college guys.

FWIW, none of the guys I know who actually wear a yarmulke in their normal lives would be caught dead in one of the tall satin beanies (my father calls them Jewish Army Helmets) you’ll occasionally see people wearing at weddings and funerals. Also, you can usually tell when a guy isn’t used to wearing one by placement - it tends to be perched kind awkwardly towards the back of his head, like it’s hanging on for dear life, rather than somewhere on top. See the picture of our esteemed president at the top of the page I linked above for an example.

there is no formal definition in Jewish law/ritual for the size and color of Yarmulkes.
Some people match their head covering to the color of their suit or whatever, and some people wear hand-knitted ones with their names embroidered in them. But its mostly a matter of personal taste, not a “fashion trend”. Sort of like vanity license plates on cars.

Although, there is a mini-cultural-war between the various factions of Orthodox Judaism , where yarmulke size/color/fabric identifies your philosophical stance. But that’s pretty arcane, and not too noticable to anyone not knowledgable in orthodox ritual and theology.

(underline mine)
Why are you singling me out :confused: :slight_smile: I’m an atheist anyway…

But, to try and answer your question somewhat – here in Israel there are, I wouldn’t call them fashions so much as schools regarding Kipot – the Ultra-Orthodox, of course, with their black cloth ones, but many other groups sporting their own types – the Breslav Hassidim with their white ones, the National-Religious contingent with their knit Kipot, etc… Of course all of the above are various branches of Orthodox; the Conservative and Reform streams are extremely poorly represented in Israel, and often tend not to wear any headgear anyway.

Like I said, I don’t really know too much, being (very) non-religious myself – but I couldn’t resist your paging me personally :wink:


Isn’t it customary to bold usernames rather than italicize them, though? :confused: :smiley:

At Columbia University I once saw a guy wearing a yarmulke with Schroedinger’s Equation embroidered into it.

Well, this one was sort of tilted to the side of his head. I honestly couldn’t tell if it was deliberate or just squewiff!

Why do guys invariably wear the wrong color bobby pin to hold it on? Black if it’s a light-colored yarmulka; silver if it’s black? Don’t any of them come with combs sewn inside so you can just hook it into your hair?

Eve! I can smell the money!

We’ll make yamulkas with built in combs–no more bobby pins! Hell, we’ll use Velcro and do it right! Superglue for the balding…there’s millions here!


You mean there’s a yarmulka code? Just make sure that your yarmulka and the handkerchief in your back pocket don’t give off conflicting signals.

My neighborhood has a very large Jewish population, and I often see teenaged boys wearing yarmulkes with various sports teams on them! Hey, if you have to wear one, why not make it personal and fun? :smiley:

:dubious: When I was a kid, there was a comercial product sold at jewish books stores, consisting of velcro strips, (the hooked side), inserted into yamakas. They didn’t work in the least.

I don’t know anybody who wears it off-center, but I’m in New York - theoretically it could be a local London thing. My guess would be it got knocked to the side.

My grandfather always insisted on calling it a Zeide pin… he told me “Yarmulkas are for men, I want the pin named after me:slight_smile:

(For all you people wondering where I’m coming from – no, the pin holding the Kipa to the head is not named after an obscure british cop… it’s from Bobbe, or “Grandmother” in Yiddish. Zeide is “Grandfather” in same)

The Jewish ones, maybe—the others are named for the pins girls needed to hold their hair in place after getting it bobbed became fashionable (in early ads, they were called “bob pins”).

A friend of mine once got a buzz cut and there was nothing for his bobby pin to hold on to. He actually had to put bits of velcro on the bottom of his yarmulke to hold it on his head.

A little off to the side is not any particular style that I’ve seen-- the guy may be quirky, or it may have been a mistake. You will see guys who want spiky hair but don’t know how to accommodate their yarmulkes. I’ve heard of a particularly odd attempt to spike the hair AROUND the yarmulke so you have this bizarre, punk/monk effect. The most successful version of this that I’ve seen (I think on an Israeli guy) was spiked hair on top and the yarmulke pinned much further back on his head.

About 10-15 years ago, it was big in modern-orthodox high schools to have a yarmulke crocheted by your girlfriend. They could usually manage two or three colors with simple geometric borders.

In Israel, to wear a “kipah sruga” (knitted yarmulke, nicknamed “srugi”) actually connotes a religious nationalism. Plain black velvet is generally known to be a bit more religious. Crocheted or black leather is middle-of-the-road orthodox. Satin is definitely a statement; specifically, “I never wear a yarmulke but picked this up from the basket at temple when i went to my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah.”

Men that don’t wear yarmulkes always look subtly wrong in them. Men that do wear yarmulkes on a regular besis will be identifiable even without them, because the favored spot tends to develop an impressed ring around it. (Those men will also sometimes have a slight indentation in the back of their heads from their tefillin strap.)

The yarmulke code - I wish I had thought of this when a co-worker asked me the honest-to-gosh silliest question I have ever been asked at work:

“Why do you have more than one yarmulke?”

I think I asked him why he has more than one shirt.

When I was younger, I remember, I saw a kid around who had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles keepa.

Oh my god, I would totally wear that kipa!

Except I don’t ever wear a kipa (I’m Reform, it’s optional for women). But I might make an exception if I could have ninja turtles on it.