Bandana Babe- my favorite accessory and a little history too

Posted by tara kirkland on

When we think of bandanas most of us probably think of the traditional faded bandanas adorning the necks of cowboys from old Western movies or Tupac Shakur’s front forehead tie that became a pop culture icon of the 90’s and beyond.

Bandanas date back to the late 17th Century in the Middle East and Southern Asia. Starting out larger in size and mostly silk, they were made with traditional block print and unisex in nature. Travel a little further across the ocean to Japan and you can find stylish wrapping cloths called “Furoshiki” in a variety of sizes, materials, and prints. Furoshiki, like the modern American bandana, are almost always square and can be used for a variety of things. Traditionally used for wrapping gifts (think reusable gift wrap), they can also be used for carrying a snack or other goods, or as a fashion accessory. Our more modern bandana hit the fashion scene in the US around the time of the American fight for independence. John Hewson is credited as the designer of the first American style bandana as we know them today- leaving the shawl look of the past and morphing into the more square style we see today.

As bandanas gained in popularity, they also gained in versatility. Bandanas were used for everything from napkins, handkerchiefs, slings, to hold goods and more. Anyone else remember Donald Duck using one at the end of his stick in Disney’s “Timber” cartoon movie?

With such a rich and versatile history it’s no wonder bandanas have such massive staying power and it’s easy to see why this fun fashion accessory deserves a place in your wardrobe.

Enter the organic cotton, fair trade Bandits Brand Bandanas available here at Custard!  What makes Bandits Bandanas unique from others on the market? Straying from the traditional two-color simple block prints of the past, these 100% fair trade organic cotton bandanas are each their own unique works of art. Each bandana features an exclusive design created by artists from all over the globe. Artists hail from Mexico, Australia, Thailand and cities all over the US and beyond. Not only does the artist get their work featured and profiled, but they also get to pick their own charity for 10% of the proceeds to go back to. The variety of charitable giving is as vast and unique as the art itself, including charities like Navajo Water Project, World Central Kitchen, SOI Dog Foundation, and many more. Other features include sustainably sourced cotton, fair trade certified, handmade, and machine washable. This means you can enjoy your piece without fear of dry cleaning.  Just toss it in a washing machine and you're good to go. 

Some favorite ways to wear your new bandana include: around your neck, ponytail, purse, as a headband or hatband, as a tie (we like to add a ring or brooch to these for extra flair), and much more. You are only limited by your imagination.

Personally, I always travel with at least two.  Part of why I like them for travel is because it allows me to leave my jewelry at home, but still provides personality to my outfits.  Other things I use them for that are a little more out of the ordinary include: makeshift mask, snack storage, and when it's hot- I soak them with cold water and put them on my neck or wrist for an instant cool down.  I have also used them to tie my overstuffed tote bags closed, as an extender for a broken luggage handle, makeshift koozie, allergy season kerchief, and sunblock for my exposed neck.   

 SHOP in store or online, and for styling tips, reach out! 

Below are photos of me in the wild enjoying my bandanas.  

Much love,




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