As far as winter clothing trends for 2022, the balaclava is at peak popularity. Originally worn by soldiers in the 19th century during the Crimean War, balaclavas are used as protection from deeply cold winter weather. The ski-mask-shaped style’s quick rise to fame is not a surprise in the era of “anything goes” fashion. It’s the ultimate combo of super functional and fun.
Although many have jumped on the balaclava train with no hesitation, for some, the close-fitting headgear poses a few issues. For starters, such a tight-fitting style is less big hair-friendly and more conducive to flatter, non-texturized hairstyles. The balaclava also tends to come in one size, posing problems for those with larger heads.
Enter: the Slouchy Oversized Balaclava sold by Echo. As a girl with an Afro and a member of the big head club, I was intrigued and knew I had to see what it was all about. I also enlisted the help of my coworker and fellow big head club member to test out Echo’s claims. If you do have a large head or are just curious to know our hot takes on this slouchy balaclava, read on.
Echo Dramatic Oversized Faux-Fur- Trim Balaclava, $99
“I love hats so much all year round. However, most don’t actually fit my head with the exception of flexible styles like beanies and berets. I’m definitely down to wear hats during the winter, but that usually depends on the way my hair is styled on that specific day. With my Afro out, I typically will not wear a hat. However, if my hair is braided, in a wig, or flat twisted then I would opt for a hat when I can.
I love the wide range of balaclava designs I’ve been seeing. My biggest reservation has to do with the fact that I can’t really wear one that’d feel comfortable because I have a larger head and my Afro is big too.
I’m really into the faux-fur oversized balaclava from Echo. It doesn’t feel super constricting which is important. I don’t think I’d wear it when my Afro was at its largest and fully stretched because it would definitely mess up the style. It’s big head friendly and not tight at all especially when your hair is braided down. It has a luxe, high-end look that gives off luxurious vibes.
I definitely felt protected from the cold weather and wind in this. I don’t even feel the need to wear a scarf when it’s on because it protects my neck from the elements as well. I plan on wearing this again throughout the rest of winter. I’m so glad I got to try it out!” – Chichi Offor, Associate Writer
Echo Dramatic Oversized Faux-Fur-Trim Balaclava, $99
“The amount of headwear that adorns my head during the winter is directly correlated to whichever hairstyle I’m rocking at that time. If I’m wearing braids, twists, a wig, etc., then you will definitely catch me in a beanie or two. I also love wearing hoods.
I was not aware of the balaclava trend until R29 wrote a story about it. When I looked into it I just thought, ‘Okay so it’s another trend for small-headed people with flat hair.’ I also did not find too many balaclavas attractive, especially for people who wear headphones or big earrings.
But oh, I L-O-V-E this balaclava — probably because she’s not like other girls. Even if I was bald, my head would take up a good chunk of the earth’s atmosphere, so I was prepared for this hat to be snug or tight around the afro. Lo and behold, this thing effortlessly glides over my twist-outs and only needs a tug or two to scooch over my fully-fluffed afro. And, not to toot my own horn, but I look like an adorable high fashion granny traversing the city in it.
Unfortunately, though, I would not call this afro friendly. I’m either wearing it all day or not wearing it at all because once it comes off, my hair is a mess. If your hair is not a constant victim of anti-gravity and returns to its desired shape after wearing hats, then you need not worry (you also probably don’t need to read this review).
Echo’s Balaclava keeps my face cozy and my big head warm. The only elements I encountered during these two weeks of wear were wind and 25-degree weather. If it’s similar to other furry hoods, I assume that it would pick up snow pretty well — but I would hate to get caught in the rain with this on.
The question is not will I wear it again, but in fact, when will I take it off? As someone who works from home and has a good hair day maybe 2 or three days out of the week, this balaclava is my lifeline. It also keeps my scalp warm during twist-out days. I’m not obsessed with the fact that the knit fabric scruffs up my afro (where are the balaclavas with satin lining? Looking at you Grace Eleyae!), but in the winter I do not care too much. Long live Echo’s big-head Balaclava.”– Alexandra Polk, Lifestyle Writer
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