Laurie Andreoni has been connected to fashion design since she was six-years-old when her grandmother taught her to sew on an old-fashioned Singer sewing machine. After getting a degree in fashion merchandising and years of designing her own clothes, Laurie made a big shift and studied to become a Doctor of Chiropractic.
Then in 2008, living a full and busy life, Laurie was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Faced with chemotherapy treatments and knowing she would probably lose her hair, Laurie worried about how to handle it. Quite spontaneously she came upon turbans as a stylish way to cover her head and soon recognized an opportunity to use her early background in fashion to launch a business – Titillating Turbans.
Recently Laurie took time to chat with OverDressed for Life.
When you lost your hair during chemo, how did you come about turbans as a way to cover your head?
When I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer I focused on the high chances of recovery, but as the days of chemotherapy and radiation closed in, I didn’t feel so brave. Above all, I became obsessed with how to deal with losing my hair.
Several months earlier, I had received a pashmina shawl the same auburn color as my hair. Before I even started chemo, I came across it and thought, “Hey, I could wear this on my head!” That day I experimented with wrapping everything except the bedspread until I came up with a turban effect that was actually more flattering than my hair had been. Once I lost my hair, my scalp was so sensitive from other chemo side effects that wigs were unbearable, so turbans became my head covering.
Were you a hat gal before chemo?
I always loved the way hats looked on other women, but I never wore hats before chemo. I have an oblong face and I felt they made me look like a dork.
What did wearing the turbans do for you?
It made me look at myself from a different perspective. Instead of feeling embarrassed and victimized by my hair loss, I saw my head as a clean palette for an art project. I learned that selecting and wrapping head scarves is like choosing the best hair color and style for your face.
It reawakened my creativity and the act of getting dressed each day became exciting. Matching scarves to earrings and clothes I already had made me feel like I had a whole new wardrobe.
Every time I went to the treatment centers, I was a source of entertainment for the nurses and patients. People stopped me in public to compliment my head wraps. It boosted my confidence at a time when I needed it most. Best of all, my having fun with the process was an inspiration to other patients.
How did your background in sewing and fashion help start your business?
My grandmother was my greatest inspiration on many levels. Not only was she a gifted seamstress, but was ahead of her time in her knowledge about natural health practices.
She taught me to cut patterns and sew. I had more formal training in sewing through high school, attended fashion classes for teens at RI School of Design, and completed a Fashion Merchandising program after high school. The industry brought me to makeup artistry, which led to esthetics and body work, and ultimately Chiropractic college. By the time I lost my hair, I was adept at manipulating everything from fabrics to spines and had quite a flair for the dramatic.
How do you think fashion in general can help a woman through the difficulties of fighting cancer or any illness?
It boosts your mood, self-esteem, energy and endorphins. Your changed appearance is an added burden to your diagnosis, but it is one thing in the process that you CAN control. And it can be an uplifting alternative to worrying.
Hair loss can be a constant reminder of changes in your own body over which you no longer have control. Or – it can be permission to get a little more daring with fashion.
You don’t need a new wardrobe. A little makeup will brighten your chemo-paled complexion. If you don’t want to wear makeup, simply wearing a flattering color can help you look better. When you look better, you and the people around you feel more uplifted and energetic.
Please describe the various turbans that you make.
Titillating Turbans arose from several challenges I found when wrapping scarves:
- Keep the head completely covered without being too tight
- Avoid the “flat head” look that happens without hair as padding
- Fit comfortably without slipping
- Have the option of different styles – easily!
My goal was to create turbans for women that wanted to express their personal style, without the frustrations that came with wrapping scarves, or the expense of a different hat for every style.
The result was 2 basic designs; the original is a comfortably fitted hat and matching scarf, and the other is a long one piece wrap that stays in place while the end is wrapped and styled.
How are your turbans different from others on the market?
The difference is the versatility and dimension. Most other turbans are a single hat style; those that have tie ends typically have limited styling options. Scarf-wrap types can appear flat, making the head look much smaller than it would with hair.
With the 2 piece Titillating Turban set, the hat has soft gathering to add fullness. It can be worn with the gathering in any direction, alone or with the matching long scarf or additional scarves. Because the hat fully covers the head, it’s easy to tie the scarf in dozens of different styles, from conservative to playful or dramatic.
The one piece is a long, fitted wrap; unlike a scarf, it stays comfortably in place during styling and contains enough fabric for knots, bows, full layers or a smooth wrap.
I would imagine women who haven’t lost their hair might also sport a Titillating Turban.
Yes! Women buy them as modesty head coverings, or request the custom 3 flower headbands. And with turbans showing up as trending every season, there is a significant increase in women buying them as basic fashion accessory. They have a cross-cultural appeal, and you can wear them as conservatively or wildly as your personality will allow.
Titillating Turbans are made in the USA (love that!).
Congratulations, Laurie on five years cancer-free and thank you for such amazing inspiration!