I have a pretty sweet Yaffa sheitel that is made from high-end “virgin” European hair (i.e. never treated, dyed, or processed). It was marketed as a “semi-custom” / “out-of-the-box custom”, which I’m pretty sure is just a buzzword in wig marketing because there’s nothing custom about the cap or hair of this wig-- it's just a very well-made wig that was cut out of the box. A true custom sheitel is for women with large or hard-to-fit heads, or other special needs.
I paid a lot for this semi-custom business, but in the end was unhappy with the cut. I didn’t find it particularly youthful or flattering, and the front layers were shorter than I would have liked.
I wasn’t sure what to do. I looked into reselling it, but there’s practically no market for used wigs, and it’s not hard to understand why. When you can get a really awesome-looking Milano for $400-$600, why would you pay even $300 for a used wig? Like a car, apparently, a wig loses its resale value as soon as you wear it out of the shop. So, I was reluctant to give up the tangible asset, a very fine wig, for $300 or even less.
Then I started thinking about what my next sheitel purchase might be. I looked around at what style of wigs I liked on other young women, and I was charmed by the pony sheitels.
I think pony sheitels are “the new fall”—I see tons of young marrieds wearing them, they are often sold cheap (“kallah special-- buy 1 European wig, get a pony for free!”) They are advertised heavily in frum circles as as a great alternative to a fall when you want a casual sheitel. A pony has even more advantages over a fall, because it’s quite cool for the summer to have the hair off your neck.
A Milano pony sheitel sells for about $500, but it occurred to me that possibly, just possibly, I could bring my Yaffa wig to my sheitel macher and see if it could be converted into a pony! I did, and indeed, to “convert” a wig into a pony involves an investment of a whopping $5-$10 to have a wide comb sewn in at the nape of the neck. This extra comb anchors the wig at the bottom, which gives a more realistic appearance that the hair is growing out of your head when pulled upwards into a ponytail. In a true pony sheitel, the hair at the bottom of the caps is sewn in upside down, so it looks more natural when brushed upwards into a pony. This is better for pony wear, but almost entirely prevents the pony wig from being worn down-- the hair on a true pony mattes terribly when worn loose, from what I hear.
Here is what my new "pony" looks like! It’s been SO cool and breezy and fun to wear for the summer. I think the hair at the neck looks quite natural when pulled upwards, considering it wasn't sewn in to be worn that way. I left the original side bangs as they were; the front layers that are too short to fit into the pony, I clip back with one snappy clip each. I am quite happy with how this turned out!
A few last words about picking a brand of sheitel:
Yaffa isn’t generally considered one of the “better” or “higher-end” sheitel brands. I think they are better known for their cheaper lines of wigs, like human/synthetic blends. But as my sheitel macher told me: “a wig is always mazal,” meaning you never know when you’ll get a winner or a lemon, since they’re hand-made and human hair sometimes misbehaves.
I won with this particular Yaffa sheitel. Despite being unhappy with the cut, it is a gorgeous and beautifully made wig. The virgin hair is silky in a much richer, more natural way than my sheitel made from processed hair from South America. The woman who does my wash and sets has said that my Yaffa is a “very nice piece”, and she sees a lot of sheitels! So don’t be too afraid to go with a brand that isn’t the hottest in sheitels these days. My Yaffa rules, and I have friends with Shevys (the most high-end brand that I know of in Brooklyn) that are losing hair after just a few months.
Have an awesomely wiggy week, ladies!
UPDATE Sept. 2010 with new photos, since I got some minor adjustments to the bangs that I am very happy with. The bangs are now cut deeper over my ears. This results in a chunkier bang-- I think it's a cute look and much more natural as it covers any exposed hair by the temples.