Originally scarves served for thermal comfort only. However, you can go far beyond this goal. This guide features how to create and use a scarf collection to look unefforably stylish.
- A Hermes scarf is the dream of every woman
- 21 reasons why to accessorize with scarves
- How to curate a scarf collection
- Second hand
- Shop the sales for scarves
- How to wear scarves in various seasons
- How to use scarves to wear summer dresses in spring or fall
- How to wear a scarf in the summer
- How to style heavy outerwear with scarves
- How to use scarves to increase the outfit options of your wardrobe
- How to tie which scarf
- How to tie light-weight oblong scarves
- How to knot a square scarf
- Long neck-wide styles
- Heavy blankets and alike
- Infinity loop
- Wide and narrow heavy oblong shapes
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A Hermes scarf is the dream of every woman
To own a Hermes scarf is a dream of most fashionable women. Even when we don’t own one does not mean that we cannot use the power of scarves for our outfit. Who can read the label anyway when a scarf is tied? And who can, is too close! Period.
Scarves come in a variety of colors, sizes, fabrics and shapes designed for different purposes. In addition, there are different ways to tie them. How to tie them again depends on the outfit that has to be styled.Every beautiful scarf can up your style when you know how to tie it right. #agelessstyle Click To Tweet
21 reasons why to accessorize with scarves
Never underestimate the style factor of scarves for your outfit. They can serve as wardrobe horses. Like brooches change a good look to awesome and like you can add trends with hats, these square or rectangular pieces of luxury fabric or wool can turn a good outfit into great style.
Why these small pieces of fabric play such a powerful role for great style cannot be nailed down to one reason alone. It’s a combination of multiple aspects. In the following, I list the most important reasons for why you are missing out a great opportunity to look your best when you ignore this powerful accessory.Scarves can turn a good outfit to great style. #styleadvice Click To Tweet
- Scarves come in a variety of colors. They may add the perfect pop of color to an outfit or when printed, their colors can tie the colors of an outfit together.
- They can be used as a signature style element and/or to express your personal style.
- In summer, thin cotton, silk or polyester scarves look great with a white T-shirt, jeans and sandals or pumps for the weekend, and Casual Friday (if jeans are allowed), respectively.
- In summer, a colorful neckerchief, button-down white or chambray shirt and dark jeans with strappy sandals provide instant evergreen weekend style.
- Neck-wear of any kind can transfer beloved summer clothes into great summer to fall look transition looks by placing it over a wide cleavage (to provide some insulation and not catch a cold), by tying the colors of a dress, fall sandals and tights together, or by adding some matching fall colors to acknowledge the change of season.
- In fall and winter, knit scarves like infinity, long 4-5 inch wide (10-12.5 cm) 70s-style, oblong, buttoned scarf, and hood scarves add style to outerwear.
- The same applies for poncho, blanket and Russian shawls.
- Poncho-, cape- and blanket-style types can be used in a stylish way to add extra insulation around the neck and shoulders when the polar vortex brings painfully cold air into town.
- Poncho-, blanket-, cape-like and Russian pieces allow wearing a light fall coat longer into early winter before switching to heavier wool coats.
- Qiviut (the under-wool of muskoxen), silk and wool wraps provide great insulation.
- Heavy silk or light wool shawls add interest and increase the winter office outfit options with crew-neck sweater, blouses or shirts.
- They can be worn instead of a turtleneck sweater.
- A light-weight Russian shawl ups a simple jeans, sweater and booties weekend winter outfit.
- In spring, you can wear your new summer dress already by just adding a scarf in a light color or spring inspired print. You get the best look when the dress and piece have a similar style and colors.
- You can vary the look of you outfit by applying different tying techniques like braiding or even wearing two scarves in one outfit (The various techniques are explained later in this post).
- You can stay out of winter outerwear wardrobe boredom by styling your outerwear in various ways with poncho, blanket or large Russian wraps around the shoulder over a wool or shearling winter coat and belted for shape.
- Scarves can do double duty as head covers.
- They can be used instead of a belt.
- Most infinity wraps cover the neck with the first, and the head like a hood with the second loop.
- You can fold a square thin silk or cotton piece into a stylish summer bag.
- A neckerchief can be worn as a bracelet or bag decoration.
How to curate a scarf collection
Let’s start with how to get a great scarf collection. Of course, you can buy them at full price in a store. However, when you never wore one before you may look in thrift and consignment store, at flea markets and the sales first.
When browsing a thrift or consignment store, always go thru the scarves. I was lucky to find an Oscar de la Renta scarf for $5 and a very heavy silk Gucci scarf for $20 (see photos in this post).
Look for designer brands that you like to have. Here is a list of brands to start with. You can also pull out scarves that are in the colors of your wardrobe and a fabric you like. I prefer silk, wool and cotton over polyester. The latter material is often slippy and hence hard to style/tie.
Check a potential piece for problems like spots, wholes, or pulled yarn. When the item is in great condition, has a shape and/or print/pattern that is not yet in you collection, works with your color palette, and the price is right, buy it.
Shop the sales for scarves
During sales, I browse scarves when they are 20% or more off. When I see a scarf I like and it fits the criteria that I apply for thrifted scarves, I consider buying it. This means I ask to hold it for 24 hours (if possible). In any case, I will come back to buy it if I still want/love the scarf the next morning. Note that the only scarves in my closet that were bought for the full price were gifts.
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Which scarf works with which outfit?Scarves can make or break a look. Learn how to make it. Avoid how to break it. #timelessstyle Click To Tweet
In general, the best look can be achieved when the scarf has a similar vibe with respect to style as the dress and the colors pick up colors of the dress. Pieces that have the same color as the dress, blouse, sweater/T-shirt or top, but a different shade or saturation may work too. It is worth a try, but before leaving the door for work or play, take a selfie in good light conditions to judge whether the pairing works. Your outfit will look wrong when the shades of the outfit’s colors are just a notch lighter or darker than the color of a solid color dress. Take this rule of thumb: When it looks like one of the outfit items has been in the laundry a couple of times more, the combination isn’t right. Kiss it off.
In case of a printed/patterned clothing and solid scarf or vice versa, you may get away with these slight differences. You can also mix prints and patterns when they are in the same color family. However, different prints/pattern should have distinctly different size. When you are daring try same prints in different color like in the look below.
Silk and polyester square and oblong pieces work well with fall, winter, and spring work and weekend wear. Cotton and light-weight silk are best for summer. Blanket or poncho styles are best for the cold season to accessorize outerwear. Russian wool foral print styles work both with outerwear as well as with indoor clothing in winter. Long 70-style versions are best for fall and winter with midi tailored coats like a pea- or fit-and-flare coat.
Max Mara skirt, GNW tight, upcycled tall boots, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Oscar de la Rente silk floral print scarf, unbranded cashmere sweater, statement necklace with citrin and moonstone (all own)
Oblong knit with buttons
Shearling hat, LeatherCoatsEtc gloves, Söfft booties, GNW tights, J. Crew skirt (all own) and downcoat c/o Happy Goat Lucky
Vince Camuto knit skirt, remade footwear, Longchamp satchel, LeatherCoatsEtc gloves and beret, Pavlovo Russian scarf (all own) and Grace hooded downcoat c/o Happy Goat Lucky
Max Mara puffer jacket, Max Mara skirt, GNW tights, Nine West booties, Bellorita bag, LeatherCoatsEtc gloves, brooch (all own), scarf c/o Uno Alla Volta and top c/o Covered Perfectly
Vittari maxi shearling coat, plaid blanket, statement belt, fleece lined leather LeatherCoatsEtc gloves, Salamander shearling booties, and Celine tote (all own)
Fossil white denim jacket, Oliveo denim skirt, GNW tight, GNW Luxe sweater, statement belt, Pavlova Russian scarf and Valentino boots (all own)
Like these outfit ideas? If so, please pin them to your own Pinterest board so your family and friends can see them too.
How to wear scarves in various seasons
How to use scarves to wear summer dresses in spring or fall
In spring, you can start wearing the new summer dress you just bought or to get a headstart on wearing your summer wardrobe. Think of it sort of as a Wear it Now – Wear it Later. In spring, you would add a scarf in a light color or with a print that is associated with spring. Of course, the same concept permits wearing your beloved summer dress in fall. Then, you add a bold or deep color that is associated with the season. Another option is to match them with the colors of seasonal clothing like the leather dress and leather jacket in the first two of the following outfit inspirations.
GNW Luxe sweater, suede pink statement belt, Very Fine Dance Shoes sandals, Yes St. Laurent bag (all own), silk teal skirt c/o Lilysilk, and hand-painted swirl scarf c/o Uno Alla Volta
Eddie Bauer tweed skirt, pantyhose, Anne Klein oblong scarf, Lookbook Store biker leather jacket, GNW cable knit knee high socks, Sanchez riding boots, no brand hunter-green cashmere sweater, Coach shearling mini chain shoulder bag with pom poms (all own)
James & Graham motorcycle leather jacket, Oscar de la Renta scarf, Loft silk V-neck sweater, Oliveo jeans, Nicole suede fall sandals, Celine tote, statement belt (all own) and Vienna Scala hat c/o Tenth Street
Calvin Klein sheath dress, GNW tight, Manolo Blahnik booties, Moda International (dyed) cardigan (all own), Joyita scarf and Sterling silver amber necklace c/o Uno Alla Volta
Like these outfit ideas? If so, please feel free to pin them to your own Pinterest board.
How to wear a scarf in the summer
In summer, thin cotton, silk or polyester scarves look great with a white T-shirt, jeans and sandals or pumps for the weekend, and Casual Friday (if the dress code allows jeans), respectively. In fall, scarves can help to transfer a summer dress into an fall outfit either by using the scarf strategically to cover wide cleavage to stay warm or by adding a matching fall color to the outfit. Here some summer outfit ideas.
Distressed Loft boyfriend jeans with a silk scarf folded to a triangle and knotted in the back, Ray Ban mirrored aviator sunglasses, smoky quartz flower belt, Anne Klein slingbacks (all own) and triped T-shirt c/o Marine Layer
Pinned on sleeveless dress
Apart sleeve-less dress with scarf, studded headband, Hermes collier de chien belt, Hermes Medor watch, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Madden Girl ruffle sandals and Chanel bag (all own)
Banana Republic dress, Kieselstein Cord belt, Gucci buckle, Nine West pumps, Hermes collier de chien bangle, multi-gemstone cuff, Gucci bag decorated with with scarf (all own)
With a blazer on a rainy day
Oliveo chinos, DIY bag, statement belt, Anne Klein scarf, Vittoria Vernai blazer, Ann Taylor Loft top, Franco Sarto sandals (all own)
How to style heavy outerwear with scarves
In fall and winter, two types of scarves can up our style. Knit scarves of any style (infinity scarf, long 70s style scarf, oblong scarf, buttoned scarf, hood scarf) add style to outerwear. The same applies for poncho, blanket and Russian scarves. A main advantage of the latter types of scarves is that they add extra insulation around the neck and shoulders. This fact permits wearing a light coat longer into the cold season. Furthermore, that extra layer is much needed when the Polar Vortex extends far down south on the Northern Hemisphere, or far north on the Southern Hemisphere.Up the style of your outerwear. Add a scarf. #agelessstyle #styletip Click To Tweet
With respect to the fabric, qiviut, the under-wool of musk-oxen, provides the best insulation. Silk and wool are also great insulators. A tightly weave/knit is better than a loose one as less body heat can escape thru the former than the latter. In humid regions like Southeast Alaska, West Europe, the Pacific Northwest, or the East Coast, for instance, sheep wool may start smelling when humidity gets high, which is always the case on rainy days. Polyester may get electrically charged in cold dry regions. Polyester clothes release sparks when you take them off, when they get in contact with other people’s clothes on public transportation, or when you touch them. Ouch!
How to use scarves to increase the outfit options of your wardrobe
In the case of winter indoor outfits, heavy silk or light wool scarves are your best options. They match the heavy fabrics of winter items. A scarf over a sweater can substitute for a turtleneck sweater at the office. A scarf can provide the extra insulation/coverage to wear a button-down shirt under a blazer. The cleavage of a fall or spring dress can be covered by a scarf to make these dresses work on warmer winter days. On weekends, adding a light-weight Russian scarf may up a jeans and sweater with booties look. All these options permit wearing clothes beyond their original purpose. And there are more tips to get more wear out of your wardrobe.
How to tie which scarf
Obviously, the different purposes, types, shapes and materials require different techniques to tie them. Here are the general guidelines which techniques go with which types of shape/fabric.
How to tie lightweight oblong scarves
A cotton or silk scarf braided to a necklace ups a solid or color blocked dress. In the photo below, I wore an oblong style as a necklace. To create this look fold the scarf into an overlapping loop. Then braid the part of the loop and the two ends. Finally, secure the ends in a non-visible way in the braid. It’s best to use a brooch, but a safety pin placed invisibly does the trick too. See this post for a step-by-step instruction on how to braid a scarf into a necklace.
Long oblong cotton or silk scarves look stylish when tied around the neck towards the back and switching the ends in the front. Since the ends are subject to gravity or the wind and since there is no knot, I secure the scarf with pins or brooches.
I also like to wear the oblong styles the Indian way. In this case, the fabric hangs in the back and covers your cleavage in the front. To avoid that it slips down or up to the neck, you have to invisibly pin the fabric onto your top at the top of your shoulders.
Another way is to put the fabric with the tails to the back. Then cross them and bring them forward. Now pull the fabric from the front of the neck to breast height. Flip it over to a loop like in an eight. Then pull the ends thru the loop in a way that they look like being weaved. Decorate the knot with brooches.
Stylist’s tip: Wear an oblong style as a belt with a wide, shift or A-line summer dress.
Oscar de la Renta scarf, Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, Hermes collier de chien bangle, GNW Luxe sweater (all own)
Victoria Victoria Beckham cat pleated drop-waist dress, Esprit bag, garnet statement necklace, Bulova watch, Paloma Picasso sunglasses, Hermes collier de chien bangle and DIY-scarf (all own)
One back, one in the front, no knot
A-line top c/o Covered Perfectly, own GNW tight, Jimmy Choo tall boots, Oliveo skirt, gemstone necklace, Hermes collier de chien and DIY bangle
GNW cardigan, G-III suede skirt, Kieselstein Cord belt, ethnic buckle, Calvin Klein block heel pumps, Oscar de la Renta oblong scarf braided as a necklace, pantyhose (all own), Italian designer bag c/o Uno Alla Volta and ruby herring bone front zipper jacket c/o Whistle River
Brooches, Oliveo denim skirt, Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, Seiko watch, Brooks Brothers sweater and L.K. Bennett pumps (all own)
Worn as belt
Anne Klein scarf and blazer, G-III skirt (all own)
European loop Anne Klein leopard print silk scarf, GNW Luxe crew-neck sweater, INC leather dress pants, Clark booties (all own)
How to knot a square scarf
The square shape is very versatile. You can fold it to a triangle and continue folding over the short side several times to create an oblong neck-wide band. Wrap the resulting band around the neck with the ends hanging down or nicely knotted in the front. When wrapped around the neck twice and knotted on the side, it keeps your neck warm when you wear a crew-neck sweater in winter. However, go for a silk scarf. Cotton is meant for summer and would not feel/look right. Furthermore, cotton is not a good insulator, a reason why it is used for summer clothes.
Stylist tip: When folded as a band you can style a large square scarf like the oblong ones.
A square-shaped piece folded into a triangle can be tied like a girl scout neckerchief. You can also knot the ends of the longest side of the triangle and wear it like a supersize necklace. This way is best in summer as it doesn’t add much fabric around the neck, but really ups the look of a simple pair of jeans with a plain T-shirt.
Halogen fit-and-flare dress, statement belt, silk abstract print square, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Nine West Kelly green lizard imprint pumps (all own) and halftee c/o Halftee
Square folded as oblong
Gucci scarf folded to a band, tied around the neck twice and knotted in place
LeatherCoatsEtc peacoat and gloves, LV silk square, GNW tight, Nine West loafers, and YSL bag (all own)
Gucci scarf folded oblong and then over the long diagonal with ends tied to obtain a collar-like look
Riders by Lee buffalo plaid button-down shirt, Anne Klein polka dot silk scarf, G-III suede skirt, Kieselstein Cord belt, statement snake tail buckle, Hermes collier de chien leather band, and Nine zebra print pony hair pumps (all own)
Under a jacket
Riding jacket c/o Lookbook Store, own J Brand skinny jeans, Modalu Pippa shoulder bag, Sanchez flat boots
Every couple of years, neckerchieves have a moment. When in style, try the following: Silk neckerchieves look great when folded to a triangle and then folded to a band and tied once around the neck. I use them to fill in the cleavage of a shirt dress or button-down shirt when leaving the uppermost two buttons open. They also look cute this way with a polo shirt and denim skirt on the weekend.When knotting a neckerchief always make sure the knot looks flat. #styletip Click To Tweet
Gucci belt, Festina watch, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Kate Spade basket bag with AMS neckerchief, Esprit neckerchief, Dr. Scholl sandals, Rafaella dress (all own) and wooden sunglasses c/o Winkwood
On your bag
Coach bag, Esprit neckerchief, suede gemstone belt, Very fine Dance Shoes sandals, silver bangle and A Novo shirt dress (all own)
3.1 Phillip Lim tote, silk neckerchief, Hermes collier de chien bangle, statement necklace, Winkwood wooden sunglasses, amethyst barrette, Daily Shoes sneakers (all own), leggings and top both c/o Coolibar
Knotted on the neck with shirt and jeans
Plaid button-down and flare jeans c/o Ethyl Clothing styled half tucked with own Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, Liz Claiborne patent leather open-toe pumps, Hermes collier de chien bangle, necklace, and neckerchief
Most infinity scarves look best when tied around the neck twice. Only light-weight fabrics look great with a jeans and T-shirt in summer. Heavy fabric or knit infinity pieces look best with a winter coat, down coat or shearling. When the size allows for it, try to do the second wrap over your head as a hood to skip the hat.
DIY tip: Make an infinity loop from an old silk shirt.
Pro tip: Infinity loops with secret pockets increase your travel safety while looking stylish.
Heavy blankets and alike
A poncho, blanket or large Russian scarf look stylish when wrapped around the shoulder over a wool or shearling winter coat and belted for shape (see photos below). A plaid blanket worn over a winter coat not only changes the look to more casual, but also increases the insulation to stay comfortable in freezing weather conditions.
Russian Pavlova stole over shearling coat belted for shape to look slim and hold the scarf in place
Plaid stole over shearling coat belted for shape to look slim
Add shape with a belt when layering with a blanket. You can find a guide how to best accessorize with belts at the link.
Pro tip: Belt your blanket scarf for shape to look slim and sleek.
A plaid scarf looks great over knee-length and longer coats. For more ideas how to look best in plaid see the post at the link.
In the look below, the fringed cloth is just to add color and not for insulation anymore. This means spring. The tribal pattern belt holds the fring blanket in place and adds shape. The blue of the belt buckle and belt keep within the blue and black theme.
Wide and narrow heavy oblong shapes
An oblong knitted 70s style piece looks great when paired with modern clothes and tied the 70s way, i.e. wrapped once or twice around the neck, then making a loose knot and having the ends hang down in the front (see photo). Be aware that this way of styling may become a safety issue. The long ends can be caught in the doors of public transportation and cars, by shopping charts, etc. and they also may cause injury in conjunction with car-seat belts.
Long small to medium wide knits or oblong wool or polyester pieces with tight weave look great when worn as the European Loop. The European Loop looks stylish both when worn under or over a winter coat as shown in the photos below. To get the look fold the fabric over the small side so that the long side gets half its length. Now put the folded fabric behind your neck with the ends in the front. Next put your hand in the fold and pull the other end thru the loop. Done!
Vittari shearling coat styled, blue wide scarf, ethnic belt with blue stone, blue polka dot tights, Harley Davidson booties, and structured bag (all own)
Long 70s style DIY muffer with fringe tied the 70s way, but styled contemporary for a modern outerwear look
Vittari shearling coat, hat, DIY long knitted scarf, silver pants, structured bag, LeatherCoatsEtc gloves, and Harley Davidson booties (all own)
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Do you have a scarf collection? How do you wear your scarves? What type of scarves are your favorite? Let me know, I am curious.
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Photos: G. Kramm
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