Wardrobe 101

Style Staples #6: A Scarf You Love

Add Instant Style and Color with a Scarf

Happy day, reader dearest!

Hopefully that doesn’t sound creepy… It’s time to tackle some more Style Staples! If you missed the others, Style Staples are those pieces that help you turn the Building Basics in your closet into a look with intention. You can catch up on the other Style Staples, here. Today’s Style Staple can be a tough sell, because many women lack the confidence to wear a scarf. That’s a pity, because a scarf is an easy way to change a look completely. It’s also perfect to add color near the face–a good way to keep attention where it belongs! A scarf is an easy add on for style plus.

The important part of the post title today is “You Love.” I cannot overemphasize the “You Love” part! I go into many a closet to find that there are scarves (sometimes oodles), but the woman feels “Meh” about them, so they never see the light of day. It may be that a sales clerk talked her into it because it was “perfect with that outfit!” Which may be true, but it either goes with nothing else she owns, or… It’s not the kind of scarf she likes.

Now that your’re ready to tie one on (Couldn’t resist!), here’s a little scarf primer:

Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Scarf

Think about your style, and what kind of scarf will best suit you. A silky scarf with a smooth fine texture is dressier. A more nubbly textured scarf looks more relaxed. The same goes for knitted scarves, the finer (or smaller) the knit, the more refined. Chunkier will look more rugged and casual. If you want to wear the scarf near your face (Some people don’t, but tie them on bags, or wear them as sashes), choose colors that flatter your complexion. Take it over to a mirror, and give it a good look, just like you would a blouse or dress. Does it complement you? Or draw attention to itself?

Also keep in mind your lifestyle and your tolerance for fiddling with your clothes. I know women who love oblong scarves that hang down the front (A great way to create a vertical line!) and don’t mind adjusting them throughout the day. It comes to them as naturally as breathing. I know others who love the same look, but are tearing off the scarf and wadding it up in their tote within an hour because “It’s just too much work!” I like a neckerchief when I don’t want to be bothered with the adjusting, because it stays put. You can also get the stay-put factor with a pin or brooch, but you need to know if that’s important to you…

Comfort is key when it comes to a scarf! Carefully read the fiber content label (and care instructions) on any scarf you are considering. If you are sensitive to wool, leave it in the store. If you aren’t sure, drape the scarf around your neck and do some other shopping. You should know in a few minutes if it feels good against your skin, or is making you itchy or sticky. Metallic threads, although lovely, often trigger a sensitivity. You have to try it to know!

With that sorted, let’s take a moment to talk about some of the main styles of scarves, and their pluses and minuses.

Silky (or Cotton) Square

This is the classic scarf that many women struggle with, and feel like their grandmother when they get it tied. The square is my favorite, because I think it’s incredibly versatile, but that’s me. You may find another scarf more your cup of tea. There are literally hundreds of ways to tie a square scarf, many of which depend on the size. The smallest square, sized like a bandanna, is about 21″ on each side.  I love to wear this little number as a neckerchief, or tied around my wrist. The gorgeous Hermes scarves you see all over the famous tastemakers, and on Pinterest, are generally 36″ to a meter on a side. Another common size is 26″- 28″, and you will certainly find even larger square scarves, more like shawls. The blanket scarves that were so popular a few years ago were on the larger side.

For a quick video tutorial on five ways to tie a neckerchief without looking like a Boy Scout, pop on over to my FB page and have a giggle!

Oblong

There are as many types of oblong scarves out there as combinations of length and width, and materials. You see long narrow skinny scarves that have a flapper vibe, and short skinny scarves that are takeoffs of the Hermes Twilly, most often tied on the handle of a purse, or sometimes around the wrist. Winter scarves worn for warmth are most often oblongs. One of my favorite ways to tie a silky oblong is in a traditional men’s four-in-hand tie knot for a 70’s vibe worn down the front, or for sass worn with the ends draping down the back. Most oblongs can also be tied into an infinity style scarf if that is more your jam! I usually go for the square, but this summer I fell for the silky oblong here. You can see how it takes a relatively ordinary navy sheath and adds a touch of soft drama. (This was perfect for a July wedding.) If the church had been chilly, I could have untied it from my neck, and worn it as a wrap, or tied the short ends and worn it like a kimono.

Infinity Scarf

Not my personal favorite, but a blessing for women who want a scarf that is throw-and-go and don’t want to fuss! Not very good for creating the long vertical line like the oblong, but wonderful for adding color and texture near the face. Another plus is that the shorter loops of an infinity scarf don’t get caught in desk or kitchen drawers, belts, or chairs. You can find infinity scarves in all kinds of materials, and at almost every price point.

Pashmina-Style

I say pashmina-style, because an actual pashmina scarf is a particularly fine scarf made in Kashmir. The wool fibers that make a true pashmina are so fine and light that a large shawl can be pulled through a wedding ring. The ubiquitous scarves we see labeled pashmina are not even a poor relation, but that doesn’t stop me from wearing them! Most pashmina-style scarves we find in department stores in the US are made of rayon. More expensive versions may be wool and silk. These pashmina-style scarves are frequently solid colored, and are fringed or knotted at the two short ends. Patterned pashmina-style scarves are also available. Inexpensive solid pashmina-style scarves are perfect for adding color to an otherwise neutral outfit. Pairing two together can be darling as well. Some women are overwhelmed by pattern, or struggle to find one that harmonizes with their coloring. This makes a solid scarf an ideal accent! Pashmina-style scarves loop nicely around the neck, or are great as a wrap around the shoulders. They look wonderful with a pin or brooch to help tether them in place. When going for the wrap, be careful when you throw the loose end around your shoulder. My husband has been whacked in the face more than once by my fringe! (He now sits to my right at church so that if I toss my scarf, he’s out of range…)

There are some other novelty shape scarves out there, but these four are the basics. Now that you know more about some of the scarf options out there, and which might work best for you, are you ready to step out and try one? Or are you already scarf lover? What questions did I leave unanswered? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below!

Stylishly yours,

PS: If you like, you could while away countless hours on YouTube watching scarf tutorials (some of the most amazing are by Japanese air hostesses), but my favorite place for scarf inspiration is Mai Tai’s Picture Book.

PPS: Again, many thanks, Nancy (at Nancy’s Fashion Style), for hosting your weekly fabulous Friday Link-Up!

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