“Money doesn’t buy elegance. You can take an inexpensive sheath, add a pretty scarf, gray shoes, and a wonderful bag, and it will always be elegant.” — Carolina Herrera
Of all the accessories that are in my drawer, there isn’t a single one that I treasure more than a silk scarf I bought at a deeply discounted price two years ago. It is made of real silk, and so I wear it carefully, wash it tenderly, and feel pretty in it whenever I toss it on. There’s just something about a scarf that is so elegant and timeless. Besides the obvious color and embellishment that they lend to an ensemble, scarves aren’t just pretty –they’re utterly practical, too! You can use it to keep your hair tangle-free and tidy during summer drives with the top down, or wrap it around for warmth or modesty on a plane or at an evening party. You can even tie it around the handle of your bag, or around your waist if you’re feeling playful and want to try something different! Perhaps this is why all the leading ladies of the Golden Age of Hollywood sported them with to-the-nines glamour, or cheeky insouciance whether they were at premieres or the beach. And you can bet your bottom dollar that back in the day, every girl who knew what was what in fashion wore scarves with just as much art and flair, if perhaps their embellishments were less expensive than those of their celebrity counterparts. And that’s the beauty of scarves. No matter your budgets or tastes, there is truly something for everyone… and it’s easier to find an inexpensive scarf that looks just the opposite, than it is to find a cheap pair of shoes that looks more than it cost. Case in point? Let’s take Audrey Hepburn. Before she was the darling of the screens, Audrey was a poor girl trying to keep out of trouble and make ends meet during WWII. To make the same dress seem different every time, she had a ‘secret weapon’ which she used brilliantly. A scarf tied around the head, arranged cleverly around the neck, or belted at the waist made sure that Audrey always looked fresh despite the fact that she was practically repeating the same ensemble over and over again. While that might seem restricting to some, it is so refreshing to me. Clever imagination always finds a way to give new life to an outfit!
What to look for in a scarf
- Pick bright, cheery colours or pastel shades –you want something that will separate your clothing from your face, and provide a bit of pop, or at least provide a complementary contrast to your skin tone. I think that nude-coloured scarves are hard to pull off as they just ‘blend’ into your face!
- Pay careful attention to details. If you like sequins, embroidery, or textures, make sure that the threads aren’t snagged, the stitching is not coming apart, and all embellishments are securely in place. Also, choose your decorations wisely. There’s no point in buying a scarf with paste-on rhinestones, the washing machine takes care of them… believe me!! 🙂
- Choose a variety of lengths, shapes, and thicknesses. Sometimes you’ll want to wrap a scarf around into a cozy little cocoon for you to snuggle in. On others, you might just want a wisp of fabric to tug in the breeze against your neck…
- There is a fabric and material for every season. Cottons, silks and linens –even fine, thin wools are wonderful for spring and summer. Beware of synthetic fibres such as polyester and nylon –they are harder for the skin to breathe in, and the toxic materials that are used to create the fibres can still linger and cause skin problems for those with sensitive skin. (I read this in an article, and found it to be true for my poor little brother. :()
Are you inspired yet? Let’s take a look at some ways to play around with this versatile accessory! Take a look at how Trina Holden ties up her scarves into two beautiful styles in these videos she made as companions to her fabulous book, Embracing Beauty.
Whatever the occasion, there is nothing as practical or pretty as a really great scarf. Take one with you on the road, to the seaside, and even (or perhaps especially!) grocery shopping. It easily adds oomph and character to a plain ol’ outfit, and comes in handy during sudden autumn showers.
And here’s a little secret… I can’t help skipping whenever it picks up the wind; the tail ends of a scarf are like my little wings.