It’s that wonderful time of year when you get to bring the boots out of the closet and start to anticipate the time for cozy scarves and sweaters so in this About section we will explore the many stylish ways to wear a scarf
Fall is the most popular time to wear scarves and there is no doubt that this fun accessory can change the look of an outfit in one second, not to mention that they will help to keep you warm during these chillier months.
Scarves have become a wardrobe essential and I like them because they are easy on the pocketbook. Yes, you can splurge on a Hermes scarf or real Pashmina, but the bulk of these accessories can be found for under $30.
Because we are always looking for different ways to wear a scarf, I’ve put together a fun style guide for you! So check out 27 Stylish Ways to Wear a Scarf below, which provides a variety of ways on how to wear scarves and outfits that pair well with a scarf.
This scarf outfit guide doesn’t just cover fall outfits, but also includes a few ways to wear a lightweight scarf in the summer and spring to add color and texture to an outfit. Use this scarf guide as an inspiration to incorporate scarves into your outfits year round, not just when the leaves start to turn color.
If you love scarves as much as I do, I know you’ll love this guide! Continue scrolling to read a ton of style tips and advice when it comes to wearing scarves!
TYPES OF SCARVES
Scarves come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. They can have embellishments or fringe and there are different ways to wear each type of scarf, depending on size and your personal style.
Rectangular scarves, also known as oblong scarves, are probably the most popular scarf to wear these days. These long scarves can be worn loose, looped, or knotted in multiple ways. There are so many ways to wear a scarf like this, spring, summer, fall or winter. Materials range from lightweight cotton to silk to wool, and a variety of blended materials. You can find them in solids, florals, prints, stripes and plaids. They also come in knitted versions, from lacy to chunky.
Square scarves are less common these days and come in a variety of sizes from 16 to 60 inches. Smaller square scarves are called a neckerchief. These always remind me of flight attendants, with their jaunty colors tied around their neck, seemingly worn for no particular reason. There is also the bandanna, a more informal type of small square scarf that is used for practical purposes during physical activity, like hiking. Both of these can also serve as a headscarf. Larger squares, like your classic Hermes, can be tied and worn in a variety of styles. Materials range from lightweight cotton to silk to wool, and a variety of blended materials. You can find them in solids, florals, prints, stripes and plaids.
Infinity or Loop Scarves
Infinity or loop scarves are relatively new on the scene and have gained popularity over the last few years for their ease of use. They are what I call “throw and go” scarves. You throw them on, loop them once, and go. Easy peasy. These come in some really nice lightweight summer florals madras check, or stripes for summer, and heavier cotton, silk, and wool blends for winter in a variety of plaids, prints, and solids. Like their rectangular counterparts, they can also come in knitted versions, from lacy to chunky.
True Pashmina scarves are made from the wool of the Kashmir Pashmina goat. These goats, found in the Himalayas, provide a fine wool that is woven into beautiful and soft scarves that are very costly, but can keep you very warm. Most of what you will find in the stores is a knock-off made of a more typical cashmere, a silk/pashmina blend, or even cotton. Originally, Pashminas were large rectangular scarves that could envelop the head, neck and shoulders for modesty, warmth, or against the elements. Today, you can find them in medium or large squares or long rectangles. Many have a fringe element.
My Personal Experience
I have not often worn scarves, largely due to the climate where I live, but that may change now. I created a new outfit that I loved with a mint green draped top and a black flippy hemline skirt but it lacked pizzaz, so a scarf to the rescue. It was a small scarf, like those worn by flight attendants of the past and I had to practice tying it several ways (I’m a little clumsy in tying scarves). In the past, I never felt comfortable with the right way to tie a scarf, or if it looked good with the rest of the outfit, but let me say here and now, that once you get in the habit of wearing scarves, then you realize what all of the hoopla is about.
Ways to Tie a Scarf
If you need idea or help on different ways to tie a scarf check out the video below! I found this video while doing some research on different ways to tie a scarf, it’s from Nordstrom! Make sure you hit play because it’s a great video and super simple ideas that you can replicate.
5 Expert Fashion Tips for Scarves
These tips from 60 and Me work for girls of all ages.
If scarves are one of those clothing items you can’t live without or they’re something you haven’t figured out, you’ll enjoy this video with Melanie Payge a Milan fashion expert. Go to the 60 and Me link above to view the video.
When Bigger Is Not Always Better
Many of us have been guilty at one time or another of hiding our beautiful faces behind an oversized scarf. It’s one thing to do this because you’re bitterly cold and wearing it for practical intentions, but, any other reason is no reason at all!
Large scarves are unattractive as they completely overwhelm your face by swallowing up your neckline and also make your head look smaller. You’re practically lost under a scarf! If you love the color or pattern of the scarf, Melanie recommends repurposing oversized scarves as sarongs for the beach or pool.
When to Spring Clean Your Collection
Scarves are easy gifts to give, and there is a good reason for this – they can be quite impersonal. We have a tendency to hang on to presents from those we care about, as we feel we shouldn’t throw them out.
If you have not worn a scarf for a long time, it’s probably best to get rid of it, as you’re unlikely to use it. You probably don’t really like it or know it doesn’t suit you so rip off the bandage and move on! Giving good quality items to charity means it will at least get some use from someone who really needs it, and is more environmentally friendly than it ending up in landfill.
When Fashion For Older Women Means Less Is More
Many of us assume we need to do something to make our accessories stand out. For fashion for older women, accessories should complement your outfit rather than detract from it.
Melanie demonstrates how the same scarf looks completely different on Margaret when it is left untied (you really should watch this!). Small changes such as draping a scarf to cover a low-cut top, rather than tying it around the neck, can make all the difference
It’s important to be careful to not create too many contrasts by mixing two patterns together between your clothing and scarf, as it looks too busy. Melanie recommends using a patterned scarf with plain jackets or dresses, and a single color scarf when wearing patterned clothing.
Ditch The Pitch!
Salespeople love selling scarves because they are an easy upsell in clothing stores. Don’t buy into the sales pitch – scarves can easily accumulate over time and clutter your closet before you realize!
When shopping, don’t get caught out being recommended items you don’t need. Always buy with purpose – buy a scarf with a particular outfit in mind. This is because we often get talked into pieces being handy for one purpose or another, but when we go to use them find they do not look good with anything!
Trends vs. Fashion After 60
Fads and trends are not the same things as fashion, which should always be about using clothing and accessories to enhance our best features. Tying scarves at the neck was a fad and are not fashionable as it can draw attention away from our beautiful facial features.
Melanie likens wearing overly large scarves to wearing evening makeup in the daytime – it doesn’t look right as it is overdone for what you are wearing. We wear subtle makeup during the day because it flatters and enhances our beauty. In the same vein, we should not accessorize with anything that makes us look like we are hiding something!
Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty on ways to wear a scarf. While there are endless possibilities, I’ve detailed out 27 different ways to wear a scarf, along with some suggestions for outfits with scarves. So let this guide get you started on your scarf-wearing jour
- Wear a Scarf with a Belt
If you’re looking to wear a scarf in an attention-grabbing way, don’t wrap it around your neck. Instead, wear a neutral or monochromatic outfit, and let the scarf be the star of the show. This is how to wear a scarf in a non-typical way. Let the scarf fall in front of your outfit and pair it with a skinny belt. This way to wear a scarf can only be done with a larger scarf, typically rectangular or square. You want the scarf to end mid-thigh to just above your knee and be large enough to make a statement. In this cute fall outfit, I went with a black-and-white look and added a gray plaid scarf to complete the look. For summer, a pretty floral or pattern would work just as well.
- Wear a Scarf with a Jacket
Putting together a chic city outfit is always fun. To soften it up, add a slightly oversized knit scarf. Pair your favorite black leather moto jacket with a scarf in the same color family to keep the cool vibe. In this fall outfit, I wore a gray knit scarf with a moto jacket, skinny jeans and leopard print heels. I also made sure I matched the color of the scarf with a clothing piece in my outfit; in this case, it was the long-sleeve shirt under the moto jacket. This scarf outfit is not only chic, it will keep you warm on those chilly days.
- Wear a white scarf outfit
At a time when everyone is wearing fall seasonal colors, stand out by wearing black and white. In this fall outfit, I used the scarf as my starting point. I wanted to create a stylish outfit that made this scarf shine. I started with black on the bottom—leggings and heels, and wore a stark white on top, starting with a blazer and topping that off with a matching white scarf. (If you’re going to try this, make sure the whites match!) You could achieve the same type of look with a pair of black skinny jeans and boots and a white button-down menswear shirt with the white scarf.
- Wear a scarf with a sweater
Have you ever put together an outfit and thought something is missing? Well, try adding a scarf! Plaid is the perfect print for a scarf, with the checks coming in a variety of colors, making them easy to pair with multiple outfits. In this stylish fall outfit—which I wore for a Thanksgiving family dinner—I paired dark-wash jeans with riding boots, a mustard sweater, and an infinity gray plaid scarf. I made sure the gray matched something else in the outfit, so the gray cuffs on the sweater are the coordinating touch.
- Wear a jersey scarf with a Blazer
If subtle is your signature look, go for a smaller scarf in a dark color that will blend into the entire outfit. Jersey is a knit fabric that is soft and has a bit of give or stretch to it. It’s comfortable to wear and can easily be manipulated with ties and knots. Because you can find them in a variety of solids, patterns, prints and plaid, they are easy to use to complete an outfit. In this instance, you’ll want to use a dark solid jersey scarf, like I did in this outfit I wore while sightseeing in Florence. I wanted to look dressy but still be comfortable. To add dimension to this outfit, I completed the outfit with a black jersey infinity scarf. (Note: You can also use a rectangular scarf that you look and knot in the back.)
- How to wear a scarf with a peacoat
You can wear a scarf for its original purpose, to keep you warm. In fact, I highly recommend you wear them on every cold day! I wore this stylish winter outfit while in Venice where it was absolutely freezing. I wrapped this warm plaid scarf around my neck twice to keep me warm. This gray plaid scarf is the lighter item in my outfit, as I wanted to add some dimension to this look. Keep this in mind when putting together your outfit. If you are wearing solids, add some print or pattern or even a texture. If your outfit already has a pattern or print to it, keep your scarf to a solid color, with or without a texture.
- How to wear a scarf in the spring
As you can see so far, there are a lot of ways to wear a scarf during the colder months—with more ideas to come! But I want you to know that scarves are a year-round accessory. Even though they are more popular in the fall and winter, you can incorporate them into your summer and spring outfits. Go with lightweight materials and pastels or summer bright colors. They are perfect for the early morning chill and can be shed later in the day if it gets too warm. In this casual spring outfit, I wore a lightweight burgundy-and-pink scarf with a fun pattern. Perfect paired with jeans, t-shirt, and a boyfriend sweater, but it could also work with shorts or a skirt and a tee or tank.
- Wear a Cozy Scarf to the snow
There is no better time to wear a warm and cozy scarf than in the snow. Not only is it fashionable, it will help to keep the snowflake flurries from entering the neck of your sweater or jacket. This is one of my favorite snow outfits. When I picture snow, I picture Fair Isle leggings and cozy scarves. To create a cute snow outfit, I paired a large white cozy scarf with blue knit cardigan, Fair Isle leggings, and fur snow boots! When wearing a scarf to the snow, before all else, make sure it can serve its purpose and keep you warm! And because it will get wet from the snow, make sure it is made of a material that will dry more quickly, like a cotton or wool blend.
- Wear a scarf when traveling
If you’re traveling and it’s not quite hot and not quite cold, a scarf is a great accessory to wear for unpredictable weather. Plaid is a classic pattern and you can buy one in neutral colors (black, gray, brown, beige, navy or white) so that it can be worn with almost any outfit. While sightseeing in Rome it wasn’t cold enough for a coat, so I wore a plaid scarf with a heavy cable-knot sweater. When it got cold, I unwrapped it from my neck, extended it and wrapped it around my shoulders. When it started to rain, I was able to use the scarf to cover my hair. A scarf can be very versatile, and a handy item to have when traveling. (Think: lap blanket or folded up to make a pillow!)
- How to Wear a Summer Scarf
Lightweight skinny scarves are great for the summer! If you’re looking for a way to wear a scarf in the summer, go bright! A light summer scarf is perfect for adding an extra bit of color to a summer outfit without adding any bulk. In this summer outfit, the entire outfit was white and blue so to add some contrast I wore a bright yellow scarf. Instead of wrapping it around my neck I simply tied it half way down and let it hang.
- How to Wear a Scarf to Work
Wearing a scarf to the office can be a little tricky. You don’t want to create an outfit around a scarf, because once you enter a warm office, it will come right off. So think of the scarf as a fun touch or added accessory to your work attire. In this fall work outfit, I paired my burgundy trousers with brown ankle boots, a gray sweater and matching gray plaid scarf. The scarf is not an essential piece of the outfit and can be removed at any time. (And notice how much wear I am getting out of that one plaid scarf!)
- Wear a Scarf with a Blazer
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there is a theme with my scarf outfits. I usually like to match the scarf color to something I’m wearing in the outfit. This dressy scarf outfit is another perfect example. This outfit works so well because of the contrasting fabrics and colors. The light silk blouse contrasts with the heavy blazer. The bright blazer and heels contrast with the black pants. It’s all about balance and coordination. The bright scarf enhances the colors of the blouse, plus it made me so happy to wear it!
- How to wear a Plaid Scarf
If you want to have an outfit that screams the holidays without having to wear Christmas sweaters, a red plaid scarf is a perfect way to wear holiday colors in a chic way. In this outfit, I paired a red plaid scarf with red hat, forest green cross-body purse, and a white sweater. It’s a fun outfit that works great during the holiday season, whether you are going shopping or to visit family. And there are different ways to wear a scarf like this, from the simple way I let it hang, to a double loop and tied in the back, or a stylish French knot.
- Wear a White Scarf to the Office
As in the scarf outfit #3 above, I used this white scarf to create another black-and-white outfit, this time for the office. This scarf outfit started with a simple dress, but this time I added some print with the heels. (Yes, you can wear a scarf with a dress!) As I mentioned before, black-and-white outfits really stand out in the fall and it’s a stylish way to make an impression at work. Try a simple black pencil skirt paired with a silk blouse or button-down with the scarf; both will work equally well.
- Wear a blue scarf to complete your fall outfit
If you’re working on a color theme, a scarf is a great way to add to some color coordinating fun. Black and blue are two common wardrobe colors, with the blue being primarily denim. In this black-and-blue outfit, I wore a blue scarf to add another blue hue to the outfit and to add some fullness. Since the outfit is very sleek up and down, the scarf also created dimension. You might also try the reverse by wearing black jeans and a denim jacket for a slightly different black-and-blue look.
- Wear a Summer Scarf to Create Outfit Contrast
In this all-white summer outfit I added an olive green patterned scarf to make it even more stylish. If you notice in this outfit, I kept the accessories neutral: matching tan heels and handbag with an earth-tone scarf. This sleek white outfit creates the perfect palette to build on accessories.
- Put together a black and gray scarf outfit
Sometimes you’re not looking for any special way to wear a scarf. You just need a scarf to do its job and keep you warm. But you can make a warm and stylish scarf outfit! In this outfit that I wore while traveling in Italy, I added a lightweight wool plaid scarf before walking out the door, as it was raining. The scarf lightened up the heaviness of the primarily black outfit, and coordinated well with the blue top. Perfect for sightseeing, and I stayed warm the whole time.
- Wear a scarf for a pop of color
What is the perfect way to complete a California winter outfit? Add a scarf! In this simple, casual winter outfit I added a burgundy scarf to add a little bit of color to this otherwise classic outfit. Long coat, distressed denim, stripes and a scarf is a simple outfit formula to try.
- Tie a Scarf to your purse
There are so many ways to wear a scarf on your body, but did you ever think about adding a pop of color to your handbag? Such a simple idea, but it can add so much to an outfit, whether casual or for work. If you’re going to do this, make sure the scarf is of a light fabric and not too large, so that it doesn’t add weight to your handbag. You also want it to match some element of your outfit.
- Wear Your scarf around your blazer
This is good example of another way to wear a scarf to the office. Instead of wearing the scarf around your neck or on the inside of the jacket, drape it around the jacket collar and lapels. It has a very menswear inspired feel to it. Just make sure the scarf matches the colors of your outfit. (And it doesn’t have to be a solid. A small print, stripe or plaid will also work here.)
- Wear a gold silk scarf during the holidays
If you need to wear a scarf during the holidays, I would suggest a gold one. A gold scarf is a fun way to play with the holiday theme without actually screaming, “I’m wearing a holiday outfit.” In this winter look—keep in mind I live in California—I wore glitter loafers, bright colored pants, and gold scarf with a neutral black blazer.
- Camouflage your scarf into the outfit
Here’s another subtle way to wear a scarf. You don’t always have to use the scarf to add dimension, contrast, or color to an outfit. Sometimes a scarf can just serve as a supporting accessory. In this riding boot outfit, I wore a black jersey scarf that blended in with the jacket and wore a silk blouse that was the center of the outfit.
- Wear a polka dot scarf in the summer
To keep an outfit from looking a little too plain don a fun patterned scarf to add some interest. In this outfit, instead of stopping at shorts and a shirt, I added a polka dot scarf for fun. You can try a floral, stripe, or even a nautical theme if you are headed to the lake or ocean.
- Wear a Purple Scarf in the Fall
Nothing screams fall to me more than scarves and pumpkin. (Including pumpkin pie.) If you need inspiration for a cute pumpkin patch outfit, look no further! With the subdued colors of this outfit, I wore a royal blue scarf and seasonal hat to have some fun with the look! Boots, dark-wash jeans, sweater, scarf, and hat make up a cute fall outfit for some holiday activities.
- Wear a Polka Dot scarf with a striped Shirt
Want to wear two patterns at once and not go overboard? Why not wear a classic striped tee and add a polka dot scarf? This outfit is meant to be bright, fun, and an excellent combination. Wear polka dot and stripes for a stylish summer outfit. Just remember, if your stripes are wide, go with smaller polka dots, and if your stripes are narrow, go with a larger version, like I have here.
- Wear a plaid scarf with riding boots
Who said plaid had to be boring? While I do own some very neutral plaids, I do like a pop of color in a plaid…like red, purple, or yellow. Here I wore a red plaid scarf with riding boots, the perfect combination for November and December. The neutral pants and sweater helped that red plaid stand out and be the center of attention. Whether you’re wearing this combination to college or lunch with friends, it’ll no doubt create a stylish look.
- Wear a scarf with a cape
Capes are fun pieces on their own, but you can turn it up a notch by adding a scarf. Wrap a scarf around your neck and tuck it into your cape. Make sure it’s not completely hidden, as you want it to be peaking out for some fun added color and texture.
I hope this scarf guide has helped illuminate you to the different types of scarves available, the different ways you can wear a scarf, and scarf outfits that are easy to create. My guess is you’ll be heading to the store to add to your scarf collection now that fall has arrived.
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