Shopping recently for a gift for a friend, I was thinking of what would be the right thing to acknowledge the occasion without going too deep into the emotional void. My go-to presents of scented candles or make-up pouches were out, as they were completely out of character for the person in question. I wasn’t too sure about sizing and didn’t want to splurge on something like jewelry, which could be interpreted as too personal or too extravagant. Perplexed, the sales person suggested a scarf. I was about to shrug off the idea as not creative, but then I realized that a scarf was the perfect gift.
I wear a lot of scarves. They have magical properties that can dress up or dress down an outfit. The same scarf can make a tank top winter appropriate, and provide warmth on a chilly summer night without evoking illusions of the holiday season. Scarves can be flouncy, or crisp, casual or professional, a fashion afterthought or the foundation of a particular look.
Scarves are like a fashion security blanket. I keep one balled up in my purse most of the time. If I’m feeling emotionally exposed or situationally inappropriate, having a scarf draped around my shoulders or wrapped around my neck can be like wearing a suit of armor.
Over the years I have read magazine articles and watched YouTube tutorials about how to tie a scarf, but I never seem to be able to recreate the look. I prefer a more casual, fluid approach to scarves. And in retrospect I prefer a more casual and fluid approach to my life in general. That’s not to say that a perfectly executed Jackie O bateau neckline scarf isn’t a thing of beauty…it just doesn’t happen to work with my wardrobe.
If you are new to the scarf scene, or think that scarves are for old ladies, think again. Scarves are a fantastic way to add some variety to your look. Start with something simple and classic in a super lightweight fabric. A sheer silk or cotton in an extra large size (think small blanket size) will do Yeoman’s duty for you this spring. A neutral shade or animal print is a great place to start. Once you have become attached to your scarf, try branching out to more vibrant prints or different fabrics. Matta scarves (available at Portobello Road in Chestnut Hill) come in a variety of sizes and hues and are embellished with pom-poms that are chic and sophisticated. I wear Matta scarves 12 months of the year, including to the beach in the dead of summer – they make cute sarongs – and I own them in a variety of colors.
If Hermes is more your style, go for it. Nothing says timeless and classic like an Hermes scarf. Buy one in a print that speaks to you and it will become your best friend. And don’t worry about tying it the right way. Scarves – high end or bargain bin – are personal and should be draped or bunched or stuffed or jauntily tossed over your shoulder as needed.
Last summer when my daughter was in Paris on an exchange program she called me and asked if she could use the credit card to buy an Hermes scarf that had captured her heart. I guess apples don’t fall too far from trees…