Angela van Rose
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The Eternal Charm of Scarves


The Eternal Charm of Scarves

Scarves as a fashion accessory

One of the most underestimated fashion accessories is without doubt the scarf. Although the scarf has been quite popular for many centuries, some women prefer not to wear a scarf. It seems to me that rejecting the scarf altogether is not a wise decision because the scarf can serve many functions. The most important function, in my opinion, is that the scarf can nicely and unobtrusively punctuate the lady’s outfit. Therefore, it is a splendid fashion accessory which should not be ignored by anyone.  Of course, it should be admitted that the scarf is not suitable for all seasons, and particularly for the summer season. However, the summer is over, the fall has come,  and now it is the perfect time to zero in on the scarf as a fashion accessory.

Short (and utterly incomplete) history of the scarf

There is evidence that the scarf was worn by women many centuries ago, and what is even more interesting is that human civilizations that were far apart and, therefore, they were unaware of each other, discovered on their own the obvious advantages of scarves as an essential part of women’s clothing. I would like to present just one example of a scarf called fichu which was quite popular in the 18th century in France.

Fichu scarf
Fichu ca.1793 Courtesy of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art

As you can see from the photo, the fichu is a woman’s triangular scarf of lightweight fabric (but it could have square form as well) which was worn over the shoulders and alternatively crossed or tied in a loose knot at breast level. The fabric of the fichu was usually a white cotton or linen. The fabric was masterfully embroidered and thus the fichu was accessible only to the ladies who came from the upper class society. Thus, the fichu was accessible only to the ladies who came from the upper class society. The mere fact that the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibits this particular scarf in its permanent collection is a persuasive proof that fashion can be elevated to an art form. So, this is just another reason for the ladies to take very seriously any fashion accessory which can help them look dazzling and a real piece of art ?

At the same time it should be acknowledged that in some cultures (even nowadays) the scarves are a tool for hiding the woman’s face in order to promote modesty and humility. I personally prefer the scarf as way for attracting attention and admiration, though. The fichu, by the way,  was fashionable until the beginning of the 19th century when women started wearing large shawls. The large shawls were so widely accepted that a very unfortunate event in 1927 made everyone realize that any fashion accessory can become extremely dangerous and even lethal  if the lady wearing it is not mindful of its proper use. On September 14, 1927, the famous American dancer Isadora Duncan who was known as the ‘Mother of Dance’ was  strangled in Nice, France because the very large silk scarf that was worn by her got tangled in the rear hubcaps of her open Bugatti car.

Isadora Duncan photo death by scarf
Photo of Isadora Duncan

The 20th century witnessed the boom of scarves as a widely used fashion accessory. The fashion designers were tempted to spend much time on crafting beautiful, memorable, and sometimes collectible scarves in order to embellish their garment collections and promote themselves. For instance, the fashion house Hermès became famous in the first half of the 20th century with their scarves adorned with exquisite horse motifs.

Hermès scarf
Modern day Hermès scarf

It is a curious fact that scarfs were in demand in the 20th century (and in the previous century as well) for commemorating some special events, political campaigns, tourist attractions,  and important persons. In short, the scarf became a powerful propaganda tool. However, it is high time we went to the modern day and reviewed some of the scarves that are voguish right now (and available in US stores).

Scarves indoors and outdoors

As mentioned above, the scarf can have multiples functions and uses. It can protect you in cold weather. So, if you are located in the north and  you are a New Yorker or a Bostonian, for instance, you will appreciate more scarves or even shawls that can cover fully you neck so that you can have the comfort and the warmth that you need while you are outside. If you are an Angeleno, then you will not be interested in scarves that give you warmth. Instead, you will wear a scarf that complements nicely your outfit. I have a number of  personal mottos but one of my favorite shibboleths is  ‘Elegance for elegance’s sake’. This is why sometimes I start building my outfit around the scarf that I intend to wear and not vice versa. So, I suppose I  have the mentality of an Angeleno although I do not live in the wondrous city of Los Angeles ?

An interesting question is if it’s possible to wear two scarves at the same time – one as a part of your outfit and the other just for outside. I have experimented with wearing two scarves but I determined that this approach is impractical and more importantly, in my humble opinion, two scarves together are simply not chic.

The price of any fashion accessory is of importance because whether you can afford a particular fashion item depends on your personal budget. By the way, can you guess the price of the scarves that you see on the picture above? I assure you that the looks can be misleading. Some of the scarves above are worth less than $30 while other scarves present there as well cost more than a thousand dollars – go figure ?


Some years ago the scarves wearing a logo of a high-end luxury brand became all the rage. I certainly do not disapprove of this trend but I am not very enthusiastic about it, either. I prefer scarves that might indicate their brand but their mark is inconspicuous, i.e. stylish. For this reason from the scarves above I like most the one that has the symbol of the brand and not the ones that have the brand itself printed on them.


The possible patterns of the scarves are innumerable. They depend entirely on the imagination and the skills of the artist that is creating the scarves. The scarves that you see above have patterns that are indicative of the uniqueness of each scarf. The ornamentation of a scarf can make a signature statement to world around us and this is something that any lady is longing for.  Thus, it is not an easy task to select the scarf with the pattern that you like most. I have a simple solution to this serious problem – buy as many scarves as you desire ?

By the way, it is worth noting that some patterns are overly provocative and artistic. Therefore, they might be inapposite for your workplace and in other settings as well.


The scarves are made of various fabrics such as wool, cotton, silk, Jacquard, cashmere, mohair, linen, etc. Sometimes the scarf consists of more than one fabric. The manufacturing of a scarf is a very complex process which involves many stages despite the deceivingly simple outlook of most scarves. The techniques used for the production of scarves include: printing, weaving, batik, painting, and embroidery.

Types of scarves

There are a lot of types of scarves as already demonstrated in this blog post of mine. The scarves vary depending on their shape, design, material, and size. The typical shapes for scarves are triangular, square, and rectangular. Some scarves have fringed trims while others don’t.  Besides, there is also gear that is similar to scarves or in some instances could be even considered a scarf in its own right. I will list just few of those garments and I have provided some examples in the above picture:  shawl, wrap, bandana, neckerchief, kerchief, headscarf, ribbon, neck tie, sash.

My verdict on scarves

I believe that scarves are a splendid fashion accessory that deserves a prominent place in your wardrobe. Of course, it is entirely up to you to choose the best scarves that suit  both your individuality and your personal needs. And most importantly –  do not forget that the scarf is a great means for lending aplomb to your inimitable personality as a stylish lady.

Read my blog post on Ladies’ Hats HERE

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