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For when France seems too far away. Shop for inspiring images of France and discover travel tips, packing advice, recipes, book reviews and more.

Master A French Classic – How To Wear Scarves

Handmade scarves Sancerre

Don’t you love how French women – and men for that matter – just know how to wear scarves?

Now, for a long time I really believed that you had to be French if you wanted to wear a scarf well.

This was mainly due to the fact that no matter which beautiful scarf I chose to wear (and I’ve owned a lot of beautiful scarves over the years) I could never get a scarf to look quite right. My neck would look too short. Or the ends of the scarf would finish too low and stick out at funny angles.

I certainly wasn’t wearing a scarf with the class of a French woman. I know I wasn’t the only one who was struggling with the concept – lots of friends haves shared their scarf horror stories with me. And the words ‘I love them but I don’t know how to wear scarves’ show up regularly in the comments of many style blogs.

So I decided that I was going to learn how to wear this timeless accessory. No matter what. Scarves are such clever little things. They can add warmth, texture, colour and style to an outfit all in one relatively small piece of fabric. I refused to keep missing out on the fun.

I started devouring everything I could find on scarves. There is information everywhere – in books, on websites and on YouTube. And while I definitely recommend watching as many videos as you can find because I picked up so many tips on knots, I still couldn’t nail the whole scarf look.

But I persevered. And like with so many other life lessons of mine, I eventually sorted myself out using trial and error. And interestingly, the path to learning how to wear scarves had nothing to do with how I was tying the scarf but everything to do with the scarf itself.

So here are my top tips for mastering this French classic.

How To Wear Scarves

  • Get your hands on the longest rectangular scarves you can find. If a scarf you like comes in a longer length, don’t hesitate, just run with the longest length. If the scarf also has a bit of tapering in the shape so much the better. It wasn’t until I bought my first truly long scarf that I realised the trick to getting the tails on your scarf to work with you. Long scarves also offer a lot more versatility.
  • When in doubt, go for neutral colours that compliment your skin tone. There is lots of advice out there that recommends using scarves to add a pop of your favourite colour to an outfit or trying a pattern you wouldn’t normally wear. And while this is technically true, you can’t just choose any old colour or pattern. Scarves are designed to be worn close to your face. Get the colour wrong and you can end up looking very washed out. Similarly, think about both your colouring and your bone structure when choosing patterned scarves. For example, if you’re small boned try smaller patterns – otherwise you could be swamped.
  • While I am on the topic of neutral colours, don’t forget that having a collection of neutral coloured scarves makes it easier to pick a scarf that coordinates with your wardrobe. I find I get way more wear out of my neutral scarves than any of my coloured ones, which can be harder to mix and match.
  • If your neck is on the shorter side, think carefully about the fabric of the scarf. If it is too heavy or bulky you can lose your neck in a sea of fabric which is never a good look. Go for lighter weight fabrics that will sit closer to your collar bones.
  • If you are really stuck, try an infinity or loop scarf. The lack of ends stops them from doing their own thing and you also don’t have to worry about your scarf becoming unravelled!
  • Don’t be afraid to combine two scarves for extra interest. A plain wool scarf can be enhanced with the addition of a lightweight patterned, silky scarf. Simply choose two rectangular scarves of similar sizes. Lay them out flat, one on top of the other. Knot the diagonally opposite corners of both scarves together to create your own drapey infinitive scarf. Throw the combined scarves around your neck. Both scarves will be on show, adding heaps of interest to your outfit.

Are you a fan of scarves? If you know how to wear scarves perhaps you have any other tips to help out other would-be wearers? If so, please share in the comments below.

And until next time – au revoir.


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