My former coworker Vera was the first to show me that scarves weren’t just a utilitarian neck warmer on a snowy day. They were fashion. An older woman with a youthful figure and bright coral lips, she embodied ‘80s fashion chic. She was always in style, pairing exotically patterned shawl scarves with sweater dresses, and narrow band scarves with square-shouldered suit jackets.
Twenty-five years later, scarves are again a hot fashion item. Local fashion experts name scarves as a must-have accessory. But gone are the rigidity and rules of the past. When it comes to scarves, “there’s no longer a right or wrong. Pick what you feel good wearing and work with it,” says Nikki Kranebell of Lillian’s of Rochester.
Image coach Jill Swanson agrees. “Wear what you love and love what you wear. Buy what reflects your personal style.”
The trend is a multitude of textures and fabrics—ranging from smooth silk chiffons to scrunched acrylic weaves to chunky knits. Looks can be feminine and lacey, edgy and graphic, and anything in between. Purples, rusts, mustards, teals, browns and other fall tones are this year’s “in” colors.
Patterned scarves in polka dots, checks, graffiti lettering, tie-dye, large florals, color blocks and animal prints give scarves a modern edge. Added details like fringe, pompoms, sequins, lace and beading also update today’s look.
But who hasn’t purchased a beautiful scarf only to leave it in a drawer? Fortunately, say the experts, wearing scarves can be as individual as the wearer.
“Pairing a scarf with an outfit doesn’t need to be a daunting process,” assures Celia Kamath of Peacock Tale. “Think of scarves as a way to extend your wardrobe.”
While a print scarf adds visual interest to any solid outfit, pairing a print scarf with a print top is not only “allowed,” it’s
“Today, it’s more about coordinating tones and contrasting textures than it is about matching,” says Kranebell. “It helps to think of menswear, where you might pair a patterned tie with a striped shirt.”
To those reluctant to wear more than one pattern, Swanson encourages a more subtle alternative. “A great tweed jacket or slack with a stronger print scarf is a wonderful mix.”
Experts say that tying a scarf doesn’t have to be complicated either. Easy styles can flatter a woman’s figure. “A thin scarf draped low below the bust line can make the body appear thinner,” says Swanson. “Leaving the scarf hang long and loose under the lapels of a jacket can also elongate the neck and body. Keeping the scarf high on the body will distract from areas you’d prefer not to showcase.”
For the new wearer, Kranebell suggests wrapping a long scarf around the neck a few times to frame the face and update any outfit with a ribbon of color.
Kamath uses infinity scarves as an even easier way to achieve these simple looks. For an extra “pop,” any scarf can be adorned with a pin, slide, or hair clip.
Even the budding fashionista needn’t stop there. Anyone can take full advantage of the trends with just a few twists, flips, knots and pull-throughs. Our experts are shown modeling several of these signature looks. How-to videos are posted at RWmagazine.com. Find additional style options and instruction at each
Vera would be pleased that scarves have taken back their rightful place in fashion. No matter what, says Celia Kamath, “scarves always make the best gifts.”
Laura Rohrbaugh lives with her husband and daughter in Rochester. She owns Reedbrook Consulting, a content strategy business that contracts writers to Mayo Clinic, and enjoys
accessorizing herself well.