A scarf for a man, is it a stylish accessory with a specific function to boot, or a useless garment that doesn’t even enter your mind except when you see someone wearing one for no reason? Those tend to be the two camps men exist in when it comes to scarves, with very little middle ground.
Today, I’m going to try and convince you why the former camp is in the right. This isn’t to say that you have to like scarves and wear them now or else you’re a fool. It’s just to try and show you that scarves shouldn’t be so frowned upon by some. And if you already wear them, maybe this article will shed some new light on ways to tie or wear scarves to give you a new flare and edge in your style.
History of Scarves
Scarves have been around for a long, long time. And they have been historically worn by men. They began as a function over form accessory, used in ancient Roman culture and perhaps even earlier as a cloth used to wipe sweat and keep clean, kind of like a handkerchief.
They were also used in old Chinese dynasties to identify different officers in the military. In modern times, they are mostly used as a fashion accessory, but they also provide the function of keeping your neck area warm without cumbersome larger jackets.
As you see, scarves have historically been used by men, only recently adopted as a fashion trend. So, don’t be afraid to use a scarf because it isn’t manly.
Types of Scarves
A few things to go over here to make sure you know what you’re buying and wearing. First, there are a few different scarf lengths you can typically have ranging from short to long. The standard or medium length is anywhere around 70 inches and is the best and most versatile length you can choose especially if you are just getting started. Short scarves are 50+ inches and long are 80+ inches or so.
There are also several types of cloth or material that scarves can be made of. From silk to cotton to wool and everything in between, the cloth can make all the difference in your usage and tying of the scarf.
Silk scarves are the lightest and typically the most stylishly designed of scarves. They are usually used with the most formal wear like a suit.
Cotton scarves are also very light, and generally, don’t serve the purpose of warmth nearly as well as other materials. They serve as more of a style statement and are therefore less popular.
Wool and Cashmere scarves are the most common variety of various qualities and warmth-creating scarves around. They are designed for colder weather, and because that’s when people generally break out their scarves, they are the most popular and safest bet.
Alpaca scarves are similar to wool but made from alpaca (duh). They serve the same warming purpose but have the added benefit of being hypoallergenic because they aren’t made of wool.
Rules for Wearing a Scarf
There are also several basic rules, yes, more rules, you should try to follow when wearing your scarf. They are for your own benefit, as scarves can look terribly wrong and out of place unless they are worn and tied correctly.
First of all, and most importantly, always think of a scarf as an accessory. Use it as both a warming garment and a style statement. But never think of it as something you have to wear or the centerpiece of your outfit. It is an accent and also serves a purpose.
You need to pick the right weight of scarf to wear. The warmer the weather is, the lighter your scarf should be. Always, no exceptions. Don’t be the person wearing a thick wool scarf with a light jacket in the middle of September. It’s pointless and looks out of place.
Know how to layer your scarf. This is related to picking the right weight, but also make sure you have the right jacket to match. Silk and cotton with lighter jackets or suits, and wool or alpaca with heavier jackets. You can also use a heavier scarf with a medium weight jacket to keep you just warm enough.
Know the right size of scarf for you. Some more complicated wraps and knots require a longer scarf and some a shorter. Know which wrap style you want to use and pick the right scarf length and width to match.
Play with colors and contrast. The same concept of neckties applies to scarves here. A scarf can and should accent your chosen colors of your outfit. The pattern and material can also act as a contrast so your outfit isn’t boring. Just remember to keep it cooperative and not too over-the-top.
Know when to skip the scarf. Sometimes your look is just right and the weather doesn’t call for a scarf. So skip it. Don’t overthink it.
Finally, and very importantly, know how to tie your scarf. There are a lot of ways to do it to show your style or individuality, and you should always tie your scarf based on the outfit you are wearing. Make sure the style is clean and done correctly, and you will always look like you know exactly what you are doing and what look you are going for, and that is always a good thing.
Different Ways to Tie a Scarf
Here I’m going to give you several ways to tie your scarf and which style of outfit they go with. I’m going to try and do it without fancy diagrams so I’ll keep the wrap styles simple. You can look up advanced ties and knots elsewhere.
The first wrap we’re going to call The Drape. It is the simplest style and it involves just hanging the scarf around your neck with equal length on each side. That’s it. Use this style when putting both sides into your buttoned jacket or suit coat. It works especially well with a suit because it does not become the focal point of your ensemble, rather a nice accent to your stylish suit. You can also cross the very bottom of the scarf within your jacket to help it keep in place while walking around.
The Wrap Around
This wrap is very versatile, working well with winter wear and also might be the best wrap for more moderate temperatures. You hang the scarf around your neck with double the length on one side. Then you wrap the long side all the way around your neck and hang it back in the front on the side it began, reducing its length to about equal with the other side. It’s a timeless look and gives both warmth and breathability.
The Side Swipe
This wrap is almost exactly the same as the wrap around, just with a little more flair due to its asymmetrical style. You start with the scarf around your neck with one side twice as long again, then you take the long side and sweep it over your neck and leave it hanging on your back on the same side as the short side of the scarf. This is very easy to tie and has a unique look. Very versatile again.
The Back Drape
This style is also similar to the wrap around, just almost in reverse. Start with the scarf hanging over your neck with equal length on both sides. Then wrap one side around your neck leaving it hanging down you back. Then do the exact same with the other side. Done! It may be slightly more cumbersome than other wraps as both sides are on your back, but it’s definitely a stylish move.
The Simple Knot
This is a very traditional wrap that looks a lot like an ascot or a necktie. It goes well with more formal wear and also provides great warmth and a secure knot so you won’t have to adjust or play with it that often. You start with equal lengths on both sides then wrap one end around and under the other until you can pull it through the hole in between the two scarf ends. Pull the first end through and tighten the knot up to your neck. You want both ends of the scarf hanging one behind the other, straight down the center of your chest.
This last wrap is my personal favorite. It isn’t rare or complicated, it just looks nice and sophisticated with any outfit and shows you know what to do with your scarves. Start by folding your scarf in half, end to end. Hang the folded or loop end around one shoulder and the two loose ends around the other. Take the loose ends and put them through the loop and tighten up to your neck. That’s all there is to it. Simple and cool.
Wrap It Up
Hopefully, this article taught you a little something. Whether you were hesitant to try a scarf or needed a few tips on how to perfect the look, you found your tips here. Remember that scarves are historically manly, always treat them as an accessory, and know how to tie or wrap a scarf in a few different ways. Keep those tips in mind and you’ll have a step up on other scarfers!