When we think of the epitome of female fashion, we think of French women. And there are no shortage of style guides to show us mere mortals how to do it. Or we could just binge Emily in Paris on Netflix for a dose of joie de vivre. But if there is one fashion accessory that all these French women can’t seem to live without, it is the scarf.
The scarf can be a shockingly intimidating accessory, we want to look like Grace Kelly not Queen Elizabeth. So, if you’ve missed the memo on how to tie a scarf (like the French, Italians, or any chic woman), you’re not alone. While the look is effortless, it does take practice to achieve. These tips on how to wear a scarf will help you master the art and add versatility to your wardrobe for work or weekends.
Choosing the Right Scarf
Think of a beautiful scarf as an expensive piece of jewelry. You wouldn’t want a stunning pendant to get lost in the neckline of a blouse with a busy pattern — you want that pendant to be the star of your outfit. Same for the scarf you wear. You don’t need an extensive selection of scarves to capture this iconic look, but a variety of shapes and weights will give you options for climate and occasion considerations.
There are dozens of ways to tie a scarf, and iconic scarf design house Hermes has DIY videos showing you how to tie their famous silk beauties that you can adapt to other styles. If you’re finding tying too tricky, the basic eight ways to wear a scarf that we’ve listed below will help you achieve a look that will give you the French chic vibe you want.
1. The Simple Knot
The simple knot is a perfect way to wear a scarf under or over your winter coat. Just double the scarf and pass the ends through the loop.
If you tie the scarf over a coat or jacket, just make sure your outerwear doesn’t have too much detail around the neck. A solid-colored coat or jacket paired with a printed or metallic scarf is the perfect way to add a touch of personality to your put-together look.
2. The Drape
It doesn’t get simpler than placing a scarf on the back of your neck and letting the ends drape down your torso. Use a long rectangular scarf for this look, and pull both ends even in the front.
Another version of this look is the “drape and belt.” Use a heavier, fuller scarf and a wide leather belt cinched at your natural waist for a chic fall look that also provides an extra layer of warmth in a cold office.
3. The Basic Loop
Drape the scarf unevenly around your neck, with one end shorter than the other. Then wrap the long end around your neck. You can wrap it more than once if the scarf is on the longer side.
While this is the simplest way to tie a scarf, it’s all about how you style it. Once you’ve wrapped it around your neck, fluff it up a bit to make it look a little more effortless.
4. The Wristlet
If you have a scarf that you love but is too dainty to work in the traditional way, tie it around your wrist instead of your waist. Fold the fabric over several times until you end up with a ribbon of scarf approximately one inch wide, then wrap and tie the scarf around your wrist like a bracelet.
5. The Wrap
Whether you’re working with a lightweight summer scarf or a thick blanket scarf, wearing it as a wrap is the perfect go-to trick for weddings and events during all seasons. Just wrap it around your shoulders for a simple, elegant touch.
6. The Bow
Start with a long, rectangular scarf and the basic loop. After wrapping, tie the ends into a loose bow. Adjust the bow to sit at the front of one shoulder. Loosen the fabric to give it a “Yes, I just threw this on!” look or tighten it slightly for more formal office wear.
7. The Neckerchief
Fold the scarf in half twice to form a rectangle, and then fold it again to make a triangle shape. Grab two ends (the longer two), wrap them around your neck, and tie a knot in the back. You can do this with a big, wide scarf or even a short silk scarf.
This scarf trick is great for mixing up a constant rotation of solid-colored turtlenecks during the winter months.
8. The Braid
Start by folding the scarf in half. Place it around your neck with one hand holding the loose ends and the other holding the looped end open. Draw the loose ends through the loop, twist the loop once, and pull the ends through it again. Continue the motion as many times as you like or until you reach the end of the scarf.
If you’re learning how to wear a scarf, practice all these different ways to tie one in front of the mirror. This is a great opportunity to watch and learn as you perfect your scarf-tying skills, and you’ll be a scarf-tying master in no time.