The secret to great style isn’t spending loads of money on clothing or wearing something new every week. I believe the secret to success lies in building a collection of accessories and clothing items that suit your style and shape. Having those appropriate elements to pull from makes getting dressed for your day a joy.
This post is the start of a new weekly series. In each feature, I will deep dive into one item to share everything I know about wearing, storing, caring for, and choosing the pieces.
I’m starting the series with scarves because they can pull together simple jeans and T‑shirt combos or make a plain dress look elegant. Scarves can keep you warm, add pattern, color, and softness to any look. You can add or remove layers but still look pulled together in a scarf.
The fifty-one-inch scarf above is folded on the bias; the center is placed above the bust, the ends are wrapped behind my neck, brought back around, and then tucked into the center in the front.
The jeans above are here. The soft cotton long-sleeve T‑shirt is here. The jacket is here. The best no-show socks are here. The most comfortable shoes ever are here. (I would love to have these shoes in every color!) A similar bag is here. (The red is sold out now.)
The following images are from past years. I wanted to show you a variety of nonchalant ways to wear and use scarves. Effortless is the keyword when wearing scarves. They should never look too fussy or controlled.
Scarves have been my favorite accessory since my early twenties. I look for silk, cashmere, cotton, merino wool, and other natural fabrics, but avoid other woolens since they can be irritating. Nylon and other synthetic materials also feel very uncomfortable on the skin. Acrylics will pill and lose their shape almost immediately. The drape and texture of a scarf made from synthetics will do nothing for your look.
I show a few ways to wear large square scarves here. I never wear them in complicated ways or pinned to my clothing; instead, they are draped or tied nonchalantly. A scarf will and should move with you all day. I accept that fact and adjust it as necessary. Most of the time, I start by folding a scarf on the bias. Here is the post that shows you how to fold on the bias.
Scarves with large blocks of cool colors look best near my face. Small prints can look muddy, so I avoid those and golden colors, as well as small florals or beading. I rarely buy scarves with fringe, tassels, sequins, or other fussy details.
Generally, if I plan to wear a scarf to stay warm, it will be a solid color. It might be in contrast to my coat or a lighter or darker color, such as a dove-gray scarf over black. The scarf color may also match the sweater under the coat. Here is another post about wearing scarves.
Ruanas are unique scarf-like accessories that can be worn in a variety of ways. The black leather-trimmed one above is several years old from Carlisle. The stunning one below is hand-dyed silk and felted wool. The artist is Sibel Mallory at Cybele Boutique.
I store my scarves folded and draped on felted hangers on the bottom rail in my closet. It’s a good idea to store them near a full-length mirror to make choosing the right one for your outfit much easier. I store ruanas on padded hangers as if they were long cardigans. Velvet or felted hangers are here. Padded hangers are here. Two cedar blocks are also visible in the photo below. I use cedar in my closet and my drawers to keep moths away. Shop for cedar items here.
Petite women may enjoy wearing smaller scarves tied to bags or draped simply around the neck to create vertical lines. Large scarves or those tied high at the neck near the face will overwhelm you.
I always keep the tie or fold of scarves above my bust since I never want to add any volume to that area. If you have an apple shape, never let the knot of a scarf rest at the tummy.
Care for scarves according to the fabric content. Gently hand wash natural fabrics as needed and lay them flat to dry after rolling them up in a towel to absorb most of the water. Use a warm iron and steam to remove wrinkles as needed.
The colorful photo above is from my afternoon walk on Wednesday. I hope you have a lovely weekend.
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This was a very helpful post. I struggle with how to store my scarves but your solution looks very neat. I look forward to reading the rest of the series on accessories.
Thank you for this post. It had lots of information that will be very helpful as I organize my closet and accessories. Enjoy your weekend.!
Wonderful post, so many beautiful examples and great to see them again. I know a scarf is considered an accessory but you make them another article of clothing. You have shown us how much they can add to our wardrobes. Appreciate the tips on the care of our scarves. Thank you for your precious time, I can’t imagine how many hours you devote to helping women.
Thank you, Kathy. It is a labor of love.
Another excellent post – thorough, helpful, and timely.
I echo Kathy’s comments that your columns are so helpful!
I am probably showing my own color bias, but I love the deep brown top on you in the picture above! I much prefer it to gray which, unless it is charcoal, tends to wash out we gray-haired sisters. This fall I am combining black and brown, which has a certain sophistication to it, I believe.
I also enjoy the rich color combo of black and brown.
Susan I love this post! I love your videos too. I’m always wanting to wear my necklaces so I shy away from my scarves. You have given me ideas on how to wear both together and make them not look overdone. I see the secret is in the natural fibers to have them drape nicely. Thank you!
Love this post. Can’t wait for the others to follow. Susan, do you have any remaining scarves for sale?
I only have a few. I’ll send you an email. Thank you.
Thank you for the tips on how to wear scarves.
I have just started storing my scarves this way, too. It is much more organized now (plus, it looks nice)
Very informative. Thank you.
I would continue the line down and wear dark colors in pants and boots with the coat. Fur adds bulk, so wear slim-fitting garments and leave the coat open when you can.
Susan, might you consider doing a piece on coordinating and styling outfits to wear with a full length fur coat? Darling family just gave me a gorgeous dark brown one. With all the interest this year in fur, both faux and real, I’d love to see how you’d style a long one. Also, do you match or contrast boots with the outfit or the coat.
I love this idea of a deep-dive on a specific topic each week, Susan. Being a lover of scarves, I especially appreciated this post. It was fun to go back and look at the short instructional videos, too. Thanks!
Great post, Susan. Shows the timelessness of your wardrobe. I channeled you earlier this week when figuring out what to wear to an outdoor, socially-distanced planning meeting in the evening. The weather promised to start out pleasant and progress to chilly after sundown. I wore black jeans, black booties, a lightweight soft green sweater and a large bias-folded scarf that incorporated both the green and black. As it got chilly, I slipped on a black leather jacket. Perfect! Especially with my black patterned mask!
Your outfit seems to be the perfect choice for your meeting.
Jeans + Tee + Scarf + Topper= Perfection. This is my go to formula, too! I started hanging all my scarves and so glad I do. I now use ALL of them when they are visible.
Very Informative. I collect scarves but usually only wear them in the fall and winter. Being petite in stature I feel overwhelmed by large scarves. Thank you for all the ideas. I like to save your posts like this one for future reference.
Thank you for the advice for wearing scarves when you are petite. I love the look of scarves but they can overwhelm me depending on how they are worn. What size scarf would be best to be draped around the neck and hanging to create vertical lines on a petite woman? I am looking forward to reading all of your suggestions for accessories! Thanks, Susan!
Try thirty-five-inch square scarves folded on the bias, then drape them around your neck and let your jacket hold them in place.
Thank you Susan I love scarves as well, and I love all your suggestions. Only one problem I have with your links with your lovely pants, is that I am TALL, 5’9″ so Talbots and Chico’s don’t carry tall. I need a 31″ inseam on a straight leg, 28 or 29″ is not long enough. Otherwise I am a happy follower!
Talbots has longs or talls. The black straight leg jeans here come in a 34″ inseam. The pants here at Chico’s have a 31″ inch inseam.
I’m one of those petite women who love the scarf look on my taller friends, but I look like I’m being swallowed when I try to emulate them. My daughter took my giant beach wrap in the Caribbean and casually draped it around her neck for dinner. She’s model height, blonde and beautiful. She rocked the restaurant.
I tried it the next night and disappeared! ♀️ Lesson learned.
I’ve started wearing scarves more often since reading your blog. I love how they add color to my outfits. Thank you for sharing information on care and storing.
Great information, thank you! I love scarves!
Hi Susan. I am so glad that I found your blog while you still sold silk scarves and I treasure every one of them! They add so much to a simple outfit and always make me feel polished. You are an inspiration!
Susan Please send me email of scarfs that you have!! I have about 35 of your scarfs when you had you store!1 I miss it!! Such beautiful scarfs !!!! Thank you Susan
This is a great post. I love scarves but really can’t get into fancy tying them. I love the way you wear them in such a casual way. I can do this. Thank you for the videos. They will be so helpful. What an inspiration you are!
Thank you for all of the time you spend on your wonderful blog posts for us. I look forward to them and I love the idea for your new series. So glad you are well again. ❤️
Thank you Susan for once again hitting it out of the park with this post. I love wearing scarves but forgot about the bias turning in on both sides idea. I love wearing scarves with almost every outfit. Makes getting dressed more fun too. I have a few eternity scarves (figure 8 and double when worn) because I have grandkids over often. Wash them and they are good as new since they are poly blends. Not very elegant but with little ones pulling on them, it works.
I am 5’6″ tall and love the fact that i have long legs, until time for scarves. I always feel like I’m drowning in them. And i live in Florida so scarves are difficult to wear in heat. Any suggestions for those of in similar situations?
And i LOVE your style and your skin care regime.
I agree with you, Nancy. I rarely wear scarves when the summer heat arrives, but I often have one tucked away in my bag for when I enter air-conditioned spaces. If you want to add some color and pattern to your look, you can always tie a smaller scarf to your bag’s handle.
I really enjoy viewing and sometimes copying your styles! Very inspiring.
Thank you Susan for the informative post and the specific suggestions for us petite gals. What are your thoughts on infinity scarves?
I don’t own any, but I sometimes tie scarf ends in a tiny knot at the ends and loop it twice around my neck. The result appears as an infinity scarf.
I just love wearing a scarf. You have given us many tips on wearing them, and I appreciate this so much. It’s helped me to have a more put together look!
You get better and better with age !
Hi Susan, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your posts. I have been a scarf wearer for over 40 years and I love how they elevate an outfit. Thanks for giving me some ideas on how to navigate this ‘getting older and greyer’ time of my life.
Thank you for the great scarf ideas!
Fabulous post today!! I always learn so much from you. Thank you, Susan!
I have been in love with scarves since my teens 🙂 The only hazard is that I keep finding “one more” that needs to find a place in my collection LOL
Perfect! Thank you.
I have 30 year old scarves too. Something you never outgrow.
I have trouble figuring out what colors to buy. The nicest scarf i have is beautiful when looked at in its entirety, but once I fold/tie it, the beautiful colors are inside and I am left with cream and mocha showing. How do you choose?
I look for the scarves with bold, bright colors that will be showing at or near the corners.
This was so informative! I so appreciate you spending the time of this subject. I learned a lot – well, I always do from you! Thank you.
Thank you Susan for this detailed posting. I learned a lot! Looking forward to the future postings.
Thanks you for revisiting the whole scarf thing! Perfect timing!
Very nice post Susan. Thank you for including recommendations for those of us who are petite. I often find scarves overwhelm me but now see that I simply need silk scarves that don’t addd bulk 🙂
Åh…. I would love to own, just the half, of all your scarves. 🙂
I could also be interested in buying some of your scarves, but do not think, that you ship to Denmark? 😉 And that I do understand.
Have a nice weekend.
I only have two styles of scarves now. I would be happy to ship to you in Denmark, but the shipping would likely cost as much as the scarf. I’ll send you the info by email.
Hi Susan, love you & the scarf look. Never stop posting beautiful lady.
I so enjoy your blog, your ideas and your style! I’m especially fond of how skillfully you repurpose what is already in your closet rather than purchasing new items. At our age, we don’t need more clothes, but to be inspired by the classics that we have already acquired. It is also refreshing that you illustrate how to wear age appropriate clothing with techniques and styles that are doable and sophisticated,
I’m delighted that you are devoting your wisdom to creative storage ideas for various items that are important to our total style. This is very timely with the transition of seasons.
One storage solution that I would like for you address is the correct winter storage of the Breton “straw” hat that you wore during the spring and summer months. It looked so attractive on you! It is too lovely to damage in any way!
Thank you, in advance, for taking the time to respond to my Breton hat storage request, Susan.
Keep up your lovely and encouraging blogs for those of us that are fortunate to be Over Sixty!
Hi Mary Ann. Thank you for the lovely comment. I store my hats in hat boxes to protect them and keep them dust-free.
I have been following your blog for the past year. I would like to thank you for all the wonderful information that you have given us. Your style is classic and timeless. Of all the bloggers in our age bracket, I find you have the best advice. I have learned to buy less and better quality and never worry about what to wear. I have also adopted your style of eating and feel so much better. Again, thank you, for the time you take out of your life to help those of us who may not always comment.
Thank you for your comment, Darlene. It means a lot to me.
I wonder what you think of the “donut” method of storing scarves, as shown on the Netflix series The Home Edit? I do so enjoy your blog, please know that you work is valued and important to us.
I don’t watch Netflix, so I’m not sure what the “donut” method is. I like the method I use since the scarves are not wrinkled when it comes time to wear them. A few creases are OK, but it is a pain to have to stop and iron them before wearing them.
Hi, love your blog , photos and information. I would like to know how you organize your closet. What type of hangers you use for shirts and pants, etc. I must reorganize my closet soon it has become a disaster zone. Too much!! Thank you, Sincerely Betsy Grady
I shared some of my closet organizing tips last year here.
Thanks for this reminder…SCARVES! I have so many! I wear so few! Went out for a rare (COVID), casual dinner last night in a tent. Makeup (rare these days) and earrings kind of evening. I put on a pair of black yoga pants and a black and an upscale (tho thrifted) white zip jacket top. Leaving my closet, I thought SCARF..,,due to your inspiration. I grabbed a red and black silky (cheap) one that I bought ‘on the streets’ in Paris years ago, that was more of a momento , not something I thought I’d ever wear. But I did! I tucked it in the neck of my jacket and let it ‘peak’ out. My husband even commented on it and it made me feel that much fancier, especially with my recent quarantine-ing wardrobe. Thanks for your reminders of simple things we can do to up our look any age.
Im new your blog but enjoying all the articles! Thank you! Im a young 71 but love your ideas.