How I Choose A Scarf To Buy

When I look back over older blog images to use in a lesson, I often think, “That would have looked so much better with a scarf.” Below is an example.

Instinctively reaching for a scarf with some looks has become second nature for me. If I am wearing an edgy tunic or a moto-style jacket, I might not always wear a scarf, but I certainly enjoy them when I do. A silk scarf can make unrelated separates look like the most elegant outfit ever.

The look above would be so dull without the scarf.

There are several points to consider when buying a new scarf. Size, shape, color, bold print, small print, no print, and fabrication are some features. The scarf above is one that I reach for often because the colors work so well with my wardrobe basics. I choose a scarf based upon color first and if the primary colors will flatter my complexion most.

I often wear an extra-large silk scarf for warmth and or dramatic finishing touch.

Specific patterns on scarves will allow you to show different colors depending upon how you fold them. This silk scarf is a good example. If you fold it one way, you will show more gold near your face. If you fold another way, you will show more fuchsia near your face, as shown in the two photos below.

Fabrication is another important consideration because that determines how warm the scarf will feel against your skin and how it will drape and fold. Satin will feel warmer, and it will fall more flatly. Silk, rayon, and cashmere will feel more comfortable against your skin because of airflow, and the fabric will fold in a more supple way with more substance. Cotton or knit scarves always look and feel more casual. Each has its form and function, but you need to think about the fabric and how you will be wearing it. The scarf I am wearing below is poly-satin.

Size and shape are other points to consider. If you buy a large square scarf, you can fold it into a long rectangle by folding opposite corners into the center and repeating. The result is one long scarf. If you buy a rectangle shape scarf, you can drape or tie it around your neck and move the tie to the side or wear it low in front. I am fond of a large square scarf because I can wear it in my favorite way, folding it into a large triangle, drape it over my shoulders and then put my jacket or cardigan over it to hold it in place without tying it at all. The long straight lines are most flattering for my face and body shape.

  1. Good Morning Susan,
    Monday I received my order of scarfs from you (blanket scarf in grey& yellow tones) Love it! I wore it yesterday with white slacks& a grey tunic sweater since it was cloudy & chilly here in Colorado AND the men I work with keep the AC super high year round. I did a simple shawl type drape around my shoulders with scarf folded so the sunny yellow was showing most. Felt good both physically, mentally , & stylishly. I got several complements on my new scarf. Confirmation that it is a will indeed. Thank you.

  2. I really like this post, Susan. I’ve been on a big scarf-buying whirl lately, and am really enjoying them as a wardrobe addition. You look lovely, as always.

  3. Interesting.
    I never read so much about the subject…though I fell concerned : I LOVE scarves 🙂 !
    Thank you for these explanations, Suzanne.

  4. Being 68 now..your blog is such an inspiration.thank you for all the time you give to us all and talent you share. Question: I’m 5 feet what would the 35″ scarf be too long to wear under a sweater or jacket as u wear it tucked under the clothing folded in triangle and the 24″ be too short? Being the 5ft, wearing flats all the time..I’m just not too sure which to buy? Thanks Susan ahead of time for your answer. Linda

    1. Proportion is the first consideration when you are 5ft tall. A 35″ scarf might be the largest one that you could carry off. Keep the ends uneven and they should not come down longer than the fold of your legs at the hip area. Vertical lines are always good for your petite proportion.

      Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate them very much.

  5. Have ALWAYS been a scarf person. Years ago before anyone else was doing it I would tie a small scarf onto the handle of my handbag just to add color to an otherwise bland outfit. I LOVE a pashmina over a trench coat or suit jacket and often add scarves to an outfit when I’m not happy with the shirt or top I’m wearing. QUESTION – I’ve been reorganizing my closet based on all the new “capsule wardrobe” items I’ve been reading but wondered – How should I sort my scarfs? By size, or color, or what? I have mine all folded instead of hanging but would like to free up the drawer they’re currently in and put them in storage boxes on my closet shelf. Just don’t know where to start. Thanks, Susan. Love your blog. Keep up the good work!

  6. Great information and inspiration, thanks. I was wondering if you would share as to how you store your scarves? Of course pictures would help too! Thanks

  7. I absolutely love this post because I LOVE scarves. I’m trying to decide which ones to purchase from your site (I want them all!). Can you tell me which one that is red and royal blue is going to be more of a bluish red as opposed to an orangish red?

  8. Susan, you always look fabulous and you’re such an inspiration – and it’s even more enjoyable now that I know you and I were in the Navy around the same time! I’ve never worn a scarf, and I wonder how you stay cool – because I love the look! I’m sure your summers are similar to ours here in Maryland. What would you suggest for a “beginner” scarf wearer?

    1. I wear them open often (meaning draped around my neck but not tied). I also tie a scarf to my bag so to add color to my look without making me hot. As soon as I go inside, I need it because of the too cold AC in almost every building.

  9. Hi Love your style, do you ever wear print,is this a personal thing for you. regards Pauline

  10. I absolutely love scarves. The colors can give a different look to a basic outfit. They feel feminine, can cover my neck, good for a surprise shower or cool evening.

  11. Your scarves always look so good and add so much to your look. I have a question – when you’re wearing on the outside of your jacket,
    how do you keep it on your shoulder and not constantly falling off?

    1. I always nonchalantly wear scarves, so I know that it will move and slip around. I just push it back where it belongs. As an added benefit, a scarf draped around my neck or shoulders encourages me to have erect posture because that helps it stay in place.

  12. Love your blog which I just found. Can you do a segment on where to buy a square versatile scarf and how to choose scarves.

  13. What size are the scarfs used in each application?
    I have found what I think is a large scarf won’t work for many design like you show.
    Thank you

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.