Scarves are my favorite fashion accessory. Amping up a boring outfit? Check. Providing warmth in the winter? Check. Complementing a formal look? Check. Keeping away migraines? Double check.
If you’re wondering how to wear a scarf, fear the style no more. I have gathered over 20 unique drapes and discussed the different scarves you might come across.
Different Types of Scarves You Should Know
There are a variety of scarves available today and fabric type isn’t the only thing that sets them apart. You’ll find lightweight scarves and bulky scarves but you’ll also find the following:
Doubling as winter scarves, blanket scarves provide extra warmth in the colder months. As the name suggests, blanket scarves are large enough to be used like a blanket but easy to handle so they don’t weigh much on the body.
Also known as neckerchiefs or bandanas, square scarves are typically small in size and lightweight. They have been in the fashion industry for centuries, symbolizing efforts for the Japanese and signatures for the Jamaicans. Silk scarves are usually square scarves.
However impossible it seems, infinity scarves have lots of loops without any ends. This also means that the number of ways they can be worn is … well, infinite. Some are light enough to be worn in the summer while others are thick enough to block noise.
Also known as a shawl, rectangular scarves are a staple style. They are larger than square scarves but not necessarily wider. You can find them in every kind of fabric, chiffon, georgette, net, lawn, silk, etc. Depending on the fabric, rectangular scarves can be used all year round. These are my favorite scarves.
Also known as Wild Rags by cowboys, bandanas are similar to square scarves but smaller in size. They may be triangular as well. Bandana scarves are incredibly versatile and work well as a fashion accessory as well as home decor. You can even use them on pets while hiking.
A favorite of many, beaded scarves are the easiest to handle. They level up the outfit in mere seconds. They can be thin or thick, as soft as silk or as warm as velvet — there are no limits. You can also find beaded scarves that are crocheted!
Like infinity scarves, circle scarves do not have an end, just a single loop. They are smaller in size, though which is why handling them is easier than infinity scarves. They are starting to look dated in the current trends so, I do suggest you choose a different style of scarf if you’re trying to stay on top of the season.
How to Wear a Scarf?
Now that you have a better idea of the type of scarf you want, it’s time to drape it around your neck — or even your body!
Here are some of the easiest knots you can try:
The basic drape works well with every casual outfit and keeps the neck warm. Here’s how to wear it:
- Wrap the scarf around your neck.
- Pin it on the shoulder if the wind has picked up.
One level above the classic drape is the toss drape. It’s perfect for windy days and extra-long scarves. Here’s how to style it:
- Wrap the scarf around your neck with one end slightly longer than the other.
- Take the longer end and toss it on the opposite shoulder so it wraps around your neck from the front.
When I get bored of the toss drape, this style comes in handy. It allows the front to flaunt and keeps your hands free. Here’s how you can do it:
- Wrap the scarf around your neck keeping both ends equal in length.
- Take one side and toss it to the opposite shoulder from the front.
- Do the same for the other end and adjust as necessary.
Perfect as a dress and a drape, the belt knot is an easy solution when you can’t find anything to wear or don’t have time to get changed. Here’s how it’s done:
- Drape it around the neck making sure to keep both ends equal in length.
- Tie a belt around your waist, locking in the scarf then adjust as needed.
This knot is perfect for a bland outfit. Here’s what to do:
- Wrap the scarf around your neck with one end slightly longer than the other.
- Take the longer end and pull it over the shorter side.
- Make a knot and when the long end comes out of the loop, bring it over the shorter end so it resembles a necktie.
Simple Neck Loop
A teen classic, the simple neck loop goes great with denim jackets and coats in Spring. Here’s how to wear it:
- Drape the scarf around your neck with one end no further down than the chest.
- Take the longer end and toss it behind the opposite shoulder.
- Bring it forward from the other side and adjust the length and fit.
- If it’s still quite long, repeat the toss and bring it forth.
Great with long scarves, the pull-through loop looks good with casual jackets and front-open shirts. Here’s how to do it:
- Fold your scarf in half, no need to be perfect with the shape. The more pleats, the better.
- Drape the folded scarf on your neck and bring the open ends through the loop.
- Tighten as needed by pulling the open ends.
This is my favorite beach cover-up. It keeps the style modest and it’s light as a feather. Here’s how I do it:
- Open up the scarf and place it behind like you would a bath towel.
- Bring the two top ends forward and cross them to the opposite shoulder.
- Tie them behind the neck twice for good measure and adjust as needed.
A modest cover for a bodycon dress and great for winters, here’s how a shoulder wrap is done:
- Drape the middle of your scarf over the head.
- Tie a loose knot in the front then bring down the hood over your shoulder and down your arms lightly.
- For an elegant look, you can turn the scarf so the knot is at the back.
A fun way to style up basic shirts, the coat-style wrap is done by:
- Tying each opposite end of a scarf together. If it’s a rectangular scarf, tie the short ends together.
- Make the knot twice then feed your arms through the loop.
- Adjust so the scarf covers the back and the loop is under the arms.
The easiest of the lot, the vintage knot goes well with a dinner date outfit and is a wrap method enjoyed for many centuries. Here’s how to do it:
- Drape the scarf around the neck then toss both ends to the opposite shoulder.
- Tie a knot at the back. This works great with thin and long scarves.
Perfect with silk scarves and beige trench coats, the fake knot looks similar to a necktie but is easier to create. Here’s how to do it:
- Wrap the scarf around your neck with one end longer than the other.
- Make a loose knot in the longer end and hold on to the open loop.
- Feed the short end through the open loop and adjust the fit.
Parisian Scarf Knot
A 50’s classic, the Parisian scarf knot is a French woman’s favorite. Here’s how to style it:
- Wrap the scarf around the neck and toss the long section to the opposite side from the other shoulder.
- Keep in mind the short side should be just above the chest.
- Repeat the toss of the long section until you’re left with a small section.
- Tie the two ends together at the side so it looks like a collar.
Great for a get-together with friends, the cowboy knot is a loose knot that works well with bandanas.
- Fold the scarf into a triangle and roll the longer end halfway toward the top.
- Tie the longer ends behind the neck in a secure knot then bring them forward.
Alternative Ways to Style a Scarf
If you’re tired of draping a scarf around your neck, I have the perfect solution – plus two more. Because there simply isn’t a limit to what a scarf can do!
Use As a Belt
Jeans and a simple t-shirt are comfort fashion. When I want to turn it up a notch, I take a matching scarf and roll it so it looks like a rectangle or a long snake. Then, I simply pull it through my belt loops and tie the ends together for a super simple stylish outfit.
Tie Around a Purse
Everyone has a favorite purse, I do too. They can last for over 10 years when taken care of well. That’s a long time to rock the same bag. Lucky for us, there’s no need to buy another. Just take a small scarf and tie it around the strap look and no one’s the wiser.
Style Like a Bandana
When all else fails, just take a small scarf and fold it in half diagonally. Repeat until it looks like a thin rectangle and wear it like a headband, or even an Audrey Hepburn-inspired headscarf. You can even braid it with your hair!
Frequently Asked Questions
What color scarf goes with everything?
Undoubtedly, black goes with everything. Because it is considered as the absence of all color, black matches perfectly with light pastels, bright neons, and darker tones. It also looks great with every skin tone and eye color. However, compared to a contrasting color of your outfit, black is less likely to look ‘trendy’.
What does wearing a scarf symbolize?
A scarf makes the same statement as a necktie makes in an outfit. For some, it is a religious statement and for others, it is a political claim. In general, a scarf is simply a way to communicate your style and status, as far as symbolism goes. Keeping aside the poetic thought, all a scarf does is help us keep warm in the winter.
Perfecting how to wear a scarf can take a couple of tries – but don’t give up. Once you get the hang of the loops (pun unintended), you can put your creative spin on it and design a new drape. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other fabrics, styles, and designs — fashion has no restrictions.