The Little Scarf That Could

 Zara’s $9.90  Tie Style Scarf

It’s amazing how transformative a narrow length of fabric can be! It’s hardly big news to point out that scarves are HUGE these days. They are always a popular accessory, particularly in the winter time when they are most inviting in huge, body obliterating, blanket size proportions. But right now, it’s the smaller neck scarves that are packing a huge punch, specifically those in black.

Christian Dior ready-to-wear spring/summer 2013

I can still vividly remember Raf Simmons’s debut spring 2013 ready-to-wear collection for Dior. His first look out: a model wearing a perfectly cut black pantsuit minimally accessorized with nothing but simple high heeled black pumps, and a narrow black silk organza scarf tied tautly around her neck with the ends flowing in back, spoke volumes. The next two models were similarly dressed but their neck scarves were pink and lipstick red. Raf would repeat this styling trick 4 more times, showing the black scarves with, among other things, a black wool strapless tuxedo dress and  several long sleeved black crew neck sweaters paired with long floral printed ball skirts. The effect was cool, effortless, hip, young, and modern. The choker style scarves were not only effective substitutions for necklaces, they actually made fancy jewelry seem old fashioned and dowdy.

Saint Laurent spring/summer 2015 ready-to-wear

For spring 2015, Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane, (in keeping with the rock n roll, Parisian cool vibe he’s become synonymous with), wrapped angle edged lavaliere scarves around the necks of many of his models (they were shown in black, pink, burgundy, in leopard prints, pin dots, polka dots, and subtle menswear patterns). He likes the look so much, he even included several on his menswear spring 2015 runway.

Chloe fall/winter 2015

Another designer apparently taken with the cool vibe imparted from the long black skinny scarves is Chloe’s Claire Waight Keller. They added the perfect finishing touch to her stellar greatcoats and long flowy frocks on the runway for fall 2015.

Rockins bias cut fringe trim leopard and rose printed skinny scarf

Seen on the necks of fashionable women like Carine Roitfeld and Kate Moss, it’s a look that is easy to replicate. And speaking of Kate, both she and Karen Elson (among others) share a special fondness for London brand, Rockins’ Scarves, .My two favorites are the graphic black & white Mitred fringe trim scarf, and the bias cut fringe trim yellow and green leopard and  rose printed scarf, $290.

Saint Laurent Classic Lavaliere in black and red lipstick
printed wool etamine

Saint Laurent’s 60.5” X 7.8” classic lavaliers are currently available on the Saint Laurent website and are being offered in black silk crepe $295, black lace $375 , tan and black leopard printed silk georgette, $325, and black and red lipstick printed semi sheer wool etamine $295.

Echo long scarf

Needless to say, there are a number of good, less expensive interpretations out there. Echo Design is currently selling long oblong hammered silk scarf, $31.99, which is available in 7 colors.

Zara’s $9.90 Tie Style Scarf

But hands down, the best and most versatile one I’ve found for the money, is (unsurprisingly) from Zara  Made of a silk like polyester, you can wear it long with the ends hanging down or triple wrapped and tied around the neck choker style (if you want to duplicate what Raf Simons did). You can even make it into a pussycat bow to instantly add interest to a white shirt. Let’s face it, what else can you get these days for $9.90?

And speaking of versatile small scarves, as far as I’m concerned, you can’t beat the humble, authentic, and traditional 100% cotton bandana scarf, usually seen in red, black, navy printed with a white paisley design. All but ubiquitous on both the guys and the gals this summer, they can be worn in a variety of ways (tied in front Boy Scout style, tied in back bandit style, or wound around the wrist). They are readily available (for about $5 or less) at almost any drug store, notion shop, (or on many New York street corners for that matter).
Saint Laurent gray black white printed cotton bandana scarf

While admittedly they are not as luxurious as the Saint Laurent incarnations which range from $145 for the 25X25 inch printed scarfto $645 for the slightly larger versions in cashmere and silk etamine, once folded and tied around your neck, you get pretty much the same effect.

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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