Reader Request: Befriending the Scarf

Several folks asked for help on creative ways to wear scarves. They can be tricky little beasties, can’t they? One poorly executed knot and you look like your gran. But once you’ve befriended the scarf, you’ll see that it’s one of the most versatile, fun, expressive accessories available.

Although I do play around with simple knots a lot, I utilize scarves for more than just neck adornment. Here are a few of my favorite ways to wear scarves:


This works well with just about any ensemble. Just let half of the scarf drape in front of you, and cast the other half over your shoulder. If it slips and slides around a lot, secure with a brooch like so:


Scarves make FANTASTIC belting elements, especially if you’re squishy in the middle. Where a stiff, leather belt will cut into your torso, a slinky scarf will conform to your curves. Try this over fitted cardigans and blazers, button-down shirts, dresses, even close-fitting crew-, turtle-, and v-neck sweaters.

Unless you are a pixie, this look will also require a larger, longer scarf. Especially if you want to have some dangly end bits. But you can also try using a smaller rectangle or square, and knotting it in the back for an obi-esque effect, like so:


There are so many beautiful, graceful ways to knot neckerchiefs, but I really do love the look of a giant bow, nestled just under the chin. It’s the easiest scarf tie imaginable, and is at once sassy and classic. Even if it does look like you’ve gift-wrapped your head.


This looks considerably less superhero-esque in person, and is a striking, modern way to style your scarf. Again, you’ll need a fairly large one to pull this off. Place the center of the scarf at the front of your neck, and just hurl its ends backwards over your shoulders. Drape one side a bit to the front, and tuck the other side behind you. Looks fabulous with dresses, but a little goofy with pants. And, overall, works best with outfits that have some daring, deconstructed, or dramatic elements.


This is like pie. Because it’s SO EASY. Ya know, like pie is easy. Take any rectangular scarf, loop it around your neck, and yank the ends so that one side dangles a bit longer than the other. Be done.

If you’re looking for creative neck knots, specifically, please take a peek at my video tutorials. This illustrated guide has some fantastic suggestions, too.

Are you a scarf fanatic? How do YOU like to wear your scarves?

  • Mo @ Mo-logue

    Man, do I love a good scarf! What a great post, Sally!

    I'm a big fan of the double-neck loop. Some of my scarves are hella big, so the excess hanging down gets all caught up between my thighs when I walk, and it's not cute or comfy. So I have to double-loop!

    I love the gift wrapped head. You are hilarious.

  • Gillian

    I am obsessed with scarves. I usual just go with the casual loop, but I do have a very large knitted scarf that I wear as a shawl. A little granny-ish, but I'm a 20 year-old who looks like I'm 17, so I can pull it off.

  • Meli22

    lovely pictures.

    I am just getting into scarves now… I have a total of 4. πŸ˜‰ They sure are warm when you're freezing! I have on on right now πŸ˜€ My cube is the center of an ice box…

  • enc

    I'm not much of a scarf girl, unless the weather is cool. These looks inspire me, though. I love the jeans look, btw. πŸ˜‰

  • kappapsichica

    I was in dire need of a scarf-tying refresher yesterday! What would you recommend for triangular-shaped scarves, particularly those with a somewhat open weave? (I got a few beauties in Argentina, where scarves are a staple, and have rarely worn them.) Should I stick to the shawl look? Would love to hear anyone's advice!

  • Sheila

    That leather thingy just kills me with its fabulousness! I want.

    I also wear a scarf in my hair (like a headband), but when I had long hair, I liked to weave it into the pony elastic.

  • futurelint

    I do love scarves in winter… now that it has snowed here, I can officially bust open the scarf suitcase!

  • joie

    wow, love some of your looks. as always.

    hey, sorry i missed you when you were in chicago – i was kind of dying of a cold. maybe next time?


  • Bridget

    Scarf as headband! I don't do well with regular headbands (they interfere with my glasses over my ears) but if you roll up scarves, knot in the back, and add a couple of bobby pins, you're all set! It's a great way to wear some of the smallish square scarves (you roll them on the diagonal to make it long enough).

  • Cupcakes and Cashmere

    i don't have to wear scarves that often in la, but i'd definitely be all about your look of securing a little brooch. so clever!

  • WendyB

    What if my scarf remains unfriendly despite my best efforts. Maybe it's just a bitch?

  • Sharon Rose

    Hi there-great tutorial, I like the last look best as you're not having to fiddle around with your scarf so much! I also like it tied around the neck too! Thanks for the double layer tights tip, i think I may well try it out!!

  • Sal

    kappapsichica: It can end up looking a little cowgirl if you're not careful, but try tying like a bandit/bandana in the front, then looping around your neck again and putting a small knot in the FRONT. If the triangle is big enough, that is. Mess it up so it's not totally "howdy, pardner." πŸ˜‰

    Joie: You bet, kitten!

    WendyB: Possible. Have you given it a stern talking-to? Don't let that scarf walk all over you …

  • K.Line

    I spat out coffee when I read "I give the world my head as a gift". Really. So hilarious.

  • Mar

    I am a big fan of tying my scarves in interesting ways. I've been experimenting with twists, knots, and loops lately. It's a lot of fun! PS- those slouchy jersey scarves that are so in right now? Perfect for fabulous, classy knots.

  • Nina (Femme Rationale)

    i'm so excited to wear scarves again! i'm not very creative w/them but i might just use some of your ideas. :)

  • Everything Is Better Tinted Purple

    My scarf collection has finally taken over an entire wardrobe shelf. My husband thinks it is a bit much but I think it is just about RIGHT! πŸ˜‰ I LOVE MY SCARFS and wear them all the time.

    I favor the european knot or loop (which ever you want to call it, I have heard it called both). It is chic and SO easy.

  • Audi

    I can't imagine a better gift for the world than your head, Sal.

    I sometimes tie a long, skinny scarf in a Windsor knot, like a man's tie, and let it hang straight down the front. I also like the 'cowboy' style, where you fold a square scarf in half diaonally, put the triangle side in front, wrap the ends around and either tie them underneath the triangle or let them hang down on either side.

  • Make Do Style

    you've got jeans on! Did you fib on radio?? You look good in them. Scarf as jean belt is good too x

  • Hanako66

    what a great tutorial!!! I generally just go the easy way…love your ideas!

  • My Daily

    I like the red GIVE THE WORLD MY HEAD, AS A GIFT scarf. Lovely outfit!

  • …love Maegan

    you are adorable …and yes, already pretty πŸ˜‰ …I love the yellow/black with gray boots! …also scrolled down and loving the payless boots!!! …with the floral dress?!?! adorable!

  • Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP

    Great tutorial. I prefer loop and plait.

  • Melissa

    Ok, burning question:

    How should you wear scarves if you're a plus sized woman? I find they often make my face look bigger, my neck disappear, and my shoulders more football-player-ish.


  • FashionAddict

    I am LOVING those gray ankle boots! Great outfits, lady!

  • Sal

    Melissa: Good question! You can try a variant of the cape thing that I love: Take a large scarf and drape it over one shoulder so that half is in front, half in back. Secure it with a brooch at the shoulder.

    Also try long rectangular scarves hanging loose on either side of your neck, untied.

    Finally, depending on your figure and comfort level, using scarves as belts can work beautifully.

    Hope this helps!

  • plaisirs simples

    cute post! so many need help with this too!

  • Lady Smaggle

    I love this post! I never used to wear scarves because strangely I felt too young until quite recently. I just felt too try-hardy in them. I LOVE them now though. Looking Sal! xxx

  • Kristin

    I had a reader ask me how to tie a scarf a la the Jonas Brothers. Any thoughts?

  • Casey

    I really love scarves, but probably don't incorporate them as often as I should (especially considering the neat little stash I have!). I usually wear them headband style (or sometimes 40s scarf turban–a la Rosie the Riveter–when I'm doing housework), or looped around my neck if it's cold. On my more daring days, I've tried some of the methods I've seen in books from the 70s for making bikini-style tops from scarves (usually just tying and knotting them in a certain way), but that usually doesn't work out too well… πŸ˜‰

  • saturdayjane

    Whoo! That orange skirt is HAWT, my friend! Lovely!

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  • Annie K.

    There are some people who do not really know much on how to wear a scarf, clearly.Tastefully tied scarf will make your image more exquisite and will warm you during the cold season. Nowadays, scarf has become necessary not only for every woman, but is also used as the gentleman’s wardrobe element. Here I found four ways how to tie a scarf: