The French are well known for their commitment to accessories and their devotion to the scarf. Yes, it is about fashion, but it is considered a health issue as well. My concierge yells about me daily because the 12-year-old refuses to wear a scarf, and the Frenchman recently advised me to wear a scarf to bed because I had a bad cold and didn’t want it to get worse. And it is true, after wearing a scarf daily, one feels naked without one. Naked and drafty. Which is a convenient problem for me because I happen to have something of an addiction.
By scarf, let me be clear that I am not referring to that little silk square famous across the globe. That is a lovely accessory, to be sure. But it is something to complete one’s outfit, not to keep one warm. And it is so loaded with status signals and social meaning that very few of my peers ever take theirs out of the closet, although I am sure that every single one of them has at least one petit carré in her possession, if not three. If you’re looking for some inspiration, Hermès has plenty on their website.
Now back to me. Since moving here I’ve learned countless ways to wear a scarf. Here are four of them, with photos of my favorites to help you find your way.
The Express This is the favorite of businessmen, students and assorted individuals who have too many other things on their minds and in their hands to worry about something as banal as a scarf. Fold your scarf in half, holding the loop end in your left hand and the two loose ends in your right. Slip the scarf over your head and thread the ends through the loop.
The Basic The Basic is the most common style to be found on Parisian streets. It consists of keeping the scarf short at one end, and then wrapping it behind the neck, around the front and back behind until there are two ends dangling in the front. Some people stop there, but having two loose ends separated like that is not always the best option when running around, taking public transportation and risking an end getting stuck in the metro doors as they close. Which explains the variation. Take the two ends and tie them over all but the very first loop.
The Wrap This is a method used only in the coldest temperatures at the darkest time of year. You take a warm bulky scarf and tuck one end into your coat, wrapping the remaining end around the neck as many times as possible, hopefully going all the way to the chin.
The Italian Twist This is the last and most complicated of the wraps. With the scarf behind your neck, take one end in your right hand, holding it at the breast. With your left hand, loosely loop the scarf in front, then behind you. This will form a U shape over the right end that is being held firmly. Take the left end of the scarf and thread it over the first branch of the loop but under the bit you are holding, and then back over the last branch of the loop.