One time in Paris, I was stuck by the absolute coolness of an older married couple (probably 70+ years old). The husband wore a navy peacoat with an effortlessly-tied, light blue scarf draped over it.
The scarf really brought out the man’s ice-blue eyes and angular cheekbones as his shock of white hair tumbled fashionably to the side. His wife wore an elegantly draped white silk scarf beneath a playful, angled bob.
Watching them, I was awestruck. They looked fabulous. Not young, but somehow incredibly chic. I kept wondering if I could ever look that cool once I was over seventy (or now) and tried to figure out how they were pulling it off.
I’m convinced it was all about the scarves. Europeans are the grand masters of scarf accessorizing, particularly the French and Italians. They wear them with everything from business suits to jeans and T-shirts and always look insanely chic.
But to harness the mad power of the scarf, you first need to know how to tie one. Here are two easy methods to try out:
Fold your scarf in half, lengthwise. Drape it over your arm, ensuring that the two hanging ends are even (hanging on either side of your arm). Now put the folded scarf around your neck, pulling the two ends through the loop you made by draping the scarf over your arm. Play with it until it looks cool.
Even easier. Fold the scarf in half lengthwise, then put the middle of the scarf on the front of your neck, pulling the two ends behind you on either side of your back. Now cross the two ends over each other (behind you), then pull each end back in front of you (on the opposite side from the one they started).
There are also loads of other designs that involve pulling a scarf corner in front of your neck (like you were robbing a stagecoach and your mask fell down), or over one shoulder, but I can’t personally pull these off without looking like a lady who lunches. I’m going to keep trying, though.
The Final Touch
So, even with all this crazy scarf knowledge under my belt, I still wasn’t looking Euro-cool enough. Something was missing when my toddler jumped in to save the day.
It went down like this…
My 3-year-old daughter (seeing me wearing my blue-and-white scarf): Oooh, mommy… I like your scarf!
Me: I’m no good at tying them. Europeans make scarves look so cool.
My daughter (scrambling into my lap): I help.
She spends the next ten minutes fluffing my scarf, draping it in different positions around my neck, folding it and refolding it (with a very serious look on her face) before finally looking satisfied.
My daughter: There! I make it better.
She actually did. It looked much cooler.
And with that, my 3-year-old taught me the missing element of making scarves look chic. A perfectly-even scarf is that kid in class who strains hard to answer every question the teacher asks, stretching his arm as far into the air as possible, wheezing and groaning in a frenzied effort to show off the answer before anyone else. That kid wasn’t cool I know because I was sometimes that kid).
The missing element is an effortless look, like you casually draped your scarf on and it just happened to fall in an incredibly cool way.
A three year old does a good job of it, because three year olds are naturally a little bit sloppy and they go by instinct, which is what you need to do. Fluff here and there until it just looks *right.”