How to wear scarves

Back on my series of “updated basic tips” now is… the scarf!

In the midst of a pandemic, let’s try not to catch a cold on top of this, shall we?

And while we are talking covid, I suggest you buy yourself a series of black cloth masks. There are plenty on Etsy for instance! Pick local sellers 🙂

They are much more stylish than their disposable counterparts, pollute less (fishes will say merci), and go with everything.

First things first, maybe you have noticed that the trend this year is… to skip the scarf and replace it with a turtleneck or even… walk outside with a clean collar and nothing on top.

Very pretty to parade outside of the shows but not suitable for real life and sensitive throats (as far as I am concerned).

But we’re french here so we do not care about trends, we care about how to dress well.

Therefore, here is how to be stylish with a scarf.

I/ Winter scarves types

Since we french people love scarves so much, we came out with a variety of names to describe them.

  • The silk scarf (carré de soie)

The silk scarf is very chic, you may find it at Hermès where each unique design is signed by a talented designer or in more affordable stores where the designs can be super stylish as well.

There are also plenty of vintages scarfs in thrifts and online. Prices range from super cheap (honestly ! less than 5euros in some thrifts!), to quite expensive (second hand Hermès is totally worth it!).

The big sizes are preferable to keep you warm in winter.

You can find this very EmilyinParisesque silk square scarf in Galeries Lafayettes

  • Fluid scarf 

The fluid scarf is a cloth made from a warm material such as wool or cashmere. It’s is woven  (and not knitted). You can also find them in lighter materials but they are not suitable for cold seasons.

It presents as a rectangle that you need to choose long and wide enough in order to style it.

Inouitoosh has a great choice of wool fluid scarves

  • Medium wool scarf

The wool scarf can be smooth or textured. The wool itself can differ. Cashmere is the softest (and most expensive) option.

Bompard’s basic cashmere scarf is super high quality, soft AND affordable

  • Oversized wool scarf

Same as above but it oversized version.

To identify it, think as a scarf that could be mistaken for a blanket (and indeed used as one).

II/ How to style a scarf?

  • Loose ends

Don’t knot and let it hang.

This style is especially suited for rectangular wool scarves.

It can be asymmetrical.

With the two ends in the front.

One in the front, one in the back

  • Front knot

Roll your scarf and knot underneath to bring the ends together in the center.

Works with a medium wool scarf and a fluid scarf alike.

Eric Bompard

The knot can be messy and asymmetrical

The sartorialist

With a silk square scarf, you will get a more refined look.

Fold the square in a triangle, set the angle in front, roll the hems in the back before folding them in the front.

When I say “front” it does not have to be precisely in front.

You can also fold the obtained triangle in a “line”. Then roll it around your neck before finishing with a front knot.

  • Side knot

A perfect twist to the front knot, the side knot is best achieved on fluid scarves.

No matter how big said scarf is

Jo Ellison

The scarf can be placed in a “line” before being knotted

Eric Bompard

Or you can keep the triangular shape and knot on top

Eric Bompard

  • Dapper style

It’s may sound like the boring style of basic people… but think of it as a sartorial style instead.

Create a U shape with your scarf and slip both ends into the hole to obtain a clean style.

Eric Bompard

Doesn’t look uptight with a fluid scarf.

You can even make it look “messy” by leaving the end unruly.

  • Opened

Clearly a style you can use when there’s no need to cover your neck.

Perfect if you are getting warmer or… well if the scarf is just there for style!

That said with a blanket scarf you can get a warm outfit

III/ Which scarf color for which outfit? 

The type of scarf is to be chosen according to the weather and style you want to give to the outfit (big knits are casual, silk and cashmere are refined).

For the color, you have two main options: blend in or contrast.

Well three, since the contrast can be bold or discreet.

  • Blend in

Linda V Wright with a silk scarf that matches her sweater

  • Contrast

A strong contrast with this pop of red on a dark outfit spotted by the Sartorialist

A soft contrast with a coffee colored scarf on a cream colored jumper on Alice Catherine

Voilà! Ready to scarf yourself for winter? Tell me about how you wear scarves in the comments! I am curious 🙂

For a complete guide on how to wear all wardrobe staple, get my book “Dress like a Parisian” and to improve the sustainability of your wardrobe while keeping your style fun, get my second book “Why french women wear vintage (and other secrets of sustainable style)“.

Bises de Paris,


15 Responses to “How to wear scarves”
  1. Ah… How I do love your website and all the information. Scarves are magnificent. I in particular like the one above just above the side knot, which is a triangle. I love the color combinations, and perhaps you might know where to get one like it. The first open scarf is fabulous too.

    How I wish you were in New York City. Stay well and safe.

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      That’s actually the same scarf, tied and opened worn by Jo Ellison 🙂
      You can find similar ones vintage on Vestiaire collective or the real real for instance, enter ” silk scarf”

      I wish I can come back to NYC! But meanwhile I can be there online for a distance appointment,

      Stay safe,


  2. Violette.b says:

    En hiver quand il fait froid manteau fermé au final on voit surtout l’écharpe , alors j’en ai beaucoup soit pour assortir ou pour contraster , je le fais pour les couleurs et pour les matières , un drap sec avec un mohair fluffy rose comme une barpe à papa , j’assorti aussi avec le sac , son style et sa couleur et s’il y a un bonnet j’en tiens compte , second niveau d’appareillage . Bref je m’amuse……et je ne porte plus de gant depuis les smartphones !

  3. Juhi says:

    I particularly love the look with the tweed suit separates – that vest! – and the gorgeous printed silk scarves. Suggestion … you should also link your original blog post where you first taught me to wear scarves. I think people would like to read both

  4. MABdePARIS says:

    superbe article exhaustif: formes, textures, mises en place.
    Bien choisies, les écharpes peuvent vraiment signer une silhouette!
    Parfois, je pratique aussi le mélange tressé écharpe laine+foulard soie. Il faut tester ..

  5. Erica says:

    Hi Alois, thanks a lot for this article – finally I understood how to tie a scarve around the neck nicely! It seems so simple but still I did not manage myself, it never looked the way I wanted… I love how you break down the different options. Mostly, I wrap them around my head in turban style to keep warm.

  6. I wish Los Angeles got cold enough to really embrace some of these ways of wearing scarves, but it’s usually warm here, and a scarf feels like too much. I’ll occasionally wear them around my neck, but prefer to do a retro-style scarf in the hair (silk, anchored with an invisible circle comb underneath so it doesn’t slip), or use a very large one, tied at the corners, as a bubble wrap/boho style loose wrap “jacket.”

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