The art of the scarf


The scarf is an art. This I have found to be true. It is an art that seems to be ingeniously built into the French genes and one which the rest of us francophiles born outside of France have to learn.

But what makes the scarf oh so French, chic and elegant? Much of the world wears scarves, to keep warm in cooler months or as a late night extra layer in warmer months. But whereas most of the world will wear a scarf from necessity, French women will wear one as an accessory.

As a little girl I can clearly remember admiring French women and their scarves. They fascinated me and I also noticed how even the young girls would have one round their neck or in their hair. The countless ways of wearing them, the endless textures, lengths, widths and colours had me mesmerised. I can remember proudly buying some and experimenting back in the UK where I used to live, but somehow I couldn’t carry the look off as well as my French exchange contacts.

écharpe © Hermès

écharpe © Hermès

There is something distinctly French about the scarf; it has the ability to add refinement, elegance and style with one twist. But as I’ve pondered the scarf over the years I’ve come to realise that the desired effect also has a lot to do with neck length, choice of scarf, outfit and make-up. You don’t necessarily want to walk around looking like an air hostess or a Chanel counter assistant;  the whole point is that it’s your own style and its goal should be to bring out your femininity and raw beauty. French women generally don’t wear a lot of make-up but keep it very natural and discreet, with the occasional bright red lips for effect. A scarf is often used to dress up an outfit or add a certain “je ne sais quoi”. Often a well fitted white shirt and a blue blazer is turned into the ultimate chic statement by the addition of the scarf. A scarf can as much dress up an outfit as play it down depending on the desired effect.

Hermès Store Paris © Moonik -  licence [CC BY-SA 3

Hermès Store Paris © Moonik – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

In Australia it is not as common to wear a scarf but in the big cities you can often see smart city slickers with a small scarf or pashmina. With the changeable climate and air-conditioned offices, scarves can be a great way of adding a layer without having to carry a jacket. They can also help protect from the sun and create a stylish hair accessory.

Hermès, who are famous for their silk scarves sell boxes of “knotting cards” which show different looks and how to wear a scarf the chic way. Click here to download the pdf. Have fun trying different looks and making the scarf your own, don some rouge à lèvres, hold your head up high and embrace the world with the art of the scarf!

Scarf © Hermès

Scarf © Hermès


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About Author

Rachel grew up in England and was always very fond of France from a young age. Childhood memories of holidays in the Loire Valley, Dordogne and Brittany framed her love of France as a child. She is now bilingual and enjoys speaking French. She has a creative flair and loves cooking and recipe testing. She writes honestly about her French experiences as an expat which can at times be quite amusing.

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