Favorite way to tie a scarf

I am not blessed with a cygnine neck or a prominent collarbone.

It was the death of my short-lived modeling career (seriously, Crystal Renn’s entire career just hangs on her collarbone) but I am blessed with a significant and ever-growing collection of Very Fancy Scarves.

The difficulty is, and we’ve all seen it, foulards can be a difficult look for the fat of face.

Those fancy wraps and knots that look so fab on our slim sisters with the long necks can make us look like cheap Christmas bonbons.

Does that mean we have to leave our foulards to others, or just use them as kerchiefs, gypsy belts or –my personal fave– camisoles under tuxedo jackets? Mais non! (That’s French for Hells -to-the-No.)

As we’ve discussed before, the best way to hit sartorial paydirt is to pay attention to balance.

Think of it like a basic layer cake. If it’s all frosting and no cake (or all hat and no cattle, as we say in Texas) then you’ll get a bellyache. If it’s all cake and no frosting, it’s okay but not, you know, ideal. No, just as the perfect martini has the right amount of vermouth –I don’t subscribe to this bone-dry nonsense, if you’re going to drink a glass of gin drink a glass of gin, but don’t call it a martini unless there’s at least a respectable dribbling of vermouth– the best outfits play with hard/soft and high/low.

So what does that have to do with fat girls in scarves?

Well scarves are soft. They’re billowy and silky and airy and light. They’re fluffy. We are also fluffy. So scarves on big girls can be like frosting on frosting. The key is to have a bit of angular definition in a scarf.

I’ve also found that keeping the scarf away from your face makes for a better look than one wrapped tightly around the neck (I learned this the hard way when I watched myself talking while wearing a snugly-wrapped scarf. My chins took on a life of their own.)

The most flattering knot I’ve found is this one:
The buckaroo knot

In Texas it’s called the buckaroo knot, but some folks –including the fabulous Mai Tai– call it the friendship knot. Whatever you call it, it takes a few minutes to figure out the first time, but after a few tries you’ll be as handy as any vaquero (buckaroo comes from vaquero the Spanish word for cowboy).  Personally I wear mine with the knot to the side with the scarf ends flared out –I pin it, which is a no-no, but whatever–  so it creates a broader shoulder look, which is excellent for the pear-shaped who need a little upper body balance.

I’m also very much digging the linda knot, which this adorable little man –clearly an Hermes sales assistant– demonstrates:

I wear it tied in a soft square knot -again off to the side. This one doesn’t take any practice at all, but does work best on a scarf that’s got a little firmness in its hand.

Finally there’s the butterfly knot.  I only do a small variation of this, making a smaller butterfly and using a regular ring instead of a scarf ring, but it’s pretty, easy and looks WAY fancier and more complicated than it is.

So what about you? Do you wear scarves? I know a lot of American women are scared of them, but I want to know what you think!

16 Responses to “Favorite way to tie a scarf”

  1. theDiva December 15, 2009 at 1:14 pm #

    I have recently begun collecting and wearing scarves. Loose, casual ties are definitely the most flattering. I like to take a smaller scarf, fold it diagonally so that it forms a rectangle, knot it in the middle, and then tie the ends at the back of my neck. It’s kind of like a scarf necklace, if that makes sense. Looks very pretty with v-necks.

  2. gemdiva December 15, 2009 at 2:19 pm #

    Many years ago I was a total scarf disaster. I always looked like I was wearing the scarf to hide a ketchup stain on my blouse. Then one day when I was working at Saks the magic scarf fairy came and did a demonstration of how scarves should be tied and worn. I was set free and I have been a scarf collector and afficionado ever since. Plumcake, a camisole under a tuxedo jacket is one that I never tried, but I certainly will now. What a great idea! Thanks.

  3. Jeni December 15, 2009 at 6:15 pm #

    I look ridiculous in scarfs, seriously I look like I’m a little kid playing dress up with her mothers stuff. For this reason I only own 1, a very pretty Gucci silk scarf given to me by my boss a few years ago (being a nanny for rich people gets you some fab stuff!). I love that scarf, it bright and cheery and full of spring time awesomeness (its covered in bright flowers and cute bugs, like a garden scene)! After trying to wear it many different ways I now stick to either tying it around one of my purses. I also occasionally use it for covering my hair when I’m cleaning (kind of WWII turban look), I look fabulous while scrubbing my toilet…

  4. Abby December 15, 2009 at 8:02 pm #

    Most of my scarves are long rectangles and I wear them noose wrap style, which is doubled with the ends pulled through the loop. Kind of a grim name. It is sort of a boho look cause I’m kind of a boho gal. Don’t worry, the rest of my wardrobe is pretty plain so there is no Stevie Nicks action. Though I do love Stevie, it is not a look for non-rockstars/fairies.

    I want a little scarf man to live at my house and advise me on all things. But, as an alternative, because he probably won’t agree, Plumcake do you have any good scarf buying resources for my to break out of my boho scarf rut and towards Hermesville? (but baby steps, I’m not ready to spring the bucks. yet.)

  5. Rosa December 15, 2009 at 8:12 pm #

    Gin???? Ketel One with some olive juice, please.

  6. Whitney December 15, 2009 at 8:23 pm #

    About 5 years ago I started collecting bandanas and bandana-sized kerchiefs to wear as headscarves on casual days. I now have two dresser drawers crammed full of scarves in every fabric, color and size. Sometime they’re worn around my neck in a loose twist or with the knot hanging around cleavage-level (lengthens my neck!) or around my head in some form – what’s the point of being 42 and fabulous if you’re not allowed to rock a turban?

  7. Lisa December 15, 2009 at 8:24 pm #

    You say “frosting on frosting” like that is a bad thing.

    I own many scarves, and have now given myself permission to buy the ungodly expensive ones since that Plumcake does so and IT MUST BE OKAY since she even goes to church and all. It’s amazing how well peer pressure works on me when it comes to spending money on things I want anyway.

    I don’t THINK I have any of the problems you are describing. I am tall and have a lot of neck. I have a weakish chin, but here is only one of them. So I do a bunch of different things with scarves. Today, for example, I wore a white blazer with a black shirt and green/fuschia Christian Audigier “tattoo” scarf–one of the long ones–and I just let it hang because that seemed pretty. Two days ago I wore my big oversized LV multicolore in a “cowboy” style. I was on national TV the other day wearing a leopard print scarf–one of the small ones.

    I put them on my purse, I use them as headbands.

  8. 30 Dresses in 30 Days December 16, 2009 at 1:59 am #

    Thank you for this! I own many scarfs from my grandmother and they’re just sitting in my closet as I have no clue how to wear them. I can wear a purple sequined beret, but scarves scare me. That video was adorable.

  9. Plumcake December 16, 2009 at 11:24 am #

    Rosa, that sounds lovely but it’s not a martini. Martinis are gin and vermouth and an olive. Everything else? Is not.

  10. Mimi Stratton December 16, 2009 at 2:36 pm #

    Mika on MSNBC has been wearing scarves a lot, I’ve noticed. They look nice–she could use some of your instruction about tying. Lucky me, I actually own a Hermes scarf ring–it was the only thing I could afford on their website. I loved the buckaroo tie but will have to study it a little while. I loved the youtube video you shared–the little man is adorable, and he looked so proud when displaying the tied Linda knot!

  11. Lisa December 16, 2009 at 3:48 pm #

    30 dresses! If I may be so bold: your grandmother’s scarves want to be taken out and played with and complimented! They miss being taken on dates and car rides and out for cocktails! Surely among all your 30 dresses there is one that would be extra-special pretty with a scarf.

  12. Margo December 16, 2009 at 6:14 pm #

    Abby – I’ve picked up some lovely scarves/lost days on eBay. There’s also Etsy’s vintage option. http://www.etsy.com/search_results.php?search_type=vintage&search_query=liberty+scarf
    Be still, my heart. You can also get rich pickings at thrift stores, too.

    Scarves are the one fashion/style/thingo that I think I’ve always been good with, if in my impetuous youth perhaps veering into Stevie Nicks territory a bit. Possibly because as a fat lass, I could find sweet FA to fit me in the grungy thrift stores my friends & I visited as a teen. As I don’t do shoes, scarves are more my thing.

    & you can wrap your novel in one to keep in your bag and avoid bent corners. Or buy this book and stay at home with it: http://www.thamesandhudson.com/9780500515181.html

  13. ChristianeF December 16, 2009 at 8:06 pm #

    I don’t have any scarves, mostly because they do frighten me a bit. I have very little neck so I feel like I look funny wearing one. Plus I don’t know how to tie them.

    I do, however, have a lovely grandmother who, being French (in a straight-off-the boat kind of way), is a master of the scarf. I envy her that. She always looks so chic. I shall have to start paying more attention, I think.

  14. Lilly Munster December 16, 2009 at 8:29 pm #

    The Hermes web site gives clear instructions for tying scarfs of different sizes.

  15. OCCaliAKA December 17, 2009 at 3:37 pm #

    Love scarves. I’ve got a couple of full-sized Hermes ones, some Leonard Paris ones (thanks to Loehmann’s), Salvatore Ferragamo and such. I need to think of more creative ways to tie them, though, but I love the bourgie bag-handle enhancement.

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