How To Wear a Scarf Like a Parisian

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What is it about a scarf that immediately adds chicness and has the ability to transform you into a woman of style and grace with a hint of European charm? I don’t know, but Parisian women don’t leave home without one.

Scarves in Paris are not about keeping one warm or covering up a turkey neck, although a scarf is undoubtedly a bonus in both of those cases. A scarf in Paris is about attitude. It’s a particular mentality. French women don’t just wear a scarf; they flaunt them. It’s about throwing on a scarf in just the right way as if to say to all of us tourists, “I am fabulous, you… not so much.” It’s confidence. What’s more, it’s as if French women came out of the womb wearing a scarf in just the right way. It’s innate and totally natural.

My clients tell me that scarves are intimidating — not to compare that insecurity with a more troublesome neurosis like, oh, say… fear of flying. It’s just that most of them do not know how to tie a scarf properly or how not to feel overly accessorized. So, I’ve put together a primer on how to wear a scarf. In short, how to wear a scarf with insouciance. Some basic dos and don’ts to help guide you to donning a scarf with confidence and panache.

1. Size

Regarding the choice of a scarf, my motto is primarily “the bigger, the better.” Example of why right here: Two ladies, two black scarves, indeed. But, the one on the left is far more stylish! Now you know why.

how to wear a scarf: bigger is better

Photo on the left courtesy of Instagram user bombyx_mori_fashion

You should always be able to wrap your scarf at least once around your neck without tightening and still have the remaining bits hanging loose on both sides, to the waist, or tucked in as pictured on the left.

2. How To Wear It

Either let the ends of the scarf hang loose on your chest, throw it behind, or tie the scarf around your neck. Avoid wearing scarves that are not wrapped (or cannot be wrapped – that means it’s too small). Don’t wrap too tightly, or it appears as if you’re choking. And scarves that are too thin will not flatter and will look dated.

Photo courtesy Instagram user d_d.anna


Photo courtesy Instagram user fashionstyle50s

3. Fabric

The scarf is right near your face and is one of the first things to be noticed in winter, so do not go cheap! If you wear a scarf, avoid synthetics and go for wool, linen, silk, cashmere… Trust me, a scarf is a good investment because you can wear it every day, and it will always fit you. So, it’s worth the splurge.

4. Color

Photo courtesy Instagram user carcar62

Black or neutrals (beige, grey, white, brown) are always classy. The good thing is that you cannot go wrong with those colors. They pair with anything and still give that extra twist to your outfit. Go a bit crazier by choosing bold colors. They’ll enlighten your face in the grey winter. Only a few rules for choosing the color (other than neutral):


how to wear a scarf

Photo courtesy Instagram user MoreTurquoise

  • The color of the scarf should be different than the color of your coat.
  • The scarf’s colors should also be different from any color of your outfit (playing matchy is quite old-fashioned, except for neutrals).
  • Go for neutral scarves if your coat is colorful, or match it properly with a complementary color like red with green, for example. But the game is risky.
  • If your coat is neutral, you are free to choose any color you feel like.

5. Patterns

how to wear a scarf: patterns

Photo courtesy Instagram user TheresaDelgado

Scarves should be fun, and you can have a wide variety of options. A winter coat can be very expensive, and a scarf, even a quality one, is cheaper. By owning a bunch of them, you will feel like you have a different black coat every day! And trust me, Parisians own a LOT! So, when it comes to patterns, you can be daring. Just follow the same rules as for colorful scarves above, and do not pair a patterned scarf with a patterned coat.

Scarf Styling for Large Busted Women

As a custom designer for over 30 years, I have dealt with all figure types. Your concern over how to wear a scarf when you are large-busted is a question I get quite often. It’s much easier to respond to that question when I’m working one on one. Proportion, height, length of neck, the width of shoulders all play into my scarf choices. But on a broad scale, let me suggest some features to consider when purchasing a scarf.

  1. Choose lightweight fabrics like silks, challis, linen, or blends with a soft hand.
  2. Solid colors are always a good choice, but you don’t have to limit yourself to solids only. Look for small prints, i.e., leopard, polka dots, or stripes.
  3. Avoid heavy, bulky, knitted fabrications, mohair, anything lofty that will add bulk or girth.
  4. Avoid large-scale prints and oversized plaids.

A Few Suggestions on How to Tie and Wear A Scarf

  1. Tie the scarf around your neck and avoid knotting it at the top of the chest or at the bust point.
  2. A diagonal line cuts the figure and redirects the eye.
  3. Be creative. Tie your scarf at the wrist, or wear it as a belt. The chicest way to incorporate a scarf into your wardrobe? Tie it around the handle of your purse!

Want more ideas? Check out the video below and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more fashion, lifestyle, and fitness videos.

Good luck with your future choices! Probably the most important thing to remember when wearing a scarf — wear it with attitude. Own it!


how to wear a scarf

Ann Taylor Houndstooth Blanket Scarf, $61.88


C by Bloomingdale’s Solid Ribbed Cashmere Scarf, $158

JCrew Cable Knit Fringe Scarf

JCrew Cable Knit Fringe Scarf, $79.50

Lauren Ralph Lauren Serra Scarf

LAUREN Ralph Lauren Serra Scarf, $55

Pendleton Womens Whisperwool Muffler Scarf

Pendleton Whisperwool Muffler Scarf, $67.53

City Scarf 100% Cashmere Winter Scarf

City Scarf 100% Cashmere Winter Scarf, $19.95

Maruyama Silk Stole

Maruyama Silk Stole, $59

Aiwank Womens Leopard Print Scarf Large Blanket Wrap Shawl

Aiwank Leopard Print Large Blanket Wrap Shawl, $15.99

Club Monaco Adele Cashmere Scarf

Club Monaco Adele Cashmere Scarf, $129.50

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