There is an accessory that is universal, it’s also unisex, appeals to all ages, it will never go out of fashion, you can never have enough of them, it also has health benefits and is an all weather accessory.
Pay homage to the humble scarf, a length of fabric that provides numerous opportunities to reinvent an outfit and sparkle to your personality.
Having researched the history books there has not been a time when some form of a scarf has not been worn by either males or females. For women the scarf was once popular in the form of a headscarf, this square piece of fabric tied neatly under one’s chin, it was not just a weather protector, it made sure you arrived at your destination looking ‘prim and proper’.
In films (yes I love my films) women were depicted as wearing a headscarf whilst driving their convertible looking ever so chic, for them to be ‘windswept and bedraggled’ was a definite no-no. There is also the image of the knotted headscarves worn by women as they rolled up their sleeves, whilst they worked in the factories, providing valuable work in the war.
The sign of a gentleman would have been a long silk scarf with or without tassels for evening attire, this still goes on today. Moving forward, the ’90s had women wearing scarves under jackets, cross-over style, or tucked into skirt waistbands, creating the illusion of wearing a blouse.
The neck scarf is an important accessory, the fabric and style has a unisex appeal, scarves with dresses and scarves with suits, men’s scarves versus women’s scarves, in some cases, it’s just the colour that separates them.
Going back to the conversation of fabric this is where it gets interesting: wool, the hair of sheep, lends itself to different textures depending on the type of sheep and climate. Merino wool originally from Spain, is now known internationally as being from Australia, they are the world’s largest producers, Merino wool has the ability to respond to changes in temperature and humidity and is considered to be one of the finest wools.
However, Angora, which comes from the Angora rabbit (they look so cute), is considered to be the softest, possessing a very fine, silky and fluffy fibre known as Angora wool, which is combined with a fine woollen thread for strength. If you opt for an Angora scarf, check the source of the wool carefully as there have been reports in recent years about cruelty from some suppliers. Look for ethical suppliers who shear their rabbits carefully or pluck them as they moult – depending on the breed.
Other types of wool used to produce scarves include Cashmere and Alpaca to name a few, and popular nowadays is Pashmina.
Silk scarves on the other hand are cooler to wear. There is man-made silk and 100% handwoven silk; handwoven means that the fabric is produced entirely using a handloom, the weaver propels a shuttle across the warp by hand and changes the weave pattern using his or her foot. It’s a very labour intensive process, the results are stunning, some scarves are often finished with handwoven tassels. Silks are best dry cleaned, and if creased it’s best to press on the wrong side using a warm setting and avoid steaming as this can sometimes leave water deposits.
So what are the health benefits as mentioned earlier? Well at the time of writing, the weather in London is cold, raining, with lots of people coming down with a flu virus, coughing and sore throats. An old fashioned remedy is to place a menthol vapour rub on your throat, and wrap a woollen scarf around your neck, if you can sleep wearing this it also helps. It’s like having a mini sauna for your throat and you should also have a much more restful sleep as well as an easing of your throat and coughing.
So there you have it, the humble scarf an accessory that works so hard on your behalf… well I did start by saying ‘Why Scarves Are Important’!
Coral Turner is a couture designer based in London. She specialises in unique ready-to-wear handmade garments, as well as bespoke pieces made to measure. “My dresses are just like you… one of a kind.”