Friday, March 09, 2007

How To Wear A Scarf Without Looking Like An English Teacher*

*With apologies to English teachers.

So, a long, long time ago, a very lovely blogger over at Beurre et Pain (a delicious food blog--definitely go there if you're looking to gain some weight) asked me a very good question: How do you wear a scarf without looking like an English teacher?

Yes, the scarf (and we're talking about silk scarves here, not their warm fuzzy cousins, which trend more toward science teachers) is a risky accessory indeed. One wrong fold or drape and you could end up looking like this:

It's never a good thing when your fashion statement causes people to cross the street in order to avoid being given a stern lecture on appropriate comma usage.

So to Beurre et Pain and everyone else in the entire world who now gets to look at detailed pictures of my face (good god where is my valium?), here are some other options for your scarf, which may or may not help you, but hey, at least I got to play dress up. To create all of the following looks, I used a medium -sized square silk scarf straight from my dealer.

First up, we have the fairly classic scarf-as-headband:

What I love about this one is you can vary the level of subtlety depending on how wide you fold the scarf (just fold it to the desired size and tie it under your hair). It can either be a nice little shot of color holding your hair back, or you can create a really wide headband and tease the top of your hair up like eight feet (that's what I was going for but I ended up settling for a couple inches) and wear huge sunglasses for a more dramatic 1960's effect.

Next, ah yes, French peasant chic:

Folding your scarf into a triangle and tying it around your head may have dusty connotations (like, as in actually dusting, and as in boring--god I'm clever), but as long as it's a cute scarf and you're not wearing ratty sweatpants and carrying a duster, I swear this can work. And yes, French peasants totally wore Coach scarves.

Try tying one around your ponytail:

Sweet jesus when did I get the same scary hair tendrils as Ed Norton's girlfriend in American History X? Time to make a hair appointment, I guess. Some people get their hair done every six weeks; I wait til I resemble a neo-nazi. But besides that little problem, the scarf is cute, right?

Here's the Jack Sparrow/Lindsay Lohan special:

I love this one for summer. Let your hair down and fold the scarf in a triangle, then tie it straight across your forehead, knotting it in the back. Add gold teeth and goatee for the Jack Sparrow; huge aviators, trendy peace sign and coked out stare for the Lohan. Or maybe not.

One morning about a year ago, I was struggling to fold my scarf right, and when my boyfriend offered to help I found out that although he has no idea how to tie a tie, he can expertly prepare a gangsta-style headscarf. I chose not to press the matter, but here's a picture of his work:

As Lucky magazine would put it: "this is delightfully gangmember-y." And just so you know, that is so not a gang sign; it stands for Winona. Yep, that's my name so don't wear it out. Intimidated? I thought so.

What I've found in my scarf experience is that it's all about context. For example, if you tie a scarf loosely around your neck while wearing a collared button-down shirt, subtle flower print rayon skirt, clogs, and your hair in a bun, you're gonna have some English teacher issues (actual English teachers, again, please refer to the apologies section above).

But, if you throw on a menswear vest and keep your hair a little messy, the look is suddenly more "funky" than "Faulkner" (as in Faulkner, William, read to page 40 by Monday).

Also, if the scarf is long enough, they look great weaved through the belt loops of pants or wrapped and tied around a simple dress. But there's no way I'm posting a close-up of my waist, sorry.

And last but not least, a super-easy and super-foolproof way to showcase a cute scarf is to tie it to your handbag:

It's very hard for a bag to look like an English teacher. Problem. Solved.

Now, I know what you're thinking: My goodness, how did she afford such an elaborate photo shoot?? I mean, a dirty door as a background, distracting shadows, really bad lighting--I do hope she's established a paypal donation account of some sort for us to help her offset these huge productions costs!

Totally getting that set up, don't you worry.

p.s. Even though I probably killed my credibility somewhere between flashing gang signs and featuring "The Lohan," if you have any other scarf needs, like more specific instructions or to see the one I used or more scarf options (although I have a hunch it's all downhill from here) or whatever, leave a comment and I'll get right to it.


Anonymous said...

Can a scarf make you look less tired in the morning? like, this morning?

Anonymous said...

Is that you? I don't think I've seen your picture before! You are lovely.

Anonymous said...

Sod the scarf - YOU look super cute!!! Although I reserve the right to hate you on account of your enviable pout. Bitch (are we there yet??).

Anonymous said...

I'm not gay or anything but holy fuck Winona, you are so hot. Teh bf is a lucky lucky man.

Anonymous said...

Cute post, cuter pics.

The scarf has long been a staple of my accessories drawer. It's really the only way to adequately tame the 'fro.

Laura V said...

about what size square scarf do you use? i have a few (all gifts) and they're all either too small or too big and so I just LOOK at them and go "meh!" and wear my normal long rectangular scarves.

It's a shame because there are so many square scarves I love, but I don't dare drop the cash on them!

RachelP said...

Wait, so people actually don't want a stern lecture on appropriate comma usage? Too bad my English geekiness revealed itself about a year ago when I brought back 10 silk scarves from Tunisia. I swear I wear them fashionably though.

Anonymous said...

you'd be a pretty good looking english teacher. you've got the stern look down pat!

priya said...

I actually love the Gangsta Chic version. (Perhaps because the photo is tré amazing?) Thank you for this tutorial. :D

Anonymous said...

Winona, you are so cute as a stern schoolteacher! But I like the french peasant pic the best. If I were a boy I would put it in my wallet and pretend you were my girlfriend.

Anonymous said...

Great post -- I love the pic of you as an English teacher .... so cute!

Unknown said...

Awesome post, and love the peasant chic look.

Anonymous said...

Haha, I just ordered a scarf, and, considering I'm an English teacher, it's a good thing that I found this post!

Anonymous said...

Personal question for you: What is the shade and brand of lipstick you are wearing. Thanks.

rosie said...

Haha love the Lohan one!

I have a secret love for the English teacher look, so one of the most appealing scarf-looks I've ever seen is this

Isabel said...

Winona = best actress ever!

paperlily said...

Please answer anon.'s question about your lipstick!

(Love your hair and your skin glows! Also jealous of your eyebrows. Wish I could get mine to look like that.)

daddylikeyblog said...

Okay, so when I said "leave a comment and I'll get right to it," I guess I meant, "leave a comment and I'll read it and love it and make you wait a really long time before answering your questions." So sorry about that! But now I'll get right to it.

The scarf I used is about two feet by two feet. I definitely feel your pain about smaller and larger sizes. I like to wrap smaller ones around my wrist as pretty flowy fabric bracelets, and the larger ones work really well loosely tied around your neck for the boho look.

Anon and Sara--
Sorry to disappoint, but I'm actually just wearing chapstick in these photos. I love heavy, 60's style eye makeup so I usually do bare or nude lips because I'm afraid of looking too made-up. If you guys have a similar skintone (or even if not), and would like a post in the future about lipstick shades, I can definitely do that.

Thank you so much for the kind words! I'm totally full of myself now.

Chanel (nbr5) said...

This post, the comments and your pics were too cute Winona! I'm a scarf fan too! And I totally feel you on the frequency of getting your hair done. I usually wait until just around the time that I'm looking like a real homeless person before I call and make a hair appointment.

Hence the serious need for fashionable scarves.

Honeybee said...

Thank you so much, Winona!! What a great post! I only saw it now because I was away for some time. I really want to try peasant chic next!!

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