French Lessons: One Scarf, Four Ways

French Lessons: One Scarf, Four Ways

French women collect scarves like American women collect handbags.

Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat

It seems that when most American children are just learning to tie their own shoes, children in France are learning to tie their own scarves. This goes for girls and boys. And they don’t learn just one way to tie a scarf. By the time they are old enough to date, most French women can tie a scarf in several different ways, giving the same outfit several different looks. This, of course, is what makes a French woman so enviable, along with the tousled hair and bright red lipstick.

In the past year, I have purchased – no, invested – in a few key accessories, including jewelry, handbags, and,  yes, scarves. Scarves really are the perfect accessory. What I love about scarves is how versatile they are. But I also love how they can take any plain jane sweater or top, including a t-shirt, and turn the whole outfit into something trendy and chic. It seems French women really knew what they were doing with a scarf way before we ever did.

Lucky for us, most popular scarves now can be tied many different ways, especially the longer styles. And, you don’t need to be a French woman to wear them well. Take the photo above for example. This grey and black leopard print scarf from the Gap can be tied or worn at least 4 ways, making a very simple black turtleneck look just a bit classier.

In my eyes, there really is no completely wrong way to tie or wear a scarf. But there are definitely styles that are better than others. It’s really a matter of preference. Whether you like a short scarf tied in a tight knot or a long scarf loosely covering your shoulders, just experiment until you find the right scarf and right style of knot that looks well with the specific outfit you’re wearing. Just because one scarf or knot doesn’t look well with one outfit, doesn’t mean it will show poorly with another.

If you do plan on starting or adding to a collection of scarves, similar to our French sisters, keep in mind, that scarves need not be expensive to look good. Even a French woman knows that a good knot and quality scarf care can keep even inexpensive scarves looking elegant. But shhh…that’s a secret!

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