By Patrick Morrison
For the discerning gentleman a collection of luxury scarves is an essential part of his wardrobe, providing colour, variety and personality throughout the whole year.
But which scarf to choose? With so many shapes, colours and textures out there it’s important to choose the right scarf for the occasion. Otherwise you’ll be at best uncomfortable and at worst you’ll stand out for all the wrong reasons.
Most Popular Types of Men’s Scarves
1. The Winter Scarf
When: Autumn, Winter, Spring
For: Outdoor Activities, Getting from A-B, Keeping Warm in General
Materials: Cashmere, Wool, Alpaca, Silk-Wool Blend
This is the classic and practical scarf of chilly winter days and childhood snowball fights. Now that we’re all grown ups, spending a little bit more to get the best quality you can afford will be a good investment in the long run.
A quality scarf should last a lifetime if well looked after. Whether your scarf is knitted out of the finest cashmere or woven out of a silk-wool blend, a good winter scarf will keep you feeling warm AND looking super cool. In terms of style, guys tend towards dark and plain designs as it’s felt that the accessory should match the coat. However let’s think outside the box! Go for bright red, burnt orange or turquoise. It will go with most winter outfits (or clash delightfully with them) and you’ll really turn heads.
Or, even better, go for the ingenious, reversible scarf. These are ‘tube’ scarves (a strip of fabric folded in half and sewn down one edge with the ends fringed) that are double-sided – a muted design on one side and more flamboyant one on the other. They can be worn to match any outfit and occasion or to suit exactly how confident you’re feeling that day.
2. Wrap or Shawl
When: All seasons
For: Winter Days, Summer Evenings, Street Fashion, Indoor Events, Festivals
Materials: Cashmere, Wool, Alpaca, Silk-Wool Blend, Linen, Cotton
This is a versatile scarf, similar to a pashmina, that is large, rectangular and made of a lightweight material. A good size is 2m in length by about 6oocm. Shawls originated in Kashmir and have been made there for countless generations.
Now they can be found across the globe from Australia to the North of England. They provide warmth in winter or on cool summer evenings and protection from the sun during the heat of the day. Throw one loosely round the neck for a relaxed, bohemian feel or fold it lengthwise to create something more like a traditional long scarf.
They make a useful sarong if tied round the waist or you can wear them round your shoulders like a cape. You can even twist this scarf to create a rope-like knotted effect or wear them as a turban if it’s super sunny and you forgot to bring your hat.
3. Square Scarf
When: All Seasons
For: Indoor Events, Red Carpet, Cocktail Parties, Street Fashion, Festivals
Material: Silk Twill, Satin Georgette, Silk Crepe de Chine, Linen, Cotton
The silk square is the classic ‘foulard’ (French for scarf or neckerchief). Although often perceived as a lady’s accessory it can, of course, be worn by men. Generally, gentlemen wear the slightly smaller size of silk square at around 65cm x 65cm.
The best way to wear this is to roll or fold it into a long tie-like shape and wear it loosely knotted around the neck. You can also fold it in half to create a triangle and drape this round the neck for a bolder look that displays more of the pattern and colour. Look out for scarves with ‘hand-rolled’ hems.
This is an individually finished touch that shows that your accessory is not mass-produced. It also helps the scarf drape with a delightful luxurious feel. These silk squares are the perfect antidote to boring so don’t be shy!
4. Pocket Square
When: All Seasons
For: Street Wear, Events, Cocktail Parties, Festivals
Material: Silk Twill, Linen, Cotton
As a gentleman you probably have a pocket square or two (or ten!) in your top drawer. Just in case you don’t know what these are… the pocket square is a decorative handkerchief displayed in your jacket’s top pocket.
The good news is they can be repurposed as miniature neckerchiefs. Check that your square is the right size to do this… it must be around 42cm x 42cm or it will be too tight for all but the most waif-like amongst us. You can fold it into a triangle and knot the two corners together behind your neck for a sheriff’s bandana look.
If you are wearing a shirt, place the pocket square inside the collar with the shirt left open at the neck and it will look like cravat. Alternatively you can roll this into a thin strip and tie it round your neck with the knot at the front. It’s a fantastic way to add that certain je ne sais quoi to a summer outfit and means that when you’re not wearing a blazer or suit jacket your pocket square is not languishing in the cupboard.
What materials go into luxury scarves?
This is the most famous silk for scarves with a slight ribbed texture that runs along the weave. It comes in several weights and drapes elegantly but has some stiffness. Importantly the ribbing gives the scarf grip so that once knotted it will stay in place better than other more slippery silks.
Satin is a lustrous and super-soft fabric usually made from 100% silk or sometimes man-made materials. There are a variety of weights and weaves including Satin Georgette which is beautifully sensual and flows like liquid. It’s great for a glamorous touch and looks like pure luxury.
Crepe de Chine
This weave of silk is fantastic for print and you can achieve the crispest designs with great colour penetration through to the back of the fabric. It has a soft touch, a slight stretch to it and in the light it has a delightful lustre. The crepe refers to its slightly rough texture, a bit like crepe paper.
This is the wool of the alpaca, which is a type of South American mammal similar to the llama. The wool is like a sheep’s, although warmer and not as water repellent. It can be considered ethical as the animal can only be shorn once a year and the relatively light demand for this fleece means that there is less pressure on farmers to maximise production. It’s shiny, soft, gorgeous to wear and makes for a superior scarf.
This is often considered the king of fabrics (which is reflected in the price!). The wool comes from the cashmere goat. The fibres are softer, stronger, more lightweight and much more insulating than traditional sheep wool (up to three times). Most of the world’s cashmere comes from around the Gobi Desert and perhaps the finest comes from Mongolia.
Most wool is created from the fleece of the familiar sheep. It’s warm, relatively inexpensive (depending on the variety) and will last a lifetime if looked after properly. A little known fact about wool is that it is also water resistant. If left untreated it contains a fatty lanolin and can be almost waterproof. Even the more processed, finer wools retain some of the waterproofing qualities.
Cotton provides a cool fabric and a practical choice for a scarf as it’s easy to wash and pretty durable. It’s perfect for a less dressy scarf for more relaxed occasions.
Linen is made by spinning and weaving the fibres from the flax plant. The fabric is famous for being breathable and very absorbent, making it perfect for hot climates or summer wear.
Patrick Morrison founded Furious Goose in 2015 to shake up the world of men’s luxury accessories with disruptive prints and his unique signature style which blends art, contemporary graphic design and typography. When not designing silks he is to be found paddle-boarding (or drinking artisanal gin) in Brighton, UK.