Ways to Wear a Scarf & How to Tie a Scarf: The Definitive Guide
Ways to Wear a Scarf
There is no doubt that scarves are an accessory that everyone has in their closets. Scarves keep us warm in the winter, add some pattern to our outfits in the spring and keep us looking stylish in the fall. There are so many different ways to wear a scarf which is why they are one of my favorite accessories!
We have an infinite amount of scarf styles and options. You’re able to wear a scarf year-round and with a variety of different outfits. From a casual fall outfit to a professional look for work, scarves transcend seasons and dress occasions.
Because we are always looking for different ways to wear a scarf and scarf outfit ideas, I’ve put together the definitive guide on how to tie a scarf and ways to wear a scarf year-round. This guide has over 27 scarf outfits, a list of the different scarf styles, different ways to ways to tie a scarf and lately scarf shopping tips!
This scarf outfit guide doesn’t just provide you with fall scarf outfits but also includes scarf outfit ideas for the spring and summer. And not just that I also share some outfit examples on how to wear a silk scarf with a dress or blazer for business casual work outfits.
Use this scarf guide as an inspiration to incorporate scarves into your outfits year round, not just when the leaves start to turn color.
If you love scarves as much as I do, I know you’ll love this style guide! Continue scrolling to read and see all the different ways to wear a scarf!
Different Scarf Styles
Scarves come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. They can have embellishments or fringe, and there are different ways to wear each type of scarf, depending on size and your style. Since there are so many scarf styles, it’s easier than ever to wear them to a variety of occasions.
There are particular scarf materials and styles and lend to different seasons and occasions. For example, a plaid wool scarf is best to be worn in the fall, a silk scarf in the summer, and a lightweight cotton scarf in the spring.
Let’s go over the most common scarf styles.
An infinity scarf or loop scarves are relatively new on the scene and have gained popularity over the last few years for their ease of use. They are what I call “throw and go” scarves. You throw them on, loop them once, and go. Easy peasy. These come in some nice lightweight summer florals, madras check, or stripes for summer and heavier cotton, silk, and wool blends for winter in a variety of plaids, prints, and solids. Like their rectangular counterparts, they can also come in knitted versions, from lacy to chunky.
A blanket scarf is a very large scarf, usually, square. As the name suggests, they are pretty large and maybe even look like you’re wearing a blanket. But don’t wear one that large, just think a little oversized. You will notice a lot of people wearing a blanket scarf in the fall as they have become trendy and the most popular print, of course, is plaid.
Don’t think you just have to stick with plaid, have fun with this oversized scarf and look for prints like checkered, tartan, or leopard. They come in a variety of colors, but most often they are muted tones as not to overwhelm the outfit.
A long scarf or rectangular scarf, also known as oblong scarves, is probably the most popular scarf to wear these days. These long scarves can be worn loose, looped, or knotted in multiple ways. There are so many ways to wear a scarf like this in the spring, summer, fall or winter. Materials range from lightweight cotton to silk to wool, and a variety of blended materials. You can find them in solids, florals, prints, stripes, plaids and really anything you can think of. They also come in knitted versions, from lacy to chunky.
Shawl and scarf have some come together, and the terms have become somewhat interchangeable because of the variety of scarf styles now available. A shawl will usually drape over your shoulders, arms and can warp your entire upper body. The most common shape is rectangular or square, and it should be large enough to cover the top half of your body.
If it’s smaller in size, then it’s probably just a scarf. These can also come in a variety of colors and fabrics. Shawl scarfs come in light airy fabrics for the summer and thicker warm fabrics for the fall and winter.
Square scarves are less common these days and come in a variety of sizes from 16 to 60 inches. Smaller square scarves are called a neckerchief. These always remind me of flight attendants, with their bold colors tied around their neck, worn to bring some color or pattern to their otherwise one color uniform.
There is also the bandanna, a more informal type of small square scarf that is used for practical purposes during physical activity, like hiking. Both of these can also serve as a headscarf. Larger squares, like your classic Hermes, can be tied and worn in a variety of styles. Materials range from lightweight cotton to silk to wool, and a variety of blended materials. You can find them in solids, florals, prints, stripes, and plaids.
Authentic Pashmina scarves are made from the wool of the Kashmir Pashmina goat. These goats, found in the Himalayas, provide fine wool that is woven into beautiful and soft scarves that are very costly but can keep you very warm. Most of what you will find in the stores is a knock-off made of a more typical cashmere, a silk/pashmina blend, or even cotton.
Originally, Pashmina scarves were large rectangular scarves that could envelop the head, neck, and shoulders for modesty, warmth, or against the elements. Today, you can find them in medium or large squares or long rectangles. Many have a fringe element.
How to Wear a Scarf
While it might not really seem that difficult, just throw on the scarf, and you’re good to go, but on some occasions, there is a little more to it. How to wear a blanket scarf or square scarf or silk scarf are all different and the occasions you wear them differ as well.
In the following section, we’ll cover how to wear different styles of scarves from blanket to small silk square scarves.
How to Wear a Blanket Scarf
Along with rectangle scarves, a blanket scarf is one of my favorites. If it’s you’re first time buying a blanket scarf you may be wondering well how do I wear a blanket scarf. It’s so big! It’s true, they are pretty large, and they can overwhelm an outfit if not styled correctly.
Most likely you will wear the blanket scarf in the fall since they are made of warm fabrics and, as mentioned above, have patterns that are more synonymous with fall.
In these cute fall outfits, I wore a blanket scarf in a couple of different ways. In the first outfit, I wrapped the blanket scarf around my neck so one point of the scarf would drape in front. To wear a blanket scarf like this, you need to fold it in half to create a triangle, hold both ends of the scarf and wrap it around your neck, so the point of the triangle faces down along the front of your chest.
The other way you can wear a blanket scarf is like a shawl. Since a blanket scarf is very large in size, they can be draped around your shoulders quite comfortably. This option is much easier to wear, and you only fold the blanket scarf in half and drape it over your shoulders. You can tie the ends in the front if you wish, let them hang down or hold them to keep warm.
As you can see, you can very easily wear the same blanket scarf with a variety of different outfits from jeans and a shirt to a dress. The main thing I kept in mind with all of these outfits is the other colors I wore in the outfit. They either match a specific color in the scarf or go in line with the fall theme. Such as the forest green dress with leopard print flats, very fall color and print. These are a few simple and cute ways to wear a blanket scarf.
How to Wear an Infinity Scarf
An infinity scarf is one of the easiest ones to wear because it’s a loop. An infinity scarf is either a very large loop that you can wrap twice around your neck or it can be a smaller loop that is a single wrap around your neck. They can be very thick and warm for the winter like the white and gray one I am wearing below.
Pair your favorite black leather moto jacket with a scarf in the same color family to keep the cool vibe. In this fall outfit, I wore a gray knit scarf with a moto jacket, skinny jeans and leopard print heels. I also made sure I matched the color of the scarf with a clothing piece in my outfit; in this case, it was the long-sleeve shirt under the moto jacket. This scarf outfit is not only chic, but it will also keep you warm on those chilly days.
In the winter you can wear a thick infinity scarf with leggings, a long cardigan, and fur snow boots. They keep you warm when the weather gets cold or even when it’s snowing. Read,What to Wear With Leggings & 20 Style Tips on How to Wear Them for many more outfit ideas.
How to Wear a Silk Scarf
I love wearing silk scarves with work outfits. They are a great way to add color and pattern to otherwise solid color outfits. If you’re wondering how to wear a silk scarf, use these outfits below for inspiration.
In the outfits below I wore the same silk scarf three different ways.
For the first outfit, I wore the silk scarf with a dress. I used the silk scarf as a neck scarf. I rolled it and wrapped it twice around my neck and tied it so the ends of the scarf would come down towards the front of the outfit. For this work outfit, I paired the silk scarf with a forest green dress, blazer, blue pumps, and a dark blue skinny belt. Overall the silk scarf works very well with this outfit because it adds a bit of interest to an otherwise simple look. I hope this showed you how you can wear a scarf with a dress and still keep the outfit classy.
There are two other ways I wore this silk scarf. One style is a very simple, fold the square silk scarf in half, rolled it and tied one knot in front. This brings interest to the top half of the outfit and keeps the lines sleek and straight.
The ways to wear a silk scarf is the same way I wore the blanket scarf above. It covers the entire front part of your chest and frames your face with color. In both of these professional outfits, I really paid attention to the colors in the looks. All colors are complementary and the bright V-Neck sweater is perfect for spring work wear.
How to Wear a Summer Scarf
In the summer your scarves are bright, patterned, light and fun! They are best used to color and interest to your summer outfit. Summer scarves can be long, square, or rectangle. Since they are made of lighter fabric you can wear morning to night and not get hot.
In the first scarf outfit, I used the summer scarf for color. This all-white outfit was the perfect base for a patterned scarf. I love how even though the scarf is pretty muted in color it still pops against the outfit because it’s against a bright white shirt. I matched the shoes and handbag in this outfit so it stayed coordinated. I kept the scarf wrapped around my neck instead of draping it in front as in this next outfit.
For the next look, I followed a similar idea. The shorts and short are white and the accessories add interest and color. The blue denim jacket, blue patent handbag, and blue wedges all coordinate. The bright yellow scarf is the icing on top of this summer outfit. I decided to just tie the scarf in front in one knot and let it hang down because it’s a very thin scarf.
For the last outfit a tried and true combo, stripes and polka dots. I hope this has inspired you and got you some answers on how to wear a summer scarf.
Ways to Wear a Scarf – Scarf Outfits
Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty on ways to wear a scarf. While there are endless possibilities, I’ve detailed out 27 different ways to wear a scarf, along with some suggestions for outfits with scarves. So let this guide get you started on your scarf-wearing journey.
1. Wear a Scarf with a Belt
If you’re looking to wear a scarf in an attention-grabbing way, don’t wrap it around your neck. Instead, wear a neutral or monochromatic outfit, and let the scarf be the star of the show. This is how to wear a scarf in a non-typical way. Let the scarf fall in front of your outfit and pair it with a skinny belt. This way to wear a scarf can only be done with a larger scarf, typically rectangular or square. You want the scarf to end mid-thigh to just above your knee and be large enough to make a statement. In this cute fall outfit, I went with a black-and-white look and added a gray plaid scarf to complete the look. For summer, a pretty floral or pattern would work just as well.
2. Wear a Scarf with a Jacket
Putting together a chic city outfit is always fun. To soften it up, add a slightly oversized knit scarf. Pair your favorite black leather moto jacket with a scarf in the same color family to keep the cool vibe. In this fall outfit, I wore a gray knit scarf with a moto jacket, skinny jeans and leopard print heels. I also made sure I matched the color of the scarf with a clothing piece in my outfit; in this case, it was the long-sleeve shirt under the moto jacket. This scarf outfit is not only chic, it will keep you warm on those chilly days.
3. Wear a white scarf outfit
At a time when everyone is wearing fall seasonal colors, stand out by wearing black and white. In this fall outfit, I used the scarf as my starting point. I wanted to create a stylish outfit that made this scarf shine. I started with black on the bottom—leggings and heels, and wore a stark white on top, starting with a blazer and topping that off with a matching white scarf. (If you’re going to try this, make sure the whites match!) You could achieve the same type of look with a pair of black skinny jeans and boots and a white button-down menswear shirt with the white scarf.
4. Wear a scarf with a sweater
Have you ever put together an outfit and thought something is missing? Well, try adding a scarf! Plaid is the perfect print for a scarf, with the checks coming in a variety of colors, making them easy to pair with multiple outfits. In this stylish fall outfit—which I wore for a Thanksgiving family dinner—I paired dark-wash jeans with riding boots, a mustard sweater, and an infinity gray plaid scarf. I made sure the gray matched something else in the outfit, so the gray cuffs on the sweater are the coordinating touch.
5. Wear a jersey scarf with a Blazer
If subtle is your signature look, go for a smaller scarf in a dark color that will blend into the entire outfit. Jersey is a knit fabric that is soft and has a bit of give or stretch to it. It’s comfortable to wear and can easily be manipulated with ties and knots. Because you can find them in a variety of solids, patterns, prints and plaid, they are easy to use to complete an outfit. In this instance, you’ll want to use a dark solid jersey scarf, like I did in this outfit I wore while sightseeing in Florence. I wanted to look dressy but still be comfortable. To add dimension to this outfit, I completed the outfit with a black jersey infinity scarf. (Note: You can also use a rectangular scarf that you look and knot in the back.)
6. How to wear a scarf with a peacoat
You can wear a scarf for its original purpose, to keep you warm. In fact, I highly recommend you wear them on every cold day! I wore this stylish winter outfit while in Venice where it was absolutely freezing. I wrapped this warm plaid scarf around my neck twice to keep me warm. This gray plaid scarf is the lighter item in my outfit, as I wanted to add some dimension to this look. Keep this in mind when putting together your outfit. If you are wearing solids, add some print or pattern or even a texture. If your outfit already has a pattern or print to it, keep your scarf to a solid color, with or without a texture.
7. How to wear a scarf in the spring
As you can see so far, there are a lot of ways to wear a scarf during the colder months—with more ideas to come! But I want you to know that scarves are a year-round accessory. Even though they are more popular in the fall and winter, you can incorporate them into your summer and spring outfits. Go with lightweight materials and pastels or summer bright colors. They are perfect for the early morning chill and can be shed later in the day if it gets too warm. In this casual spring outfit, I wore a lightweight burgundy-and-pink scarf with a fun pattern. Perfect paired with jeans, t-shirt, and a boyfriend sweater, but it could also work with shorts or a skirt and a tee or tank.
8. How to Wear a Winter Scarf
There is no better time to wear a warm and cozy scarf than in the snow. Not only is it fashionable, it will help to keep the snowflake flurries from entering the neck of your sweater or jacket. This is one of my favorite snow outfits. When I picture snow, I picture Fair Isle leggings and cozy scarves. To create a cute snow outfit, I paired a large white cozy scarf with blue knit cardigan, Fair Isle leggings, and fur snow boots! When wearing a scarf to the snow, before all else, make sure it can serve its purpose and keep you warm! And because it will get wet from the snow, make sure it is made of a material that will dry more quickly, like a cotton or wool blend.
9. Wear a scarf when traveling
If you’re traveling and it’s not quite hot and not quite cold, a scarf is a great accessory to wear for unpredictable weather. Plaid is a classic pattern and you can buy one in neutral colors (black, gray, brown, beige, navy or white) so that it can be worn with almost any outfit. While sightseeing in Rome it wasn’t cold enough for a coat, so I wore a plaid scarf with a heavy cable-knot sweater. When it got cold, I unwrapped it from my neck, extended it and wrapped it around my shoulders. When it started to rain, I was able to use the scarf to cover my hair. A scarf can be very versatile, and a handy item to have when traveling. (Think: lap blanket or folded up to make a pillow!)
10. How to Wear a Summer Scarf
Lightweight skinny scarves are great for the summer! If you’re looking for a way to wear a scarf in the summer, go bright! A light summer scarf is perfect for adding an extra bit of color to a summer outfit without adding any bulk. In this summer outfit, the entire outfit was white and blue so to add some contrast I wore a bright yellow scarf. Instead of wrapping it around my neck I simply tied it half way down and let it hang.
11. How to Wear a Scarf to Work
Wearing a scarf to the office can be a little tricky. You don’t want to create an outfit around a scarf, because once you enter a warm office, it will come right off. So think of the scarf as a fun touch or added accessory to your work attire. In this fall work outfit, I paired my burgundy trousers with brown ankle boots, a gray sweater and matching gray plaid scarf. The scarf is not an essential piece of the outfit and can be removed at any time. (And notice how much wear I am getting out of that one plaid scarf!)
12. Wear a Scarf with a Blazer
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there is a theme with my scarf outfits. I usually like to match the scarf color to something I’m wearing in the outfit. This dressy scarf outfit is another perfect example. This outfit works so well because of the contrasting fabrics and colors. The light silk blouse contrasts with the heavy blazer. The bright blazer and heels contrast with the black pants. It’s all about balance and coordination. The bright scarf enhances the colors of the blouse, plus it made me so happy to wear it!
13. How to wear a Plaid Blanket Scarf
If you want to have an outfit that screams the holidays without having to wear Christmas sweaters, a red plaid scarf is a perfect way to wear holiday colors in a chic way. In this outfit, I paired a red plaid scarf with red hat, forest green cross-body purse, and a white sweater. It’s a fun outfit that works great during the holiday season, whether you are going shopping or to visit family. And there are different ways to wear a scarf like this, from the simple way I let it hang, to a double loop and tied in the back, or a stylish French knot.
14. Wear a White Scarf to the Office
As in the scarf outfit #3 above, I used this white scarf to create another black-and-white outfit, this time for the office. This scarf outfit started with a simple dress, but this time I added some print with the heels. (Yes, you can wear a scarf with a dress!) As I mentioned before, black-and-white outfits really stand out in the fall and it’s a stylish way to make an impression at work. Try a simple black pencil skirt paired with a silk blouse or button-down with the scarf; both will work equally well.
15. How to Wear a Big Scarf
If you’re working on a color theme, a scarf is a great way to add to some color coordinating fun. Black and blue are two common wardrobe colors, with the blue being primarily denim. In this black-and-blue outfit, I wore a blue scarf to add another blue hue to the outfit and to add some fullness. Since the outfit is very sleek up and down, the scarf also created dimension. You might also try the reverse by wearing black jeans and a denim jacket for a slightly different black-and-blue look.
16. Wear a Summer Scarf to Create Outfit Contrast
In this all-white summer outfit I added an olive green patterned scarf to make it even more stylish. If you notice in this outfit, I kept the accessories neutral: matching tan heels and handbag with an earth-tone scarf. This sleek white outfit creates the perfect palette to build on accessories.
17. Put together a black and gray scarf outfit
Sometimes you’re not looking for any special way to wear a scarf. You just need a scarf to do its job and keep you warm. But you can make a warm and stylish scarf outfit! In this outfit that I wore while traveling in Italy, I added a lightweight wool plaid scarf before walking out the door, as it was raining. The scarf lightened up the heaviness of the primarily black outfit, and coordinated well with the blue top. Perfect for sightseeing, and I stayed warm the whole time.
18. How to Wear a Scarf with a Jacket
What is the perfect way to complete a California winter outfit? Add a scarf! In this simple, casual winter outfit I added a burgundy scarf to add a little bit of color to this otherwise classic outfit. Long coat, distressed denim, stripes and a scarf is a simple outfit formula to try.
19. Tie a Scarf to your purse
There are so many ways to wear a scarf on your body, but did you ever think about adding a pop of color to your handbag? Such a simple idea, but it can add so much to an outfit, whether casual or for work. If you’re going to do this, make sure the scarf is of a light fabric and not too large, so that it doesn’t add weight to your handbag. You also want it to match some element of your outfit.
20. How to Wear a Long Scarf
This is good example of another way to wear a scarf to the office. Instead of wearing the scarf around your neck or on the inside of the jacket, drape it around the jacket collar and lapels. It has a very menswear inspired feel to it. Just make sure the scarf matches the colors of your outfit. (And it doesn’t have to be a solid. A small print, stripe or plaid will also work here.)
21. Wear a gold silk scarf during the holidays
If you need to wear a scarf during the holidays, I would suggest a gold one. A gold scarf is a fun way to play with the holiday theme without actually screaming, “I’m wearing a holiday outfit.” In this winter look—keep in mind I live in California—I wore glitter loafers, bright colored pants, and gold scarf with a neutral black blazer.
22. Camouflage your scarf into the outfit
Here’s another subtle way to wear a scarf. You don’t always have to use the scarf to add dimension, contrast, or color to an outfit. Sometimes a scarf can just serve as a supporting accessory. In this riding boot outfit, I wore a black jersey scarf that blended in with the jacket and wore a silk blouse that was the center of the outfit.
23. Wear a polka dot scarf in the summer
To keep an outfit from looking a little too plain don a fun patterned scarf to add some interest. In this outfit, instead of stopping at shorts and a shirt, I added a polka dot scarf for fun. You can try a floral, stripe, or even a nautical theme if you are headed to the lake or ocean.
24. Wear a Purple Scarf in the Fall
Nothing screams fall to me more than scarves and pumpkin. (Including pumpkin pie.) If you need inspiration for a cute pumpkin patch outfit, look no further! With the subdued colors of this outfit, I wore a royal blue scarf and seasonal hat to have some fun with the look! Boots, dark-wash jeans, sweater, scarf, and hat make up a cute fall outfit for some holiday activities.
25. Wear a Polka Dot scarf with a striped Shirt
Want to wear two patterns at once and not go overboard? Why not wear a classic striped tee and add a polka dot scarf? This outfit is meant to be bright, fun, and an excellent combination. Wear polka dot and stripes for a stylish summer outfit. Just remember, if your stripes are wide, go with smaller polka dots, and if your stripes are narrow, go with a larger version, like I have here.
26. Wear a plaid scarf with riding boots
Who said plaid had to be boring? While I do own some very neutral plaids, I do like a pop of color in a plaid…like red, purple, or yellow. Here I wore a red plaid scarf with riding boots, the perfect combination for November and December. The neutral pants and sweater helped that red plaid stand out and be the center of attention. Whether you’re wearing this combination to college or lunch with friends, it’ll no doubt create a stylish look.
27. Wear a scarf with a cape
Capes are fun pieces on their own, but you can turn it up a notch by adding a scarf. Wrap a scarf around your neck and tuck it into your cape. Make sure it’s not completely hidden, as you want it to be peaking out for some fun added color and texture.
I hope this scarf guide has helped illuminate you to the different types of scarves available, the different ways you can wear a scarf, and scarf outfits that are easy to create. My guess is you’ll be heading to the store to add to your scarf collection now that fall has arrived. (And please share your scarf outfits with me on Instagram @stylishlyme.)
Pin your favorite images and go back to them when you need some inspiration! Share this post with a friend who loves scarves or is looking for ways to wear a scarf.