How to wear a silk scarf

Seven ways to style this classy accessory

Whether you’ve been a long time fan, or joined the party recently while watching the royal family hunting in Balmoral in the last season of Netflix’s The Crown, there’s no doubt the silk scarf has come back strong these days as the ultimate fashion accessory to complete an outfit. Iconic and versatile, there’s plenty of ways to put it at good use. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a brief history of the silk scarf and a guide on how to wear it.

silk scarf streetsyle trend

With a story that dates back to the BC era, with no less than Egyptian Queen Nefertiti and Chinese Emperor Cheng as early adopters, the silk scarf officially became a symbol of status and class during the 17th century, when it differentiated higher rank Croatian soldiers from their lower rank colleagues (equipped with a cotton one). During the 19th century silk became synonymous with nobility and luxury, and coming the 20th century it had officially gained popularity as a worldwide fashion accessory.

grace kelly silk scarf
brigitte bardot silk scarf

Queen Elizabeth II made it iconic by wearing it as a headscarf, and all the main Hollywood icons from the 50s and 60s gave it a further boost: from Grace Kelly to Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot to Jackie Kennedy, the glamorous power of a silk scarf around the head or neck was set off. While it laid low during the 80s and 90s, the silk scarf came back in force after the 2000s, and has since then been seen on streets as much as catwalks, worn in the most varied ways.

silk scarf streetstyle

Now let’s get to practice: here are seven silk scarf styles you can try.

Traditional headscarf

Iconic and evergreen, a silk headscarf is one of the chicest ways to update a modest outfit. Go traditional, with a firm knot under the chin to keep your hair in place, as Queen Elizabeth favors; or channel your inner Grace Kelly and drape the silk scarf over your hair and around your neck for a more glamorous look.

How? Simply fold your square scarf in half to make a triangle and then drape it over your head, deciding how much hair you want to expose. Tie a knot under your chin for option one, or cross the two ends around your neck and tie a knot at the back of your neck for option two.

headscarf knot streetstyle
headscarf streetstyle

Bandana style scarf

For a more modern look that winks at the 70s’ bohemian attitude, wear your silk scarf as a classic bandana: tie the ends of the triangle into a knot at the back of your head and leave your hair loose or in a low bun. This is a favorite style for summer, even more powerful if bold in color and completed with a pair of big sunglasses.

bandana streetstyle

Loose tie scarf

Simple but fail-safe, a woman's neck is where scarves are meant to be. Wearing a tie scarf comes handy to protect from the cool breeze, while also allowing a fashion statement. Keep it loose, with a lower knot on your chest, casually hanging from your blazer or jacket. If you’re wearing dark colors, this is an easy way to put a colorful spin to your look.

tie scarf streetstyle

Choker scarf

Another cool way to wear a silk scarf around your neck is to have it as a choker, right in between a girl scout look and a more grungy vibe. Fold your silk scarf into a triangle and roll it up. Wrap it around your neck, securing it with a knot on the front side. If you have a long silk scarf, go for the necklace effect: wrap the longer end around the neck twice, while leaving the other end loosely on the side.

chocker scarf streetstyle

Bag strap scarf

A quick tip to elevate your everyday bag is to tie a printed silk scarf onto it. As easy as it sounds. Wrap it evenly around the bag handle for a more refined effect, or simply knot it at one end of the strap and let it hang casually. And voilà: your bag, but different.

Wrist wrap scarf

You might not have thought about it, but a slim silk scarf can double as jewellery too, working as a bracelet-like soft wrap around your wrist. You will need a skinny silk scarf for this technique, or a small square scarf to fold into a triangle and twist into a thin silhouette. Simply wrap it around your wrist, tie a knot, and that’s it!

wrist scarf streetstyle

Hair scarf

A truly fun and feminine use of the silk scarf is to wear it as a hair accessory, in many different ways. You can wrap it around your ponytail or your low bun, letting it hang loosely down your back; or roll it up and drape it around your head as a headband, with a knot either on the top of your head or underneath the hair at the back of your skull.

hair scarf streetstyle

Now that you master the silk scarf game, just choose your favorite style and have fun!

Image credits:

  • 1 and 4: Lee Shou Chih
  • 5, 11 and 15: Acielle / Style du Monde
  • 6: thestreetfashion5xpro
  • 8: Tyler Joe
  • 12: Diego Zuko