The not so humble Scarf

Watching the thousands of scarves on display at Pitti Uomo, I thought of memorable scarf wearing moments:
The first one is the Isadora Duncan moment – she wore her colourful scarf long, flowing and carefree. Clearly if you’re way to die needs to be fast and glamorous what better way other than speeding along the French Cote d’Azur, trailing a fabulous cloud of silk behind you just before being strangled as said scarf tangles in the rear wheel axle of a convertible sports car?

Of course I have to mention our dear Queen Elizabeth II who wears a scarf, particularly when she’s in the countryside or in the Highlands of Scotland – she elegantly retains her hair under control while adding a touch of colour most probably by Hermes I imagine.

I also love the movie moment in Bridget Jones when she tries to add some glamour as she hurtles through the English countryside only to lose the scarf and arrive looking as though she were dragged through the English countryside instead driven!

You’ll notice that these examples are focused on women wearing scarves – there are not many that I can think of involving men actually. Go ond try to google “men wearing scarves” and see what you get – nothing as crazy nor memorable – there is the odd exception however, such as Lenny Kravitz rocking a huge scarf and looking amazing (and sexy) doing so.

Pitti Uomo however does a great job in allowing men (and women) to explore and enjoy scarves at every moment. Pitti is a great time to accessorise and have fun – in fact as I was getting ready for a night of parties I added a Bordeaux coloured cashmere scarf from Etro, twinned with a full length blue military coat with white and red stripes on the sleeves from Tommy Hilfiger and then topped it off with a wool hat in a burnt orange shade – “If you can’t do it during Pitti when can you?”.

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I have a love for scarves or perhaps better described as an addiction. I believe I currently stand at around 200 more or less (I’m embarrassed to officially count and confirm this affliction). I wear them all year – including summer when I switch to light cotton or linen options. I clearly have my favourites – a “one-off” scarf from India with the most wonderful hand embroidered faces placed onto to a washed grey cashmere for example. I also love, love, love my Etro chic basics which are mono-coloured, light cashmere – I have Bordeaux, bottle green, beige, white, navy blue (I think that’s all – or should I say is that all!!!). They are simple, elegant, understated and luckily they are light and also warm. As I write this I am now racking my brain for what other scarves can be upgraded to my favourites. Oh yes there’s a huge cotton scarf from Canadian designer Lost & Found with a photo print of a crocodile tale and then I remember another Lost & Found gem of light black cashmere modal with an x-ray image of a two skeletons having sex – you need to see it to understand it I’m afraid. I have to admit that I have way, way too many scarves in my collection and I also have to admit that I won’t stop adding to them (4 so far this winter).

Why do I love them so much? They of course have a long history –
The Egyptians used to wear a strip of cloth across the breast whereas the Romans called them Sudarium, meaning ‘rag’. The actual word Scarf (italian sciarpa, german Schal), probably comes from old north french escarpe ‘sash, sling’, which is sort of identical with old french escherpe a ‘pilgrim’s purse suspended from the neck’. Perhaps it comes from Frankish skirpja or some other Germanic source (compare old Norse “skreppa” which is a ‘small bag, wallet or satchel’), or even from Medieval Latin scirpa ‘little bag woven from rushes’.

As a cold-weather covering for the neck the first reference is recorded in 1844. The word plural scarfs began to yield to scarves early 18c at the time when words such as half became halves etc.
Whatever the origin of the scarf, the word or the use, I just love them. For anyone reading this who needs gift ideas I say that you can never go wrong in giving a scarf. A scarf can communicate comfort and warmth – we always feel the need to adorn a snowman with a scarf don’t we? It can communicate your religious beliefs too. A simply black scarf can show your sorrow and grief. It can worn for practicality or even to show power (look at Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada) as she wears a hot and colourful silk scarf tight around her neck!

Choosing a scarf can be as simple as adding a touch of colour to your chosen clothing of the day – go on and try it and fall in love with the feel, the look and fun of wearing a scarf.