Aside from smoking 7 packs a day and speaking with a thick French accent, scarves might be the most recognizably French thing there is!
When my best friend was living in Paris last year, she knit an infinity scarf for her French host-mother Pascale as a gift. Pascale found the scarf so dégueulasse that, rather than ever wearing it (or even saying ‘thank you’) she decided to use it as a rag to clean her house.
Long story short – the French don’t do infinity scarves.
How The French Wear Scarves
Unlike the US where scarves tend to be seen as a winter-only item, scarves are worn year-round in France. There are even two distinct French words to designate summer and winter scarves.
Une écharpe is what we would call a winter scarf. They tend to be larger and made of heavier fabric to facilitate staying warm – perfect for fall and winter!
Un foulard is a smaller, lightweight scarf typically made of silk or a similar material. These are wonderful for warmer months as they add interest to your outfit while still keeping you cool.
Whether they’re wearing an écharpe or a foulard, the French shy away from thin scarves, preferring ones as wide as they are long to give volume when tied. (Fun new game for the next time you’re in France: is she wearing a scarf or just a down comforter around her neck?!)
A scarf can be both an accessory as well as a statement piece; wearing a textured écharpe the same color as your outfit will add subtle visual interest to any outfit you sport while knotting a patterned foulard around your neck becomes a statement in and of itself!
Buying The Right Scarf
Before we cover how to noyer (tie) your scarf, you need to make you sure you have the right kind! European-inspired stores such as Zara do a great job at offering oversized scarves.
Mariam is wearing a perfect example of a neutral Navy scarf! Her scarf is $10!
As discussed in the two previous style posts, opt for neutral colors (remembering that French neutral includes navy, maroon, emerald, and other rich colors). Throwing on a patterned scarf is an effortless way to elevate your outfit. Because you’ll likely take your scarf on and off throughout the day, make sure your outfit feels complete both with and without!
How To Tie A Scarf – The French Way
I picked up 13 different ways to tie a scarf during my time in Paris; and taking a stroll down any street in France is proof that a million different methods exist (after all, it’s scientifically proven that French babies are born wearing scarves).
Your scarf should always look like you’ve carelessly thrown it over your shoulder as your run out of the house. Effortlessness is so damn chic (and that’s why we crave French sensibility).
Put your skills to the test! Try tying your scarf in as many ways as possible – without looking in the mirror!