Fashion History: The Scarf

Fashion vernacular: The scarf is a material item, cut in a square shape and placed on the body for warmth and style.

Spring 2018 runway (courtesy photo)

Fashion history: Made fashionable by Hollywood starlets and society ladies like the elegant Grace Kelly in the late 40s and by fashion icon Jacqueline Kennedy in the 60s, and later made trendy by Bianca Jagger in the 70s, the scarf became a popular fashion item during the 1980s.

The trendy Bianca Jagger, left, in a scarf wrapped around her head wrap. Grace Kelly, right, famously tied an Hermes scarf over her arm cast (circa 1950).

In the 1980s, accessorizing the suit was important and the accentuating item was the large square scarf in fine varuna wool or an acrylic imitation. Exotic patterns and rich paisley designs draped around the necks of just about every woman’s shoulders.  Leaflets abounded on how to wear the scarf in a dozen different ways.

Princess Diana with a red scarf tied about her shoulders. (Courtesty photo, 1980s)

In the mid to late 80s Princess Diana was a bona fide style queen. The princess started a trend craze when she was seen wearing a red scarf tied over her shoulders.

The scarf took a back seat in most of the 90s and met with a resurgence around the new Millennium. Boho, hip-hop and grunge reintroduced the scarf in more common fabrics like cotton, they were worn in the back pockets of denim jeans. Jennifer Lopez made the gingham scarf trendy when she wore a bedazzled Versace kerchief tied around her head like a sweat band.

In the early 2000s, Actress Sienna Miller and super model Kate Moss brought back the bohemian scarf in ethnic patterns and floaty shapes. Rihanna reintroduced the scarf as a trendy accessory when she wore a fur stole from V-Files at Paris Fashion Week in 2016.

Rihanna in a fur scarf by V-files at Paris Fashion Week (Courtesty photo, 2016)

Other names for the scarf style: cravat, shawl, headwrap, kerchief and stole.

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Nichelle Cole is the founder & editor-in-chief of The Fashion Plate magazine. A respected writer, stylist and influencer, she has been published in fashion magazines around the world.

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