For the majority of my twenties I avoided them as avidly as I avoided responsibility. They belonged exclusively to stylish septuagenarians and piano teachers. A few years, and an appreciation for co-opting styling hacks from women of all ages later, I’ve finally come to believe the silk scarf is the new red lip. Essentially promising the same benefit —adding polish to the most mundane ensembles in five seconds flat — silk scarves are at once effortless and calculated. Any woman wearing a silk scarf or a red lip exudes a confidence that implies she cares about her appearance, but it does not consume her. There’s an innate coolness to that notion, one that I know I’m not alone in coveting. And in an age where the no-makeup look reigns supreme, it seems only natural for the styling hack of choice to be one that does the work that a bold lip used to. Even more appealing, perhaps, is the fact that a silk scarf can be repurposed in a multitude of ways. (Not so for red lipstick, which, at best, doubles as blush in a pinch.) Here are a few of my favorite ways to wear the season's under-the-radar accessory.
1. The French Tie
Whether your daily uniform is a suit, jeans and a sweater, a midi dress or a boilersuit, a silk scarf wrapped tightly around your neck adds instant individuality. At worst, it will go virtually unnoticed, and at best, it will enliven a basic outfit with color and flair.
2. The Horrifying Hair Day Weapon
So you slept on wet hair or squeezed in a workout class before heading to the office. Congratulations on saving time and prioritizing your health. Your hair, unfortunately will likely not repay your hard work with anything other than unruly behavior. Slap a scarf on it! Put it in a low ponytail and tie a scarf around the base. It will distract from all manner of sins. Roll it into a long strip and affix it as a headband. Fold it in half and tie it Jackie-O style over your head.
3. The Print Mixologist
I haven’t quite decided whether successful print mixing requires a college-level understanding of the color wheel or an ability to completely ignore the imperfect. Either way, scarves are a great way to tiptoe into print-mixing territory. You’re only showing a flash of print via a scarf tied around the wrist or draped around the neck, so it’s really more about the dominant color making sense with whatever other prints you have going on. Stick to the same color palette or use a non-print print like tweed until you’ve graduated to the advanced stage of print mixing with reckless abandon.
4. The Accessory Elevator
Maybe you’ve decided to eschew a statement bag purchase in favor of building your stock portfolio/buying a house/planning an epic trip. Maybe you just want to give new life to a beloved purse. Either way, tying a bright scarf around the handle of a bag breathes new life into the everyday staple. While you can embrace this tip on any bag silhouette with a strap, it’s most impactful on a top-handle bag, adding a carefree gypsy vibe to even the most proper satchel. At the end of the day, your outfit should bring you joy. Why not put it where you can see it?
If you don't already own one, you can get a silk scarf in the Spring edition of Rachel Zoe's Box of Style — along with a selection of other items, including two gold bangles, a black leather pouch, a caffeine-infused gold flecked eye cream and a Gua Sha facial massage stone — for $100. Choose between the floral print and a muted animal print based on your style sensibility.