i've been really in the mood for scarves lately, and with good reason - they're absolutely everywhere this spring (huge thanks to coquette for the runway pics). as french women have known for decades, a colorful silk scarf can instantly transform an average outfit into a chic ensemble. so i'm thrilled to see american fashion finally following suit.
but i find that i avoid accessorizing with scarves as often as i might like, and i think i've finally figured out why. square scarves, i've decided, are a lot of work. the folding, the twisting, the meticulous styling...it's all just so much effort, and not really what scarves are all about anyway. but, when the hubs recently picked up a gorgeous oblong scarf for me, it was love at first wear.
oblongs, which usually range from about 4" to 16" wide, and anywhere from 50" to 80" long, are infinitely versatile. toss them around your neck to dangle long, tie in a simple half knot (my favorite), or wrap them in any way you would wrap a winter scarf (find a few how-tos here, as i'm terrible at written instructions for these things).
use them as a belt (i love replacing belts on dresses with scarves), a head scarf (this look is impeccable at the beach, when your hair is a mess - and unlike a square scarf, an oblong will cover just the right amount of your head without turning into a babushka), or tie them in a big floopy bow at your neck to recreate that 80s "big bow" look that seem to be back these days.
another favorite look of mine is to replace (or just wrap) the handle on your favorite handbag with a scarf. this works best if your bag has metal fixtures at the handle bases - simply tie one end of your scarf to one fixture, and the other end to the other fixture. let the original handle dangle a bit, and voila. (i've asked my lovely michael kors skorpio bag to help out with this demo)
as for where to buy (we are all about shopping here, of course), most of the images in this post are from echo designs, which makes absolutely lovely scarves. my personal favorite right now, though i'd normally advise colorful scarves, is this black-and-white version, taken from a photograph by mena suvari, of all people.
echo also has a stunning vintage collection - they've recently reintroduced several of their older, classic designs. i love the retro style of this stoplight pattern. the colors of this moroccan tile design would complement just about any neutral ensemble. and this mod fish scale pattern is pretty fabulous too. best of all, most of echo's scarves won't set you back more than about $50, so you can afford to experiment. the trick is to pick a young, colorful design, so that you don't look like you raided your mom's closet.
there are also loads of gorgeous options at shopbop right now, if you needed further proof that scarves are as of-the-moment as you can get. my faves are the DVF options, which have that retro style/glam thing down perfectly.
the truth is that once you get a scarf (or several) home, if you're willing to be adventurous, the options really are limitless. and i think you'll realize what french women have known for years: just a touch of chic makes all the difference.