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The Scarf Revisited

Jack Bettridge
From the Print Edition:
Cuba, January/February 2009

Six months ago, a strange thing happened. The scarf became the ultimate fashion statement of terribly fashion-conscious New Yorkers. Everywhere you looked in the Big Apple, scarves and mufflers were piled around necks in great heaps. The odd thing was the timing, being that it happened at the apex of New York's sweltering summer. It was fashion perhaps because it was so strange—if it weren't, it would just be rational behavior. But now that bone-chilling winter is upon us, can we make the modest suggestion that we ignore Oscar Wilde's dictum that "fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months," and continue to embrace the scarf when it makes so much sense—and so much style.

Of course, some adjustments must be made from what was seen draped on the rock stars, soccer heartthrobs and downtown types who made the scarf the rage of summer. You might want to forget the loose-knit cottons and silks that were chosen for how much cooler (read: more ventilated) they were for the wearers (who were fashion slaves, but not masochists after all). Choose instead soft, warm fabrics that are gentle on tender skin. Cashmere, of course, is among the kindest, and while it comes with a cost, the simple scarf is an economical way to enjoy it. Certainly, merino wools and some blends will keep you warm and be nice to your neck.

The hallmark of the summer style was brash colors, and while we're certainly not suggesting going dull, winter's pallet should be toned down a bit but still based on a range of hues and patterns such as these cashmere scarves from Joseph Abboud's Black Brown 1826 line (far left and second from right) and Church (far right and second from left). Other great scarf resources include Pringle of Scotland, Begg Scotland (known for its signature paisley patterns), Ermenegildo Zegna, David Chu, Missoni and Canali. But as it is black-tie season as well as cold season, don't forsake silk altogether. Dion Neckwear, in addition to producing its cashmere scarves, makes what are among the world's most elegant formal silk scarves in black and white with subtle paisley and jacquard motifs woven in.

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