“So how about that scarf?” – she asked while standing there naked with a naughty smile on her face.
That’s what you get for whispering to a woman “this scarf would work great for tying you up” in a bar earlier in the night.
(On a side note: I might have been using this line a little too often haha)
It’s no secret that I consider scarves to be the ultimate accessory for meeting women and looking sexy as a man. It brings so much to the table that as an item it definitely deserves a spot in my “Top 5 Items of Clothing For Men, Who Want To Look Sexy!”
To quickly name a few of the benefits:
- Keeps you warm in colder weather.
- Great way to “spice up” your otherwise boring winter look.
- Can help your upper body look more impressive.
- Differentiates you from the crowd.
- Etc., etc.
Yet, even with all these benefits it is possible to mess it up and look tacky/try-hard when wearing a scarf or simply pick one that’s butt-ugly and instead of improving the look, the added scarf completely ruins it.
We talked about scarves in Men’s Accessories 101 and Nerdy To Sexy but even after publishing them, I’ve still been getting quite a lot of questions about scarves, in particular how to pick a sexy one and how to wear it.
This last question from Edd finally convinced me that we need a separate article specifically to cover scarves:
“What makes a scarf sexy? I know it has to work with the entire outfit, but what specifically what should I look for in a scarf. For those aiming to look sexy and add a bit off a bad boy edge, which scarf would complement this style? Thick, thin, bright, monotonous, patterned, plain? Does height affect the length of scarf I want to buy?”
It’s time we answer all these questions and more.
And if you don’t find the answer to your scarf-related question, please ask it in the comments section and I’ll make sure to address it.
Without further ado,
How To Choose A Sexy Scarf As A Man?
Before getting into specifics, I’d like to cover the deciding factors for when we’re choosing a scarf. As discussed in Men’s Accessories 101, there are three factors that we should take into account:
- Colors, patterns and prints – this will mostly be determined by the rest of your outfit and the image you’re going for. Please note that there’s no single correct color or pattern, different things work with different outfits.
- Fabric – in particular, it’s thickness (lightweight, medium weight, heavyweight) and this choice will be mostly decided by external factors like climate and environment. Your budget will also play a role in which fabrics you can get your hands on and this is an area where I wouldn’t recommend going for the cheapest option because it won’t feel as nice to the touch. For you AND her
- Length and width – it will determine in what ways you can wear a scarf and also who can pull off a particular design. For example long, massive scarves will look goofy on shorter and/or skinny guys. Just to be clear:
- Long scarf – ~200 – 230+ cm (~79 – 90+ inch)
- Short scarf – ~100 – 150 cm (~40 – 59 inch)
- Skinny scarf – ~20 cm (~ 8 inch) in width
- Wide scarf – ~60+ cm (~ 24+ inch) in width
But for now don’t worry about the numbers, it will become much clearer when we talk about how we can wear scarves.
So as you read this article, it would be helpful to keep in mind the following:
- With what outfit are you planning to rock your scarf? What other colors will you be wearing and, very importantly, what top and outerwear you’ll be wearing (I’ll explain why this is crucial in the “How to wear a scarf” section).
- In what situations will you be wearing one? Wow warm/cold it is? Is it windy? Will you be wearing it inside?
- Lastly, keep in mind your physique and what do you want to achieve visually. Do you want to draw focus to your upper body or “camouflage” something? Do you have the height to pull off longer scarves?
Quick note: even though I will show examples of good looking patterns and colors for scarves, we won’t talk specifically how to coordinate colors and patterns in an outfit. If that’s something you’re still struggling with, make sure to check out Nerdy to Sexy.
Now it’s time to get into specifics and we’ll start with lightweight scarves.
By lightweight I mean made from a thin fabric such as linen, silk, lightweight cotton, cashmere, various synthetic fabrics and blends. Even though lightweight scarves are much thinner than others they still come in variety of lengths and widths.
And when I’m talking about how sexy and incredible scarves are I’m usually referring to lightweight scarves.
- As a rule of thumb, it’s the sexiest, best looking option.
- Can be worn indoors, without looking tacky or try-hard though very long/wide designs can be difficult to pull off without an extra layer (like a jacket or blazer) on top.
- Versatile in terms of how you can wear it.
- Doesn’t provide that much utility in terms of keeping your warm.
- Less viable in cold weather compared to medium weight and heavyweight scarves.
- Shorter and/or thinner designs can look underwhelming, lacking when worn with thicker outerwear, i.e. wool overcoat.
When to wear one:
Lightweight scarves are best suited for warmer weather (Spring to Autumn) and can be worn indoors.
We’ll usually wear one with Edgy and Edgy-Elegant styles. Occasionally with Smart – Casual and Sharp styles but rarely indoors.
(If you’re not sure in which category your personal style falls into or which style would work best for you, check out this article.)
What to look for when shopping for one:
Let’s talk about width and length first.
Lightweight scarves can be quite wide and that’s cool because we’ll almost always be folding it in half a few times before wearing it anyway.
That said, keep in mind that if you’re skinny and pick a long and wide scarf, it will look visually overwhelming and make you look even skinnier/smaller in comparison.
As for length, it depends on two factors – how you plan on wearing it and your actual height.
As a rule of thumb you don’t want your scarf to go below your belt line.
I would also highly advice against short and skinny lightweight scarves as they are just too feminine and even girly.
As for colors,
You’ll either be getting one in a neutral, plain color, maybe subtle a pattern (as a complementary accessory to your outfit) or in a bright, colorful and/or in a cool print (as an attention grabbing accessory).
Complementary lightweight scarves:
Best used when you have other cool items in an outfit and don’t want to draw attention away from them. Usually you’ll be wearing one with Sharp or Smart – Casual style.
Attention grabbing lightweight scarves:
This time we’ll split examples into two categories: best suited for Edgy/Elegant – Edgy styles and best suited for Sharp/Smart – Casual styles. Just to clarify, “best suited” doesn’t mean that you can’t pull off that awesome red scarf with an edgy look or mix in the black & white one from Calvin Klein with a sharper look, just a rule of thumb recommendation for when you’re in doubt.
For Sharp/Smart – Casual styles
For Edgy/Elegant – Edgy styles
Lightweight scarves in practice
Medium and Heavyweight Scarves
The reason I’m grouping medium-weight and massive, heavyweight scarves together is because the latter has rather limited use if you’re not a hardcore hipster or Lenny Kravitz.
So what do I mean by medium weight and heavyweight scarves?
Scarves that are usually made from thicker fabrics like cotton, cashmere, wool, lambswool and various blends. Can be knitted.
As an accessory it can be extremely effective in spicing up your winter outfit.
- Great for keeping warm in colder weather.
- One of the best ways to improve an otherwise bland winter outfit.
- In most cases cannot be worn indoors or in warm weather.
- Usually will be more expensive than lightweight scarves.
- The heavier the scarf the more limited will be ways how you can wear it and with what items.
When to wear one:
I guess this one should be pretty obvious – when it’s cold and you need a way to stay warm AND look sexy while you’re doing that.
Even though there are some exceptions and nuances, as a rule of thumb you don’t want to be wearing medium or heavy weight scarves indoors (especially heavyweight). Then again, the line between lightweight and medium weight can be miniscule so use your best judgment and common sense.
What to look for when shopping for one:
I recommend avoiding oversized scarves in general, unless you feel like you really know what you’re doing, as they can be quite difficult to pull off.
When thinking about length and width you should keep in mind that you will somehow need to accommodate all that fabric on your upper body, so your physique (height and shoulder/chest width) plays a major role.
As for colors,
You’ll be going for medium and heavy weight scarves mostly in winter, when it’s really hard to create a sexy outfit when we’re stuck with looser cuts and neutral, safe colors and tones. So when choosing a scarf it’s best to stick with bolder colors and patterns that stand out from the rest of your outfit.
There are two exceptions to this:
- When you’re rocking a really cool coat that’s NOT in black/navy/charcoal/dark grey or want to draw focus to other areas of your outfit.
- When you want to match your scarf with your trousers, then it’s fine to go with black/grey scarves.
Complementary medium and heavyweight scarves:
The first two would work better with edgier looks, while the one from Armani with classier styles.
Attention grabbing medium and heavyweight scarves:
Medium and heavyweight scarves in practice
How to wear a scarf
So by now we should have a pretty good clue on what to look for in scarves and how to pick a sexy one.
Now what? How can you actually wear it?
Well, there are several ways. Actually, quite more than several but just like with the dozens of ways to tie a tie, most of them are impractical, overcomplicated, irrelevant or straight up ugly.
Instead, we’ll focus on the Top 3 ways that always look great (well, maybe 3.5):
1. Once Around
This should be the first way you learn to tie a scarf.
The idea is extremely simple – you take one loose end of the scarf, wrap it around your neck. If needed (because it’s windy) or you prefer, you can pull that loose end through the newly created loop (it will make this way of wearing a scarf a bit more stable).
Two things to pay attention to here:
- The loose ends should NOT be perfectly aligned on your torso, which means that they should be in slightly different lengths.
- Secondly, if you’re wearing it indoors or in a warmer weather make sure that the scarf is kept rather loose around your neck. Only pull it close to your neck (like in the image above) when it’s cold.
Once around is one of the most casual ways to wear a scarf and in turn great for wearing in a bar. On a downside, rather impractical during windy days (especially with lightweight scarves) as you’ll find yourself “fixing” it every 5 minutes.
This way of wearing a scarf is best suited for medium to long scarves but NOT extremely long – if you’re wearing it loosely and both loose ends last up to your belt line or even further, the scarf is too long.
Few other tips on wearing a scarf once around:
- Should be outside your shirt but on the inside of your outerwear.
- An exception, when you will find yourself wearing the scarf once around outside the outerwear is then you have a large medium-weight/heavyweight scarf and there’s simply not enough space to accommodate it within the outerwear’s collar.
- You will notice that often, even with lightweight scarves, when you’re wearing outerwear with a small collar like a bomber jacket or a short-cut blazer the scarf fully covers the collar and it looks like it’s worn on the outside – that’s perfectly fine.
- Once Around looks best when outerwear is unbuttoned/unzipped.
- Once Around does NOT work with most shawl neck knitwear/jumpers – the collar is simply too massive.
- If you’re wearing a scoop neck tee it’s very important to keep it loose around your neck so it doesn’t create a rather awkward situation where a sizable part of your naked chest is visible but then your neck if tightly covered in fabric.
To summarize: the best way to wear a lightweight, medium to long (if you’re tall enough) length scarf indoors. Can look great when outside too but is a bit impractical on windier days. Not the best option for keeping your neck warm either.
A variation to Once Around is Twice Around and as the name suggests you simply loop one of the loose ends around your neck twice.
But even though the process is very similar, the result couldn’t be any more different.
First, it will always be VERY close to your neck and in turn it’s an extremely effective way to keep your neck warm. Last year, I’ve even got away with wearing a lightweight scarf during the coldest winter days by using this approach.
Twice around is an impractical way to wear a scarf indoors.
It looks best when the jacket/coat is fully buttoned/zipped and loose ends are tucked in.
I guess the only similarity to Once Around is that it doesn’t really work with shawl neck knitwear/jumpers either.
To make Twice Around work you’ll need a long or very long scarf.
To summarize: very practical, not very attractive.
2. Parisian Knot
Parisian knot is a way to tie a scarf that I personally use the most. The reason why I enjoy this way of wearing a scarf is it’s versatility and despite being a bit less “sexy” than the once around, it’s definitely more practical when worn outside and during windier days.
The way you “tie” is straightforward too – fold it in half over the scarf’s length and pull the loose end through the loop around your neck.
Works great with all lengths except very long scarves as once again if the scarf is very long compared to your height, even when folded in half it will still last way past your belt line.
Few tips on wearing a Parisian Knot:
- Once Around is almost always the better option when indoors but if you’re keen on giving Parisian knot a shot make sure you keep the loop loose, it’s way more casual this way. On the other hand, if you’re wearing it outdoors and want to keep your neck warm and scarf in place it’s best to tighten it up around your neck.
- You will have one big decision to make when wearing a scarf in a Parisian Knot – whether to tuck in the loose end and cover it with your outerwear or to keep it on the outside. The latter usually looks much better but the former way is more practical and works better when you’re going for a Smart – Casual or Sharp image and the scarf is there only as a complementary accessory or you’re rocking a short & wide/thick scarf. When making this decision also keep in mind that the bigger your scarf the “puffier” it will make your torso look if worn tucked inside.
- As with once around, you’ll usually want to keep your scarf outside the shirt but within the outerwear’s collar.
- One of the few ways to wear a scarf that can work with shawl neck knitwear/jumpers.
- Looks great with outerwear that has V or asymmetrical cut like a biker leather jacket, just make sure to pick an appropriate size so that the scarf “fills in” the available space between the jacket/coat and your neck.
To summarize: A very versatile way to wear a scarf that works with various lengths, widths and thicknesses. Especially great for wearing outside.
3. Over The Shoulder
My last recommendation on how to wear a scarf is Over The Shoulder and yes, it’s as simple as it sounds – you take one end of your scarf and throw it over your shoulder to create a loop.
It works best with long, wide and medium weight scarves and in turn its one of the most impressive ways you can wear a scarf when outside. It’s also probably the ways way to wear a medium weight scarf when inside (if you choose too), just keep the loop a bit looser then.
Over The Shoulder is hard to pull off with thin lightweight scarves and short scarves in general.
Few tips on wearing a scarf over the shoulder:
- Almost always will be worn outside the outerwear.
- Looks best when outerwear is unzipped/unbutton.
- Can be quite frustrating to wear if the wind is blowing in the wrong direction…
- Can be difficult to pull off with V and asymmetrical cuts on jackets and coats.
On a quick side note: it’s also very easy and fast to take your scarf off when wearing over the shoulder, you know, in case you’re no stranger on the dance floor and want to use your scarf to occasionally pull the girl (literally and figuratively ).
To summarize: a very impressive and attention grabbing way to wear a scarf. Can be impractical in certain situations, but when you do pull it off (and wind is blowing in the right direction) you’ll feel like the coolest guy in the world.
If you’d like to experiment with other ways to wear a scarf, I’d like to refer you to an infographic made by Antonio from RMRS.
Other scarf designs
Before we get into butt-ugly scarves and other mistakes we still need to cover to particular designs that are actually quite good-looking but that I didn’t explain in the previous sections:
- Square scarves
A snood is a ring of fabric, usually wool or it’s blend, that looks like a scarf without the loose ends.
It’s actually a pretty good-looking design, that’s very easy to wear and works in mostly the same situations as the Parisian Knot.
My only problem with snoods is lack of versatility because essentially you have only one way to wear it. This kind of makes it a clip-on tie of scarves, just more popular and not as embarrassing.
Square scarf is a particular design in that it’s as wide as it is long, which makes makes wearing one a bit different from other scarves. You can still try the Top 3 ways to wear a scarf we covered earlier in the article, it’s just that the result will be slightly different.
One additional way is when you fold the scarf in half to create a triangle and pull the loose ends behind your neck (sorry, the only good looking examples I could find were on women…)
Anyway, the only situation where I would prefer square scarves to other designs is when you’re going for an edgy look and need a lightweight scarf in a cool pattern/print (those are much easier to find on square scarves).
There is one design of square scarf that’s been so overused it became a sort of a cliché and if you wear one right it just looks like you’re nearly a decade late to the party – that’s Arab square scarf (desert scarf).
No, it doesn’t look good. At least not anymore and yes, you’re better off with pretty much any other color/pattern combination.
I’d go as far as to recommend avoiding all square scarves in check, tartan or houndstooth black & white patterns.
NOT sexy scarves and other mistakes
I made a collection of pretty ugly scarves that I would not recommend. I won’t go over each and every one of them to comment why they are on the list so as you go through them see if you can identify the issue
(Fun fact: a lot of these “ugly” scarves are actually quite expensive compared to the good looking scarves. So yeah, when it comes to looking sexy, just throwing money into expensive brands is NOT a good decision.)
I’d like to finish this article with a few tips on what to avoid when it comes to choosing and wearing scarves.
- Never tuck your scarf inside your shirt. I know this sounds ridiculous but yeah… Turns out it needs to be said.
- Massive, oversized scarves are very niche and can be pulled off in limited situations, with limited images and by relatively few people – stay away from them unless you’re confident you know what you’re doing.
- A scarf, like any other garment, will eventually get worn off, lose it’s color, etc. – keep this in mind and replace/upgrade appropriately. I’ve been guilty of this myself when I kept and wore my red scarf way past its prime and then wondered why it’s not getting the same results as it used to.
- Not every scarf is made to be worn indoors and not all of them look good within that setting.
- The thickness of your scarf should be on par with thickness of your outerwear. Don’t wear a massive wool scarf with a thin linen blazer or a skinny, lightweight linen scarf with a wool overcoat with warm lining.
This will be our last article in 2015 and I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year – 2016 is going to be awesome!
If you’d like to jump start your year looking sexy, I will start scheduling personal consultations for 2016, so if you’re not getting the results you want, make sure to check it out!
Next week, before the New Year, I will be making the first “leak” from the Image Mastery program I’m working on and if you haven’t already, you can subscribe to that list here and see the raw awesomeness I’m preparing for you guys