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Scarves and Style

12/05/2016 10:21 | Updated 12 May 2016

Can someone please delineate the cravat? What is it? And why? I've always been fond of the word itself: it encourages the purr of a rolling 'R', followed by the harsher, decisive sounding syllable of 'vat'. It exudes artistic flourish, as well as the kind of masculine decisiveness I would expect from a Victorian gentleman. Wonderful. The cravat itself, however, is not. Since the word could be construed as a portmanteau of 'crevice' and 'hat', we can infer that a cravat is born when a hat falls down a gaping hole: into Hell.

Men, take note: unless you are in a period drama, leave the cravats at home, if you do indeed own one, which is most unlikely.

Scarves in general, however, I have a lot of time for. They are not just for winter, by the way. They are a statement in their own right, and can transform even the most middle-of-the road outfits into something superb. Err on the side of caution, however: done badly, a scarf tied at the neck can seem as though you are trying to mimic the Queen. In general, the rule is to exclude scarves from all rural scenarios. You will not make tweed and scarves look good; unless it's a neutral coloured cashmere affair, or you are in fact the Queen; but you're not: so don't.

Scarf-ish antics are best indulged while prowling the urban environment. They abounded the runways in Spring 2015, including Tom Ford styling thin, black silk scarves as chokers. Is this why they now abound with gusto? Everywhere I look I see girls with black chokers, like little cats with collars on. The vague association of asphyxiation that the choker offers is alluring and somewhat terrifying at the same time. Paired with beauty, the choker entirely works; if not, the wearer appears stuck in a Claire's Accessories time warp.

The best kind of scarf surely has to be a big silk one; like the classic Hermes style. They're so versatile. Indulge in your caprices. Wear it as a turban, as a beach cover up, or whisk it round your neck and have the ends casually streaming behind you (it helps if you accessorise your scarf with a vintage car and the Amalfi Coast). Want to wear it as a bandeau, with a bunny ear knot? Go for it. A shawl? Easy. A belt? Done.

For really big square scarves you can even wear them as miniskirts. And in terms of patterns and prints the choices are so deliciously varied. Maybe this is why Etro sells 70,000 pieces a season. There's also something rather artistic about scarves. They're a little flamboyant without being too much. By wearing an incredibly beautiful print - perhaps one that comes form an original hand painted design - then one is truly wearing art.

Indeed, early on the work of Matisse, Dufy and Picasso was applied to silk. They obviously appreciated the scarf as an accessory, and quite right, too. Especially in summer, there's something wonderfully unnecessary about a scarf. They are pure decoration. A flourish. For this reason, when worn right, scarves are about true style rather than being fashionable, and that certainly gets my vote.

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