I can’t resist. I was catching up on my reading this morning — last Thursday’s New York Times fashion section, particularly an article about scarves being the “it” accessory — and decided I had to add to the conversation. I’ve written about scarves a lot. I devoted a chapter to the subject in my first book, 40 Over 40. I’m going to share that chapter here. If you haven’t fallen in love with scarves yet, I hope this will convince you to RUN right out and find one that’s just right for you.
Here you go, “A Scarf is a Very Useful Thing” from 40 Over 40.
The French woman knows that a scarf is more valuable than rent money. It’s hard to believe that across a mere ocean is a land of women in terror of them. How can that be?
Maybe it’s the bad rap scarves have gotten in movies.
Let’s clear this up right away. As far as I know, only one person has actually died from wearing a scarf and that was Isodora Duncan, the dancer. In the final scene of Isodora, starring Vanessa Redgrave, she’s riding carefree and drunk in an open Bugatti sports car, when the ends of her long red scarf wrap around a gleaming spoked wheel and she’s strangled instantly.
And, of course, if you rent Basic Instinct you’ll see in the opening scene that an Hermes scarf is an accessory to a violent crime involving an ice pick. That’s really too bad. Scarves shouldn’t get such a bad wrap like that. They are benevolent by nature and only dangerous in the wrong hands.
Consider these wonderful things that only scarves can do:
1. Keep the neck warm as fall leaves fly and winter beckons. Traditional Chinese doctors will advise keeping the neck covered to keep external pernicious influences from entering the body in the back of the neck, especially the wind. The scarf is preventive medicine.
2. Contribute to the longevity of suit jackets and blazers by protecting the neckline when worn inside along the collar. Saves money that would’ve been spent at the dry cleaners.
3. Two scarves packed in a suitcase provide variety and entertainment to travel outfits in neutral colors like black, navy, or camel. Tie a scarf to the handle of your generic black suitcase and spot it instantly on the lugguage carousel at the airport.
4. A scarf is good for hiding salad dressing tracks on a silk blouse.
5. In the hands of a romantic, a scarf can be a creative tool in the bedroom.
6. A scarf framing a woman’s face in luscious colors can give her more confidence, intrigue, and allure than a doctorate degree from Yale.
I doubt the instructional videos in scarf departments in large retail stores is inspiring anyone. They’re boring and dorky. What you need to do is watch some movies on Saturday night with show-stopping scarf scenes.
Start with Where Sleeping Dogs Lie, a movie starring Sharon Stone and Dylan McDermott. The first time we see Sharon she’s headed for her white convertible wearing a white (probably Chanel) suit, white baubley bracelet and a long white chiffon scarf that trails down her backside. It’s unlikely that many will wear this look for day, but it sure works for evening and it’s easy. She drives away with the top down, but the windows are rolled up. She’s seen the movie, Isodora.
In An Affair to Remember, Deborah Kerr works a similar look. She wears a lovely white ensemble, a sheath dress and matching white coat, white gloves and a white chiffon scarf floating away from her hair as sheer as jellyfish while she slaps a quick, witty, brilliant remark on Cary Grant that leaves him speechless.
The Best Scarf in a Motion Picture shows up at the end of Bodyguard. Whitney Houston and her entourage are in her private plane and about to take off when she orders the pilot to stop. Whitney descends from the plane and runs across the tarmac into Kevin Costner’s arms. The camera spots the black and white snakeprint scarf that’s wrapped around her head and spins around from overhead, showing it from every angle with the theme song swelling in the background: “And I-I-I will always love you-ou-ou.”
Your scene shouldn’t be without a scarf. Maybe you bought a lady-like fitted suit last month. Line the inside of it with a scarf like Fionna does in the scene from Three Weddings and a Funeral where Hugh Grant ends up at the table with all his past girlfriends.
Maybe you have a short knit plum colored skirt and you plan to wear a lime green shirt with it. A scarf mixing these colors will add dash to your outfit. Need to see it? Check out Uma Thurman in The Truth About Cats and Dogs where Uma’s character, as brainy as a bag of nails, is sharp enough to don a kicky neck scarf for a bohemian look that also keeps viral riff raff out. Two thumbs way up.