20 In Getting Dressed/ Styling Tips

Styling Outfits with Neck Scarves

Spring scarves
Love wearing a scarf with a white shirt

Thank goodness for Saturday Zen closet meditations—time in the closet to straighten things out, do a little editing, transfer more winter things out and make room for spring/summer items. After a nice walk in the Sonoma Hills, I headed straight for my closet and packed away almost all of my winter scarves. I reviewed my spring scarves and prepared to give them prime real estate in my closet.

This spotted wool/cashmere scarf did heavy lifting all winter.

What I love about neck scarves

I tend to forget the virtues of smaller neck scarves after a season of burying my neck and chest in wool or cashmere. When I pull out these smaller rectangles of artful beauty, a whole new plan emerges. The back of my neck may still need some protection from the chill—depending on the time of day—but most often the purpose for these scarves shifts from keeping me warm to simply adding style to my outfit.

Here are 4 things I love about neck scarves.

  1. A small to medium scarf at the neck does a great job of bringing attention to the face. That’s always a good thing.
  2. The fabric weight of a scarf can enhance the feeling you want for the day. A soft, silk scarf drapes so freely and gives a graceful feminine vibe. A stiffer silk scarf with lots of body can make you feel crisp and sharp, add some kick to your step.
  3. Scarf patterns are mini works of art. Shopping for neck scarves is like going to a museum. Only this art can go home with you! Choose from geometric designs, floral prints or abstract prints. You get to enjoy pattern design as well as color mixes you may have never put together on your own.
  4. Even if you’re still wearing cashmere sweaters to stay warm in this iffy weather, a neck scarf announces that you’re fully aware of what season it is. It can lighten and brighten your look in an instant.
Appreciating my neck scarves

How I’ve been wearing scarves these last couple of weeks

I was shopping at Nordstrom with my two image consultant friends last month. We were scoping out spring fashion and hit the accessory department first. I found this narrow tie scarf with a black background and bright pink, lavender, magenta, and lime green flowers. It was so cheerful!

I wore it inside the collar of my pink gingham shirt the day I was helping Caitlin put together the nursery for the baby. It being San Francisco, I was also wearing my V-neck cashmere sweater but the brightness at my neck said, Springtime!

Short spring scarves
Wearing a scarf with my cashmere sweater fixing up the baby’s room in chilly SF.

On another chilly day, I wore a lightweight blended sweater over black pants to work. I love the white trim on this simple sweater style. I wore this delicate white modal scarf with accents of blue, black, gray and marigold yellow and tied it loosely at my neck. It was a little something that made me feel cheery on a dreary day. I bought this scarf with my friends that same day. It’s by All Saints and is at Nordstrom.

Spring scarves
My top is a cashmere blend my floral scarf says: It’s spring!

Here I’m wearing that same floral patterned scarf tie. This was me having some fun that relates to my childhood and North Dakota. Erin knew I’d love this shirt that came into her consignment store and gave me first dibs at it. It’s a very lightweight button-up shirt by Equipment and has a bug motif. Even though the shirt is fun as all get out, it didn’t have a lot of zest on its own. It needed a style booster.

Spring scarves

I enjoyed pairing the flowers with the bugs. The combo is so full of nature. Bugs and flowers just go together! That little scarf sure upped the style wattage. When I added my jean jacket to my jean outfit I felt like a stylish farm girl. In truth, when I was growing up on the farm in North Dakota I could barely tell the fields of flax from the oats so this is as farmer as I get.

Can you see a nifty place for scarves to go—like around your neck for instant style? Let’s talk scarves!


Spring in San Francisco with my daughter Caitlin and nearly-here baby

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  • Reply
    Chris in Indy
    May 14, 2019 at 9:37 pm

    Another neck scarf fan here! I wear them in all but the hottest Indiana summer weather – and since I work in offices which, more often than not, have arctic levels of a/c, I get a lot of wear out of my neck scarves!

    I buy vintage Vera Neumann scarves on eBay or by thrifting – just the right amount of zing up near my face that makes my neutral heavy outfits look professional!!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2019 at 6:36 am

    Just purchased a couple of neck scarves on a trip and this post helps me put them to good use. I can wear them all summer long in northern Wisconsin.

    • Reply
      June 5, 2019 at 10:17 am

      Oh, wonderful!!! How great to have the perfect climate for these!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2019 at 6:55 am

    Good morning, Brenda! I so enjoy your posts! I find them informative and entertaining, filled with wit and wisdom! I live in South Alabama where it gets VERY hot and humid. We are very blessed to be close to the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. In your not-to-distant columns, would you advise those of us of “retirement” age how to dress and still look presentable in the inescapable heat of spring and summer, please!!!!!

    • Reply
      May 16, 2019 at 11:00 am

      I too would love Brenda’s comments on dressing in hot humid climates. I adore the layers but that’s not an option when the majority of the time it’s 90-105 for 5 months.

      • Reply
        Anne W
        May 20, 2019 at 5:20 am

        I too live in a tropical climate in Far North Australia. Situated on the Great Barrier Reef it disallows several things! E.g- Wearing chunky necklaces in summer( they simply make you feel hot), buying clothes in most other countries ( learned this the hard way), closed in shoes, tight fitting clothes, and polyester, etc. I also am privileged to live 6 months in Southern Spain so this is where I get my ‘alternative’ fashion fix! It’s all about slightly fitted or loose, but flattering clothes, that allow breezes to cool you. Black is usually a no no as it gets mighty hot when the sun hits it. Our colors are more vibrant too due to the intense sunlight. I use light colourful necklaces to add pizzaz to a white ensemble. I’m not a fan of patterned clothes, so last season was a nightmare as it was florals or brashly patterned tops and dresses everywhere. We certainly have different criteria in hot and humid climes! I’d love to hear what you advise for us mature chicks who can’t go bra-less and don’t want to look like we’re on vacation;

        • Reply
          June 5, 2019 at 10:06 am

          Boy, Anne, you have just taught the lesson in what to wear in heat! I will admit, I often look at places in Australia where the heat is beyond my comprehension and wonder what the heck I’d wear! Have you ever been able to wear lightweight sports bras that have that shelf in them?

          • Anne Whately
            June 11, 2019 at 6:20 pm

            I haven’t tried those Brenda but I discovered “maternity” singlets a few years ago that have the built in bra. They accomodate a ‘mature’ waistline (not tight but not loose) so are comfy in the heat. They allow me to wear sheer tops especially at night without the double strap look. High humidity is always a challenge, but the trade off is my spectacular home. We do have some pretty outrageous hotspots! I love that you engage with your readers and thoroughly enjoy reading your tips!

          • Brenda
            June 12, 2019 at 9:27 am

            Wow, this is a brand new tip to me, Anne. I can’t wait to try this out. I definitely need that “mature” sizing! It’s going on my list right now. Thanks so much for that!

      • Reply
        June 5, 2019 at 10:13 am

        Oh my gosh, for five months? I asked my radio friend, Richard, who lives in Dallas but is from North Dakota, what he does in the Dallas heat. He said, “Brenda, you know how you stay indoors when it’s freezing cold outside? That’s what we do in Dallas when it’s hotter than blazes outside.” I hadn’t thought of it that way but he made a point. Not that you’re going to do that all of the time, of course. Lightweight pieces (I LOVE linen) in clothes that don’t hug you is what I do on the hottest of days here in Wine Country. I love gauzy fabrics. I had a crinkle white gauze top that I wore a lot and then got something on it that I couldn’t get out. Darn! I’d be looking for more pieces like that. Light and breezy.

    • Reply
      June 5, 2019 at 10:17 am

      Cynthia, let me ask you this: do you wear dresses? I do think dresses that don’t hug our curves but float away from them are a real find and fun to wear in heat. And yes, I’ll share more!

  • Reply
    Catherine W.
    May 15, 2019 at 7:44 am

    I love the way you put these scarves with your outfits! They elevate your “look”! Thanks for the inspiring post!

    • Reply
      June 5, 2019 at 10:15 am

      You’re so welcome, Catherine!

  • Reply
    May 18, 2019 at 10:33 am

    This was such a great post. I love scarves and am always happy to learn new ways to style them!!

    • Reply
      June 5, 2019 at 10:08 am

      I’d love to see your stash!

  • Reply
    Nicole Kowalski
    May 27, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    Hi Brenda! That blouse came your way courtesy of me! I brought it in to Sax a few weeks ago and imagine my surprise to see it styled by a celebrity such as yourself. 😉 You look so energetic and happy in it. I’m glad it found you.

  • Reply
    Gwen Thomas
    June 7, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    I just purchased a slightly warmer toned pink gingham blouse because I keep noticing all the great ways you’re styling yours!

    • Reply
      June 12, 2019 at 9:28 am

      Oh, that’s funny. Well, I’m glad! I sure do enjoy wearing mine! Have fun, Gwen!

  • Reply
    Pam Miller
    August 22, 2019 at 6:36 am

    It is so hot still here in Georgia I really don’t want anything around my neck, so I can’t wait for cooler weather to wear my scarves again. Love you flower scarf with you insect shirt. What a happy combination. Need to see if I have any scarves to go with my pink gingham shirt!

  • Reply
    Dixie L Anderson
    April 16, 2020 at 10:17 am

    I have worn neck scarves for many years. When we went to corporate wear at work (in a bank) I added scarves to soften the outfits and was rewarded by being named one of the better dressed employees out of many. I have a really big collection and now my great granddaughters love playing with them. Someday I hope to teach them how to use them in their outfits. Now that I am retired I don’t wear them nearly often enough.

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