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What Are Scarves?

May 26, 2008
Scarves are the perfect fashion accessory, whether you are looking for warmth or style or even a little bit of both. Often overlooked in women's fashion, scarves are one of the most versatile pieces around. They can be worn as outerwear or simply just to spice up a boring outfit.

Scarves have been around for thousands of years, if Chinese sculptures representing fringed rectangles of fabric are to be believed. In the last half century, particularly, scarves have been part and parcel of old Hollywood glamour. Celebrities and fashion icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner and Grace Kelly and many others are all known for wearing scarves, tied in many different ways. Amazingly glamorous and utterly fabulous, the scarf is a staple in every fashionable woman's closet.

Silk scarves are especially popular, as well as scarves made from fabrics such as cotton, heavy wool knits, rayon, poly-blends or polyester. Scarves can also come in plains or prints, depending on the setting or the fashion of the period. These days, scarves are commonly made from silk or rayon, which both give the scarf a shimmery finish as well as a light, graceful, fluid movement. Other common fabrics include cotton and wool, which are rather heavier and often come in textured finishes.

Depending on its use, scarves can come in many different shapes and sizes. There are kerchiefs and bandanas which are smaller in size, generally measuring 14 to 16 inches on one side. Large shawl-like scarves can reach up to about 48 inches on one side. There are even rectangular or oblong scarves, triangular scarves aside from the traditional square scarves. Some have fringed edges, some have fused edges and still others hemmed edges. They can also come in a wide variety of colors. They can be tie-dyed, batik dyed. Some many have woven patterns, and others many have solid colors. The possibilities are simply endless.

If you are planning to wear scarves when going out, it is advisable to look for styles that provide warmth and thickness. The best scarves for this are generally the closely knit and are somewhat bulkier than the dressy variety. Some merchandisers sell scarves with matching hats, mittens or gloves. Scarves for outerwear are usually made from angora, which are made from lush materials, or the simpler ones that are made from fleece or flannel. There are also extra long scarves that can be wrapped around the neck over and over, or the shorter ones which can be tucked into the coat or the jacket to keep the chest and neck warm.

If you're simply using scarves to complement your outfit, you really can't go wrong with beautiful silk scarves. Other types that are also good as fashion accessories include scarves made from cashmere, angora, chenille or velvet. Embroidered scarves are also particularly nice, especially when worn with a sweater, blouse or suit. There are many varied ways to tie scarves, all guaranteed to turn a plain, boring outfit into a definite fashion statement.
About the Author
Brenda Reese writes for a pashminas company and is based in Tokyo
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