CE&C Renovation Experiment Two: Scarves II – Scarf Basics

[Previous post in this experiment: Scarves I – Grandmother’s Wisdom]

When I wear a silk scarf I feel so definitely like a woman, a beautiful woman.”

  • Audrey Hepburn

I have boxes of scarfs I have acquired over the years. Most of them I have never worn.

I divide my scarfs into four categories:

  • Miscellaneous left over scarves, that I would never wear, that past guests have forgotten, hand me downs, and unsolicited gifts reflecting an aesthetic that is not mine.
  • Pretty but poor quality, never unfolded scarves which I purchased on my travels to: have as pillow gifts for house guests; give as gifts to people who have performed small acts of kindness towards me; or that can be given to visitors to brave the elements when the weather turns.
  • Heavy wool/cashmere scarfs bought as a northern climate necessity. With winters that can get as cold as -40°C (the same as -40°F), scarves become more than fashion accessories. They are survival gear.
  • Luxury scarves. In addition to my newly acquired vintage Hermès carré scarf, my favorites include a Fornasetti escharpe that I purchased in Florence (I am under the impression that currently the Fornasetti brand has terminated their production of scarves and ties), a large multi-colored Versace carré – a lovers gift, a Pucci carré that talked to me (very flatteringly) in Rome, a Cartier purchase from my first “adult” visit to Paris, a lovely pink pashmina that a dear friend bestowed on me because she knew I would “get it,” and, an Art Deco man’s silk opera scarf, white on one side black on the other white with a white fringe that I bought in a vintage store in Toronto when I was 16. These are the ones I keep in my bedside table. They are the ones I wear as fashion accessories.

“A quality shop which wishes to be considered as such refuses to tolerate bad taste within it’s walls.”

  • Genevieve Antoine Dariaux   

There are a number of ways one can acquire a quality scarf:

  • as a gift – hopefully from a lover with exquisite taste, or better yet one who remembered which scarf you told him/her that “it would be the one that got away” that you fawned over on a romantic get-away while window or Windows-shopping;
  • vintage hunting, a rich topic for another post;
  • a store that has compromised itself and carries high-end to low-end to attract as large a clientele as possible such as a department store;
  • hand-me-downs;
  • an inheritance, in which case the scarf become much more than what it appears to be (and is thus no longer a scarf but an heirloom); and,
  • specialty designer stores/e-stores.

I can tell a quality scarf silk scarf at a glance. My friends are always bemused. Early training.

“In short, stoles, scarves and pashminas possess innumerable good qualities, and not a single defect. As an added advantage, they encourage all the most feminine gestures, and permit certain gracious movements of the shoulders, which can be exploited with devastating effect by a romantic-minded woman.”

  • Genevieve Antoine Dariaux

How to assess the quality of a silk scarf

While telling the difference between an original and a fake is manufacturer or brand specific, below is a simple check-list to determine if the silk scarf you are purchasing is of good quality, whether a designer brand or not.

  • It is made of high quality silk? *
  • Is it sleek and shiny?
  • When you rub two surfaces together, does the fabric get warm?
  • Does it emit a sound like stepping on fresh snow when you rub it together?
  • Does it have a heavy weight?
  • Does it drape well?
  • Does it have a high quality print?
  • Are the colors clear?
  • Are the colors the same on both sides?
  • Is the hem hand rolled (plump and not ironed flat)?
  • Does the label contain fabric content, where it was made and care instructions?
  • Is there a label/signature/logo on the scarf (provenance)?
  • Are the measurements correct for the piece (can check with the manufacturer’s specifications).
  • Are you buying from a trusted source (this insures quality)?
  • Fibre burning test.**
  • Is it love at first sight?

*Silk Test

**Textile Fiber Burning Test

How to test the quality of a Pashmina

  • Burn Test: it will smell like hair burning and what is left is just ash.
  • Moisture Test: when damp it smells like wet animal.
  • Ring Test: you should be able to easily pull it through a ring (make sure there are no tags in the way)
  • Chin Test: place the pashmina on your chin; if it causes your skin to itch it is not pashmina.
  • Light Test: look at the pashmina under a light. It will not appear reflective.
  • Touch Test: real pashminas do not produce static electricity.

SCARF RESOURCES  (these sites offer more than just fronts for stores)

25 Ways to Wear a Scarf in 4.5 Minutes

The list is a work in progress… if you have any suggestions to help improve my site or additional links please contact me.

Money doesn’t buy elegance. You can take an inexpensive sheath, add a pretty scarf, gray shoes, and a wonderful bag, and it will always be elegant.”

  • Carolina Herrera

[Next post in this Experiment: Scarves III – List of Luxury Scarf Companies]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *