This article is all about the different types of scarves and the fabrics they are made of, also when to wear them, how to wear them. If you’re looking to buy a scarf, read on to find out which type of scarf suits your needs or your taste better.
When the weather starts getting chilly it’s time to raid the closet in search of a scarf. Or the stores, because you can never have too many scarves. Originally invented to keep the neck warm, scarves have evolved into fashion accessories.
The type of scarf you wear says something about you. A cashmere scarf speaks elegance, while a soft woolly one is more about personal comfort. There are dozens of types of scarves to choose from, and not all of them are to be worn in winter.
A thin silky scarf is just perfect for a windy day, no matter the season. A football scarf is good to show your devotion to your favorite team and a true fan will wear it proudly in any weather.
Table of Contents
Different Types of Scarves
When you say acrylic, obviously we’re not talking about natural fibers. This type of scarves is made of synthetic materials, which makes them more affordable. That’s a plus when you want to buy many of them in various colors to match any outfit.
They’re just as soft and warm as natural fiber ones. You can wash an acrylic scarf any time you want without fear, it won’t shrink, it won’t lose its shape and the colors won’t fade.
Bottom line, you can wear one just as well as a more expensive one. The fabric doesn’t matter much, what the others will notice is the color or the print.
What sets this type of scarves apart is the fabric, which is heat-resistant. They can keep you warm on a cool day or protect you from the elements on a bright sunny day without making you hot.
If there’s too much sun, you can wrap such a scarf around your head to protect your hair or drape it around your bare shoulders so you don’t get a sunburn.
Or you can wear an all-season scarf simply because you like the print and it gives you a funky look. These scarves are light, they go with many types of outfits which makes them perfect for a casual occasion.
Alpaca is touted as the warmest most comfortable type of wool, guaranteed to keep you well protected even when it’s freezing outside. This material is hypoallergenic which makes it ideal for people with wool allergies.
On the other hand, alpaca fabrics are highly breathable and they are so light you can wear such a scarf on warm days, to keep you cool. How about that?
If you’re caught in a light summer shower, don’t worry, the material is naturally water-repellent so you won’t get soaked right away! Alpaca scarves are pricier than, say, acrylic ones, but you can wear them all year round if you want.
Animal Print Scarves
Animal prints don’t seem to ever go out of style. This type of scarf remains one of the most popular, particularly among the ladies. Animal print scarves are usually made of light materials, like silk or satin, and they’re more of a fashion accessory rather than a piece of clothing.
Sure, they keep you warm, but when you wear such a print you send out a message of confidence. You’ll appear as strong and fierce as the leopard or tiger whose skin pattern you’re wearing around your neck.
Just like a hunter parading the skin of its prey, but, of course, without harming an innocent animal in any way.
Sure, a bandana scarf will protect you from cold just like any scarf, but most of the time such items are worn simply as a fashion accessory. It’s all about the color or the print and how you match the bandana scarf with a shirt or even a t-shirt.
You’ll probably want something colorful or with a funny print. Such scarves are suitable for casual occasions, for a day spent out in the open with a couple of friends.
Bandana scarves can be made of various materials, and they can be square in shape or triangular. You’ll need to spend some time in front of the mirror to decide how you want to wear it and what sort of knot looks better.
If you love going to the beach, this item is a must. Beach scarves are made of very light gauzy materials and they’re way bigger than a traditional scarf. They are very versatile and can be worn in many ways.
If you have a skimpy bikini you might choose to tie a beach scarf around your waist when you want to go grab a coffee. If the sun becomes too hot you can wrap it around your shoulders when you stroll down the beach looking for shells.
Also, at dusk, when the breeze starts to feel chilly you can huddle under your beach scarf to keep you protected. Why pack up and head home when this is a wonderful moment to be on the beach?
As the name suggests blanket scarves are meant to keep you warm and comfy, only with style. Even if you’re sitting on your couch watching TV, you don’t want to bundle up like your dear old granny.
This is where the blanket scarf comes in. Whether square or rectangular, blanket scarves are supposed to be big enough so you can fold them several times for additional warmth.
They’re good around the house, but there are plenty of occasions when you might need one outside. Keeping warm during a long car ride?
Spending a night in front of a campfire? Dining al fresco? Wrap a blanket scarf around your shoulders or over your legs and you won’t feel the chill.
During the 20th century, boa scarves were very popular among showgirls and women who wanted to stand out at a party. Boa scarves are meant to be eye-catching which is why traditionally they are made of colorful feathers, preferably ostrich or turkey.
Don’t be afraid to choose a bright color. If you’re looking for a retro look, a boa scarf can be worn on a sleeve body-hugging dress. Nowadays, boa scarves made out of fake or real animal fur are very fashionable for a night out.
Such scarves, also known as stoles, can keep you warm when you’re wearing an evening dress, so you might want to look for one that is wider than a regular scarf.
Who doesn’t like cashmere? We’re not talking about the incredible softness of cashmere scarves here. Cashmere is three-times more insulating than wool that comes from sheep so such a scarf will keep you much warmer.
Or cooler, for insulating properties go both ways and you can wear a thin cashmere scarf on a summer day just as well as in winter. Cashmere fibers are also stronger than wool so you’ll have such a scarf for many years, without it showing any signs of wear and tear.
The only problem with cashmere is fake cashmere. Buy only from reputable stores and if it’s incredibly cheaply, it’s probably not real cashmere!
Chequered Fabric Scarves
Chequered fabric scarves go well for both men and women. You can never go wrong with a chequered print, it’s classic and classy. It’s a timeless pattern that won’t ever go out of style. This type of scarves can be made of any material, from silk and linen to wool or cashmere.
You can choose between a fine chequered print or one with large squares, as you prefer. Typically, chequered scarves are rectangular in shape.
If the material is light enough you will want something longer, so you can wrap the scarf around your neck twice or even three times, for added warmth, but also to give some bulk to a skinny outfit.
Chiffon is a term used to describe a very light transparent fabric, suitable for a decorative scarf. Originally, chiffon scarves were made of pure silk, but today you can find many such scarves made of polyester fibers, which make them more resistant and way more affordable.
Chiffon scarves are perfect over a flowing summer dress. They can be worn around the neck or if the scarf is wider you can drape it around your shoulders or lower over the arms, just above the elbows.
A chiffon scarf won’t keep you warm, but it will give you a polished look. Such scarves are suitable for casual outings as well as formal occasions.
Cotton is soft and comfortable to wear so it makes a wonderful material for a scarf. Since it’s a natural fiber it will let your skin breathe, so you can totally wear such a scarf even on a warm day, as a fashion accessory.
Wrap it around your neck and it will keep you protected in winter as well. Cotton is a very versatile material, it can be dyed in whatever color or print.
For a casual outing, look for something bright and with a funky print, something to bring a touch of color to a low-key outfit in subdued colors.
A cowl scarf is definitely made for winter days and is usually made of knitted wool. As opposed to traditional scarves, a cowl doesn’t have loose ends. The material is sewn together at the ends, but it is wide enough to slip it over your head and wear it loosely around your neck.
It can be in a single color, but for a youthful look you might want something with many colors. Winter is bleak enough, but you can brighten it with a colorful accessory. Cowl scarves can also be made of synthetic fibers, which are more resistant and easier to care for than wool scarves.
Crinkled Crepe Scarves
Crinkled crepe scarves are very similar to chiffon scarves. They are equally light and diaphanous, the difference being in the way the yarn is woven. While chiffon is meant to be silky, crepe scarves use a weaving pattern that makes them look, well, crinkled.
Some say they’re a bit rougher or even scratchier than chiffon, but that depends on the fibers used. Silk fibers won’t feel rough no matter how you weave them. They can be worn around the neck or simply draped over the shoulders with the ends hanging loose.
For a more formal occasion you will want a crinkled crepe scarf with reasonably long ends, but for a night at a fancy restaurant feel free to wear something so long the ends almost touch the ground.
This type of scarf is made using the double knitting technique, using two yarns of different colors at the same time. The two colors only meet at the edges, so what you get is a double-sided scarf.
Or a scarf that is white on one side and red on the other, so you can use just one item to match it with various outfits, which is very practical.
Such scarves are usually made of wool, but you might also find them in synthetic fibers. This knitting technique is suitable for traditional scarves, cowls, or infinity scarves.
Fleece is a synthetic fiber with very good insulating properties which makes it quite suitable for comfy winter scarves. It keeps humidity out while allowing your skin to breathe so you won’t get sweaty around the collar when you bundle up for a really cold day.
As with all polyester-based fabrics, such scarves won’t fray easily and they can be washed as often as needed. The material is light enough, so you can wrap it around your neck several times without it feeling bulky. For a nice casual look, look for matching mittens.
Almost any type of scarf can have fringes, a wool one, a cashmere one, or even a silk one. Fringes are a purely decorative element, and their purpose is to turn even a plain unicolor scarf into an eye-catching accessory.
Fringes can be long or short, very thin, or 1 inch wide. They are most suitable for a big scarf with one end as the fringes trailing in the wind will create a spectacular effect. In a multicolor scarf, the fringes can follow the knitting pattern or they can be of only one color.
When you hear the word headscarf you first think of a traditional head covering used in predominantly Muslim countries.
For people of this faith, headscarves are a religious symbol, but the term also refers to wide winter scarves that you wrap around the head to keep you warm on a freezing day. Headscarves are made of light fabrics, such as linen, cashmere or cotton.
A silk or chiffon headscarf can be worn in summer to protect your hair from sun exposure or dust, as well as to keep your hair in place on a windy day.
Fashion meets technology! If you need to spend many hours outside over the cold winter months, a heated scarf is just the thing for you.
On the outside, it looks pretty much like a normal scarf, but what matters is on the inside, namely a battery-powered technology to provide heat and keep your neck perfectly warm on the coldest days of the season.
Most heated scarves come with three levels of heat and you can easily adjust the temperature using a hidden USB device. Such scarves are made of polyester fibers, which are easy to wash, and you can replace the batteries in no time.
A hijab scarf is traditionally worn by Muslim women when in the presence of men they are not related to. It is a religious symbol, worn for the sake of modesty, but even non-Muslim women sometimes choose to wear such a head covering for the practical advantages it offers.
Such a head covering protects your hair from the elements and it can complement your appearance by hiding slight imperfections, like a double-chin.
Hijab scarves are usually made of cotton or linen, to fit snugly around the head and stay in place.
Infinity scarves are one of the most popular types of scarves today, as they can be worn in multiple ways and keep you twice as warm as a regular cowl. An infinity scarf is basically a cowl, one with a hole wide enough so you can twist the scarf twice around the neck.
Since you will twist it in the middle when you wrap it the second time, it creates the sign for infinity, hence the name. However, if the sun comes out and it gets warmer you can wrap it just once and let it hang loose over your winter jacket.
Infinity scarves can be made of wool or polyester, but that is less important as they both keep you warm. What you should look for is a striking knitting pattern and a color that goes well with your skin tone and your type of clothing.
Linen is made from the fibers of the flax plant. It’s a light material that lets your skin breathe. Linen is quite similar to cotton, but is more absorbent and dries faster, qualities that make such fabric perfect for summer scarves.
It is one of the oldest fabrics known to man, dating back almost 30,000 years ago. A big rectangular scarf can be worn over the shoulders, but linen is also the material of choice for headscarves or hijabs.
Muffler scarves are basically scarves, only for men. Well, not necessarily, but they do tend to come in more sombre, more masculine colors, like brown, black, or navy blue. A muffler should be long enough so you can wrap it around the neck several times and twist them for a funkier look.
Obviously, wrapped several times they will appear bulkier, and this might be one of the reasons they are preferred by men.
On the other hand, several layers of soft woolly fabric will keep so much warmer so on a snowy day you might be tempted to steal your boyfriend’s big muffler.
This is a very trendy fashion accessory among both men and women. Neck scarves aren’t meant to keep you warm, their purpose is to give you a fancy look. They’re usually made of light materials, cotton, linen, or silk.
Wearing a neck scarf with style is all about choosing a nice print in a color that goes well with your skin and hair color. Also, it’s a matter of knowing what sort of knot to make. Would it go well right under your chin, or should you twist it more to the side for a more carefree look?
A neck scarf doesn’t have to match your outfit. It is meant to stand out so go for bold eye-catching color!
Any sort of mesh fabric can be referred to as a net. A wide fishing-net sort of pattern makes for a wonderful net scarf. A net scarf in camouflage colors made of reliable cotton fibers is perfect for outdoor activities or camping trips, and it can be worn by both men and women.
For a fine net with small holes what matters most are the materials used to decorate the scarf. Such a simple net would be too plain for a fashionable item, so such fabrics are usually decorated with sequins, small colorful beads, or applied lace patterns.
While they do serve to keep you warm, oblong scarves are primarily worn to make a fashion statement. They’re meant to be worn inside where there’s little need for them, other than to make you look gorgeous.
Oblong scarves can be made out of wool, cashmere, or silk. You can wear one wrapped around your neck once with the loose ends hanging down your sides up to waist level.
The fabric of the scarf should match that of your clothing. A wool scarf will go well over a sweater, while silky oblong scarves are best suited to a shirt or business suit.
Most people think pashmina is the same thing as cashmere, but with a fancier name. The two are indeed quite similar, but there is a slight difference. Cashmere comes from the wool of goats in the Kashmir region, but it is only a particular type of goat that gives pashmina wool.
The fiber of this wool is thinner than cashmere fiber and more difficult to work with. Real pashmina scarves are made with hand-spun fiber and are hand-woven, which sort of explains the price.
Pashmina scarves are very wide so you wrap them around your shoulders. They’ll keep you warm enough so you won’t need a jacket on a cool autumn day.
Plaid scarves are a type of chequered scarves with a tartan pattern. While it may appear similar to a chequered pattern, a tartan pattern consists of various crisscrossed horizontal and vertical lines or bands of different colors.
This pattern is more masculine which is why it is men you’ll mostly see wearing a plaid scarf. This type of scarf is usually made of wool, but you can also find plaid scarves in synthetic and more affordable fibers.
While in Scotland, where this pattern hails from, a plaid is a large shawl you can wrap around your shoulders, plaid scarves can be of any width and worn just like any other scarf.
A regular scarf is one you buy for its basic function, that of keeping you protected from cold. As such, all you need is a rectangular scarf you can wrap around the neck and tuck it inside your winter coat.
Still, you’ll have to consider the fabric, and if you’re looking for warmth you should buy a reliable wool scarf. And you’ll also want something a bit colorful.
Winter coats are mostly in dark colors so you should accessorize yours with a white, red, or green scarf, just for the fun of it.
Sarong scarves are the latest thing in beachwear fashion. Such a scarf can be worn tied around the waistline or if it’s big enough you can tie it just below the armpits. If you want to make a stunning impression, look for something that matches your bikini.
Sarongs are made of very light and transparent materials because you still want to show off that bikini body you’ve been working so hard to get.
If there’s a slight breeze, even better, the billowing sarong will move with the wind revealing just a bit of thigh making you irresistible. If you’re going to a pool party, a sarong is a must as it makes you feel like you’re a bit dressed up.
There’s a reason satin is the preferred fabric for women’s lingerie and nightgowns, the luscious feel of the delicate silky material clinging to the body. And there’s of course the glossy surface that catches the eye and makes you want to run your fingers over it.
Originally, satin was made of silk and silk only, but today most items sold as satin will probably contain polyester or nylon fibers, which make the fabric more resistant.
Satin scarves do not offer much protection from the elements, but they do give you class. Such scarves make wonderful accessories to brighten up a classic office two-piece or you can wear one with a swishing evening gown.
Shawls are a type of scarves originating from Asia, most probably from the Kashmir region, where cashmere and pashmina also come from.
This is why the most sought-after shawls are made of cashmere, although it’s not uncommon to find shawls made of wool. A shawl can be square, rectangular or triangular, what matters is that you can wrap it around your shoulders on a cool evening.
If it’s made of cashmere or pashmina, a shawl can also be worn in summer as the fabric is heat-resistant and it will keep you protected from the elements and cool.
A Shemagh, also known as a keffiyeh, is a type of scarf originating in the Middle East. There it is traditional headwear meant to protect from the sun, but also to keep the desert sand from getting into your eyes.
Nowadays, many Western men wear Shemagh scarves for the rugged look it gives them. While in the Middle East, a keffiyeh is usually white, the best color to wear under a blazing sun, in Western fashion Shemagh scarves come in many patterns.
And no, you don’t have to cover your head with it, wrapped around the neck is just fine.
Silk scarves are among the most popular types of scarves because it’s an incredibly smooth material that falls so well wrapped around the neck or draped over the shoulders.
Real silk fibers are tough, and the fabric is not slippery, unlike many synthetic fibers, which means such a scarf will stay in place when you move around. Silk is very delicate and feminine, but you will also find many silk scarves for men, albeit in more sombre colors.
A thin silk scarf goes well with a formal outfit, while a large enveloping one is just perfect for a casual evening dress.
If you invest in a really great silk scarf you can wear it even over an older dress, past its prime, and the effect will be splendid.
A snood scarf is very much like a cowl. It’s a tubular scarf that looks very much like a turtle neck collar. It can be worn around the neck, but it is wide enough so you can pull it over your head when the weather gets too cold.
Winter snoods are usually made of wool, which makes them soft and comfy to wear. Snood scarves are increasingly popular among men as well, as they are not only fashionable but also quite practical.
A scarf with a purpose! When you wear a scarf in the colors of your favorite soccer club you show your support and affiliation. A dedicated fan will wear such a scarf not only at the stadium but also for casual outings.
Not such a good idea for office wear, unless your boss is also a diehard fan of the team. Typically, soccer scarves have the name or the crest of the club on them, or the name of the team’s star player.
Most soccer scarves are made of polyester fiber so you can wash them after a game.
Some might confuse fringes with tassels, but they’re not the same thing actually. Tassels are a sort of little pompons used as a finishing for clothing.
They serve a decorative role and as such, they can be in one color predominant in the fabric’s print, or they can be in various colors to give the scarf a more festive look.
Tassels can be of a muted color or, on the contrary, of a bright one to make the scarf stand out. Almost any type of scarf can have tassels, but they’re more common in cashmere, silk, or linen scarves.
When the temperatures start falling, you’ll want to grab a scarf, really anything to keep you warm. A traditional scarf is one that offers you maximum protection.
The traditional scarf is rectangular and the basic requirement is that it’s long and enveloping. The best fabrics for traditional scarves are cashmere or wool.
Fail that, polyester will do as they do the job quite well. A traditional scarf is worn wrapped around the neck once, or even twice on a really cold day, so make sure the one you choose is long enough.
Triangular scarves are well suited for both men and women, as they give you a very modern look. If you’re thinking of grandma’s old shawl you’re clearly thinking of something else. Triangle scarves are not something you wrap yourself in.
Typically, such scarves are worn with the pointy part hanging over your chest and the long ends go around your neck once or twice for the desired effect.
Don’t wrap them too tight for they are meant to be worn a bit loose. You want your triangle scarf to give your outfit a bit of bulk!
It’s hard to find something more elegant than velvet when it comes to scarves. Velvet is soft and shiny and looks wonderful draped over your shoulders or around your neck.
Velvet scarves are ideal for formal outfits, but they can also be used in casual attire. A simple white shirt will look outstanding if you drape a long velvet scarf in a strong color over it.
On the other hand, keep in mind that velvet is rather thick so you might get a bit hot under the collar if you wear it for too long.
Viscose, sometimes called rayon, is a semi-synthetic fiber that is often used as a substitute for silk. It comes from wood pulp, treated with various chemicals to create a soft and very resistant sort of fiber. Also way more affordable than real silk.
Viscose scarves come in a vast array of colors and prints, and since they’re inexpensive you can afford to own a whole bunch of them to go with every outfit.
While they can be used to keep your neck cozy on a cool day, viscose scarves are mainly used as a fashion accessory as the bright colors and the elegant feel can make even the most basic blouse look remarkable.
The name says it all. Winter scarves are meant to keep you warm and comfy even when it’s a blizzard outside. Unlike scarves worn mainly as fashion accessories, a winter scarf has to be thick and insulating.
When buying a winter scarf also make sure it is wide enough. Those that are too thin will inevitably let the cold air get through even if you wrap it twice around your neck.
If you live in an area where winters are long and pretty miserable, you’ll want to splurge on a winter scarf so buy something made of wool or cashmere that provides all the warmth you need without making you all sweaty underneath.
All types of fibers that come from an animal, like sheep, goats, rabbits or camels count as wool. When we’re talking about wool scarves, this refers to items made with sheep wool. A wool fabric feels soft, so it’s very comfortable to wear.
Wool fibers are also quite resistant, they can absorb moisture and allow the skin to breathe, so you won’t get too hot while wearing a wool scarf.
On the other hand, keep in mind that wool clothing cannot be washed normally as the fabric might shrink. Dry-clean your wool scarves if you want to have them for many years.
The term jersey refers to the type of knitting used to make this sort of fabric. Originally, jersey fabric was made of wool, but nowadays it is made of a variety of fibers, such as cotton or synthetic fibers.
The special type of knitting makes jersey materials stretchy, which is why it also used to make sweaters. At the same time, due to the particular type of knitting used, a jersey fabric has two sides, one with piled loops that feels sort of rough, while the other side is flat and smooth.
There are also double-sided jersey fabrics, with flat sides on the outside and this type is just perfect for scarves. You wouldn’t want something itchy around your neck.
How do I choose a scarf?
When you’re looking to buy a scarf, there are a few things to consider:
Intended use – For winter scarves, you need something soft and warm. As a fashion accessory, the print and the style matter most.
Material – If you’re looking for warmth, try wool or cashmere. Silk is best for fashionable scarves.
Color – Don’t be afraid to buy something colorful to brighten any outfit, including a winter jacket.
Length – A long scarf gives you more options to wear, so go for it.
Formal or casual – Silk or satin go best for formal dress, while for casual wear anything goes if you like it.
What type of scarf is warmest?
No doubt about it, cashmere scarves are the warmest ever. A cashmere scarf is 7-8 warmer than one made with sheep wool. A cashmere scarf will also keep you warmer than a pashmina one. At the same time, a wool scarf is warmer than one in synthetic fibers.
What is the softest scarf material?
There is nothing softer than a cashmere scarf, except maybe a pashmina one, which is made of the wool of a particular type of goat from Kashmir. Compared to sheep wool, cashmere fibers are thinner and longer, which makes them feel softer against the skin.
Ways to Wear a Scarf
There are various ways to wear a scarf, depending on the shape of the item.
- Wrap it around your neck, to protect you from the elements and let the ends hang loose.
- Wrap it twice or three times for added warmth and a bulkier look.
- Drape a scarf around your shoulders. You will need a wide scarf for that. This style is preferable for light scarves worn on summer nights.
- Tie a sarong or beach scarf around your waistline or right under the armpits.
- Tie a small silk or satin scarf around your neck to add a touch of color to any outfit.
Tips to Buy Scarves
Here’s what you need to look at when buying a scarf:
- Check out the label and inspect the fabric carefully. If you’re buying an expensive cashmere scarf make sure it’s the real deal.
- Look yourself in the mirror to see if the color compliments your skin tone.
- Look for versatile scarves that you can wear with many different outfits.
- Check out both sides of the scarf to look for hidden knitting defects.
- Don’t be afraid to buy something bright and colorful.
Types of Scarf Rings
When you buy a light scarf meant as a fashion accessory you should also look for a scarf ring. These little items are very useful and versatile enough when it comes to choosing the style you want to wear your scarf.
Plastic scarf rings are the most affordable and they come in plenty of colors so you’ll definitely find something to match the color of your scarf.
If you have a scarf with a bright print you might want a simple plastic ring in a single color. On the other hand, for a unicolor scarf, you could go for a plastic ring with bright colors to create a contrast.
- Wooden rings come in a variety of shapes and are great to style a linen or cotton scarf.
- Crystal rings are very classy and go well with soft silk or satin scarves.
- Buckle rings are made of metal and give a modern look to any outfit.
- Clip rings come in various designs and besides keeping the scarf in place, they add a touch of elegance. Make sure they match your jewelry.
You can also style your scarf with a clasp using magnets to keep the fabric in place. Such clasps are very versatile allowing you to play with your new scarf as much as you want for the perfect look.