Scarves: twist them, tie them, knot them, do what you like with them; they serve one essential function, and that is to keep your neck warm. But alas, in the aesthetic world of fashion, style always comes before function, and I’m sure several of you will be donning a scarf this winter just to look good, despite the beads of sweat dripping down your neck pleading for you to take it off. Yes, for many in the fashion world appearance often comes before comfort, and the scarf has become one of aesthetics rather than function. But with all the different types of scarves available, and all the different ways to wear them, how do we know which style suits us best? Well, as the first part of this series did with the skinny scarf, today’s second instalment aims to show you how to work its slightly porkier brother, the chunky knit scarf, with your body type.
Again, I would just like to make it clear that the tips I give in these articles merely act as a base structure for you to build upon and use to work with your own individual style. Although I will try and give as many tips as possible based on my tastes and what I think looks good, only you can know what truly looks good on yourself, so it is all about experimenting! Don’t be afraid to delve into your wardrobe and pluck out those old scarves, or go into the shop dressing room and try on the whole store’s scarf collection; it is just important that you try out anything and everything, keeping my tips in mind, and work out what works best for you! With this out of the way, I believe it is time to get our chunk on.
Top Tip #1: When it comes to colour, keep your chunky knit scarf in the neutrals and monotones. You may find that the item is too focal in the outfit to be donning the bold and brights! A grey or black scarf will also work with a lot more outfits than any bright colour will.
Tall frames (both structured and lanky)
Some larger figures
Very large figures
If the skinny scarf is the undernourished, youngest member of the scarf family, then the chunky scarf is most certainly its larger, meaner, older brother, and opposed to the indoor, aesthetic qualities of his younger brother, the chunky scarf is an outdoor lad who likes to serve a purpose. Functionally, the oversized scarf rules all; its effortless ability to keep you warm on those winter nights is what has made it such a hit on the high-street in recent years, but if worn correctly, the garment can further serve to aesthetically compliment your body. However, wear it wrong and you could find yourself being swallowed up by an oversized cotton monster on an evil mission to transform your neck into that of the Michelin man’s – not a good look. So how do we wear it right you may be asking? Well do not fret my Michelin man – who strangely looks like the marshmallow man from Ghostbusters -fearing buddies, as this article will reveal all you need to know!
Well as illustrated by my rather elaborate ‘Michelin Man’ metaphor, it is all too easy for a chunky, oversized scarf to swallow you up (you know, in a non munch munch, nom nom type of way). As with any other item of clothing, it is important to ensure that you are wearing it, rather than it is wearing you. This mainly concerns large and muscular body types, and also guys with a shorter figure. The problem with the chunky scarf is that it is often oversized in length as well as width, which causes huge implications for the aforementioned body types. For shorter guys, a long, thick, dangly scarf can look ridiculous and ‘oversized’ in all the wrong ways, whereas with a muscular guy, you may find that the long dangly ends draw attention down the body and away from the built up torso, which should be the focal point of your figure (this applies to shorter guys also as it keeps the eye at the top portion and height of your body).
However, you know what they say, never say never, and there are definitely some ways to get around these implications if the shorter or more muscular gentlemen would like to wear a slightly thicker scarf than usual. For example, if a shorter styled, and not too chunky, scarf is chosen, then there is a way of implementing this into your wardrobe. Apply the classic Ascot knot as shown in fig. 2 [below] and tuck the loose ends of the scarf into your suit, jacket or coat (ensure this is not too bulky or it will defeat the whole purpose), so there are no loose ends flapping about and distracting from your upper focal point. This type of knot helps bring the focus upwards in your outfit, and should be worn with a relatively slim or lightweight attire on your bottom-half. Also ensure that the knot is not too close to your neck or you will be swallowed up by either your height or your muscles – by lowering the knot a little further down than usual you are elongating the neck area and drawing out your body vertically at the same time.
Larger guys face a slightly different problem, which involves both the neck area and the issues with avoiding extra bulk. Again, if you would like to wear a slightly thicker scarf than usual, this can be overcome, just perhaps a little less effectively as the previous body types. Take a look at the X-Factor’s Paije Richardson below, who uses a shorter length chunky scarf as to not add bulk around the belly area. It is important with this style to create as big a gap between the neck and knot as possible, so you don’t end up losing your neck completely amongst the material. A traditional European loop works well with this look, as shown in fig. 1 [below].
As you can see Paije’s scarves may not be the most slimming, but worn correctly, go great with his individual style and add a nice detailing to the outfit. Pair with blazers and sharp tailoring to slim out the rest of your upper body, and avoid other heavy-weight garments at all costs to pull off this look correctly.
One of the great things about the chunky scarf is that it works well with a tall frame, and unlike the prejudices of his skinnier brother, the chunky elder can compliment both lanky and structured tall figures. However, there are some things to watch out for when the taller gent dons this attire: Firstly, it is essential that other heavy or medium-weight items are worn to bulk out the rest of the body, and avoid looking like someone has tried to wrap up a breadstick in a scarf. Secondly, the scarf should be worn loose over garments, rather than bunched up around the neck area, as this will make you top heavy and emphasise your height in all the wrong ways. By letting it hang loosely, you are accentuating your long, linear structure, whilst adding some curved horizontal elements with the loop, as shown in fig. 3 [below]. This styled knot is perfect for the taller gent as the loop keeps the attention towards the top of your figure, additionally breaking up the linear structure, whilst the long, loose ends help to parallel the contours of your body.
However, it is important to get the length right with the oversized chunky scarf. As a general rule, the scarf should never hang lower than the coat you are wearing. For a longer coat that hangs below your waist, such as a pea or trench coat, allow the chunky knit scarf to do so also. This style is perfect for a more structured gentleman who can afford length and flappyness with the scarf, and this style of coat further helps to emphasise their structured shoulders. However, for a slightly more lanky gent, opt for a shorter coat, such as a jacket or blazer, ensuring that the scarf does not fall below the waist-line, to bulk out the upper half of the body and create a break up between legs and torso. This style scarf should always be worn either on top of your outerwear if it allows for it, or inside an unbuttoned coat or jacket. Avoid wearing the chunky scarf underneath a buttoned up coat, or it will add bulk in all the wrong places!
One thing to note with the LookBook guys is that a lot of them play against their natural body types and structures to make their look stand out even further. What may look good for their individual, in-your-face style, may not suit your own style. This is why it is so important to experiment – what may look good on others that look similar to you may not necessarily look good on you or fit in with your wardrobe!
Top Tip #2: Chunky knits are a great way to implement a new texture into your outfit. Keep other items with a similar feel by avoiding nylons and waterproofs and favouring cottons and twill.
Well that’s it: an in-depth look at one chunky garment. I hope that I have managed to show you that whilst not perfect for all body types, the chunky scarf can be applicable to your individual look depending on the style you buy, and the way in which you wear it.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Got any additional tips? Let us know!
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