A scarf? In summer? While at first that might sound faintly ridiculous and akin to wearing shorts in winter, a lightweight scarf can, in fact, be a useful tool for when the weather heats up. ‘Lightweight’ is the key word here. Naturally, it wouldn’t be wise to don your densely-woven lambswool neckwarmer at the height of ice-cream season – that would be ridiculous.
Many items of clothing have seasonal iterations made from lighter weight fabrics and with warmer colour palettes. The scarf is no different. There are a plethora of options to wrap your head around made from summer-friendly fabrics – think cotton, linen, seersucker, silk or modal – so whether you’re after some added warmth when evening comes around, or you want to inject a dose of colour into your outfit, you can find a summer scarf that’s right for you.
Summer Scarf Fabric
For no-sweat style in a summer scarf, fabric is key. Adopt a similar mindset to how you’d choose a new warm-weather blazer, i.e., keep an eye out for loose, open-weave fibres that breathe well and aren’t stifling. As such, many of the materials you’d find in summer tailoring apply here too.
Linen is an obvious choice: soft on the skin, it’s light and drapes well, and the annoying wrinkles that would wind you up on a suit jacket don’t apply here. They are just part of the look – artfully dishevelled, you could call it.
Then there’s cotton which is much of the same, although generally slightly sturdier than linen, and can take more of a beating. Silk is a luxurious option and perhaps the best – certainly it’s the softest and most expensive, and will last if cared for properly. Finally there’s modal, a lesser-known fabric derived from wood pulp, that boasts a smooth handle and increased water absorbency over cotton.
But, as is often the way with tailoring, a blend of two or three of these fibres is perhaps the greatest shout as you’ll get the best attributes of each fabric. Go for a cotton/linen/silk mix and you’ll get the sheen of silk, the softness of linen and the robustness of cotton. A material gain in the most literal sense.
Why You Should Wear A Summer Scarf
The very nature of summer means that your style choices are extremely limited. There are only so many T-shirt/shorts, or shirt/chino combinations available. This is where a lightweight scarf comes in. It will add a little something extra to your outfit, making you stand out amongst a sea of polo shirts and boat shoes. There are many ways you can wear one but, when chosen carefully, a subtly patterned summer scarf really can make all the difference to a simple outfit.
And then there’s the practical benefit. A scarf is an ideal buffer between a T-shirt and a cropped jacket – it’s incredibly light and easy to carry around, and will provide welcome warmth when the evening comes. How it’s worn though can dramatically change your look, so here are some suggestions to help you wear a scarf and look cool in the heat.
5 Go-To Ways To Wear
The Once Around
You don’t have to treat a summer scarf any differently to its heavier winter cousins. Simply allow it to hang around the neck with one end longer than the other, then throw the long end loosely around the neck and let it fall. Known as the once around, this method exudes nonchalance when executed correctly and is best paired over the top of a light jacket to help balance the silhouette.
The trick is to not wrap it too tight around the neck – it needs to be loose enough so that there’s plenty of room between the neck and the fabric. This will keep you from looking too stuffy or uptight. Or, for that matter, like you’re sweating so much that you need some hydration salts and a nice lie down.
Under A Suit Jacket
This is perhaps the easiest way to wear a summer scarf. It’s hard to accessorise a summer suit – it’s often too hot for a tie meaning any tie-related accoutrements such as bars and pins are out of the equation also. In this instance a scarf shines – simply drape around your neck and under the suit jacket, and let its colours and pattern lift your tailoring out of its summer slump.
A pure silk scarf optimal choice here as the cloth’s sheen will help to match the formality of the tailoring. It’s important to opt for a style that’s on the shorter side too as the scarf’s ends should finish before the hem of the blazer – anything longer and you’ll ruin the unbroken lines of the top and bottom half of the suit.
As A Cravat
A cravat won’t be for everyone, which is why a lightweight scarf is a great alternative. Because they are made from thinner fabrics, summer scarves can be knotted neatly and tightly around the neck, meaning they complement a raft of more formal looks. Cravats often look too pompous, so ensure your scarf is tied in a tight yet imperfect knot, to ensure it retains a little devil-may-care attitude and doesn’t look too contrived.
Wear it under a shirt and a cotton suit for a look that’s ideal for a summer wedding, or utilise as a neck warmer if you happen to ride a moped or motorcycle – it will drastically reduce windchill. A silk-blend or modal design with a bit of texture is best here as it will further quell the formality of the tight knot.
Knotted Over Casualwear
The classic ‘Parisian’ knot is a fail-safe winner regardless of which style of scarf you go for. Working equally well with lightweight versions as it does a heavy wool example, this knot is best worn over a blouson jacket or raincoat.
If you tend to prefer tonal outfits then here is your chance to experiment a bit with colour or pattern. Given that it will sit outside your outerwear, this look offers up a good excuse to contrast with what’s beneath. Depending on your style, you may want to purchase a scarf in complementary colours or you could clash completely and allow it to become the focal point of your look.
As A Neckerchief
It’s worth noting that this will only work with a small scarf or bandana. But, tie your scarf as though it’s a neckerchief and you’ll be deploying a casual style move usually reserved for the kind of guy who is catnip to street style photographers. A quick Google of Alessandro Squarzi alone will reveal numerous shots of him wearing one, usually under a simple T-shirt, always looking cool.
This is a look best kept for the most informal outfits and is largely just for show – there are little to no benefits in terms of keeping warm here. However, when done well, this simple styling trick can make even the most basic attire sing. A bonus tip: if you’re not ready for the full-on neckerchief, simply leave the scarf untied around your neck and tuck the ends into a T-shirt below – you’ll still get a pop of colour without having to commit entirely to the look.