You Probably Already Own Summer’s #1 Accessory

The Scarf is Summer's #1 Accessory

Last week, I wrote a story in which I set up one-on-one personal shopping video appointments with the first five people to comment. I do these outside of Man Repeller, too, and I’ve found recently that pretty much everybody is in a closet rut.

Summer does this to people—it’s a tough time to spice up an outfit when you’re wearing as few articles of clothing as possible. Here’s what I keep telling everybody: You need a scarf. It’s the best summer styling hack there is.

By definition, the scarf checks a bunch of summertime boxes: it’s lightweight, airy, and most often made of natural materials like silk, linen, and cotton. It can cost as little as five bucks and can be worn many, many ways. Below, my friends Emma and Share help me demonstrate three options for styling a scarf, ranging from the most elaborate trick to a very easy everyday option.

Maximum Scarf Styling: Elizabeth turns her scarf into a dress and a skirt

As a young attendee of many bat and bar mitzvahs or school dances, my mom always handed me a scarf to throw over my shoulders for warmth (this was an agreed-upon compromise, because a scarf wouldn’t disrupt my very deliberate ensemble). I’ve always considered a scarf as an extra layer to shield me from AC, but it wasn’t until my grandmother passed away and left me with many scarves that I started to see their creative potential.

In the photo on the left, I’m wearing a large 50″ x 50” silk scarf as a halter dress and on the right (in which I stand the exact same way), I’ve fashioned it into a skirt. I recommend layering something like these short biker shorts underneath for coverage: The scarf remains open in the back when worn as a dress, and has a high slit when worn as a skirt.

To make the dress, I tied two corners of the scarf together and let it lay like a cowl neck halter. I then tied the back hanging corners neatly behind me. To make the skirt, I folded the scarf in half lengthwise and tied at my hip. You could also leave it unfolded or fold it less for a longer skirt.

Worn with a pair of heels, I consider these looks dinner-party-appropriate, even if it’s only over FaceTime.

Mid-level Scarf Styling: Emma’s new statement tops

I look for scarves based on their fabric, size, and pattern. I prefer 100% silk scarves that are large enough to wrap around my chest. Truthfully, most scarves I find don’t meet this criteria. I’ve only recently acquired a silk scarf that fits around my bust. For reference, these scarves measure 42″ x 42″. I’m going to source more scarves in this size for Berriez (my online vintage shop) so that other curvy people can wear them (since wearing scarves as tops isn’t realistic for many people)!

I also love bold patterns. Here, I’m wearing my two favorite scarves from my shop, both of which are early 90s Nicole Miller. I live for her quirky and colorful silk scarves and tops! My boyfriend also wears these scarves as headwraps.

I tied the scarves to make sure they fully cover my breasts and won’t fall down, especially when I bend over. In the look on the left, I folded the scarf diagonally and tied in the back. For the bra look on the right, I folded it in half then I tied it the opposite way, starting from the back this time. I wrapped it around my body to the front, knotted it, and then tucked in the loose ends of the scarf so you can’t see them. Make sure to tie it tight. I went braless, but you could easily wear a small bandeau, nip covers, or double-sided tape to make sure the scarf doesn’t slip. —Emma

Everyday Scarf Styling: Share protects her hair

Scarves roll over seamlessly from winter through summer. Since it’s quite humid right now, the first thing I do is inspect the quality of the scarf to see if it’s breathable or flowy. A scarf is generally great for protecting yourself from the sun as an all-encompassing protective style. I look for length and quality. You’d be surprised how many drug or beauty store scarves outlast luxury!

I tend to use a scarf as a headpiece due to the hair oil products, skin serums, and sunscreen I put on before I venture out. Essentially, the scarf acts like a barrier to keep the products from entangling with sweat ensuing in a greasy forehead. If you have oily or combination skin, wear wigs, weaves, or extensions, or if you just run hot, consider a variation of a scarf headpiece.

For the first look, I braided the scarf through my hair and secured it in my hair with a clear elastic, letting the end hang loosely. For the second, I secured it as a simple bandana, folding it diagonally and then wrapping it to the back of my head and knotting it tightly. —Share

These are only a few of the practically limitless ways you can style summer’s most versatile accessory. We’d love to see how you’ve been styling with scarves in the comments below.

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