The ultimate chic fashion accessory
“There is something about a printed square scarf that transcends fashion, an accessory to love and cherish and a great wardrobe fix for the days when you don’t know what to wear” says Melanie Laslett, founder of the British luxury accessories brand Laslett England.
The silk square scarf is a powerful accessory as a style statement and a wearable work of art. It is a symbol of femininity and self-expression, oozing sophistication and elegance. For a woman, wearing a silk scarf has a similar meaning as men wearing a tie, it is a form of communication to state someone’s sense of style and status or to characterise one’s personality. The use of scarves can be traced as far as to the ancient civilisations. In ancient Greece, scarves were called a focale or sudarium (which means “sweat cloth”) and were used to wipe the sweat from the neck and face in hot weather. They were originally worn by men around their neck or tied to their belt. In ancient Egypt, scarves were used or wrapped around the head as a base for heavy yet decorative headpieces or jewellery. They were popular among Egyptian nobles and even worn by the famous Queen Nefertiti.
The iconic figures, such as Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly are continually given credit for elevating the silk square as a statement neck scarf or headpiece captured in striking images that still resonate with us today. From a practical point of view a scarf can provide the wearer warmth or keep them cool. So, although worn primarily by women, silk squares are also being styled by an increasing number of men to make a statement or to simply add a touch of class and colour to an outfit.
A glamorous silk square is a natural canvas for pattern; the printed square has a very strong visual appeal. After the end of the Second World War, the world was craving for more bold and vibrant colours in their wardrobes. Patterned scarves attracted a wide audience during this time. From 1946 – 1955 textile company, Ascher commissioned designs from leading artists around the world. Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Henry Moore were among the 42 world-renowned artists who contributed to the Ascher ‘Artists Squares’ – art and fashion collide. French brand Hermès is famous for its 90cm x 90cm printed silk carré or square. These are collected around the world by art and fashion lovers alike. A square worn as a silk headscarf or turban in the 1960’s was considered the ultimate in stylish glamour, an accessory favoured by the rich and famous, it also gave them privacy. The late Queen Elizabeth II was a huge fan and icons like Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot and Grace Kelly often styled theirs with big sunglasses to provide a veil of anonymity from the press. A silk square has a comforting and protective quality that is often overlooked.
In addition to a luxury large silk square scarf, the smaller, lighter bandana, neck scarf or neckerchief add their own element of chic. Women are increasingly wearing a smaller scarf around their wrists, tied in their hair, draped on their shoulders as a layer or even attached to their bag’s handle. Apart from enlivening your style, the right choice of scarf can complement your skin tone. Stylish and versatile; they add a layer of sophistication or bring a more playful attitude to dressing. A bandana is around 19-20 in (50cm) square. Neckerchiefs are larger, around 26 in (70cm) square. Both sizes are made for and worn by both women and men. They come in 100% pure silk, silk blended with cotton or 100% cotton. Some brands also offer an extra-large size that is normally between 130 and 140 cm square.
There is a timeless style attached to a silk square, an accessory you can wear all year round with many different outfits. Great for a weekend away, it can take the stress out of packing as a silk square takes up no room and weighs virtually nothing. Team it with more than one outfit – its versatility is so part of the appeal. They add contrast to any garment whether it’s to up-style a casual outfit or to add elegance to a smart or tailored ensemble. Even if you’re not a silk scarf wearer, a smaller square is an easy way to experiment with colour and pattern without overwhelming your outfit. Dress it up or dress it down; not only does it add colour and interest; its mood enhancing and makes you feel finished.
Laslett England’s foulards and neckerchiefs are printed with vintage style florals, abstract and animal patterns with contrasting border designs, finished with a hand-rolled edge in a which makes it beautiful when tied. Shape, colour and pattern all interact in the designs, it’s all about the detail.
The square shape can be worn in a multitude of ways to suit your style. Melanie says, “many women I speak to often say they don’t know how to wear a scarf, but a neckerchief couldn’t be easier, think of it like a piece of jewellery. Fold the square into a triangle, roll it over and style it knotted at the front or best positioned slightly askew on one side ‘a la Audrey Hepburn in Roman holiday’, the more jauntily the better!” It can also be folded over a couple of times on the diagonal and worn as a hairband, styled cowgirl-style or to personalise a bag.
A designer silk scarf has lasting appeal and makes a special gift for her or him. A very thoughtful gift for a mother, sister, or best friend. A gift for a special birthday, to wear to a wedding or to simply elevate your outfit with the soft silky texture of silk. And what about him? For the stylish man in your life, an originally designed silk square bandana or long silk scarf makes a perfect Christmas present.
The artistic qualities of a silk square scarf make it a treasured item. A Laslett England scarf comes packaged in a signature red box which is a good way to store it too.