Secrets of the Scarf: Parisians Show Off Their Tying Prowess

Photo: Nabile Quenum

To a New Yorker, scarves are mostly a winter thing, and after this winter, one they’re all too eager to chuck back into the closet. To a Parisian, however, a scarf is a security blanket you can wear almost every day your entire life. Only the hottest weather will stop Parisians from rocking un foulard (the thin-silk kind) or une écharpe (the heavier, wintry kind). Something about the plumage scarves create around the throat harks back to the monarchical snootiness that the rest of France has resented about Parisians for centuries. (Let’s face it — a scarf around your neck and shoulders makes you carry your head that much higher, nose slightly in the air.)

Also, there are the health considerations! “The French never allow their throats to be exposed to cold weather, terrified they’ll catch a cold,” says Erin Hazelton, an American fashion blogger living in France. “You should see the looks I get from my kids’ teachers when I drop them at school sans scarf, even when it’s not that cold. I’m surprised they haven’t called the French version of Child Services on me yet.”

Can the tricks of the Parisian scarf  be taught? Is there a time when even they advise against wearing one? We sent photographer Nabile Quenum all over the city in search of the best scarf looks. We then interviewed some of the wearers for scarf advice — and scarf warnings. The common denominator: Never — never — look as though you put much effort into tying it. (Even if, as many here advised, you’ve spent hours watching this video and learning 25 different ways to tie one.)

Why Do Parisians Wear Scarves So Damn Well?