How to Wear a Scarf: A Guide for Men

Warm! Photo: Photo-Illustration by: Preeti Kinha; Photo: Getty.

It recently became apparent to me that there are a bunch of men out there who claim they don’t know how to wear scarves.

“I don’t think I ever learned how to properly wear a scarf,” one told me. It was, at that point, 9 degrees outside (Fahrenheit). The man was about to leave his home to walk somewhere, allowing the winter air to flow onto his bare neck and through the open top of his coat. You should just put one around your neck, I said. A scarf isn’t very difficult; it is a scrap of fabric cut to be wrapped around a specific part of your body. “The few times I’ve tried they just wind up bunched in my coat. Every attempt at me wearing a scarf ends with me yelling ‘FUCK THIS’ and throwing it on the ground.”


“We’re not scarf-wearers, Kelly,” he said, of men. Uh-huh.

“I recently watched someone put a scarf on and finally realized how the whole deal works,” another man told me. So you didn’t know how to put one on until recently? I asked. “No. They did it by like … folding it in half … and then other steps. I can just tell it’s not for me.”

We discussed why men “don’t know how” to wear scarves, and why they seem otherwise averse to them, in our work chat, and one of my co-workers shared a theory her partner, Brendan O’Connor, had. I asked him to repeat it again for this story, and he obliged. “American men don’t wear scarves because they’re repressed and afraid of their sexuality,” he said, “of being choked, of being out of control. Scarves are sexualized and thus feminized. This is silly though, because who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of light BDSM?”

Heh. Maybe that’s it.

Anyway, I remembered that after a dinner one night in late November, a friend witnessed me putting on a scarf and remarked that he wished he knew how to put on a scarf. This friend is Jordan Sargent, and I talked to him about why he lacks this knowledge. “Since I grew up in Miami,” he said, “I was never taught how to wear a scarf. So I always feel like an impostor when I wear one, like it doesn’t look right on me.”

Unlike those other two friends, though, he’s open to learning. “I think all the time about how much I would love to have a scarf on.” Aw. Sweet, sunny, Miami boy Jordan.

I am not here to mock men for how they apparently don’t know how to do anything, even if the way to do it is so obvious that it is crazy. I’m here to help. It is February and it is cold outside. Let’s put on some scarves.

I reached out to Nicola Harrison from Harrison Style, a personal styling business in NYC, to see if she could explain how to put on a scarf. “Man. it’s so much easier to just do it than to describe in words!” she admitted, and it’s true, so I have included illustrations to better visualize. Here is what she said:

The Easy One

“Fold the scarf in half, wrap it around your neck and pull the loose ends through the loop.”

The Wrap-Around

“Start with about a quarter of the length of the scarf on one side of your neck, and the rest on the other. Wrap the long side around your neck once so both ends are in front and and even in length.”

The Knot (Long Version)

“If it’s a long scarf, do the above wrap-around and then tie the ends in a simple loose knot.”

The Knot (Short Version)

“If it’s a shorter length scarf, don’t wrap just knot and arrange the hanging ends to lay on top of each other as tie would.”

I have to admit I didn’t really know how to draw that one. My apologies. “As for color,” Harrison told me, “I love a good tone-on-tone look — if you’re wearing a navy top coat a blue scarf in a shade or two lighter will look great. A camel colored scarf also looks great with navy. For a gray topcoat, a different shade of gray will look good, or pair with burgundy or purple.”

So, that’s pretty much how you do it. Please learn and get un-repressed, both sexually and in terms of scarves. It’s for your own good.

How to Wear a Scarf: A Guide for Men