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How the Heck Do You Tie a Scarf?

Photo: Courtesy of Naomi Nomi

I’m drawn to statement pieces. Most days I throw on a shirt and pants and I imagine if I knew how to tie a scarf I’d become interesting, even stylish, by New York City standards. I’d feel powerful. I’d walk taller.

But I don’t know how to tie a scarf! One morning before work I spent 20 minutes trying to tie one, and then it slipped off on the subway and I had to tie it again, and so I’ve always thought a scarf is not for me — not the brilliant, hacking-the-fashion-system accessory I’ve always dreamed of. Enter Naomi Mishkin, my scarf savior.

Her new fashion label Naomi Nomi makes subversive, feminist takes on office-appropriate clothing, and today the 30-year-old artist launched a collection of affordable silk scarves partly inspired by Democratic congresswomen who wear them, like Nancy Pelosi and Lisa Blunt Rochester, as well as fashion icons like Jacqueline Kennedy and Tonne Goodman. She’s selling the scarves at a trunk show this Saturday from 12:30–6:30 p.m. on West 3rd Street.

“In many ways, a silk scarf is one of the answers to a men’s tie,” Mishkin said. “There’s a lot of power there — in fact it stays in place a hell of a lot better than a tie. You can’t look at a single image of a woman throughout any time period, in any culture, in any civilization, and not see a woman rocking a scarf.”

Since launching Naomi Nomi in October, Mishkin’s first big hit was the Bad Wife Shirt, a white button-down shirt with an iron burn scorched on its front. “There’s no way in hell that I’m producing a collection that doesn’t have at least a few winks in it,” she said. She made the shirts with a vintage iron that in the process, she has said, makes the room smell like freshly baked cookies.

Her new collection is titled the Process Scarves. They’re made from 100 percent silk twill and come in seven colors, from canary yellow to dove gray. Each scarf is designed with a grid-like pattern that pays tribute to garment-makers’ go-to tools, from pattern paper and cutting mats to tape measures.

After graduating from RISD with a degree in glassblowing, Mishkin received a master’s in fine arts from Oxford and studied pattern-making at the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London, where Phoebe Philo and Stella McCartney are alums. She says Anne Klein, Donna Karan, and Patagonia inspire her grounded, body-positive approach to making “real, not fantasy” fashion.

“The working woman is a very complicated topic,” she said. “All of the clothes that we do, you’re meant to work in. And by work, I mean a very expanded sense of work, everything from being in an office to running up a ladder to picking someone up from school, every aspect of being a working woman.”

This fall she will release a collection of seven signature workwear pieces inspired by Donna Karan’s debut “seven easy pieces” collection in 1985. Check out her guide to how to tie a scarf below, featuring illustrations by Chamisa Kellogg.

How the Heck Do You Tie a Scarf?