the object of our affection

The Silk Scarf That Transforms Every Outfit

Photo: Harling Ross Anton

To stand in front of an entire closet full of clothing and feel like you have “nothing to wear” is a well-known (and admittedly ridiculous) cliché, but I didn’t understand the specific trigger behind it until I stopped checking a bag when I traveled a few years ago. What I assumed would be frustrating — the physical limitations of packing and living out of the smallest carry-on possible — was actually, in a strange way, surprisingly freeing. I came to relish the beauty of constraint, an ingredient that so often goes missing when confronted with an unquantifiable number of options. It gave me newfound appreciation for the versatility of certain items that I could wear multiple different ways, or that transformed an entire outfit without taking up much room. Out of all of them, the silk Festa Scarf from small brand Idda Studio has become my most treasured staple.

While it’s true that any silk scarf would make an excellent travel companion or general wardrobe mainstay, there are a few things about this one that make it special. First and foremost: the design. Covered in abstract squiggles and shapes that remind me of bits of coral washed up on a beach, it circumvents the aesthetic traps that many silk-scarf designs seem to fall into (too prim and proper, too cottagecore, too paisley, too geometric, etc.), opting instead for a vibe that evokes floating like a starfish in the Mediterranean. The design is intentionally imprecise, asymmetrical, almost psychedelic; akin to a Rorschach test, it can be interpreted many different ways, which is probably why it coheres so well with so many different outfits.

Photo: Harling Ross Anton

The color combination is important, too: a variation of cream that’s close to being yellow without being yellow, juxtaposed with reddish-orange. These precise shades are versatile but not boring — critical if you’re planning to wear something multiple days in a row. And then there’s the dimensions. Unlike most silk scarves, which are square, the large version of this scarf is rectangular, allowing for more flexibility in styling. I wear it most often as a bandana-style headscarf (by folding the scarf in half and then across diagonally into a triangle), but also as a top (by wrapping it around my torso and knotting it above my shoulder and under my arm) and as a skirt (by simply tying it around my waist — typically with a swimsuit underneath).

Unsurprisingly, all of these details are intentional, a product of Idda Studio founder Gabriella Picone’s background as a trained artist with a B.F.A. in painting from RISD. She always starts by sketching the design and then painting it to the scale of the final product.

Photo: Harling Ross Anton

It’s important to Picone that the final product resembles the original painting as closely as possible, which can be a challenge when digital printing on a flexible material like fabric. “I spend a lot of time working to color match through sampling and testing various fabrics to see how they react,” she shared. “The mill I work with in Italy has been around for decades and has some of the highest-quality silk and cotton fabrics that are ethically produced.” Like the hand-painted canvases from which each design originates, all of Idda Studio’s silk scarves are limited-edition. Picone sees them not only as clothing, but also as works of art.

I take mine with me whenever I travel, but I’m also in the habit of tucking it into my purse even when I’m just running errands in my neighborhood and want to give myself the option of sprucing up my outfit if I end up meeting friends for dinner. Perhaps that is why it has become an Object of Affection in the most literal terms. I feel genuine fondness toward it, almost like a well-worn childhood blankie — but much chicer, and with fewer holes.

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Absolutely Need: The Silk Scarf That Transforms Every Outfit