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A Gentleman’s Guide

How To Wear A Light Scarf

Not merely a style statement for the cold warrior, this bit of neckwear can lend flair on days both tropical and cool

  • Photograph by Mr Tommy Ton/Trunk Archive

It’s easy, in warm weather, to go through a bit of wardrobe fatigue as previously complex sartorial dilemmas narrow down to a single question: “Which T-shirt shall I wear today?” Enter the light scarf, a garment that helps you not only to dress with a dash of personality in the heat, but also to be a little more adaptable if you’re staying out for a long, lazy evening. How you wear it really depends on how bohemian you are feeling, but the following examples drawn from the streets of the world’s style capitals should provide plenty of inspiration to get you started. (For the full experience, be sure to consult our guide to tying your scarf before diving in.)

Drape It

  • Photograph by Ms Melodie Jeng/Getty Images

A scarf in summer is a nice thing to wear, but not an essential. Come dusk, you will probably want an extra layer to throw over yourself as you enjoy an alfresco dinner. But during the day? Probably not. Make like designer Mr Haider Ackermann and turn this throwaway quality of the garment into a nonchalant style statement by draping it loosely over your shoulders as you stroll about town. For this purpose, bigger scarves are better: they will look more bohemian while the sun’s still out and provide greater coverage as you work your way through dessert, cheese, coffee, and (why not?) another bottle as the day comes to a close.

  • Loro Piana Fringed Herringbone Cashmere and Silk-Blend Scarf

  • Loewe Striped Fringed Cotton Scarf

Keep it Neat

  • Photograph by Frenchy Style/

Summer scarves, by their nature, are thinner, shorter and less bulky than their winter counterparts. They can therefore be fastened in a tight knot to sit, collar-like, around the neck, as demonstrated by MR PORTER’s Contributing Style Editor Mr Dan May, above. For those who don’t fancy the cravat-like and/or floaty connotations of wearing a scarf in the summer, this is a more subtle and minimal way to do it. It’s also easy: just cross over two corners of the scarf and give each a single, sharp tug to achieve the offhand knot above.

  • Brunello Cucinelli Fringed Linen Scarf

  • Loro Piana Fringed Contrast-Trimmed Cashmere, Silk and Hemp-Blend Scarf

Be Colourful

  • Photograph by Thousand Yard Style 

As in winter, a scarf in the summer can help you add a tasteful accent of colour to an otherwise muted outfit. This works particularly well if you are wearing white, beige or earthy tones, as in the picture above, where an off-duty model has paired his Mackintosh with an embroidered scarf in deep teal. If you’re wearing a light coat with it, you can leave the scarf hanging loose and untied – the lengths complement each other. When it’s time to remove your coat, though, either take off the scarf or tie it tightly in a reverse drape cross.

  • Etro Wool-Blend Jacquard Scarf

  • Dries Van Noten Fringed Printed Cotton-Gauze Scarf

Hit the Road

  • Photograph by Mr Tommy Ton/Trunk Archive

One of the times you’re likely to get truly cold in even the balmiest of summer weather is if you find yourself driving a moped or in the back seat of a convertible (if this is a frequent problem, lucky you). Here, it is most appropriate to wear a long scarf in silk or linen, particularly if, as in the picture above, you have the helmet to match. Of course, this needs to be secured with a fairly sturdy knot (like the Parisian) – you don’t, after all, want your latest Burberry scarf to fly off into your own dust trail and end up as (stylish) roadkill.

  • Oliver Spencer Caro Fringed Linen Scarf

  • Drake's Polka-Dot Modal, Linen and Silk-Blend Scarf

Keep It Loose

  • Photograph by Mr Tommy Ton/Trunk Archive

A scarf, like a tie, can be an ornamental piece, particularly as the heat increases and your styling options become more limited. (At the height of summer in Paris, as above, comfort dictates that you can’t really wear much more than a T-shirt and light shirt at the most.) This jaunty look can be achieved with a variety of knots, from the overhand to the fake knot (as pictured – achieve by knotting one end of the scarf and passing the other through it). Whatever you go for, keep the scarf tied loosely, so the knot itself sits at chest level.

  • Anderson & Sheppard Printed Silk and Cashmere-Blend Twill Scarf

  • Paul Smith Starburst Printed Fringed Silk and Wool Scarf

Swap It For A Tie

  • Photograph by Mr Tommy Ton/Trunk Archive

For a more formal look in hot weather (on occasions, perhaps, when you might be tempted to wear a silk tie), a scarf can be simply folded over across the chest for an understated, shawl-collar effect. This works equally well tucked into a merino wool cardigan (as demonstrated by W magazine’s editor-in-chief Mr Stefano Tonchi, above) as it does under a crisp white shirt with the first two buttons undone. Just make sure you pat it down occasionally so it stays neat and doesn’t crumple up.

  • Fendi Printed Silk and Wool-Blend Scarf

  • Gucci Printed Cotton Scarf

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