As cold weather rolls around, many think of hats, gloves, and scarves. Yet, scarves aren’t just a cold-weather accessory. In addition to warmth, they provide color and/or texture to an outfit. They were originally used to signify a person’s class or as a handy way to keep clean. Let’s take a look at the scarf’s origins. The first known scarf was worn by Queen Nefertiti in 1350 BC. The ancient Chinese worn scarves to mark military rank. While they were used for function, it wasn’t until the 19th century when they were used as a fashion accessory. Fashion was born in Paris, so it is only fitting that the scarf was “recreated” there and used as a symbol of luxury. It’s interesting to note there are many types of scarves and they are made from many fabrics.
Scarves range in size, texture, and color. It is the fabric that determines their texture and color(s). Here are the top five fabrics for scarves:
- Cashmere — These scarves are the epitome of luxury. The fine fibers are from the undercoat of goats in the Kashmir region of India. Better quality cashmere is found in Mongolia, where cashmere goats are found. Cashmere is a coveted fabric due to the cost to produce it and its availability. The degree of warmth it provides comes from its thickness, which ranges from 2 to 12 ply.
- Silk — The majority of silk is produced in China. It is made from the cocoons spun by Mulberry silkworms. The cocoons are steamed and unraveled to create the thread. Silk is very sturdy and can be hand-painted.
- Cotton — A durable thread, cotton scarves provide warmth and comfort. Cotton can be light-weight for the summer or a cable-knit for the winter. These scarves hold their shape and can be tied in many ways. Made from the cotton plant, there are several top producers, including India, Egypt, and China.
- Linen — This material is commonly used in shirts and pants (a summer fabric). Yet, it is perfect for scarves. Linen is made from the inner part of the flax plant and is a breathable fabric. It is stronger than cotton and is eco-friendly. Also, it is anti-static and easier to clean.
- Wool — For cold temperatures, wool is the fabric of choice. Although a fair amount of wool comes from sheep, it also comes from other animals, such as alpacas, goats, and camels. These fibers range in diameters from 16 microns (Merino Wool) to 40 microns.
Scarf designs vary as well, from tassels and borders to patterns and themes. Whether you drape, wrap or tie them, scarves add style to any outfit, no matter the season. There are famous scarves that are the epitome of fashion (e.g Hermes and Burberry).
Scarves are versatile accessories. They have been around for centuries and will continue to be a fashion favorite for many more.