No doubt if you’ve been paying attention to the news… or if you look out the window in most of the country (not where I am… just sayin…) you will have noticed that it is cold outside. There are record lows in much of the country. In Atlanta last week the temperature was colder than in Anchorage, Alaska. A gentleman has to do what he can to stay warm, and sometimes that means accessorizing. You may be asking yourself what a self-professed southern boy living in Orange County, California knows about keeping warm. Well, let me first establish my bona fides; I attended college in upstate New York, spending four years in what seemed like a frozen tundra for half the time. I am a graduate of the Chilean Army’s Mountain Warfare School. Winter in the Andes Mountains is no joke, I assure you. I also regularly spend Christmas with my fiancé’s family in Detroit. It’s delightful really, like something from a Norman Rockwell painting. Rockwell’s quaint charm, however, does not describe the temperature. Yes, I prefer the balmy climes of my native Florida and my current home in Southern California, but I do know a thing or two about handling the weather (but only when I have to.)
Every gentleman ought to know that 90% of one’s body heat escapes from the neck and the head. Therein lies the old joke about skiing naked, so long as you have a good hat (this is not recommended.) Warm hats are an obvious choice, but it wasn’t until I moved to New York that I realized the true value of a scarf.
Attending a military academy, we were extremely limited in the attire that we were allowed to wear (read: issued.) I initially scoffed at the plethora of jackets, coats, overcoats, and other cold weather paraphernalia that adorned my closet and were subject to inspection at any time, but my first winter was ushered in by a significant blizzard – even by New York standards, and I soon realized the luxurious comfort of wrapping a heavy woolen scarf under my overcoat. The Red Baron, it seems, was on to something!
Scarves are far too often associated with hipster attire, and I readily mock those who choose to wear them with t-shirts in 60 degree weather, though my disdain is usually sated by their deadlocks and knit caps. Also, if you choose to wear a Keffiyeh, it had better come with a few stories of the Hindu Kush Mountains or sand storms outside Baghdad before my disdain turns from mocking to belligerent. But I digress…
A gentleman’s scarf should, ideally, be in a long rectangular shape, or if a square, folded into one. A moderate fringe on the short ends is acceptable, and so are patterns, but one must remember that scarves, while a most definitely a statement, should also follow the immutable rules of fashion – no brown scarves with black coats, for example.
The wearing of the scarf is very simple. It is placed underneath the coat, with tails of equal length. Simply crossing the tails over the chest and buttoning up the coat will suffice for both function and fashion. This is the most basic level of wearing a scarf and is appropriate for most professional attire, and the simple fold prevents a bulky appearance under a jacket or overcoat. A single wrap around one’s neck is another tried and true method of wearing a scarf, tucking the tails through the wrap to keep it from being blown by the wind. The process of doubling up a scarf and pulling the tails through the loop is seen quite a bit, but I don’t like this look. It is bulky enough to require it to be worn outside the jacket, and often becomes the focus of the outfit, which is not what an accessory should do.
Many gentlemen are unsure of how to wear a scarf, or feel that the look is far less associated with professional or classic attire than they would like. I assure you that this is not the case, and I hope that this discussion has helped the snow entrenched readers out there another classy way to stay warm during their winter months