A scarf (une écharpe in French) is the ultimate classic staple of the French wardrobe. Indeed, French women are famous for always wearing a scarf in all seasons. In France, scarves are not seen as a winter-only item, but they are worn year-round and even during the summer season. Only the hottest weather will stop French women from rocking a scarf.
A scarf is a great way to add some French chic to any of your outfits. Indeed, it can be both an accessory as well as a statement piece. It can dress up anything casual, looks good with denim, and looks elegant with elegant clothes. So, if you don’t know how to tie a scarf properly and how to not feel overly accessorized, here is your guide to wearing a scarf the French way. In this article, you’ll learn the three different kinds of French scarves and the chicest ways to wear them in all seasons.
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How Parisians Tie a Scarf
Before I cover how to nouer (tie) your scarf like a true French woman, make sure you have the right kind of scarf in your closet. Indeed, in France, there are three different kinds of scarves French women wear in different seasons: une écharpe, un foulard, une étole. And the difference between those scarves lies in the material, texture, thickness, size, and style.
1. Une écharpe
First, une écharpe is usually made of heavy fabrics like wool, cashmere, or cotton. It’s one of the staples of the French winter capsule wardrobe. It will necessarily be a long narrow rectangle, and its width can range from 20cm to 60cm. The French usually choose the color of their scarves according to the color of their coats. And they always have as many scarves as different coats. And I can guarantee you that wearing a textured écharpe the same color as your coat will add subtle visual interest to any outfit you sport. The écharpe is here to keep you warm above all and can be worn in two ways.
How to tie une écharpe
The first way to wear your scarf in an elegant way is very simple. Just hang your scarf around your neck, with each end of the scarf flipped over the opposite shoulder. In some instances, only one end is flipped over the shoulder. The scarf should always look like you’ve carelessly thrown it over your shoulder as you run out of the house. Effortlessness is so very chic!
Another way is to fold your scarf in half, holding the loop end in your left hand and the two loose ends in your right. Then, just slip your scarf over your head and thread the ends through the loop.
2. Un foulard
Un foulard is a lightweight scarf typically made of silk, chiffon, viscose, or similar materials and can be square or rectangular (usually 55×55). Since it is lighter and smaller than the écharpe and l’étole, it will be worn in mid-season when the temperatures start to rise. Le foulard is mainly worn for style and fashion as it does not protect much from the cold. In France, a brightly colored patterned scarf is exclusively for silk foulard like the carrés de soie you can shop at Hermès.
It’s an effortless way to elevate any outfit. And knotting a patterned foulard around your neck becomes a statement in and of itself. I think it’s the perfect accessory to wear with a beige trench coat in spring or with a wool blazer in fall. When it rains, you can easily tuck your silk scarf inside your jacket.
How to tie un foulard (a silk scarf)
Here are the six chicest ways to tie a silk scarf like a French woman. My favorite one is called the classic French knot. First, you need to fold up your scarf until it’s one thin band. Then, wrap the band around your neck, crossing the two ends behind your neck. Bring the two ends to the front of your neck and tie a knot just under your chin. You can either keep the knot to the front, or you can slightly turn the scarf so that the knot is on the side of your neck. Finally, once you place the knot just make a double knot.
3. Une étole (a stole)
Finally, une étole is a thin but warm scarf, usually made of wool, acrylic, and viscose. Une étole is a large piece of fabric, very long and very wide. Its size is approximately 70cm by 2m.
How to tie une étole (a stole)
Une étole can be worn draped over the shoulders, or if the stole is thin, it can also be worn as a scarf tied at the front.
Leonce is the founder and editor of Leonce Chenal, a lifestyle platform launched in 2018. Originally from France, Leonce offers a fresh perspective that comes from her experience at top tech companies in Paris and London. Having spent several years in Paris and now residing in Amsterdam, she combines her professional expertise with a personal passion for French and Parisian styles. Leonce is committed to guiding her readers through the intricacies of Parisian chic, empowering them to embrace the elegance and sophistication of French style.