21 Ways to Wear a Summer Head Scarf

by Sarah West Ervin

Bored with all your old tanks and tees? Hankerin’ for a shiny new collection of summer dresses? Well, before you replace your warm weather wardrobe, try refreshing your existing pieces with this one simple trick: summer scarves. Just one craftily tied scarf can make a simple outfit look and feel brand new! And if you’re smart about adding a few choice neckerchiefs, pashminas, and other prettily printed fabric squares, you’ll lengthen the life of your wardrobe without taking a huge chunk out of your wallet.

Plus, they're fun! Mix up your morning routine and flex your sartorial creativity by finding new, unique ways to wear your scarves, from the tried-and-true neckerchief to headbands, belts, and even bracelets. Scarves have the added bonus of saving you from a bad hair day. If you don’t have time to style (or even wash) your tresses, just turn one of your large, square scarves into a cover-all headwrap.

Argument for scarves:

  • They’re an affordable way to refresh your wardrobe.
  • They’re the kryptonite to bad hair days.
  • Their accessorizing potential is boundless.
  • And, quite simply, they’re cute and fun.

Argument against scarves:

  • [crickets]

Well, there you have it. A completely objective, scientific examination of the facts. Scarves are good for you.

To begin your summer scarf journey, be on the lookout for vintage scarves at your local thrift shops and vintage markets. Finding cheap, high-quality vintage scarves is ridiculously easy. I also recommend hunting for new handmade ones—there are gobs of hand-painted silk, hand-dyed cotton and artist-illustrated screenprinted scarves on Etsy that are positively drool-worthy. Once you’ve built up a happy collection, test out some of the following scarf tying techniques!

Just remember the golden rule of scarves: There’s no wrong way to wear one.

1. The Axl Rose

Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Channel your inner rock god by folding a bandana into a wide band and wrapping over long locks.

2. The Tiny Cape

Hand-Painted Silk Scarf, $55, Etsy

Flex your fashion superpowers with a silk scarf draped gently over your shoulders. Bonus points for Miranda July curls.

3. The Neckerchief

Matt Cowan/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

For when your neck is a little chilly but you still wanna look like a boss.

4. The 9 to 5

Gingham Scarf, $9, Etsy

Make Jane Fonda proud with a long thin scarf tied in a bow under your best collared working shirt. ('80s bonus points if that shirt has Peter Pan collar.)

5. The Boy Scout

Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Any floral bandana looks great dressed down with casual jeans.

6. The Yacht Knot

Give your long, pashmina-style scarf a fresh summer look with a low front knot and a loose, breezy dress.

7. The Hat Bandit

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Image: Jessica Quirk

Get creative by turning your scarf into a hat band and adding various pins for extra snazz.

8. The Oscar Wilde

Blue Cotton Oversized Scarf, $24, Etsy

Go big or go home.

I think that's an Oscar Wilde quote or something. ...

9. The Waist Cincher

The scarf-as-belt trick is not for amateurs. Don't try this at home unless you're prepared to dish out some serious sass.

10. The Frenchie

Vintage Scarf Bow Ring, $12, Etsy

If you've got a dainty little vintage scarf that's too small to tie, gather it with a brooch or ring.

11. The Neck Bustle

Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Wrap and wrangle however you see fit! The bigger and messier, the better.

12. The Psychedelic Esmerelda

1960's Flower Scarf, $12, Etsy.

Go full-on retro hippie chic with a bandana head-wrap in a bright floral print.

13. The Grey Gardens

Image: Jessica Quirk

Go on. Wear that scarf like no one is watching.

14. The Twisty Turban

Twisted Turban Headband, $12, EtsyFor this trendy look, you can fashion a regular scarf into a twisted turban or purchase an easy-to-wear headband.

15. The Faux Pony

Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Take your bun or pony-tail to the next level by wrapping a thin scarf around it and letting the tails flow free.

16. The Rosie

Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Never let a bad hair day get you down again. Rosie the Riveter knew what she was doing.

17. The Cold Shoulder

Mushroom Scarf, $160, Etsy A one-shoulder mushroom-print scarf says to the world, "I do what I want."

18. The Faux Robe

Matt Cowan/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Add flair to a simple outfit by draping a large, fringed scarf over your shoulders. This appears to be a requirement for attending outdoor summer festivals.

19. The Sneaky Snake Belt

Here's a scarf-belt option for the laid-back fashionista.

20. The Faux Mermaid

Todd Oren/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Whether your hair is short or long, you can still feel like a gloriously-maned mermaid with some imagination and headscarf trickery.

21. The Double Top Knot

Neon Headscarf, $12, Etsy

When one knot just isn't enough.