Buying and Tying: A Guide For The Scarf-Wearing Laddy or Lass

Scarves. Shawls. Bufundas. Foulards. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

You instantly make a pair of jeans and a t-shirt shirt look like a grown up outfit. You keep my neck warm and dry. You protect my delicate nose from offensive smells. You are my pillow on long, unexpected car rides. You work tirelessly for me.

And so in the spirit general autumn gaiety, I offer you, dear reader, these tips on working your scarves as hard as they work for you.

The Double Loop

Simple, classic. The double loop is the ramen noodles of the scarf world: easy yet comfortable and satisfying. Almost any scarf works with this style, but I’d recommend going for something big and cozy, a football scarf, some plaid, professional-looking stripes, the harry potter or, if it’s not so cold where you are, a lighter knit.


The “I Have Important Shit To Do And Need This Nonsense Out Of My Way”

This one’s nothing more than a single or double loop kept in place with a hidden safety pin. It’s excellent for days when you’re running errands or constantly moving around and don’t need extraneous bits of wool in your way. It works best with shorter scarfs like this thick knit one or this tartan number.


Le Complicated and Fancy Loop

Now we’re bringing out the big guns. This little loop looks excellent with and otherwise plain getup and tends to last longer if you craft your knot with big old chunky knit scarves.


The Fake Circle Scarf

The fake circle scarf is the scarf of people who could buy pasta but instead make it. Actually it’s not because that scarf is a hand-knitted real circle scarf, but you get the picture. It’s le complicated and fancy loop plus one, mainly because all you have to do is casually toss (or, if you must, loop through again and tuck in) the hanging parts of the last knot over your shoulder. It requires a very long scarf and stays in place with thick knits, fine wool knits, and everything in between.


The Keffiyah

While the keffiyah (worn as a fashion accessory, that is) was in the limelight a few years ago, I don’t see any reason that it has to go so soon. You can go with the traditional pattern or you can try different colors and textures or patterns.

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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 308 articles for us.


  1. I <3 scarves. And I totally feel the same way about how a scarf makes jeans and a t-shirt into a real deal adult outfit :)

    • Scarves: the perfect way to go from looking like an undergrad who drinks Budweiser out of a red plastic cup to someone who drinks Stella Artois out of a glass.

      Keeping it Klassy.

      • The triumphant stick figures really make the illustrations! In all honesty, if I successfully put on a scarf and did not end up looking like I was the little brother in A Christmas Story… I would be throwing my arms in triumph too!

  2. man, i just bought an awesome scarf from h&m, but it’s too short to do any of these (or anything more than a single loop, really). any suggestions for shorter scarves?

  3. Why must one be either ‘laddy’ or ‘lass’. I know you’re trying to be cute, but what’s with all the gendering these days, autostraddle?! It’s not an either-or.

    • I feel like “laddy” is genderfucking the term “lady.” I find it playful. Perhaps I shall switch my gender identity from Genie in a Bottle to Laddy

      • Yeah, I saw that too. Because “laddie” is the actual word, I believe, so it’s a combo of laddie + lady and I thought it was cute and genderbending.

        Or a typo, I don’t know.

    • I felt like laddy was being used as kind of a neutral, or boi, or something along those lines.

    • Oh, is that what it’s called? That’s pretty much the only way I know how to tie a scarf. But sometimes I get paranoid that the ends will catch on something and strangle me.

    • My mom knotted a scarf on me like that ONCE and I was like ‘this is a thing?’ and now I do it.

  4. Love this! I just wore a scarf for the first time in years yesterday, and I realized that scarves make every outfit cuter and every day more fun!!

  5. Thanks for including the kaffiyah in this. I got one in Israel this past January (as everyone does when they go to Israel) and now feel more confident then ever to wear it everyday and everywhere this fall.

    • Also, “keffiyeh” generally refers to a type of cloth, rather than the style with which it’s worn. As far as I know, there’s no such thing as a keffiyah style.

  6. Le Complicated and Fancy Loop is generally what I do, but I may branch out into the double loop. I quite like the keffiyah, but I’m not so sure I could pull it off.

    • I was coming here to say this – I love wearing a keffiyah, but make sure you know the meaning behind it. also, please don’t buy a fake keffiyeh from like urban outfitters or whatever – if you can, buy a real one made in the middle east.

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