Scarves a tied and tested staple to stave off indoor chills

Draped, knotted or looped, the scarf is a simple away to stay warm in summer air conditioning.

Giovanna Battaglia at Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2012.
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In most parts of the world you would never think to associate the words summer and scarf, because exposed skin works more to your favour in the heat. In the UAE, however, the only thing worse than the walk from your car to your desk is the air-conditioner vent blowing sub-zero winds at the back of your head when you get inside.

Enter the summer scarf, which not only protects you from the unrelenting sun but keeps you from freezing to death when indoors.

In the 1950s, women knotted slim scarves around the hairline to keep their hair off the face, around the neck into a bow to hide a sweaty nape, and over the head and tied at the chin to keep their face covered from the sun. Although these techniques are more stylish than functional, they still leave room for your own fashion interpretation.

When it comes to buying scarves, first pick a shape - a square scarf is great for creating a V-shape and tying over your head, Grace Kelly-style. Small thin ones are perfect for bows - around your neck, in your hair or on your bag. If you need warming up, a wide, long scarf can be worn over the shoulders and draped over the arms, or wrapped into one of the simple styles shown on this page.

The next step is choosing the right fabric, depending on the style you're aiming for. Silks are great for floppy, draped shapes; cottons work best for stiff bows and knots, and wool or cashmere blends are perfect for warm layers.

However you decide to wear your scarf, remember that a little drama helps - whether it's red lips to match your turban or a brooch on a big knot (Jessica Alba, pictured, livens up her outfit with a bright bag and Salvatore Ferragamo flats). Don't forget that it's a part of your whole look and shouldn't detract from the overall effect.


Celebrities like Jessica Alba are regulars on the summer scarf circuit, proving there's more than one way to tie a scarf.

Jessica Alba

1. Take a wide rectangular scarf and scrunch it up so that it's pleated in your hand - the pleats don't have to be perfect.

2. Place the heavily folded centre at the front of the neck and pull forwards to loosen it so that it's about 6 inches away from you. The ends should be draped over the shoulders.

3. Next, take both ends and bring over their opposite shoulders and adjust the length on both sides so that they match.

Nicole Richie

1. Use a fine silk scarf that's long enough to wrap around your head twice.

2. Place it on a flat surface and fold sections to get a uniformly-pleated, flat effect that's around 2.5 inches wide.

3. Hold the scarf taut (so as not to lose the shape) and position at the top of the head with the rest hanging equally on either side.

4. Wrap the bottom tightly at the nape of the neck and secure with a double knot. Leave loose or tie into a bow.

5. This style works on both loose and tied hair but a glossy heavy fringe will help you look more polished.

Giovanna Battaglia

1. This look requires an oversized cashmere blend square scarf, preferably printed to emphasise the intricacies of the wrapping.

2. Fold it in half to create a triangular shape, then gather the triangle into a long cylindrical one.

3. Place the centre on the nape of your neck and wrap the ends twice, ending it at the front with a loose knot.

4. Keep one end dangling in front and throw the other over your shoulder.

Eva Longoria

1. Take a pashmina and place the centre on the nape of your neck with one end in each hand.

2. Twist the ends of both sides halfway up the scarf.

3. Take one end and place on the opposite shoulder under the other side of the scarf.

4. Then grab the other end and tuck through the loop created in step 3.

5. Fluff up the top section create a dramatic shape.

Model behaviour

Some of the biggest endorsers of the summer scarf are members of what is known as the Russian Fashion Pack, aka Miroslava Duma, Vika Gazinskaya, Elena Perminova and Ulyana Sergeenko. Look to them for inspiration only if you're feeling confident enough to pull of their retro styles, which vary from Romany gypsy scarves wrapped loosely around a braid with heavy fringing to super bright silk scarves wrapped and knotted into intricate turbans.