How to Do Scarves in Summer

how to wear scarves in summer

Here’s the part where I reveal, once again, that I’m a relative newcomer to the world of fashion. I’m pretty sure that scarves were NOT considered to be appropriate summer accessories until about 10 years ago. I mean, aside from the occasional riding-in-a-convertible headscarf. Is that wrong? Have summer scarves been fashionable for ages and I just didn’t know it?

Regardless, I love keeping my scarves in rotation year-round, but find them more challenging in hot, sticky weather. So I thought I’d share a few ways that I love to style my scarves during the summer.

Long and loose

I’ve used this photo in other examples because it was taken on a day that was so hot and humid that the camera lens kept fogging up. See the fog? Yeah. It was oppressive. The scarf was my effort to inject a bit more interest into an otherwise plain outfit. You’ll note, though, that I’ve simply taken a long, lightweight scarf and draped it over my neck. No knots or ties when it’s lens-fogging weather, thanks.

As a wrap

This is a very dramatic outfit, but you could certainly use a large rectangular scarf or pashmina as a wrap with more casual ensembles. I love this option for sleeveless or revealing dresses and tops. The looseness of the wrap allows for some ventilation while still providing coverage. A cooler option than even the most lightweight of cardigans.

As a belt

Scarves can make fantastic belt alternatives, especially if you’d like to add more pattern or movement to an outfit. I find that long, slender scarves make the best belts for my figure, but experiment with a few widths and styles to find an option that works well for you.

If scarf-as-belt doesn’t float your boat, consider using a scarf as a backdrop for an actual belt. Knot the scarf in back and tuck the ends into the body of the tied scarf, or wind them around the belt. (It won’t look totally clean from the back, but believe me, you won’t get a ticket from the Fashion Police for this one.)

As an accent

If merely contemplating these suggestions has you breaking into a sweat yet you’d still love to utilize your scarves in summer, consider using them as accents. Slip one through the strap of a tank top, wind one around your wrist instead of a bracelet, tie one to the crown of a brimmed hat, knot one to your handbag strap, use one to adorn a ponytail or bun. There are loads of ways to utilize scarves that don’t make the wearer feel all prickly-heat.

Originally posted 2012-07-25 06:08:44.

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22 Responses to “How to Do Scarves in Summer”

  1. bubu

    You read my mind! Haven’t worn a scarf in about a month now because it was so hot (relying on my cool, easy print sundresses) but storms last night cooled things off, and I felt compelled to add a layer of interest to my dress and cardi today, definitely added some zing to an otherwise rather blah outfit. But long and loose and draped, for sure (it’s still going to break 80 in Boston today).

  2. Cleo

    I do the last (as accent) quite a bit, just so I can have a scarf to use as wrap if the day suddenly turns aird-conditioned beyond expectations… And scarves as wraps for evening. That’s about it, however!

  3. claire appleby

    I do sometimes use one as an alternative to a hat – draped over the head and thrown over the shoulder it is far cooler than a heavy hat in the hot weather! And there is something quite timeless and elegant about it if done right……..X

  4. Louise

    I wear scarves all year, since my style usually involves solid color tops and skirts. Scarves are how I add pattern and interest! In the summer, I have several very lightweight and sheer shawl-sized ones that I take with me everywhere. You never know when the air conditioning is going to be set on “stun” and that thin extra layer will really help. Because the shawls are so thin, they fold up small to tuck into my bag.

    Other ways I use scarves in hot weather:

    1. Scarf as necklace. If you tie a square one as shown on this video by MaiTai, (who has gorgeous scarves!) it sits loosely around your neck. I adjust mine to sit on the neckline of a v-neck tee without actually touching my skin. Adds color without warmth.

    MaiTai has tons of other ways to tie scarves on her site: She’s always so smiley in her photos, too.

    2. Tie around a sun hat to add a band of color.

    3. Use as a pareo to wrap around your swimsuit as a cover-up. This is a good way to keep in rotation large scarves that are too heavy to go around your neck.

    Look for cotton and linen blend scarves if they are going to touch you in the heat. A cotton one can be used like a bandanna to wipe your face then pop into the washing machine. But if it is a fancy pattern you will look chic instead of cowgirl. (Nothing wrong with cowgirl, though!)

  5. Linda

    Hey, great minds! I am wearing a long, thin print scarf as a faux necklace as we speak. (The actual necklace I wanted to wear broke into a million pieces as I was getting dressed.) I tied two random knots in it and then tied the ends behind my neck.

    But I will say that it doesn’t have the weight of a necklace and blows around annoyingly in the ever-present breeze. Also, even though it’s not THAT hot today, feeling silk even TOUCH my neck in summer is not the greatest.

  6. Linda

    Also, please don’t be mad if I say I really miss your long curly hair. You look so lovely and graceful in that red dress picture.

  7. ParisGrrl

    If it’s icky sticky hot I may skip the scarf and go for a statement necklace or a pin, but I find in the summer I reach for smaller scarves most often–especially silk ones which breathe well–and roll and tie them kerchief style or loosely at the neck.

  8. Heather

    Good Morning Sally! First – I recently stumbled across your blog and love it! Secondly – Where did you find that wonderful rectangle scrarf? It is gorgeous!

    • Sal

      Welcome, Heather! Glad you’re enjoying the blog. So most of the scarves in this post are rectangular … but if you’re referring to the one in the first image it’s by Desigual, now a couple of years old. Hope that helps!

  9. Amy

    The blue maxi dress is amaze-balls!!!! That is definitely your color and the cut is–well, let’s say va va voom on top!

    And if you want to sell the red one, let me know. đŸ™‚

  10. Eliza

    I also often wear them in my hair. Thin silk scarves are best folded and tied into headbands,and pocket squares are great for ponytails.

    I’ve also started putting my hair up using love Maegan’s tutorial for no heat curls. Once my hair is up, I just cover the elastic in front with a pretty scarf, and press the rest of the scarf into the hair roll to hold it in place. It takes about two minutes for me to do my hair this way, and it’s incredibly comfortable.
    Tutorial is here: (Hope this is ok Sal!)

    • meg

      Agreed, I love tying scarves as headbands, especially since I haven’t been wearing my long hair down since May. I roll my hair into a top-knot while it’s wet, tie in a scarf, and look adorable without any heat (or damage to my hair, I hope!)

  11. Megan Mae

    I like to tie my hair up in a scarf sometimes. Especially if I know I’m going on second day hair or will be sweating a lot. It can be a good masking technique for both issues, but still look cute and keep cool.

  12. Chris


    I especially like the picture of you in the red dress. With your hair like that and your expression, you have a real Ava Gardner vibe. Beautiful!


  13. Jasmine

    I love this! Great ideas for wearing scarves throughout the summer! They are such transitional items and work great for every season!

  14. Terri

    I wore a shawl today as a skirt! And it worked, although I changed out of it to run to the grocery store.

  15. Viktoria

    I sometimes wear a pocketsquare tied around a safety pin, as a brooch, to add something interesting to a plain shirt.