STYLE

How To Pick The Right Winter Scarf For Any Outfit

11/18/2014 04:12 EST | Updated 11/18/2014 04:59 EST
Caiaimage/Tom Merton via Getty Images

My love of scarves is very real because my love of being warm is very real. I mean, hello: winter scarves keep you warm, they’re cozy, and damn it, all scarves, regardless of style, tie an outfit together unlike anything other accessory, ever.

There are also no less than 19324824 types of scarf (I'm guessing), and because sifting through each is a chore I wouldn’t wish on even Adam Levine (though I’m sure he owns many since he spends most of winter shirtless), I’ve found the ten best and wrapped them, guide-style, for you below.

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Winter Scarves

1. Stiff And Formal

First, there is no wrong way to wear a scarf, because anyone who polices “scarf style” has way too much time on his or her hands. (So note: these are all just suggestions, and you’re perfect.) But unlike the slouchy pashmina styles of the mid-to-late 2000s, brands like Osman opted for stiff, oversized (but shorter) styles to add more colour and interest to pieces. They were also in different textures (think '90s-like fuzz), which can make the daily coat-and-scarf routine a little more interesting.

2. All Bundled Up

Hey, do you know what’s cool this season? Being warm. So enter: Prabal Gurung, whose models were wrapped up to excess, leaving only enough room for the scarf to secure itself at the base, and absolutely nothing else. Ultimately, scarves this season can be as snug as a neck brace, and as thick as, well, a scarf wrapped several times around your neck. If you have to turn your whole body to turn your head, you’re doing it right.

3. Embellished And Dressy

Not all scarves are designated winter wear (because they never have been, so why start now?). And the best example of this was at Sacai’s Fall/Winter 2014 show, thanks to sheer, gold-accented pieces in jewel tones that looked like merchandise for "The Hobbit" in the best possible way. (I mean, as if you can’t picture an elf looking so theatric.) So how do you wear it? Think retro, wrapping them once or twice around your neck, and then securing them enough that they almost look like chokers. Because damn it, the '90s are here to stay.

4. Blanket Scarves

Remember capes? Excellent. Now, there’s a way to incorporate a similar trend into your winter wardrobe that would absolutely do Stevie Nicks proud: blanket scarves. Theory did a good job combining the coziness of a blanket and/or cape with the practicality of a scarf (in cashmere waffle fabric!), while Burberry went full Nicks with a black cashmere shawl that came straight out of "American Horror Story: Coven." (Needless to say, I want it.) Just throw on and wear—don’t overthink it.

5. Eternity Scarves

Enter: the easiest scarf to wear in the world. You slip it on, wrap it around you until you’re feeling fly, and then you proceed with the rest of your day. Eternity scarves require no maintenance—eternity scarves are your friend. Also: you can pick them up for next to nothing, more than nothing, in various fabrics, and in a variety of colours. These are the mini-backpack of the scarf world: why wouldn’t you have one? (And you can start at a mall chain like American Eagle, too.)

6. Cowl Scarves

It's true that I just said eternity scarves are the easiest to wear. Well, I lied. Thanks to a demand for simplicity, brands like Gap upped the ante with cowl scarves; a style similar to the eternity sort, but requiring only that you slip them over your head. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. And because most are thicker, a little bulkier, and go up to your chin, you can also create the illusion of scarves one and two: big, bulky, and all bundled up.

7. Fur (Faux, Specifically)

Michael Kors was just one designer to feature fur scarves in his collection this season, just like H&M is just one brand to adopt the look, make it faux, and bring it down to our economic level. So, like any scarf, coat, or piece of clothing ever (we can do away with dos and don’ts now, right?), there’s no wrong way to wear fur accessories, and since the colours are neutral, they go with all coats, forever. A cowl scarf is a good start if you’re not ready for full fur commitment, especially since the scarf can sit like a necklace. Meanwhile, a full/traditional style will add extra warmth if you’re stuck waiting for a streetcar, or sitting next to the door of a coffee shop.

8. Knitted And Sweater-Like

It’s just like the Gap collections of yesterday! Now, thanks to designers like Marc Jacobs, the scarves of our youth have made a glorious comeback—even via chains like ASOS. However, these are meant to be worn longer, and a little more oversized—kind of like Lindsay Lohan’s scarves of her "Mean Girls" era. (Just please don’t let them drag on the floor like I used to.)

9. Traditional Plaid

And so we’ve run the gauntlet: we’ve touched on all the available scarves, but I’ve saved the most important one of all for last—plaid and/or tartan. We say the '90s are back, but it’s a lie until we pay homage to the most influential pattern the decade’s given us. So whether through brands like Target or Joe Fresh, plaid has shown up alongside the most accessible style: a traditional scarf. Wear it around your neck once, wrap yourself up like a tiny baby, or just let it hang there—it doesn’t matter. You now evoke the winter of our childhoods and you’re just one Tim Hortons cup and casual lean away from being the cool kid.