Things You Didn’t Know You Needed, Part II: Soporific Scarves

The most underrated piece of clothing in menswear is perhaps the soporific scarf - a scarf so plain and unassuming that it’s almost unnoticeable. It took me a while to figure this out. I went years buying scarves with university stripes, plaids, dots, fair isle, and even dip dye designs. These are all nice, and I still really like them, but they can be a bit too much sometimes; it often can be more stylish to go with something simpler. Throwing on a simple, soporific scarf, instead of some patterned piece, will add a bit of insouciance to your look, thus making you look a bit more natural and comfortable in your clothes. 

If you decide to get a soporific scarf, don’t go buying some $5.99 solid color scarf at your local drug store or eBay. Think of this the way you think of your tie purchases. If someone advised you to buy a soporific tie, you wouldn’t buy some $9.99 solid color polyester tie (at least I hope not). Instead, you would probably aim for a high end cashmere tie or perhaps a silk grenadine. Likewise, for soporific scarves, because the colorways are so “plain,” a lot depends on the fabric. The better the material, the more depth and richness you’ll get in the color. Thus, aim for scarves made from incredibly high quality materials and perhaps even feature a slight texture. This scarf below demonstrates this well. It’s a viscose-cashmere blend made into a gauzy flannel fabric. The ultra-short fringe at the end adds to its casualness. 

Color wise, you’ll want your scarves to contrast a bit with your jackets, and perhaps even with your shirts. This is easy and natural when you have patterns, but takes slightly more thought when you’re buying a solid color scarf since everything will depend on the color. Thus, if you have jackets in brown and grey, pick a navy scarf; if you have dark colored jackets, pick a light colored scarf. This will help give you the contrast you need. Observe:

So where can you kop some? On the high end, there are really nice cashmere scarves by Begg and Drakes of London. Pringle of Scotland also makes these very nice cashmere-wool blend scarves. Note, however, that while the Begg is a bit bigger than your typical scarf, the Drakes and Pringles are a lot bigger. It’s really a matter of how wide you like your scarves to be. On one hand, in addition to being warmer, a bigger scarf will allow you to tie more interesting knots. On the other hand, the can be at times too warm and cover up too much of your chest, which at times can be a little visually overwhelming. You should try oversized scarves out first before you jump ahead and buy one. 

On the mid-level, there are Zegna scarves. These are sized a bit more like the scarves you’d typically come across. This eBay seller is offering some. If you’re skeptical of the longer fringes, check high end department stores such as Saks; they often carry ones with shorter fringes. Their stock won’t come in until FW rolls back around though. 

If those are still too expensive for you, there are still a number of decent options. Begg has scarves in an angora-lambswool blend. They’re just as soft as cashmere, but feel just a touch more silky. Like their other scarves, they’re a bit bigger than your typical scarves, but not as oversized as the Drakes I linked to. For something even cheaper, check out these Johnstons of Elgin’s or this light blue lambswool scarf by Barbour. These will be sized like most of the scarves you’ve come across - about 10” x 68”. Note that although the Johnstons’ lambswool scarves can be had for as little as $15, and the Barbour for about $25, their color won’t be as rich as the color on their cashmeres. In my experience, cashmeres in this size will be just enough to get you by a cold spring day in the Bay Area (so about 45-50 degrees), but not much else below that. Lambswool will be even less warm. If you can manage it, I would recommend going with Johnstons’ cashmere scarves if you can’t afford one of the more expensive options from Pringle or Begg. 

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  7. edwinhu said: word up. solid scarves should be of top quality. Drakes for lyfe.
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