I’ve been really into oversized scarves lately. Your standard scarf is something like 12″ by 62″, usually made from lambswool because it’s cheaper than cashmere but still has a bit of loft (that loft helps you retain heat). Begg has some nice ones mixed with angora fibers, which give them a slightly softer hand and hairier appearance. For a budget buy, Sierra Trading Post has some Abraham Moon lambswool options that are nearly free.
If you’re up for a splurge, however, an oversized scarf can be a wonderful thing. They feel cozier when wrapped around the neck, and if you can get them in the right dimensions, they drape beautifully. Something a little wider – closer to 25″ or 30″ instead of 12″ – means the scarf will fold more when worn, giving the neck and chest areas a bit more visual interest. If the scarf is long enough, you can also wrap them around the neck a few times, or try one of the more complicated knots described by Simon Crompton below.
The only problem with oversized scarves is that they can be a bit bulky. That’s part of the charm, really, but the issue can be minimized in two ways. For one, you can aim for scarves made with looser weaves and from finer fibers (such as cashmere). In the right material, you can get all that beautiful drape without feeling like you’re wrapping a blanket around your neck. Second, keep these scarves to heavier outerwear. Bulky scarves look less conspicuous with heavy coats than they do under sport jackets. For wear with tailored sport coats alone, I stick to smaller designs.
Most of my oversized scarves come from Begg. They make them in various weaves, fibers, and finishes. The Arran and Orkney, for example, are pretty standard cashmere pieces that go well under tailored clothing. I also like the looser weave Kishorns, which are available in both solid colors and patterns. For something a little more casual, I love how these washed scarves exhibit a bit of texture. I think they’d look great with a chunky sweater, some jeans, and a tailored overcoat. If you like wrapping your scarves around your neck a few times, like I do, then I think a good ombre would work especially well.
I’m also in love with this gradient scarf I recently bought from Stoffa. Unfortunately, this is another one of those things where you have to handle the fabric in person to really appreciate it. Agyesh worked with the mill directly, on-site, to get the effect (most scarf designers just send in a swatch and ask for a standard quality to be made in a different color). The gradient gives the scarf a lot more depth and interest when worn, which you wouldn’t otherwise get with a solid color.
Other good options: Drake’s is always generous with their sizes, and they usually have interesting patterns that appeal to guys with classic sensibilities. You can get them through Drake’s, No Man Walks Alone, and Exquisite Trimmings (the last two being advertisers on this site). I also like Grei for their cotton patchwork designs. Those go well with more rugged, workwear clothes (e.g. leather jackets, field jackets, chore coats, and the like). For something casual, but with a softer edge, try Stephan Schneider. He’s a master at textile design and his “Home” scarves are more affordably priced.