“It’s Givenchy, bitch!” Obviously.
I’ve had my share of fantastic finds while thrifting, but when you factor in material, designer, original cost and thrift store cost, the best deals I’ve ever gotten have been on silk scarves. In these days of pashminas, hipster keffiyehs and those circle/infinity scarves that I always get tangled in, you may think that there’s no place in your wardrobe or lifestyle for the square and oblong silk scarves made popular by grannies the world over. But you’re wrong. Silk scarves are fantastic fashion accessories and one of the best finds at a thrift store. Get ready: I’m about to start waxing in a poetic nature.
Luxurious. In a world full of synthetic fibers, there’s something so elegant, sophisticated, and even regal about wearing silk – even the wrinkles are expensive looking. Did Grace Kelly wear polyester? Well, maybe. I don’t know her closet. But since the woman once made a sling for her arm out of Hermes scarf, I think she was staying away from the synthetics.
Designer. Well, not all of them. But take a good look at the tags on most silk scarves in thrift stores and you’ll find names like Dior, Prada, Givenchy, Chanel, Vera, Liberty, DvF and Valentino.
A Fantastic Way to Add Oomph to an Outfit. I can’t think of an easier way to add layers, color, texture or pattern to an outfit than by throwing on a silk scarf. One piece and boom, you’re done!
Versatile. I’ve worn my silk scarves tied around my head, draped over the front of a dress, wrapped as a toga, cinched as a belt, looped as a bracelet, tied in a bow and, in the case of a particularly huge specimen, as a knee-length skirt.
Cheap. In thrift stores where the staff knows what they’re doing, the difference between a silk dress and a synthetic dress is steep. The difference between a silk scarf and a synthetic scarf? There isn’t one. Go for scarves and you can buy silk for a song.
Easy to Find. Every thrift store has a scarf section and most people (fools) aren’t looking through it. All the more for you (insert the sinister laugh of an evil but very stylish villain here)!
Season-less. One of the amazing properties of silk is that it warms you up in winter and cools you down in summer. So unlike that chunky knit cowl that will give you heat stroke as soon as April arrives, a silk scarf always feels comfortable, no matter the temperature.
Timeless. I’m probably not going to wear those acid-washed skinny jeans in ten years (actually, I’m not even going to wear them now). But the silk scarf I thrifted last week? I’ll be 80 and still wearing that thing. That’s because silk scarves, with their classic shapes and gorgeous material, are always in style.
Durable. Give me any sort of knit and I will inevitably snag it. But my silk gets stabbed with pins, threaded through chain, tied and retied in knots, and it’s fine.
Caterpillars! For all the animal lovers out there, there are few ethical, ecological and legal animal accessory options available. Ivory, feathers, and fur are outlawed, or at least strongly frowned upon, and for good reason. But silk? Silk can be reared and harvested sustainably in ways that resources from larger animals cannot. And caterpillars are so cute!
Silk Scarf Thrifting Tips
Learn to Feel Quality. With just a little practice, you can learn to recognize silk by touch. This is especially handy for scarves, as it’s common for the fabric label to be absent. I go to thrift stores and am able to simply run my hands along the rows of scarves to pick out the silk ones.
Look for Damage. Because silk is so durable, it’s rare to find a scarf with more damage than a frayed edge. If you do find a scarf with snags, runs and/or holes, it’s likely that the fabric is quite old and will have to be treated with care.
Clean Carefully. As with all thrift finds, you want to clean your silk scarves. Dry cleaning is the safest route but, if you’re cheap like me, you can wash them at home. Depending on when the scarf was made (and you probably won’t know), dyes can run, so you want to be careful. Usually some tepid water, mild dish detergent, and a white vinegar rinse will be enough to protect and clean most scarves, but be sure to do a test-patch first!
Silk Scarf Wearing Tutorials
Liberty London - a fantastic series of videos on how to wear silk scarves and speak in adorable French accents. http://www.youtube.com/user/thelibertylondon
Super Kawaii Mama - how to be adorable and retro with our scarves, and gives us yet another accent to practice! http://www.superkawaiimama.com.au/2010/03/26/3-easy-ways-to-tie-a-headscarf-retro-style/
Hermes – Scarf-tying techniques from the masters. http://usa.hermes.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/PlayTimeView?storeId=10202&catalogId=10052&langId=-1#
(p.s. Yen here... A while back a reader sent me this great link concerning thrifting scarves too... check it)