I do not come from a scarf-wearing people. The last time I lived in a place that had something resembling the pop culture notion of winter, it was 1989 and I was, like, 11. Then we moved to Thailand and I adapted real quick to life in the tropics.
But there’s just something about a scarf. Scarves are insouciant, pulled together without trying too hard. Scarves are just rad, and I’ve been failing to figure out how to wear them for a totally long time.
My inability to wear anything tight around my neck without grabbing at it and making noises like I’m being slowly and weakly strangled doesn’t help. I have sensory issues, OK? No shame! But while I long ago wrote off turtlenecks as the sartorial choice of my own personal agent of torment, I never could seem to stop staring with longing at scarves.
Enter my friend stitchtowhere. I met her on the Livejournal community Fatshionista. She wore scarves (among other things). And she rocked them hard.
I started to think that this could be me! I, too, could rock a scarf! It could happen. I’m an optimist.
The general idea seems to be that, hey, you just toss on a scarf. There are a gajillion scarf-tying videos out there (this one is my fave -- amazing production) -- I watched approximately half a fabillion of them. The verdict? Watching a thin woman wrap herself up in a tiny scarf is hella depressing if you’re a great big fat person. Which I happen to be. The lesson here? Ask scarf-wearing fatties for their strategies instead of watching so many videos.
This means I asked stitchtowhere and I asked Lesley. Because they’re the only scarf-wearing people I actually know, and they both happen to be fat. The danger of asking your friends for help with anything fashion related is, of course, the intense mockery that is sure to follow. Out of love, of course. “You just wrap it around your neck” was the general consensus.
A year ago, in New York City (which really explains the whole thing because NYC is really the only place I feel pressured into scarf wearing just by the overall environment of hipness), I bought a mint green ruffly scarf and gave it a try. I wrapped the thing around my neck.
And, you know, that was actually pretty much all there was to it. Yes, I felt entirely and painfully inadequate when I figured it out. Because I’d marked scarf wearing down under the column of things I most likely would never be able to make work. I chalked it up to a personal failing. When, really, it’s like any other fashion thing I’ve found challenging: It’s mostly about being willing to put it on in the first place.
Not everyone agrees with me on that. There are endless rules about fashion -- apparently fat people aren’t allowed to wear yellow? I’ve heard that a lot. Haters gonna hate and so on. I wear what I want.
So, now I’ve got a whole scarf collection. It started small. Just one or two bits of lacy scarfy whatever that I could toss around my neck. Or wear tied on my hips.
True story: I experimented with scarves in college, a brief flirtation the way some people flirt with, like, a career in academia. I still didn’t wear them around my neck, though. I tied big triangle scarves around my hips. So, I would wear jenas and a white v-neck and a black lace scarf on my hips – it was a regular uniform for a little while there.
I went with a friend to visit her grandfather; his advice was that she needed to lose a little weight so she could find a man (I tried to find this charming in the same way all sorts of well-intentioned things from old people we love are charming even though they really aren’t). His observation, though, was that I probably didn’t need to lose weight to find a man.
My friend and I were about the same size, so I am chalking that bit of old man lechery entirely up to the power of the hip scarf. If you’re a fat person, finding an adequately sized hip scarf can be a challenge -- but when it happens, it’s magic.
These days, my scarf-wearing is less likely to inspire such commentary. That’s in part because I rarely wear hip scarves and in part because I work in an office where that sort of comment can result in a call from HR. I get cold easily, and so having a scarf on hand, even in the mild Florida winter (it’s totally winter here right now and I hate it), is a lifesaver. So I’m kind of obsessed.
As much as I say it’s all about staying warm, really it’s about tucking a scarf around my neck and feeling like I’ve pulled it all together. That casual “complete outfit” look is mine all mine. I think stitchtowhere would be proud.