Folding Fans: Super-Cute And Practical, Just Like You

It's the one accessory I always have on me, not to mention the only one earning its keep. (Necklaces are so lazy, am I right?)
Publish date:
July 24, 2014
shoppables, modcloth, accessories, etsy, fans, summer, folding fans, heat, Pearl River Mart

During the summer, I tend to accessorize less. I skip metal jewelry because it turns me green really quickly, and my sweat just spreads it out and makes me look like I have a strange skin disease. I even wear my glasses less often because, I swear, they make my face feel warmer.

The one accessory I never leave home without, however, is a fan. (A folding fan -- not one of those battery-powered eyesores.)

I started carrying a fan in 2011, when I just couldn't tolerate subway swampiness anymore. And I don't mean just in the summer; anyone who's transitioned from freezing temperatures above ground to a packed train below knows how quickly you can get uncomfortably hot. I've gotten some strange looks from fellow straphangers when I fan myself on the train, but like an America's Next Top Model contestant, I'm not there to make friends. I just want to get where I'm going without heat stroke.

Technically, you could make your own fan out of card stock, arts-and-crafts style, but there are so many cute options available, there's no reason a fan has to be just utilitarian. Here are some of my favorites.


A simple, white fan is all you really need to stay more comfortable when you're too warm. These one-dollar paper and bamboo fans from Pearl River Mart were my gateway fans to fancier designs. (I am so sorry.) And if you happen to live in New York, stop by their three-story Soho store for lots of other color options.

Cute Patterns

Etsy is an awesome place to look for pretty fans, and I love a lot of the designs by FANCYHandFans. Handmade of cotton and painted cherry wood, they come in all sorts of cute patterns, like florals, polka-dots and animal prints. And if it means anything to you, Christina Aguilera is a fan. (Crap, another pun. Sorry.)

Vintage Weirdness

Back in the '40s and '50s, there was an adorable phenomenon of tri-fold "church fans" that featured wholesome artwork on the front and ads for local businesses on the back. They're bizarre and wonderful and all over Etsy.

Clever Shapes

Who says a fan has to be fan-shaped? Not I!

This Véra Pilo heart-shaped fan from ModCloth is my go-to this summer. I love how, in addition to being functional, it somehow makes it seem like I've put some thought into my look, even if I'm wearing cut-offs and a T-shirt I've thrown on three days in a row.

ModCloth also has several "normal"-shaped fans, but there's nothing boring about them: lace, heart-shaped cut-outs, you name it.

For The Collector

This is the inevitable next step for me: investment fans. Fans like these are portable, practical works of art, and they're priced that way.

Spanish fan maker Olelé hand-crafts each item with fabric, wood and leather, and they come with a carrying case, which I would absolutely need because I'd want to keep it protected from the coins, Tic Tacs and broken Excedrin tablets swimming around in my bag.

Chicago-based artist Staeria just happens to make a couple of fans among the artwork she sells on Etsy, and I'm obsessed with this laser-cut, mixed-media fan below, which I would absolutely ruin within hours of owning it because I can't have nice things.

Do you ever carry a fan? What's your favorite source for new ones?