Sure, Versace marked the return of Gigi Hadid to the runway, but less-talked-about was how it did the same for the headscarf. It’s an accessory almost as old as time—history has seen women across cultures, religions, and the globe wear some version of a headscarf—but its stance as an in-demand fashion item comes and goes. And as of the fall 2021 collections, it would very much seem that it’s back. A handful of days after Gigi and Bella Hadid (the latter sported a black satin headscarf knotted at the back of her pin-straight hair) walked Versace, models showcased a variety of headwear over at Dior, including silky scarves tied à la babushka. They were also at Connor Ives, Max Mara, Paco Rabanne, and Anna Sui. (The fashion astute would certainly recall that for his fall 2020 collection, Marc Jacobs preempted all of this when he tied wintery scarfs of thick cashmere around the heads of his models in a series of monochromatic looks. It was really quite fabulous.) All this had us at Vogue thinking—are headscarves the new headbands?
It just so happened this was a question I had asked myself months ago when tasked with reviewing the Audrey Hepburn documentary which just hit Netflix. It revealed ample footage of off-duty Audrey wearing a headscarf every which way. Hers were worn tied below the chin (just like at Dior) and was likely used to keep her hair in place, but also because it looked incredibly good on her. On and off set, it was as pervasive as Audrey’s boatneck collars.
As a loyal wearer of the headband—velvet, pearl-encrusted, or Renaissance-like puffed bands—I was used to adding a little something to my hair each day. Though I hadn’t really dabbled in headscarves, Audrey had more than convinced me that this was next. It’s both a practical (perfect for precipitation) and evocative accessory. To me, the piece of cloth conjures imagery of yes, Audrey, but also Queen Elizabeth behind the wheel of her Range Rover, the uber-chic Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy on walks with her husband, and that time Rihanna dazzled in a glittering, sheer Adam Selman look at the CFDA Awards. The fabric accessory likely does the same for others, bringing forth visions and memories of grandmothers, moments in film history, and more. (It’s also trending on TikTok, where users are donning scarves and sunglasses for the “Please Don’t Go” challenge.)
The best part about the accessory trend (anointed one of the 10 in our fall 2021 accessories report) was that I already had a collection of vintage silk scarves. They featured dainty florals, trompe l’oeil chunky chains, and Pucci-esque swirls—an option for every mood. To wear them correctly (standard 50-60 cm squares are best), fold them in half to create triangle points and arrange on your head accordingly. I start with my hair in a ponytail, which allows me to tie the scarf underneath my hair with greater ease, and then I let my hair down over the knot.
But I wanted to expand my horizons and dabble with more scarf options, particularly summery cotton clothes in gingham. Plus, if I was really going to commit to this (which I was) I wanted a scarf made for the purpose of a bandana-style headwrap—a cloth pre-cut into a triangle with long ties at either end. The engineering just means there’s no folding and no extra bulk or excess fabric. My internet hunting led to Etsy, where I found a couple of shops making exactly what I was looking for. I promptly purchased five (ginghams in red, black, gray, yellow, and then a floral blue pattern just for kicks) and at around $10 each, I should have gotten more.
At present, I’m set: I have my silky squares for my more dressed-up moments and options in cotton broadcloth for my off-duty moments. And as we transition to spring, I’ve been sporting both. I’ll admit that when worn with a face mask it’s indeed a lot of fabric on my head, but in the same vein, my new headscarves look absolutely wonderful on Zoom.
Shop some options, inspired by Versace, Dior, and more, below.