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How To Tie A Scarf: The Complete Guide

A scarf is a wearable piece of art that instantly elevates any look. The trick: knowing how to tie it. Here is our complete guide to accessorizing with scarves.

Whether in animal print, florals or a bold graphic print a scarf is a wearable piece of art—not to mention an instant wardrobe upgrade. A woman wearing clothes and shoes is simply “dressed”; add a thoughtfully scarf, and she’s chic.

The question, though, is how do you tie a scarf? If you’ve always wondered what you’re supposed to do with these colorful swaths, you’re certainly not alone! Many of us manage to make it far into our adult years without having any idea which end is up, let alone how to fold and bunch and finesse the fabric in the most stylish and flattering way. Making matters more confounding is the fact that so many stylish women tie their scarves in different ways.

The good news: there really is no one way to tie a scarf. Even better news: there are many very chic ways to tie a scarf…and we’re about to share them all with you!

Here are favorite scarf tricks that will elevate any outfit. And be sure to check out our scarf-tying video tutorials so you can recreate the magic!


Chico's scarf can be a necktie


Let’s start with the simplest way to tie a scarf: in a simple knot. This style is a subtle nod to the chic cowgirls from Western movies, who always had a kerchief tied about their necks. Fashion has evolved considerably since those simple red and blue prints, of course, and now you’ll find scarves of various colors, patterns, and even textures like pleating.

The necktie works well with any neck scarf, but it’s such a simple tie that you could really use it with almost any scarf shape.

HOW-TO TIE A NECKTIE SCARF: Loosely roll the scarf then center on the back of your neck. Then loosely loop the ends around each other in the front for a simple and casual look.


Chico's scarf can be worn in a long tie

Also in the category of easy scarf-tying techniques is the long tie look—really, the only difference between a necktie and a long tie is where on your body you tie the scarf. With a necktie, you’re aiming for the throat (but loosely, of course…ladies, we need to breathe!). With a long tie, the knot should hit above your décolleté. (This makes it the perfect outfit add-on if you happen to be wearing a blouse that is a tad lower than you’d like!)

Which scarf should you use for a long tie? A long, skinny scarf is ideal. The long tie doesn’t work as well with a neck scarf, because there won’t be as much fabric below the knot, and due to the laws of gravity, you might find the knot rotating around your neck or getting jostled out of place as you’re moving about throughout the day. But with a scarf that’s at least the length of your arm span, that chest-level knot should easily stay in place.

HOW TO TIE A BELT SCARF: Roll the scarf until you have a twisted belt shape. Pull it through your beltloops and tie with a double knot, either centered or to the side.


Chico's scarf can be twisted into a belt shape and tied around the waist

We love using a pretty scarf as a belt. There’s something so artful and feminine about silky fabric looped through a structured pant, and the scarf belt seems especially well-suited for a denim-and-shirt ensemble. Even if you’re just wearing jeans and a tee, if you tuck the tee in and belt it with a scarf, your look will have a more polished and put together feel.

Those longer, skinnier scarves are perfect for belting—the key, of course, is to have enough fabric to comfortably knot it around your waist, or possibly high on your hips, if you are wearing a lower-waisted pant.

HOW TO TIE A BELT SCARF: Roll the scarf until you have a twisted belt shape. Pull it through your beltloops and tie with a double knot, either centered or to the side.


Chico's scarf can be worn over the shoulder with a belt around the waist for a belted wrap look

Often a scarf is an accent item or an afterthought, the back-up singers as your dress or blouse steals the show. This is not the case with a belted wrap—here, it’s the scarf that plays the starring role. You can drape a large wrap over a solid or simple printed dress, over a denim-on-denim look, or even over a blouse-and-pant combo.

The key is to nip the look in the waist with a sturdy, structured belt, and to ensure the scarf complements the color pattern in the clothes you wear beneath it. Keep jewelry and makeup simple to avoid a “busy” overall look.

HOW TO BELT A SCARF AS A WRAP: Fold the scarf in half diagonally to create a triangle. Drape the long, folded side over one shoulder and keep it in place with a belt at the waist.


If none of these looks feels like “you,” and your scarf is oblong is shape, you still have plenty of styling options.  A scarf that is long and thin can be wound around your body in a variety of eye-catching, flattering ways, including:

  • Loop the scarf around your neck, then let the ends dangle— Fold it in half and drape it around the back of your neck. Pull the loose ends through the loop and tighten at the base of your neck.
  • Wear the scarf like a loose, drapey necklace—If you want to keep your scarf contained to just your neck and shoulders, wrap the scarf around your neck, letting one end hang a little longer. Then, loop the long end around twice and tuck each side under.
  • Tie your scarf into a half-bow—Love the way a bow looks on a gift? The half-bow scarf tie makes you the present! First, wrap your oblong scarf around your neck, leaving one end longer. Tie a half knot. Hold on to the short end and take the long end under as if you were tying another knot. Finally, pull it through, creating the half bow.
  • Create a scarf “kimono”–Hold on to both ends of the scarf as you wrap it over your back and around your shoulders. Take the two ends and tie a knot at your lower back.


Chico's neck scarf can be a bracelet

Despite its name, a neck scarf isn’t just for your neck! Here are some of our favorite ways to tie this classic:

  • Wear it as a bracelet— Fold the scarf in half to create a long length. Wrap it around your wrist a few times and finish with a knot.
  • V-neck side tie–Skip a necklace and wear your scarf as jewelry! The fabric is folded in half diagonally. Wrap the folded corners around your neck, crossing them once in the back. Pull the ends forward on top of the scarf and tie in a knot.
  • Use a neck scarf to decorate your purse. Tie the fabric around the purse handles, looping it around the way a keychain would. Or weave the scarf so that it completely covers the purse handles—leaving the luxe leather handle of the other handle exposed.


A square scarf can be worn like a sash

A square scarf is often generous in size—giving you plenty of fabric to work with. Some of the best ways to use a square scarf include:

  • Drape the scarf around your neck. This style looks especially cozy in winter, and it manages to make even the most basic sweater have that extra flair. Drape the scarf around your neck with the triangle end facing forward. Wrap the ends back around, letting them hang down.
  • Tie the scarf into a “v” resting on your shoulders. There’s something powerful and polished looking about a luxurious scarf resting upon your shoulders. Fold the scarf in half diagonally to create a triangle. Drape it over your shoulders, pulling the ends forward. Tie the ends into a knot below your neck.
  • Wear the scarf like a sash. You don’t need to tie a scarf to wear it! Simply roll your square scarf and drape it from your neck, tucking under a color if you’re wearing a blouse.