We thought we knew all the ways to use scarves when traveling. They’re great for staying warm on over-air-conditioned planes—there’s nothing like leaving a steamy jungle airport in your strapless and hopping on a frigid plane to make your blood feel like the ice in last night’s mojito—and they can make the tenth time you wear that black sweater and pencil skirt look like a whole new thing.
But we asked around for a few out-of-the-ordinary ways our squad has used them when traveling and then wondered what kind of crazy person would ever travel without at least one. Here are some of our faves:
• Traveling means walking, and walking means needing a place to rest and enjoy the view, the company, and a bottle of brännvin. But where to plunk down? In the grass with the bugs? On the bench with the dust? On the sand with the … sand? A bold scarf draws a stylish line between your linen shorts and everything else.
• You’ve been shopping for souvenirs, gifts, whatever, and keeping in mind limited space in your suitcase, you have 10 teensy bags from 10 trendy shops. Ask for a big bag? Doesn’t improve the look much. Tie opposite corners of a square scarf sorta close together and then the other two corners at the ends = pretty shoulder bag bag lady.
• “I am a mom to a very active toddler, and so I tend to gravitate toward clothes and accessories that are uncomplicated and easy-to-wear. I sometimes used my scarves as a nursing cover when she was a newborn. It was way nicer than using those apron-looking cover-ups,” says our girl Loriann (www.MakenaBeachCafe.com).
• Travel means sight-seeing, and we never miss the chance to oogle the art in old churches and mosques. But some require head coverings and the strappy T or shorts that seemed like a good idea when we left the hotel would raise grizzled brows. A scarf stashed in a tote thrown over bare shoulders or tied over shorts can help us show some respect. You can even fashion a classy-looking jacket like Thida did to go from street to parlor if breaking up a London shopping day with high tea at Brown’s sounds better than bangers and mash in a pub.
• One of our girls found herself on an open-air bus in a street that was more pothole than street and more dirt than pavement. A pair of sunglasses and her scarf tied loosely around her head, nose, and mouth saved her from dust-caked hair and lungs. We thought the same might be just the thing when offered a ride on the back of an adorable Italian’s Vespa.
• “One time while I was on the beach doing yoga, I needed something to sling my yoga mat onto my back, so I twisted a scarf, bound one end around one end of the mat and the other end of the scarf around the other end of the mat and looped it over my shoulder!” says fashion blogger Vicki Hui (www.thelustlistt.com).
• “My shirt looked like I’d been wearing it a week when we landed in Sydney after 15 hours,” one of our squad said, “and my future in-laws were meeting the plane. Tying my scarf to cover the front of that creased, crumb-infested blouse took attention away from the mess behind it.”
Whether you’re trying to fit in in Europe—where scarves are, you know, the law—or wrapping a scented scarf under your nose when the atmosphere is more fertilizer than flowers, it’s the one travel accessory that’s sometimes much more than that.