Update your wardrobe eight ways with a single item

"If you buy one thing this season" is one of the most overused phrases in fashion but, in this instance, its use is justified. Even better, you might already have that "one thing" in your wardrobe, and have been wearing it for years.

The silk scarf is one of those never-out-of-style accessories that always comes in handy. But for autumn, it's gained "It" accessory status: it was shown on the catwalks and quickly adopted by editors on the front rows – after all, this is not a designer piece with a waiting list or exorbitant price tag. And then, even when we were playing around with them in winter, silk scarves – in every imaginable print, shape and colour – appeared on too many of the spring/summer 2020 catwalks to count.

Scarves were big at ’70s-inspired Celine for summer 2020.Credit:Invision

For autumn, Celine's Seventies bourgeois Parisian wore her scarf tied in a loose bow at the collar of her jumper. But for spring, the possibilities seemed endless.

Scarves appeared on the waist, across the shoulders, tied at the wrist or ankle, or threaded through the strap of a bag. Here is a piece that really transcends seasonality – hot or cold, a silk scarf can be put to use elevating an everyday outfit. At a time when many of us are trying to buy less (and buy out of the constant consumption of fast fashion), well made wardrobe staples with longevity and versatility appeal more than ever.

The ‘bougie bow’, seen at Celine’s autumn-winter 2019 show, is one of the easiest ways to wear the trend.Credit:AP

So here it is, the piece that will be The Thing for at least another year, can be found on any budget, and can be worn in the following eight ways (and probably many more).

Bourgeoisie bow: Loosen that knot and wear the ends loose or tied into a long bow loop (long-and-slim scarves will work best). Scarves tied thus were paired with pleated tweed skirts, knee-high boots and blazers on Celine's autumn/winter 2019 catwalk for a spin on '70s' style that borrows more than a bit from Princess Anne's wardrobe of the same era (soon to be seen in the latest season of The Crown, which comes to Netflix in November).

Faux belt: Burberry pushed the scarf envelope further for spring, wrapping them sarong-like over skirts and jackets, narrowing into a knot at the waist. Try it over a trusty little black dress, making sure to tie your knot front and centre: this is a bit of trompe-l'oeil trickery that narrows the waist, no cinching (or Spanx) needed. Or, to further render belts redundant (for the time being at least), simply thread a narrow scarf through the belt loops of jeans or trousers.

Cold shoulder: They won't be, as this one sees the scarf worn over the shoulder and either knotted loosely over the bust or tucked under the lapels of your coat or jacket. This is an easy way to update last year's winter coat, or add interest to a plain or office-appropriate style for evening or weekend wear: see Erdem spring/summer 2020, where printed foulards were tied over plain trench coats.

Wear it as a belt, like Burberry.Credit:Sipa USA

Bag for life: If you want to update your handbag – be it evening, office or everyday – without buying a new one, then it's as simple as tying a scarf around the handle. Chain straps offer ample opportunity for weaving, as demonstrated by Liberty's mix-and-match collection of handbags with chic golden loops incorporated into the designs, which Liberty print scarves can then be woven through – not only does it look chic, you'll get more wear from your bag, as you can add a scarf in colours to complement an outfit when the base colour of your bag doesn't.

Balmoral tuck:

The Queen's out-of-town look, a foulard folded in half, wrapped over the hair and tied under the chin, has long been a go-to for those looking to protect their shampoo and set or dodge paparazzos – see first ladies from Jackie O to Melania Trump. Modernising the look is as easy as moving the knot to the nape of the neck: it's a bit less secure this way, but unless you're astride a horse, your scarf should stay put (add a few grips if you need them), and the overall effect is much more youthful.

Cowboy cravat: Tied at the throat and just peeking out from the crew neck of a cashmere knit, this falls somewhere on the spectrum between a cowboy's bandanna and a gentleman's cravat, without looking as costumey as either. Adding a flash of colour and print at the collar can lift the face.

Shoulder wrapping at Erdem.Credit:Getty Images

Pony club: If you have long hair, then wrapping a silk scarf around the elastic holding a low ponytail in place will instantly turn that 10-second hairstyle into a chic evening do. Or weave a long scarf through a plait – think dressage, but keep the braid loose to avoid looking like the horse.

Root wrap: If the headband revival (see Prada, the high street and the Duchess of Cambridge's head) is giving you Sloane Ranger flashbacks, then a skinny silk scarf pushed back from the hairline might be the middle-ground for you: perfect for hot holidays or, with a dangly pair of earrings, the festive party season – and it will also disguise root growth if you're overdue a trip to the salon.

The Telegraph, London

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