NEW YORK (AP) – A scarf can be a wardrobe's workhorse. It adds color, style, and, especially as the weather turns wintery, warmth.
Now, if you only knew how to tie the thing.
Don't go for a complicated knot, says Talbots' fashion director Tammy Vipperman. Flair largely comes from confidence, so any hesitation about tying the scarf will show, she adds, but there are plenty of easy knots that still kick up your outfit.
"If you can fold laundry and tie a basic knot, you can wear a scarf," she says.
Lay the scarf flat on a table, taking two opposite-end corners and folding them into the center, giving you two straight edges. Keep folding those outer straight edges into the center until you have, essentially, a scarf sash. Wrap it around your neck, setting up the knot slightly toward one side.
Pull the two ends into an X to tie. The key to the flattest, most flattering knot will be to cross the ends so the outside piece is on the bottom, closest to the body, and then pulling that over the top and then down through the knot so it will stay in place and not flap around, Vipperman says.
"Most people think this is the most intimidating scarf," she says. "But you can wear it with a cardigan, denim, a little heel with a necklace. Let's bust the myth right now that you can't wear a scarf and a necklace."
Vipperman's word for the knit scarf with built-in ruffles is the "noodle," because it stretches, bends and bounces.
"You can sort of do whatever you want with it. It's a terrific base," she says.
You get an Elizabethan-collar effect if you keep looping it around to the bustline level, tying it loosely at the back of the neck. Go a little tighter and you have a turtleneck.
You also can wear it long and loose, not really tying it at all.
This is the scarf you want with you all the time. It goes under a coat, over a coat, with a low neckline or a high one, and it's the perfect thing to keep at the office where the temperature can go up and down, Vipperman says.
She doesn't like it to be worn perfectly, though. She prefers to fold it corner to corner to make a triangle, put it over the shoulders on a slightly uneven bent, tie it with the outside piece now coming out from under the knot and then create a one-sided bow. That gives it "flourish," she explains.
Other than the delicate silk scarves, most are tied underhanded with the end coming out the top to create volume. Scarves are a sign of personal style, and, for the most part, you want to draw attention to them, she says.
The classic winter scarf with fringe at the edges is nice because it's practically flat when worn under a coat, Vipperman says. She prefers the "gentleman's fold," which really isn't a fold: The scarf goes around the neck and the sides are flat against the body and positioned like lapels of a jacket.
An alternate is to fold the scarf in half so its length is two layers make a loop at the fold, wrap the scarf around the neck, pulling the loose end through the loop. Vipperman likes to see this look in a bright, cheerful color against a neutral-colored coat.
This scarf is longer, thinner and usually with fringe on the end. Because of its length, it's really the only shape you can successfully toss oh-so-casually over the shoulders. Start with the end that's going to hang in front, positioning it about midthigh. Wrap the rest of the scarf around the neck, crossing in the front and then to the back, letting the other side hang down. It'll be hanging down the same side as the piece in the front.
Vipperman, though, wants people to experiment on their own and do whatever is comfortable with their scarves as long as they're wearing them: "A scarf can be 'runway,' a head-to-toe basic, whatever you want. Play with them and have fun."