Wear The World
How is it July already?! My mother always tells me “ne’er cast a clout until May’s out;” translation: don’t wear your summer clothes until it’s June or you’ll definitely be cold. Peering out my rain-soaked window today I’m left wondering if actually we need wait until September for our ‘Indian Summer’ before I whip out my shorts. For the time being, we will sit at home and ponder humanity. At times such as this, I think it is worth remembering our roots. I’m not just talking about the pandemic, but with the whole world learning what it means to be a decent human being, I want to remind everyone of the electrifying human spirit. What does it mean to be British? What, in fact, does it mean to be human? For some, this is an easy question, but for others we are left questioning our identity. Clothes have always been a way of expressing ourselves, of revealing our identity before anyone gets to know us, but however we garner ourselves in our glad rags and learn to express ourselves, one staple that has always been in my wardrobe is the scarf. Its versatility alone is enough to force me into purchasing a new one every season. Plain vs patterned, silk vs satin, tassels vs tartan, the possibilities are endless.
The scarf has featured in a plethora of cultural visuals: from Sex and the City to Confessions of a Shopaholic, our trusty ami has always been there for us. Today more than ever, the scarf represents so many different things for so many different people. The graceful modesty of the hijab, the cosy warmth of the Angora shawl, the sophistication of the silk kerchief handbag accessory. In the year 2018, inspired by Richard Quinn, I purchased such a great number of scarves that I had to buy also a new chest of drawers, and dedicated one drawer in which to keep them all. Today, I relish opening my Pandora’s box, basking in the sight of scarf upon scarf, lathering myself in layers of luxury: multitudinous materials, playful patterns, lascivious lengths, winding widths, unflappable fabrics, and all in the palm of my hand ready for me to play with.
There is something irresistible about experimenting with scarves. Seemingly of their own accord, they meander, wind, turn, bend, zigzag, twist, curl, loop, snake and shape their way around the human form. Their trailblazing talent for sculpting the body makes them the ultimate accessory. The scarf can trace its sartorial roots back to any nation, from Scotland to Syria, Australia to Armenia, Haiti to Honduras, Botswana to Bangladesh, the scarf has a recurring role. This means that whenever we drape such a garment around our shoulders, we’re not just wearing a scarf: we’re wearing the world.
In a time of such unprecedented unpredictability, we will do well to remember that how we dress signifies who we are. Before we know someone, we see them, and when we see someone, we instantly judge them based on their appearance. Without even realising, when we wear a scarf we are wearing each other, we are instilling in our beings the memory of humanity, and how we all came to be. The scarf doesn’t just represent us as individuals, it represents us as human beings: as the collective. Beneath this elusive accessory, it’s worth remembering we’re all the same.
I choose to wear my scarf with a near-hubristic omnipresence: for days of whimsy, tie a silk kerchief in your hair; for days of sorrow, frame a chiffon wrap around your head and don some oversized sunglasses; for days of sophistication, cast your scarf around the neck or tie it to a handbag. However we decide to wear our scarf, we can do so with pride, knowing that we all belong to the same group: humanity, and not to mention following in Elizabeth Taylor’s (very definitive) footsteps: “a woman without a scarf is a woman without a future.”