Reader Mail: How to Wear Silk Scarves?

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Tonal Hydrangea Silk Scarf
Today’s reader mail is all about scarves… (Pictured: Tonal Hydrangea Silk Scarf, on sale at Brooks Brothers for $95.20 (was $238).)

I’ve got two silk scarves I bought because I fell in love with them, and one black tie. I never wear them, because I’ve no idea how one is supposed to wear it! Besides, can a woman in her early 20s even pull off that look without looking like an in-flight attendant? If yes, are they supposed to go on the neck under the shirt (I’ve seen that look a few times), over the shirt and under its collar? Does one knot them or just let them hang down, if one knots them – does it matter how?

We used to work with a woman who always wore the most beautiful Hermes scarves — her wardrobe was primarily black, white, and gray, and the scarves were a rich addition of colors and patterns. She had one that had elements of a beautiful, almost hot pink, and it was incredibly flattering on her, particularly so close to her face — but because it was just a scarf, and amidst other colors, no one ever would have said that the scarf was too pink or girly or feminine. We asked her about her scarves once, and she confided to us that she wore them because she found tags at the nape of her neck to be itchy. Her scarves absolutely worked for her — and although she was at a senior level, we think the fact that they worked had more to do with her body type: tall and slender. (Specifically, she would wear them with a collared jacket and collar-less sweater or tee, worn between her jacket’s collar and her tee’s collar — they were unknotted and, while we think they were generally square scarves, she wore them folded into an oblong shape.) [Read more...]

10 Things to Know About: Wearing Button-Down Shirts

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Someone was telling us recently that they didn’t wear button-down shirts, didn’t even know how to wear ‘em. So, here ya go…

1. If you’re going for the crisp cotton look, go for non-iron. Brooks Brothers makes a great fitted non-iron shirt. Thomas Pink (very high end, typically thought of as a man’s store) makes amazing button-down shirts for women, also, with interesting prints and a lovely fit.

2. Collars should stay on the inside of the jacket, not splayed open on the outside.

3. If you have a white shirt, try not to put it in the dryer in order to avoid yellowing. Actually, in our experience the iron-free shirts look best when hung dry. (Just pull them taut, a bit, when they’re wet and you’re hanging on the hanger — it always seems to help the fabric figure out where to go.)

4. If you’ve got a French cuff shirt, do not bother with those tiny knots you can buy at places for $10 — you’re wasting your money and time, because they take forever to put in. Instead, make an investment in a good pair of cufflinks — Thomas Pink has great ones; Vivre also has some beautiful ones right now

5. Tucking: If you’re wearing a fitted, button-down shirt (such as the ones from Pink) you can experiment with how it looks untucked. The key is that it can’t be too long — it should hit mid-hip, and no matter what should not be longer than your suit jacket. Silky shirts should always be tucked.

6. If you want a very clean look, there are some stores that make leotard-like button-down shirts. See, for example, Victoria’s Secret.

7. Non-traditional style idea: Wear a short-sleeved button-down shirt beneath a vest or even a t-shirt. (We’ve given up trying to wear anything but silky button-downs beneath full-sleeve sweaters — the static cling gets us every time.)

8. Non-traditional style idea, Part 2: Wear a camisole/tank top underneath the button-down shirt, tuck in the shirt, and only button it up halfway, so people can see the camisole beneath. See Allison Janey in West Wing.

9. Gaping: If your shirt is gaping, this could mean a few things. A) You need a larger size, and should take it to a tailor to get it to fit you the way you want it to. B) You need to wear a camisole beneath it, so when you turn to the side people don’t get a view of your bra. C) You can experiment with Hollywood Tape and so forth to keep it from gaping — we’ve found the camisole is just easier.

10. Beneath the white shirt: Wear a bra that matches your skin tone, and a white camisole, no matter how convinced you are that no one can see through it. We’ve tried the nude camisole, and trust is: white just looks better.