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If you were forced to pare your closet down to four garments total, could you do it and still be fashionable? As long as you have a drawer full of scarves, yes! I have a ridiculous number of scarves. If you like plain, classic clothes—and I do—they can make you look instantly chic with a minimum of thought or effort.

Evidently, a scarf is de rigueur in French fashion. Your average French woman finds a way to incorporate a scarf every day. Unlike us, they spend more on their clothes and have fewer of them. Scarves are a clever way to get the most out of a minimalist wardrobe.

The biggest reason American women shun them: we don’t know how to tie them! I sometimes fumble with mine and throw it aside at the last minute when I can’t get it right. Another pet peeve: they may look great when you put them on, but three hours later, they’re a mess.

Here are eight tips to make scarves more wearable:

1)   Practice a few favorite ways to tie and wear without a bit of effort every time. Select an easy-tie method for every shape and size in your scarf wardrobe.

2)   Purchase scarf clips to help fasten them to your clothes, making them less moveable.

3)   Choose scarves that are light and fluid. The bulkier the scarf, the harder they are to tie, wear and keep in place.

4)   Use a scarf as a belt or a headband.

5)   Take lessons. This Chico’s video  covers basic methods for every shape and size. (Notice that her scarf is light and fluid—READ #3) I also have two books tucked in my scarf drawer as handy references for last minute dressing. Scarves & How to Wear Them

6)   Buy inexpensive scarves. I once bought five scarves in an airport for $10. After reading Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, I’m not as proud of that as I used to be. Nevertheless, these scarves are among my favorites.

7)   Buy scarves as souvenirs. I love to buy a small piece of jewelry or a scarf that reminds me of the places I’ve been. They are easy to pack and you usually don’t need to spend a fortune—although I once spent nearly $100 on a souvenir French-made scarf. The irony? I bought it in Italy! (Photo: Upper left.)

8)   Look for handmade and second-hand scarves.  Thrift stores, vintage stores, and art fairs are great places to find unique or vintage scarves. I found a silk chiffon scarf this fall at the Penrod on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It was handmade with love and care by Teresahaystextilestudio.com. (Photo: Upper right.)

What’s your favorite way to wear a scarf? What’s your favorite scarf resource?

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.