Nancy Roman

Scarfing Through The Years

Yeah, there’s another definition of scarfing, and I’ve certainly done my share of that through the years too.

But this is about literal scarfing.

My First Scarf: Back when I was dancing to Annette Funicello records, I had a little Annette scarf tied around my neck. I felt awkward with this scarf. It didn’t serve any purpose (although I’ve learned since that fashion does not have to be functional). Was I supposed to look like a cowgirl? And I had heard this scary story about a girl whose scarf disguised the fact that her head had been severed.

There was a long scarf famine after that. In high school, this may have had something to do with the movie “Isadora” — in which lovely Isadora Duncan died a very tragic death as her long scarf became entangled in the spokes of her lover’s car, throwing her from the car like a spitball from a slingshot.

In college, my scarflessness was simpler. Love Beads.


When I got my first job however, scarves were back. Women were becoming executives for the first time, and even us non-executive types wore the uniform. A suit with a white blouse and a floppy bow. They were basically all the same, so I really only needed one, but I had several. I had a brown suit with a paisley bow, a navy blue suit with a red bow, and my favorite –  a gray suit with a turquoise bow. Sometimes I mixed and matched. It still looked like the same suit. I looked like a flight attendant every day.


In the 80s, business attire loosened up. I thank Miami Vice for that. It suddenly became okay to wear something other than gray. Brights and pastels were in. And scarves got untied. A white silk scarf was cool. Clothes may have been lighter, but makeup was certainly heavier. But this get-up was perfect for going out for drinks and dancing after work. Which I did a lot. I could nurse one wine-spritzer for three hours, while seriously flirting.


About 1989, I found my way into my own style. But not exactly. I actually found my way into Diane Keaton’s style.  I traded in my scarf for a necktie. Sure, “Play It Again, Sam” came out in 1972, but it took me seventeen years to be comfortable enough to put on a tie. (and figure out how to tie it). I loved this style. I met my husband in my Diane Keaton phase. He loved me but he thought I dressed a little nutty. (The perm wasn’t Diane Keaton; it was my own style and I had those curls on my wedding day.)


I’ve taken a long break from neckwear. I like beaded necklaces and long pearls.

Until this year. Scarves are back this winter. Everyone has them. Long rectangles wrapped and wrapped against cozy necks.  Lightweight sweaters and heavy scarves. I love this look.

I bought one. (naturally).

But here’s the thing:  Every time I put on my new scarf, I hesitate.

I’m vaguely reminded of something. But I just haven’t been able to put my finger about it. What is it? Why do I always end up taking off the scarf and substituting a necklace?


Then today I saw it.



  1. Love it. Although you left out the pashmina phase. Or didn’t that make it to America? It’s an enormous scarf/shawl that you wear over a coat and, usually, under an umbrella. Couldn’t walk out your front door without one for quite a few years.

    • Oh yes, there are pashminas here. I love how soft they feel, but I feel dumb wearing one.

  2. Fun walk through fashion history. I am a scarf type myself but didn’t go through the many incarnations you’ve mentioned. I have to admit that I’m puzzled by the little Lego lady?

  3. I love scarves on other people, but 9 times out of 10, when I put one on, I try wrapping it a dozen different ways before giving up. I’m going to keep trying – how hard can it be, right?

    • My husband bought me a scarf for Christmas. The saleslady showed him how to wrap it and so he showed me. I still look weird.

  4. I love scarves…on other people. I always think they make me look neck-less. I do remember those big floppy bows and the ties for work. I loved my gray pin-striped suit with my paisley tie! Oh yes, and the wild curls!

  5. LOL..Loved the last picture. I am in the middle of writing about love beads… Great post!

    • Oh, how I loved my love-beads. I think my affection for beaded necklaces now stems from that connection.

  6. I started wearing scarves in the 70’s, in high school, because I loved the way Mick Jagger tossed around his scarves. I’ve never stopped. But I never got into the floppy bow for work thing – in fact, I never even correlated that with scarves. I thought those bows were usually part of the blouse.

    • No, they were separate. There were racks and racks to choose from. And EVERYONE at worked wore them… you were an outcast if you forgot. You were probably still in college (or worse, high school) during my early office days.

  7. Thanks for the trip down scarf memory lane. I have finally grown comfortable with scarves, having found a few key tying techniques that work for me. But every now and then I still tie it wrong and feel like I’m wearing a neck brace!

  8. Remember the books on how to tie scarves? And the scarf-clip phase that came with an instruction manual on how to create all the “looks” with the scarf clip? I still have a box full of scarves and clips and the book. And I always felt like a flight attendant; in fact, once I was asked if I was one. I don’t wear scarves anymore…

    • I didn’t buy that book. But I went to the bookstore and surreptitiously took some notes.

  9. The other day Costco had a “featured vendor” selling scarves. Though we didn’t buy any, my daughter and I looked at all the different scarves and I reminisced about all the different ways I’ve worn scarves over the years. I’ll have to share this post with her…she’ll get a kick out of it.

  10. Scarves are lovely on other people. On me they just give me that no neck look. Anyway, I like big earrings so they win over the scarves otherwise they get caught in the them.

    Nice drawings. Your post’s a laugh as usual.

    • Oh… you’ve just given me another idea for a post…stay tuned!

  11. I thought I was the only one reluctant to jump on the recent scarf bandwagon. Love your illustrations, as always!

  12. Love it! Except for the Annette Funicello early phase – I’ve been there right along with you!

  13. I hated those floppy bow things! They are probably going to show up again someday and I will still not wear one.
    I like the look of the scarves being worn today but I don’t have one–I have no idea why. Note to self–get a scarf before they are out of style.

  14. I also had the little “bow ties” to go with every suit. But I just don’t have the flair for the scarves these days. I envy those who can casually tie a scarf and have it look fashionable on every outfit. I give up. I wear neither beads or scarves. I do well to get my clothes on the right way most days.

  15. You kill me, Nancy. Hilarious!!

  16. I have always been a fashion failure…always. Never did the bow ties. Never did many scarfs either, except to wrap my head now and then. These days I will occasionally (if it is cold) wear a scarf around my neck but that is more because of weather than fashion. The one thing I did do and still do is is Pashimas, Love Them Love Them Love Them. Have lots of them in many colors, all purchased in Asia, I would sleep in them if my husband would let me.

    Loved your walk through history and your illustrations.

  17. Thank you for your great illustrations and a walk down memory lane of all of the fashion trends I’ve admired, yet avoided. I think I’ve convinced myself I must have been hung in a former life… can’t stand anything around my neck! Then again, there isn’t much of a neck to wrap anything around. Don’t wear scarves even when it is frigid cold outside, don’t wear them as fashion statements, don’t wear turtlenecks. I envy those who can, and do, wear either look!

    • I don’t do turtlenecks either. Same reason as you.

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