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What Knot to Do With Scarves


Dear Fashion Police: I am in my mid-20s. I like to dress conservatively, yet I also want to branch out and look more my age. I have a sensitive neck and tend to wear scarves more than other women I see, especially at work. People ask me if I have a cold when I wear them. I just feel comfortable wearing them. The scarves I have are pretty thick and drop down pretty close to my waistline. Are there any available that blend in with a style of fashion and are not so long? What types of clothes would those be?


Dear Tie: As we've mentioned before, women can be divided into two camps: those who wear scarves, and those who want nothing to do with those geometric pieces of cloth.

Obviously, you're in the first camp. So are we--we love scarves. But even the Fashion Police tend to fall into the rut of wearing scarves the same way. On occasion we'll feel a ping of creativity and attempt something new, which usually results in our standing in front of the mirror for an hour with dreadful results.

So that this doesn't happen to you, we'll first recommend some books. Yes, there are books for the scarf-tying impaired. Among the titles are "How to Tie Scarves" by Edie Weber (Sterling Publications, 1999), "Sensational Scarfs" by Carol Straley (Crown, 1996), "The Complete Book of Scarves" by Jo Packham (Sterling Publications, 1999) and "Chic Simple: Scarves" by Kim Johnson Gross (Knopf, 1993).

We also found a Web site that gives instructions on ways to tie and wear scarves (there's also a link to buy some):

As for a new look, forget those thick, long scarves you're wearing now. With summer almost here, those are going to make you a bit toasty. Instead, tie a neckerchief-size scarf, usually cotton or silk, around the middle of your neck. To fold it, start by taking opposite corners and bring each point to the middle. Take one folded edge and bring that to the middle, and do the same with the opposite side. Repeat this until the scarf is the width you want, then tie it around your neck with a square knot. Once you have reached the desired width you can also give it a couple of twists before tying.

This scarf looks great with a short-sleeved or sleeveless button-down blouse (leave the top one or two buttons open) or a cardigan.

Another tying method we like is suitable for day or evening. Startwith a long (at least 36 inches) rectangular scarf in a lightweight fabric such as silk or poly chiffon. Begin with the scarf around your neck, both ends hanging down the front of your torso. With your right hand, take the left end and bring it around your neck over the right shoulder so that the end hangs down your back. Do the same with the opposite side. This looks great with a boatneck blouse.

Dear Fashion Police: My husband and I are in our early 50s and will be attending the Jewish wedding of a young (20ish) cousin on a Sunday morning in late May in Stamford, Conn. Not wishing to disturb the bride's family, I tried but was unsuccessful in phoning the synagogue where the ceremony is being held, thinking that our manner of dress may be different depending on whether the synagogue is conservative or reform. Maybe you have a way of finding out. Our big question is, what should we wear to the wedding, as well as to the morning-after brunch, hosted by the groom's family in their home?


Dear Want: It's a good thing we called, since the synagogue is neither conservative nor reform--it's orthodox! And, yes, there are definite guidelines for what to wear, especially for women.

We spoke with Rabbi Mark Dratch at Congregation Agudath Sholom, who advised that a general rule is to dress "with good taste and an appropriate sense of modesty."

For you, that would mean wearing a dress, skirt and blouse or jacket, or a skirted suit. No pants. We recommend that your elbows be covered (no sleeveless blouses) and that whatever top you wear is not low cut. Your skirt length should be past the knee.

A head covering is optional. Dratch said the custom of married women covering their heads is more universally practiced in prayer services, but not as widely observed during wedding ceremonies.

For your husband, we'd suggest a dark suit. If he doesn't have a yarmulke, synagogues usually provide them for a wedding or service.

As for the brunch, we're guessing it'll be a little more informal. Find out, however, if the hosting family is orthodox--if so, you'll want to observe the guidelines above. If not, you should be fine in a nice pair of slacks with a blouse or sweater or jacket, or a dress or skirt. Your husband can opt for trousers with a shirt and jacket. If you're not sure about the formality level, have him bring a tie just in case. Better overdressed than under, we always say.


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