15 Different Types of Scarves

Scarves serve function and fashion which makes them a must-have accessory so get to know the different types of scarves based on material, function, and design.

A woman wearing a pink patterned scarf over her shoulders.

A scarf is a simple piece of fabric that is wrapped around the neck or shoulders, and sometimes, over the head. A scarf is longer than it is wide and it comes in numerous sizes and shapes. Common ones include rectangular, triangular, and square scarves.  A scarf is a perfect combination of function and fashion. This item of clothing is not only used to keep you warm, but it is a popular fashion accessory as well. When used correctly, scarves can transform your look.

Scarves come with many benefits that you may not have thought about before. Apart from keeping you warm in chilly weather and enhancing your style, they can deliver many other benefits.

  • Scarves can help you save your skin from the scorching sunlight when you step out in the afternoon sun. Wrapping a scarf around your shoulders will not only look stylish but will also protect the skin of your arms from tanning.
  • Scarves can protect your hair from getting tangled when the weather is dusty and windy. You don’t have to worry about the wind blowing your hair around if you are carrying a scarf with you. Simply drape it around your head, and you are good to go.

It’s amazing how a simple piece of fabric can have so many different functions. Now that you are convinced that scarves are a must-have accessory, let’s look at the different types of scarves that are available.

Related: 19 Ways to Tie a Scarf

Types of Scarves Based on Material

Numerous types of scarves are available on the basis of materials. Although you can make a scarf out of any fabric, you should always be mindful of the fact that a scarf will be wrapped around your neck most of the time. For this reason, a material that is soft, comfortable, and breathable should be used. The types of scarves based on their material have been listed below.

1. Cotton Scarves

A row of colorful, dotted cotton scarves.

Cotton scarves are the most common and the most versatile of all types of scarves. Whether you are wearing a skirt or jeans, a cotton scarf goes well with everything. Young girls like to carry cotton scarves to accessorize their outfits, but for women, scarves play a more important role. Scarves add to the elegance and style of their attire. Moreover, the right scarf can bring up the level of your dressing sense.

Cotton scarves are soft, comfortable, breathable, and affordable, making them a preference of most women. Cotton scarves are also suitable for anyone who has sensitive skin. They are very soft and do not cause irritation or itching on the skin. If you use scarves to cover your head, cotton scarves are ideal for keeping you safe from the summer heat and the wind, without making you feel suffocated.

Cotton scarves are available in many colors, designs, patterns, and sizes. You can choose the one that serves your purpose best!

2. Chiffon Scarves

Chiffon scarf with a coffee mug on a wooden table.

Chiffon is one of the most elegant fabrics available. It is a light-weight fabric that is used to make luxury garments. It drapes well, and that is why it is a popular fabric for making scarves. Its semi-mesh weaves give this fabric a see-through appearance.

Chiffon scarves look super chic. They are purely used as a fashion accessory because they are too light to be used to keep you warm. If you are planning to go to a formal evening dinner, draping a chiffon scarf elegantly around your shoulders will surely give you a dreamy and a classy look!

Chiffon scarves are a powerful fashion accessory, and they look great with both formal and informal outfits. They can be worn during the day or in the evening.  No matter what time of the day you wear a chiffon scarf, the scarf will no doubt add to the elegance and beauty of your outfit.

3. Silk Scarves

Six colorful silk scarves with intricate designs.

Silk scarves are known for their vibrant prints and colors. Clothing items made from silk have been worn by royals for ages, and it continues to hold the elegance and value even today. Silk is a premium material, and so are silk scarves. Although they are pricier than other scarves, they are truly worth it. The beauty and quality of silk scarves cannot be questioned. These sensational scarves not only enhance your look but also have many benefits that you may have never heard about before.

Unlike cotton, silk retains the moisture of your skin and hair. If you want to look younger for longer, silk scarves can help with that. Using silk scarves regularly keeps your skin aglow for longer as it retains the moisture of the skin. It delivers the same benefits to your hair, keeping it soft, smooth, and luxuriously silky. Moreover, if you have sensitive skin, pure silk scarves are great for you as they are hypoallergenic.

Silk scarves are costly but consider them an investment. They have been in fashion for as long as fashion has been practiced and they are not going out of style any time soon!

4. Cashmere Scarves

A bunch of folded cashmere scarves on display.

Cashmere is the most sought-after fabric in the fashion industry. It not only keeps you warm, but it also makes you look great. The best thing about cashmere scarves is that they keep you warm in winters but don’t make you sweat in summers, making these scarves suitable to be worn in all kinds of weather.

Cashmere is obtained from the undercoat of the cashmere goats that are found in China and Mongolia. The cashmere coat on the goat’s body grows when the temperatures fall so that the goats are kept warm.

Cashmere is a lightweight fabric, and this makes cashmere scarves easy to carry. They are extremely soft with a silky feel, which means that cashmere scarves are comfortable to wear in any weather including summer..

Cashmere scarves are available in a wide variety of colors. As they are obtained from a natural source, they are safe to be used by people with sensitive skin, with no additional chemicals, and they pose no risk to the environment.

There are numerous reasons why cashmere scarves are the best types of scarves. The most important one is that they make you look great! What else can one ask for?

5. Pashmina Scarves

Colorful pashmina scarves in a market on display.

Pashmina fabric is popular for its insulating characteristics and its wonderful texture. It keeps you warm in cold weather and protects you from the chilliness of the winter breeze. Not only that; pashmina scarves are extremely elegant and beautiful. They accentuate outfits and make you look prettier. Just wrapping a pashmina scarf around the neck is enough to spice up your outfit.

Pashmina scarves are super soft and comfortable – they are so soft that you can wrap a baby in them. The fabric does not irritate the skin, so you will love the touch of a pashmina scarf on your bare arms.

Pashmina scarves are lightweight, which makes them easy to carry around. They are a perfect accessory to add to your outfit while going out for a formal evening dinner during the winters. They are often a fabric of choice for many women because by being soft and lightweight, they don’t bulge around your neck.  You can move around with perfect ease and comfort while a pashmina scarf is wrapped around your neck or shoulders.

6. Velvet Scarves

Velvet scarves look beautiful, but the thing with this fabric is that it is thick, which makes wrapping a velvet scarf around the neck in winters a bit uncomfortable. They are warm and soft, making you feel warm and cozy during the winters but you should make sure that the width of the velvet scarf that you plan to wear is not too much. If it is, it might be a source of discomfort for you.

Velvet scarves are available in a massive variety of colors. Have you ever seen velvet scarves piled up in a store? The range of colors in one line looks so attractive that you feel like buying all of them. Velvet scarves, without a doubt, look very pretty, decent, and elegant. You can wrap them around the neck or carry them gracefully around your shoulders to flaunt your lady-like charm.

7. Wool Scarves

Gray and white wool scarf on a wooden surface.

Wool scarves are the best choice when it comes to selecting a material for scarves. Among all fabric materials, wool is the most common and the most natural material that is obtained from mammals. It is produced on the body of many mammals to keep them warm. Considering its natural origin, wool is safe to be used by humans.

High-quality wool scarves are super soft to the touch and are extremely breathable and comfortable to be worn. If you are wearing a wool scarf that is made from the best quality wool, you won’t even feel like you are wearing something, yet you’ll stay warm and comfy. However, there’s a reason we specifically mentioned the need to buy scarves that are made from high-quality wool. Wool that is of lower quality can be itchy and uncomfortable.

As a general perception, wool is meant to keep you warm. Let us enlighten you with a fact that you might not know. Wool is a fabric that regulates body temperature. This means that it keeps your body warm in winters and makes you feel cool in summers. Did you know that?

If you suffer from allergies with some fabrics, then a pure wool scarf is the safest and best option for you. It will not cause any allergies or irritation because it is a completely natural material that is obtained from mammals.

Wool fibers are very fine, and that makes this material quite resilient. You can wear a wool scarf for years, and you will be amazed to see that it will still retain its shape and won’t stretch, fade, or wear out.

Another fact about wool is that it contains lanolin, a wax that makes wool waterproof. Also, you don’t even need to wash your wool scarf regularly because it has a unique fiber structure that does not allow body odor to accumulate in the fabric. Simply airing the wool scarf is considered cleaning.

With so many reasons backing the practicality of wool scarves, you can see why people have to have at least one wool scarf in their wardrobe. Wool scarves are the best scarf investment you can make, owing to their resilience, long-life, and the comfort they deliver.

8. Net Scarves

Net fabric can be soft or coarse, depending upon the type of fiber used in the development of the fabric. For scarves, a soft net fabric should be used. A scarf is usually wrapped around the neck, and you wouldn’t want your scarf to keep pricking you the whole time you’re wearing it. A net made from silk fiber is very soft and often the preferred type for scarves. Nylon net scarves are a bit stiff, and polyester net scarves can be coarse to soft.

Net scarves are solely used for the purpose of accessorizing an outfit since they cannot keep you warm. They look pretty and elegant, and you can carry a net scarf with a formal outfit while going to an evening dinner, or drape it around your shoulders while you flaunt some part of your bare arms. Net scarves, without any doubt, look appealing and sexy!

9. Viscose Scarves

A close up of a colorful viscose scarf.

Viscose scarves are another common type of scarf which is quite popular among the ladies. Viscose is a very soft material, with a silk-like feel. Scarves made from this material drape beautifully, giving a flawless, elegant touch to any outfit. The best thing about viscose scarves is that they have the soft feel of silk and the breathability of cotton, all at a very affordable price. You read that right! Viscose scarves are inexpensive, which adds to their popularity.

Viscose scarves are available in many vivid colors as it is extremely easy to dye the material. Viscose scarves are an ideal option if you want to enjoy a luxurious feel and look at a very affordable price.

However, there are some drawbacks to using viscose for scarves. Viscose is prone to stretching, and once it has stretched, it doesn’t recover its original shape. It is a weak fabric that is even weaker when it is wet. It absorbs moisture and oils from the body and this causes spots to form on the fabric. The worst part is yet to come. When you try to treat spots on a viscose scarf, the cleaning process leaves behind permanent marks.

It is still a common fabric that is used in scarves, owing to the fact that it gives a regal and luxurious look at a very low cost.

10. Acrylic Scarves

Acrylic scarves are best alternate to wool scarves. They are ideal for casual attire, for example, while you are going out for a morning jog or an informal coffee meet-up with a close friend. They are as soft as wool. They are also inexpensive and an ideal choice for people who might be allergic to wool.

Acrylic scarves are made from acrylic fibers that are extremely lightweight. They do not require any special care instructions. They are generally stain and wrinkle-resistant.  Acrylic scarves are not as good as wool when it comes to softness and breathability, but they are a good enough alternative for people who can’t use wool due to medical conditions (like allergies). You can wrap an acrylic scarf around your neck, tie it into a knot, or wrap it loosely around your shoulders. They will provide warmth, comfort, and will retain their shape.

Many people think that acrylic and wool are the same things. Wool is a natural material while acrylic is a synthetic fiber, that is, human-made.

11. Alpaca Scarves

A close look at a gray alpaca wool scarf.

If you think sheep’s wool is the softest and the warmest of all-natural fibers, we want you to try alpaca. Alp/aca is lighter and also warmer than sheep’s wool. It is extremely soft and luxurious to touch. It is an insulator by nature, which makes alpaca scarves an ideal choice for winter.

The scarves made from alpaca have a unique combination of characteristics.  Although it is the warmest weatherproof fabric that is available today, it leaves you feeling cool in summers. Isn’t that surprising? Well, this is one of the features of this fabric that makes it so popular in the textile industry! It is a breathable and lightweight material that makes it suitable to be worn in any climate.

Alpaca fabric is resistant to stains, wind, and water. If you go outdoors on a windy day or a rainy day, you will be protected at all times. It takes quite a long time for the rain to penetrate the alpaca fabric. Moreover, alpaca fabric is hypoallergenic, so if you are allergic to wool, alpaca scarves can let you enjoy softness and warmth that is even better than wool.

Finally, some of the most important features of alpaca scarves are durability and strength. It can keep its original shape easily as compared to other fabrics. It is so durable and strong that if you own an alpaca scarf, it can become a family heirloom that can be passed onto generations without getting damaged!

12. Linen Scarves

A lovely linen scarf rolled like a rose.

The addition of a scarf to your outfit shows how thoughtful and attentive you are while dressing up. Linen scarves are not season-specific. Whether it is summer, winter, autumn, or spring, linen scarves are a great addition to any outfit.

Linen scarves can be worn when the weather is too cold for a sleeveless top and too warm for a jacket as they offer just the right amount of warmth you need. A linen scarf can instantly transform a formal look into a casual one. Let’s say you get a call from your friends to join them for a coffee after work. By just draping a linen scarf around your neck, you can transform the office look into a classic evening look.

Linen scarves are lightweight and thin, which makes carrying them in your handbag super feasible. Apart from all the reasons why linen scarves are a must-have, one thing that they are most popular for is adding a pop of color to your outfit. They are available in a massive array of colors, and just by pairing a contrasting linen scarf with a dull top, you can balance your look!

13. Satin Scarves

Satin is a soft fabric that is made from polyester or silk. It is available in numerous thicknesses and forms. With the thickness, the weight and flexibility vary, too. Satin is a glossy fabric that makes a great scarf for occasions where you want to really dress up – when going to the club, for example. Satin scarves are available in many bright colors and vivid patterns.

The thing about satin scarves is that they can spice up your outfit almost immediately. If you think your outfit is too dull or boring for a party, all you have to do is wrap a satin scarf around your neck, and you are good to go!

These scarves can protect your skin and hair from moisture loss. Regularly wearing a satin scarf can make your skin and hair look livelier and more youthful. Many people have tried sleeping with satin caps on, and they have reported a marked difference in the health of their hair.

Types of Scarves Based on Function

Most people think that scarves are either meant to be worn during the winters or are used in many cultures as headcovers. However, the scope of the use of scarves is not so limited. Scarves can be divided into four types based on the function that they are meant to be used for. The types of scarves on this basis are:

  • Headscarves
  • Neck scarves
  • Beach scarves
  • Winter scarves

1. Headscarves

As the name indicates, headscarves are meant to be worn over the head. They could be worn for style, protect the hair from sunlight and dust, or like in many countries, as a religious symbol. Headscarves are very common. The common materials used for headscarves include linen, pashmina, cashmere, chiffon, and cotton.

2. Neck Scarves

Neck scarves are wrapped around the neck, either as an adornment or to accessorize an outfit. A lot of women and men are seen wearing neck scarves as a style statement. Young girls like to pair their outfits with fancy neck scarves because they make the entire appearance look fancy and attractive. Many office-going women are often seen wearing neck scarves as these scarves add to their elegance and style.

3. Beach Scarves

At first glance, beach scarves don’t really look like your typical scarf. They’re big, light, and flowy, and are generally worn around the waist instead of the neck or the shoulders. However, they are very much part of the scarf family and are mostly worn in warm weather. They can also be worn casually to hang out with friends or just when you’re going out on a walk.

4. Winter Scarves

As the name suggests, winter scarves are the types of scarves that are worn in winters. They are usually made from wool, alpaca and similar warm materials to keep their wearers warm during colder weather.

Types of Scarves Based on Design

Scarves can be divided on the basis of their designs as well. Scarves can be hand-painted, block-printed, dyed, embellished, embroidered, beaded, or lacy.  Dyed scarves are the most common types of scarves when we talk about types of scarves on the basis of design. However, embellished and embroidered scarves are popular scarves for formal functions.

It is not only the women who wear scarves. Men also love pairing their outfits with the right kind of scarf. Neckerchiefs and neckties are essential accessories for formal men’s wear.  No matter what type of scarf you opt for, a scarf makes an integral part of any outfit. They not only serve the purpose of keeping you warm in cold weather (as a general perception says) but scarves are a great accessory to pair any outfit with. Simply wear a scarf to change the way you look!

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