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Two Ways to Tie a French Style Scarf

Happy Thursday, guys! 

Revisiting this post from the archives today as I’ve been getting quite a few questions on how I tie my scarves–so, here we go! 

It’s no secret that I have a major thing for French style. French women always seem so impeccably chic and stylish without ever trying too hard. I think they’re the true definition of “perfectly undone.”

Truth be told, I think gathering inspiration from french style has made me a more confident dresser. It’s not rooted in trends or brands or labels–it emphasizes classic silhouettes, never aiming for perfection but instead, embracing and finding beauty in the imperfections. French style has taught me that you can make a statement with a simple outfit and a bold red lip, or focus on finding a few perfect wardrobe staples and wearing them for everything–to work, to out on a date, and on the weekend, too.

One Parisian style staple is the classic scarf. Whenever I need to add a little something to my outfit, I usually pull out my favorite silk scarf or bandana–it truly makes even the most basic outfit to the next level. This has actually been one of my most requested tutorials, so I’m so excited to share the two main ways I typically tie mine!

Note: scarves all vary in size, but you’ll want to make sure you have a SQUARE scarf. The dimensions aren’t that important–the method is still the same–but for reference, the one I use here is 36″ x 36.”

How to tie a scarf like a French girl:

The Parisian Twist + Knot

Two Ways to Tie a French Style Scarf

This is the most classic “french girl” way to wear a scarf. It’s so easy, and if you have a shorter scarf, you can skip the middle steps (wrapping it around your neck twice)–simply roll it diagonally and tie it in a knot! 

Step one: First, you’ll want to begin with a square-ish scarf, fold it in half diagonally to form a triangle. It can be a big square or a little square, but typically this is the shape of scarf that works best for these particular tying methods. I’ve found that typically the vintage scarves I found are larger like the one I’m using here–but a lot of the ones you see sold new are more “bandana” size. (You can see my how to tie a bandana tutorial here.) Regardless, the method is the same! 

Step two: Begin rolling from the long edge (hotdog style, if you will, remember that from grade school? Haha!) to the corner until you have it rolled into a nice little “rope” if you will.

Step three: Then, wrap the scarf around your neck once (kind of like you would with a regular scarf!) You should then have two loose ends.

Step four: Tie those ends together. (Depending on the material of your scarf, it might stay fine like this, or you may need to knot it.) To finish, I like to move the knot to the side so it’s a bit off-center.

You’re done!

The Chic French Bandana

Two Ways to Tie a French Style Scarf - The Golden Girl Blog

Good news, this method is nearly identical to the one outlined above! Nearly the same steps, but a totally different look! 

Step one: Fold your square scarf in half diagonally.

Step two: The beginning of this step will vary based on how large you want the “triangle” part of your bandana to be. If you have an average size square scarf, you can simply move on to step three. Or, if you have a larger scarf (or you just want your bandana to be smaller) you can roll the edge a bit like we did before–begin rolling the scarf starting with the longest edge, toward the end. Unlike we did above, don’t roll the scarf all the way to the corner–stop halfway through (where you stop will dictate how large the “bandana” portion is.) You will now have a long rectangular roll with a little triangle on the end.

Holding the triangular portion (it should resemble a bandana type shape at this point, like a bandit, haha!) in front of your body, and wrap the ends around your neck once. (Just like the motions above, this time, it’s just a different shape!)

Step three: Like we did in the first tutorial, tie the ends together. Leave them hanging after one tie, or you can tie into a knot for more security. Depending on your preference, you can tie the ends OVER the bandana (triangle), or UNDER the it. Leave them hanging out, or you can tuck the loose ends underneath the triangular portion of the bandana for a cleaner look. There’s no wrong way to do it–I think it just depends on what you’re going for, and also, how much of your scarf you’d like to show off!

I like to finish by twisting the scarf so it’s a bit off to the side–I prefer mine not to be centered, but again, it’s really up to you!

Super easy, right?

Ideas for how to style your French style scarf: 

I’m pretty confident that a scarf like this looks good with almost anything, but if you’re looking for inspiration, here are a few notable “French style” looks I’ve worn with scarves:

Classic silk button-down, booties + trench:

Ideas for how to style your French style scarf:

If you missed this post on my “wear anywhere outfit,” the outfit you see above is my #1 go-to outfit in the fall, winter and spring. It works for nearly every occasion–it’s cute but polished, fashionable-yet professional. The scarf is definitely the cherry on top! My exact trench is restocked this year, as is my favorite Everlane silk button-down. My jeans are very old, but if you’re looking for new skinnies I do recommend Everlane’s new stretch skinny jeans that come in a medium or high rise. Similar booties here!

Sweater + denim + sneakers: 

I love this combination for travel! Comfortable enough for all-day sightseeing while still being pulled together! Sweater: Sezane (they also make this very similar version!) runs big!, Purse: ABLE ABERA backpack purse (use code JESSKEYS15 for 15% off!), Hermes Scarf purchased here in Paris, Sunglasses: Ray-ban sunglasses. Sneakers: Everlane Court Sneakers (mine are several years old, not the new ones, so can’t speak to those!) Jeans: SUPER old Rag & Bone that they don’t make anymore but this version is very similar and marked down on Amazon! I also highly suggest Madewell skinnies! They’re a reader favorite. 

Another travel look with the same no-fail formula! Sweater: Sezane Gaspard sweater (wearing size small, which is slouchy, if you’d prefer it more form-fitting, go down a size!) Purse: ABLE ABERA backpack purse (use code JESSKEYS15 for 15% off!), Scarf: Hermes purchased here in Paris, Sunglasses: Ray-ban sunglasses. Sneakers: Everlane Court Sneakers (mine are several years old, not the new version, so can’t speak to those, but they look super cute and are made of recycled leather!) Jeans: SUPER old Rag & Bone that they don’t make anymore but this version is very similar and marked down on Amazon! I also highly suggest Madewell skinnies! They’re a reader favorite. 

T-shirt dress + leather jacket:

t-shirt dress

Pair a t-shirt dress with a leather jacket and white sneakers. The scarf brings everything together and adds some polish to a sportier outfit.

Bandana + Stripes:

Stripes are a french outfit staple

Stripes are a french outfit staple for good reason–they look so cute with everything! I love pairing red with stripes in particular, so my red bandana (similar here and here) gets plenty of use! My striped tee is old but there are lots of similar versions here! I love wearing this outfit with shorts in the summer and classic Levi’s in the winter! (P.S. I have a separate how-to-tie a bandana tutorial if you’re curious!) 

With a Classic Button Down 

high-waisted jeans

This is another go-to look of mine, especially for travel (pic from many years ago in Paris! I love pairing a scarf with a button-down (mine is old, but similar here!) and high-waisted jeans! 

Red, white, blue, and camel are one of my favorite color combinations

Red, white, blue, and camel are some of my favorite color combinations! The silk scarf really puts the outfit over the top and adds a needed dash of pattern! (This outfit is super old, but my favorite camel cocoon coat is linked here, similar loafers, similar sweaters here and here, and the new version of my favorite white jeans!)

Where to buy square scarves and bandanas: 

No matter what your budget, you can find a great neck scarf to suit your needs! Whether that’s out of the $5 bin at your favorite vintage store, to this $8 one on Amazon, to Hermes if you want a special splurge. (The Real Real and eBay have a lot of more affordable second-hand versions!) You can find some great vintage versions on Etsy here. I’m also linking some cute Amazon scarves below as well if you’re on a budget! 

Hope this French style scarf tutorial was helpful for putting a Parisian twist on any outfit! 

Want more French-inspired style? See all the outfits I wore on my last trip to Paris here