Go Ahead, Tie One On: The Amazing, Versatile, Timeless Scarf

Recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle as the go-to personal stylist for successful men and women in the public eye, Mary Gonsalves Kinney (www.mgkstyle.com) has some tips for us on how to use a scarf to enliven an outfit on a summer day.

Summer weather can leave you bored and can create quite the fashion conundrum. I, for one, like to layer up, and dream longingly through the months of June, July and August of pre-Fall’s hautest collections. It’s like anticipating Santa Claus’ arrival on Christmas morning. Who doesn’t long to wear Saint Laurent’s colorful collection of suede fringed tall boots and Balenciaga’ssupple leather jackets? I mean, really?

If you live in a city that doesn’t allow for layering in June (I’m sorry), you can find yourself settling for Mrs. Roper caftans and Birkenstocks. As chic (insert sarcasm) as that sounds, do not relent. Please, there are options.

Scarves from Saint Laurent and Balenciaga

Lucky for me, I spend a fair share of my Summer in San Francisco. As the brilliant Mark Twain put it, “The coldest Winter I ever spent was a Summer in San Francisco.” Truer words were never spoken.

Perhaps this is why I find the scarf such a practically chic accessory. I mean, it’s main and arguably sole, purpose is to keep us warm through the colder months.

I must confess, however, my use of the scarf isn’t so practical most of the time. Being a stylist challenges me to use accessories in various ways. To set new standards and trends and to encourage my clients to make their wardrobe stretch, if you will. I try to find ways to make the scarf work in the Winter and the Summer, or, in the case of San Francisco, the Swinter.

Eva Mendes, Wearing a Scarf as Turban

I like to tie lighter, printed silk scarves around my head like a turban on bad hair days, or tie it in a perfect bow around my neck for some style vibrato.

Pretend you just “threw it on” in a frantic attempt to keep the chill away. Meanwhile, we’ll all look at you with admiration and a bit of style envy… “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Fei Fei Sun in a scarf that’s perfect for the San Francisco Swinter!

Try a heavy printed scarf wrapped like a blanket tight across your favorite blazer. When temperatures dip, as they’re known to do during SF’s June gloom, the scarf adds extra warmth and more importantly, varying texture and depth to an otherwise boring look.

Scarves from Temperley London and Dolce & Gabbana

Perhaps my favorite and most frequent usage, however, is wearing my cashmere pashminas as a belt. Replace the belt on that old black pencil skirt or cinch that Mrs. Roper caftan with it to create a waist. Suddenly, you went from fashion meek to totally chic. Feel free to do this in San Francisco or St. Barths. In fact, you can pretty much pick my clients out on the street because of this obsessive styling trick of mine. It is so different, so fashionable and will literally transform that Dolce & Gabbana dress you’ve worn to death.

Bringing old couture new life?! Why, yes please and thank you. I dare you to try it and wait for the compliments. “Oh this old thing… I just threw it on.” Exactly. Effortlessly chic. Go ahead, tie one on.

Originally published for SF Luxe on June 21, 2015.