Have you ever wondered where the idea for scarves originated? Or who first wore a scarf as a fashion accessory? Scarves our are passion so we've done the research and found the history of scarves in fashion to be quite fascinating!
Multiple ancient societies utilized scarves in different ways. The scarf can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Chinese emperors.
The first known scarves were worn in Ancient Egypt and were a symbol of social status. Egyptian scarves were made of silk. Queen Nefertiti was seen wearing a silk scarf as a wrap underneath her iconic, flat top headdress.
During the reign of Chinese Emperor Cheng, members of the military wore scarves made of cloth around their necks. Historians believe the different color cloth scarves were used to demonstrate rank within Cheng's army.
Ancient Romans also wore cloth scarves; however, their intended purpose was to help the Romans keep clean and not warm. The Romans referred to the scarf as "sudarium" which loosely translates to "sweat cloth" in English as they were used to wipe away the sweat from their necks and faces during hot weather. While these early scarves were originally worn by men, Roman women began to use them shortly thereafter.
During the Middle Ages, Eleanor of Aquitaine inspired women to wear scarves as a decorative part of their wardrobe. She started the trend by wearing colorful scarves hanging from her headdress. Wealthy women quickly copied her style while poorer women simply wore linen scarves tied around their heads.
A few centuries later, Croatian soldiers of all rank began to wear scarves as a part of their uniform. Higher ranking officers wore silk scarves while the lower ranks wore cotton. Some Croatian soldiers served as mercenaries with the French army. From here, French soldiers adopted the trend and carried it to France where silk scarves would become the precursor to men's silk neckties.
Shortly thereafter, the mantilla gains popularity throughout Spain. This garment was a silk or lace shawl that was worn draped from the head down to the shoulders.
By the mid-1800s, modern day accessories companies begin creating and selling scarves for mass consumption. Both Hermes and Burberry are founded during the time.
Scarves continued to evolve throughout the 20th century including the rise of new fabrics and materials, such as fur, and the expansion of brands and manufacturers.