When designers paraded luscious-fabric stoles and fabulously long scarves in their fall 1990 collections, a lot of women breathed a sigh of relief for a long rectangular scarf often is the last defense against the wind's chill.
Yet the scarves and stoles shown by designers go far beyond granny's knit-and-purl traditionals.
Adrienne Vittadini and Donna Karan wrapped and cowled scarves deeply around the neckline. Christian Lacroix, Bill Blass and Ralph Lauren added all sorts of luxe-fabric stoles to their evening looks.
"Clothes have gotten very basic, very clean and an accessory such as a scarf has become a way to sparkle it up, to jazz it up," says Hope Rudnick, director of corporate services at Henri Bendel. "But it's a look that goes beyond the corporate and traditional look of a silk scarf. There's a softness and there's a lot of wrapping."
For day and night looks, long soft-fabric scarves, sometimes knits, sometimes pliable faux furs, are wound several times around the neckline, draping deeply in front. Sometimes the cowl is pulled over the head, sometimes the wrapping drapes over the shoulders. The stole may be tossed over one shoulder, or it may be draped across the back and over both arms.
Consider the options. There are strong and soft colors and an incredible array of textures, from shimmery lame to nubby woven, from velvet paired with satin, taffeta to soft wools. And many are highly affordable.
If there is one caveat, Rudnick says, it is "to choose a length you can cope with. The stole should probably not fall much below the bottom of the skirt."
The secret of wearing any accessory is to do it your own way so you feel comfortable with it. Do it with an attitude, not as if you planned it.