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5 Chic Ways to Wear a Bandana

Is it the world's most versatile accessory?

Last Updated on August 23, 2023

Wondering how to wear a bandana? I’m here to help. Accessories have an unrivalled ability to transform any outfit. It’s easy to forget bags, sunglasses, jewellery and shoes and see them as an afterthought when you’re putting an outfit together, but they really are the cherry on top. Bandanas and scarves are exactly the same, and they offer a sense of creativity and uniqueness too. Wearing them can be a little bit nerve wracking, as there are so many ways to do so. There’s the babushka scarf, worn around your head, or the classic neck-tie. Bandanas can also be worn as a garment if they’re big enough, or you can wear yours as a neckerchief. However you wear yours, you’re not short of options!

And while it’s easy to see them as a modern wardrobe pieces, bandanas actually date back to the 17th century in both the Middle East and South Asia. In fact, the name “bandana” is believed to derive from Hindi and translates to “tied cloth”. They were made by dying fabrics from plants and local materials, and often they were ‘Turkish red’. They then travelled to Europe in the 18th century through the Dutch East India Trading Company, and were worn as women’s shawls. They were seen as a status symbol, with the classic Paisley print being the most popular print. Eventually European manufacturers started making their own to cut costs.

It wasn’t until the late 18th century that they became really popular. During the American Revolution, Martha Washington had a bandana made for her husband George to depict his quest to help America seek liberation and independence. It saw him on horseback, with text and images dedicated to his fight. Since then, they’ve been worn as a sign of rebellion and now find themselves as a fashionable and versatile accessory that everyone can enjoy.

Woman wears neck scarf at fashion week

There are a lot of ways to wear bandanas, so I’ll teach you a thing or two on how to ace this chic fashion accessory. Next, read more about AW23’s knitwear trends, how to clean suede shoes and how to stretch out your jeans.

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The Neck Scarf

The simplest and easiest way to wear a bandana is as a neck scarf. To get this look, you need an average-to-extra-large-sized bandana, depending on the look you want to achieve. Fold it in half to create a triangle shape, the bulk of which will sit at the front. Wrap it around your neck loosely and tie a knot at the back, and voila!

The Side Knot

Wear yours with the Audrey Hepburn-approved side knot with silk scarf for that elevated look. After choosing your desired scarf, roll the fabric to create one long strand and tie it around your neck, with the knot turned to the side.

man wears babushka scarf at fashion week

The Head Scarf

Alternatively you could wear yours as a babushka scarf, with the bulk of the scarf covering your head as seen above. Fold your bandana in half, place it around your head and tie it under your neck.

The Top

As well as an accessory, you can wear a bandana as at top. To achieve this Y2K look, fold it in half to create a triangle, wrap it around your upper body and secure it by tying the two ends at the back. Wear yours with high-waisted jeans or shorts for a summer-ready look.

As an Accessory

If you don’t want to wear yours on your head or around your neck, you can add it to a bag or belt to add a little something to an outfit.

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