Notes on Scarf Condition

Some collectors insist on every scarf being 'mint' (absolutely pristine to the extent that it has probably never been worn). This will make for a wonderful collection that will keep its value, but will dramatically shrink the 'pool' of scarves that you can choose from.

Of course, what is acceptable in terms of condition will vary from person to person, and obviously you many not want to pass on a particularly rare or desirable item even it its condition is poor. Generally, however, any scarves you buy should be in good clean condition, and ideally - if they're hand-rolled - with nice plump edges.

Do ensure that, at the very least, the scarves you buy are structurally sound. An unrolled edge can be fixed, a little fading may not detract from the overall look, but holes or tears are a pity, even if it's a scarf design that you love. There's nothing more heartbreaking - as I experienced with a Victorian shawl passed down to me from my great grandmother - to find that a little more of the scarf has disintegrated every time you take it out of its box.

Examine any stains or marks carefully to see how they effect the overall look of the scarf, and to judge whether or not they are likely to be removable. Mildew is always bad news as it can very rarely been removed satisfactorily, and may even transfer to other scarves stored nearby. Rust stains, which can occur where an item has been pinned, can also be extremely difficult to remove.

Minor flaws, such as small holes, are sometimes well camouflaged by a busy or vibrant design, but major snags and moth damage usually render a scarf too unattractive to be worth buying. Lastly, if condition is really important to you, it's worth holding a scarf up to the light to check for tiny holes made by broaches or pins.

See also Storing and Caring for Your Scarf Collection.

Next: Where to Find Great Scarves for Your Collection