Collecting Scarves - Getting Started

Scarves and shawls have always been collectable - many a Victorian lady treasured her array of fine shawls and wraps, just as fashionable ladies of the 1950s delighted in their collections of printed silk squares.


But whereas scarves have long been objects of desire, the fairly recent elevation of the classic silk square to 'fashion icon' status increasingly inspires people to collect scarves not only for their beauty, but also as a reflection of trends, popular culture and even world events: nothing less than social history in fabric.

One of the great things about collecting scarves is that a worthwhile and rewarding scarf collection can be put together on almost any budget, large or small. Having said that, those with minimal funds would be wise to seek out a niche - a lesser known or under-appreciated designer perhaps, or a more unusual theme. Of course, anyone with money to spend can amass a fine collection of designer scarves, modern or vintage. But a scarf really doesn't have to boast a designer label or 'signature' to be beautiful and desirable. Gorgeous though many designer scarves are, it is far cheaper, more fun - and, to my mind, more rewarding too - to collect a less obvious area.

So here are some tips for getting your collection started.

What to collect

So you want to collect scarves? Well, the first step is to decide what kind of scarves! There is such a huge selection of shapes, sizes and designs available that this simply is not an area where you can collect indiscriminately. To avoid becoming overwhelmed it's important to focus and pick a specific theme, a period, or perhaps a designer whose work you are particularly drawn to. For detailed notes on each of these areas see:

Collecting to wear...

Do you plan to wear your collection? If so then do think carefully about exactly what you're looking for (colors, designs, scarf shapes and sizes). This way it will be easier to avoid impulse buys that fit well with your general collection but that, realistically, you're unlikely to wear (see also Storing and Caring for your Scarf Collection for notes on deciding whether to wear your collection or not).

How much do you have to spend?

Consider, too, how much you're willing to spend on your collection. As noted above, whereas building a great scarf collection is not necessarily dependent on large sums of money, you'd obviously be unwise to start collecting Hermès scarves (vintage or modern) without access to plenty of cash. You could, however, realistically expect to develop an interesting collection of, say, travel themed scarves or 1950s era scarves on a low budget, especially if you relish trawling through flea markets and thrift stores for 'finds'.