If you have been following this blog, you will certainly be clear that I love scarves. I think that I have made that pretty obvious. You will also be clear that I have a developing passion for rather special, often expensive, designer scarves too. Unfortunately, due to the state of my health, I am unable to purchase such scarves in person. How I would love to walk into an Hermès boutique and see the scarves laid out for me to choose. To be able to try them on and really see how they look against my skin and hair before taking the plunge. As I cannot do that, I have to buy them online, which is, of course a risk. I am not talking here about credit card cloning etc., obviously that would be far more dreadful, but the risk of choosing the wrong scarf for my colouring, clothing and lifestyle.
I sit in bed every evening with my old iPad, although I can also use my laptop downstairs on a good day. As I have to save up for months before buying an Hermès scarf, I really want to get it right the first time so that I don’t have to go through all the hassle of returns processes, especially if I am buying second hand. So, here are a few tips, with particular reference to Hermès, although a lot of this would also apply to other designer scarves:
- It helps if you have a clear idea of your wardrobe colours and also which shades suit you the most, particularly which look good with your skin and hair. For example, I cannot wear black near my face any more as it makes me look even more drained and ill. When choosing a new scarf online, you could think about any colour you would like to introduce into your wardrobe, or what might enhance a particular outfit. Another consideration could be where the gaps might be in your scarf collection, if you have one.
- I tend to be drawn to a particular design first and then look at the different colourways on offer for that design. Hermès scarves can come in up to ten or more colourways for each design in one season! If I don’t think a colourway is right for me, then I will look at another design. There are always far more scarves on my wishlist than I can afford in any one season.
- A bit more on the design: these are some things I think about when deciding on a design.
- Small busy patterns or wider sweeps of colour?
- Geometric or abstract designs or images of people, animals, plants, flowers or objects? Horses? There are loads on Hermès scarves!
- I think about the overall design and how it might look tied.
- Are the corners and borders interesting or is there a lot of plain space? How do I feel about this?
- Size is another consideration. Hermès scarves come in a range of sizes, e.g. 90×90 cm, 70×70 cm, 140×140 cm, and so on, as well as square, twilly or stole shaped to name only a few. You may need to think about how these different sizes and shapes of scarf would fit into your lifestyle. Would a huge 140×140 cm scarf drown you in fabric, for instance?
- Fabric content: Hermès’ 90×90 cm scarves come in a lovely thick silk twill, but they also produce items in vintage style silk, chiffon (known as mousseline), lighter-weight silk and cashmere/silk mix as well as cotton and cotton/silk mixes. You may have preferences for a particular fabric.
- You can buy new designer scarves from the designers’ own websites, some major department stores’ sites, from resellers, from eBay and so on. Resellers are people who make a business out of buying new or second hand items, sometimes in bulk, and them selling them on – sometimes at less than the original price, sometimes at a considerable mark-up if the item is a “grail” or very sought after.
- If you buy from the company’s own website, you do not have to worry about the scarf being authentic. If, however, you buy from eBay or you want a second hand or vintage scarf from any other source, then you need to check for authenticity. It may surprise some readers to know that designer scarves are often faked. Some fakes can be so good that even experts struggle to authenticate. Others can be so poor that it is almost funny to look at them. I don’t know enough about Hermès scarves to be able to spot a good fake, but there are services available who can help with this. More about that later.
- To begin the process of choosing, why not have a look at a site like Hermès Maison des Carres. The site takes a little while to load on my iPad, but the result is worth the wait. All of the different sizes and types are laid out in a fairly random order (or so it seems to me), but you can use search tools to select the size or fabric mix . If you click on the scarf image you first see a basic description and price and then you are taken to a page about the scarf, with links to the various colourways available. As I have said in previous posts, be careful here about the actual image of the scarf. Hermès are very aware of counterfeiting and so the image colours are not quite accurately rendered. This can cause considerable difficulty for your choice, or a nice surprise when you open the parcel!
- This is where the wonderful Purse Forum can help – it can also “help” you to spend a lot of money, but that is another issue! I talk a lot about Hermès on this blog, as these are my favourite scarves, but if you are interested in other items such as handbags, footwear or jewellery, tPF has sections for all of the major designers and lots of other things as well. I follow a lot of discussions but there are two particularly useful ones for purchasing Hermès scarves: “Scarf of the Day” and the thread for the current season’s scarves, currently Spring/Summer 2017. On these you will see that posters upload original photos of themselves modelling scarves or of the scarves laid out for everyone to see. This means that you can check the colours or even ask for advice as to the correct shades. There is always a flurry of posts as each new season’s scarves start to appear and everyone is so helpful and kind, especially to “newbies”.
- Many of the posters on tPF are very knowledgeable collectors and it is worth reading their threads or following their advice. There are also authentication experts who can help, but you must follow the quite strict procedures on these threads so that everything is fair. Remember that tPF is a public forum. You can also pay for authentication from companies and individuals dedicated to this, although it could prove expensive for a scarf. No one will write publicly about how to spot a fake as this would, of course, aid the counterfeiters to do a better job next time!
Selection of Hermès scarves from my collection.
Here are some links which may give you further help:
How to choose a scarf
MaiTai’s Picture Book
Sources of second-hand, pre-loved, vintage scarves
Note: I am not endorsing any of these sites! If you are in the UK, be careful about buying from outside the EU (NOT a Brexit comment) as you will be charged duty fees if you are importing from Japan, the USA etc. There is also eBay, of course, and maybe you will be lucky one day and just happen to get an authentic Hermès scarf from a charity shop! Maybe…
1stdibs (based outside the EU)
Its-All-Goode (based outside the EU)
Malleries (based outside the EU)
If you know any other good sources of vintage Hermes scarves, available to those of us shopping in the UK, please let me know and I will add them to the list.
In the meantime – Good Luck!