The man scarf

I pride myself on being a bit of a manly man. I like football, red meat, and tinkering with bits of technology until they no longer work. I don’t wear v-neck t-shirts, or pastel colours, I can barely tell which side of most clothes shops is for men, and which is for women. And don’t get me started on modern shorts… alright. It’s too late.

A shorts digression
In summer I like to wear shorts. I don’t really like wearing board shorts (except to the beach) and I have lots of denim shorts (I don’t know why) – but nothing really in between except a trusty pair of cargos. Cargos are practical. Manly men wear them. They have lots of pockets.

So I went to DFO in Brisbane. It’s factory outlet mecca. The females of the species love it. It has lots of clothes shops, bag shops, and shoe shops. I searched high, I searched low, but other than designated sportswear and outdoor workwear there was nary a pair of shorts to be found that didn’t have stovepipe type legs with a folded up hem. These are girls shorts. Even I can tell that. Popular only with practical women and effeminate males. When did it become acceptable for men to wear shorts that tapered and finished above the knee, with the excess fabric folded up and stiched into a hem shape? And why can’t I buy normal shorts? Just regular. Practical. To the knee or below (but shorter than three quarter pants). Shorts. It drove me bonkers. Luckily it’s winter now so I don’t have to worry about the situation for another three months.

Back on topic
It is winter. And having spent the last four years living in the tropics, in Townsville, where the weatherman taunts the southerners by reminding them that it’s still 27 degrees during the day, I am no longer acclimatised to cold weather. Anything below 20 degrees requires three layers. My wife, who has blue blood (she tells me it’s a broken hypothalamus) can’t leave the house in less than four.

And it’s only going to get colder.

One piece of sartorial style of women and gay men that I envy is the scarf. It’s practical. It warms the neck. But in most senses and uses these days is a fashion accessory that is the realm of the metro or the homo:

Beckham even wears a scarf in the summer:

I think real men, if they’re going to wear scarves, wear them like this:

Though, according to this article, the way men are meant to wear scarves is:

“A man’s scarf should be worn inside his overcoat and exposed an inch above the collar, with the tie on view.”

But I don’t own an overcoat.

Apparently wearing a scarf, in this style, in New Zealand:

Prompts people to question your sexuality.

Pilots can wear scarves without similar questions being raised:

When I googled “man scarf” I found this “fresh off the press” article from suggesting that man scarves are “in” this winter, and given my conformist tendency to non-conform I now have to suffer a cold winter, or invent some sort of leg warmer for the neck… Which somebody on instructables has already done for the ladies

Or I could throw my lot in with the cowl wearers – there are worse things than dressing like Batman…

Here’s a man’s guide to knitting one

He looks manly.
The cowl is a hoodie without the jumper. Practical and fashionable. Form and function. A triumph of winter wear. Problem solved.


RodeoClown says:

I got given a scarf for my birthday.
I hate wearing scarves.

I am a manly man, I wear short sleeves in winter.

And I live in the mountains.



Three layers when it goes under 20?! You wuss. When it goes over 15, then it’s a t-shirt and maybe a light cardigan.. 18 is definitely t-shirt weather. And what’s the issue with scarves? Just Queensland provincialism! If it’s not actually going around your neck keeping out the sub or slightly sur-zero temperatures, then what’s the point? And, from your link:

Even the established Savile Row tailor Gieves & Hawkes admits time has moved on. The classic drape was immensely popular “to bring some breakage of colour with your lapel”, said our friend with the tape measure.

“And with a silk scarf, really, that’s the only way to wear it. But for a woollen scarf, it’s perfectly acceptable for men to loop and knot.”

But then, perhaps I’m just a metro.. or someone who likes to protect their assets.

Mind, you could probably count on one hand the number of scarf-worthy days in a Brisbane “winter”. (I like to shock my German colleagues by telling them how I went swimming in the ocean at the Sunshine Coast last ‘winter’)

KIM says:

I think the guy in the last picture only gets away with it because he has a beard …

And thanks for reinforcing what I consider to be a basic rule of life: men’s shorts should always reach at least to the knees. Period.

Ben McLaughlin says:

Hmm. Interesting post, Nath. Heady, heady stuff.

I am mostly in agreement with you on most counts- Skinny shorts with hems =ladyboy, scarves are somewhat effeminate (though the bigger and longer, and more footballish, the more masculine).

But as I get older, some scales are stating to fall from my eyes re shorts length. I am still most comfortable in knee-length or longer shorts, and maybe a couple of years back I would have fought hard to say this was normal, and anything shorter was weird. As Kim argues above.

BUT. You know, I think we are just as much a product of our generation as the girly boys with stovepipe shorts. We like the knee length because that was what was sold to us. And here’s my main arguement and point: I actually think knee length or longer is NOT normal, and is not the most practical. There is significant reduction in knee flexibility and agility in a knee length short. And the older I get, the more I am cringing at it.

Got cold knees? Wear some jeans. Hot? Wear shorts. And shorts, purely by definition, means SHORT. How short then? Well not so short that your dignity is tarnished, or that too much personal landscape is revealed. But short enough. I’m talking two thirds down the thigh.

I will argue that this is what real man wear.