I have been thinking a lot about scarves since a visit to Bon Marche in Paris last September, where I bought several, including one by Dior and another by Christian Lacroix. As we get older it's best to have some colour next to the face and the scarf (like the handbag) is one of those garments which do not torment us with being the wrong size or too uncomfortable to wear, like a pair of Manolos.
Even expensive scarves are cheap compared to expensive bags and shoes, let alone jewellery. When I had tea at Claridges with Joan Burstein a few weeks ago, (that is the Joan Burstein who is old enough to have saved her clothing ration to buy copies of the New Look when it was first launched,) she was wearing, at 82, a black Marni dress, a navy coat and a long, filmy scarf in pale blue. And some stonking diamond earrings.
The plain palette of an elegant dark dress and coat was the setting for the accessories which lit up her face.
After the moth genocide I had to go very carefully through all my clothes to see what they had eaten and discovered it was only an Ann Louise Roswald skirt and a brown scarf I bought at the Galleries Lafayette in Paris just before interviewing Agnes b, because it was unseasonally cold. I have a lot of scarves and apart from those velvet ones from the Nineties, none of them seemed out of date, indeed yesterday I wore one I bought in 1996 at inflight duty free on a BA flight from Vienna to London, having spent two very long weeks in Iran.
R. and I spent some time on the phone the other night talking about the Hermes scarf and whether we were leading up to buying one. I am a but unsure about some of their designs, which I find somewhat bourgeois (every middle-class Iranian woman seems to have one) and R. was uncertain how to tie them, but I explained that if you pop into an Hermes shop they will give you a little book.
In Paris every single woman knows how to tie a scarf in a way which gives her outfit that totally distinctive chic. Perhaps it is in the fingers, perhaps it is taught at school. But in an age of too short skirts and hopeless struggles to find what we want, perhaps it is the humble scarf that is the real investment and we ought to learn.