Outside of the all silk, and mostly decorative, opera scarf, the double-sided scarf is perhaps the most elegant. But don’t all scarves have two sides, you ask? Yes, certainly, but double-sided scarves typically are made by sewing a layer of silk (or, in the past, rayon) onto usually a solid scarf of wool or cashmere, thus the sides are not only different in design but are also made of different material.
The silk side of such double-sided scarves traditionally have been printed foulards, sometimes ancient madder, with paisleys, pines, and dots. I recently picked up a vintage Cisco scarf from the legendary Washington, D.C. clothier Julius Garfinckel & Co., which has striped repp silk rather than the typical foulard.
Double-sided scarves are meant particularly for wearing with dressier overcoats the lapels on which typically leave an open V-shape at the chest. Scarves are perfect for plugging this hole, providing useful warmth with splash of color in what typically are long, solid gray, navy, or tan coats.
Unlike the standard wool or cashmere scarf, the double-sided scarf’s silk side offers a more elegant, dressier look while providing the wool/cashmere warmth against the body. And although silk can be cool to the touch, it actually gives a practical double layer of warmth on a double-sided scarf. Silk, while often thin, is quite insulating.
Double-sided scarves are not easily found these days. British scarf and tie maker Drake’s usually offers a selection. And although the price is not for the faint of heart, the quality from Drake’s is always unquestioned. As is often the case, turning to the secondary market will save one quite a bit of money. England’s Tootal and Sammy are names frequently associated with vintage double-sided scarf, although both use alternatives for the silk side, usually rayon or Tricel. Vintage scarves from traditional men’s clothiers like Brooks Brothers will turn up from time to time as well.
For those times when you pull out the dressier overcoat, a double-sided scarf is an elegant, and rarely seen, option to have in your wardrobe.