I like scarves. They’re utilitarian, of course. Wrap one around your neck to keep off the cold and wind. But they’re also a way to sneak some color and pattern into even a casual ensemble. I think I’ve been hooked since Tom Baker wore his in old Doctor Who episodes when I was a kid.
Scarves come in variety of types, but one of the most traditional and classic is the schoolboy scarf. Schoolboy scarves are so called because of their association with colleges and prep schools. They are made of vertical stripes of contrasting woven wool, typically incorporating an institution’s signature colors, sometimes with an added school crest.
The primary maker of the traditional schoolboy scarf is Cambridge, England based Luke Eyres. The company says the scarves were born during wartime privation, proper wool yarn being unavailable for proper knit scarves. They developed the sewn vertical stripe design using woven wool fabric, and offered it to Cambridge’s colleges in lieu of the knit versions. When World War II was over, the colleges opted to keep the new schoolboy scarves.
Soon other colleges began adopting them, including colleges and universities across the pond in the United States, particularly Ivy League institutions. The legendary J. Press, the shop so closely associated with Ivy League prep, became the go-to shop for American schoolboy scarves. It’s still a signature item for them.
Not everyone’s alma mater has an official schoolboy scarf, but I give you permission to cheat and choose one that uses your school’s colors. I found that a small private school in Connecticut used the colors of my own University of Kentucky in its schoolboy scarf, and grabbed one during a seasonal sale from J. Press several years ago. It’s a favorite during the winter months.
There few places to buy a quality schoolboy scarf. In the U.S., O’Connell’s Clothing is a reliable option, and seems to source from Luke Eyres. (Also take a look at Smart Turnout, Ryder & Amies, and The Tie & Scarf Company.) Other classic designs such Argyle & Sutherland are also available in schoolboy scarf design, so these days the options are limitless. Luke Eyres will even make one up to your custom order.
With the cold weather of winter ahead of us, schoolboy scarves are a great way to show loyalty to the alma mater while adding a bit of traditional style as well.