A sweeping trend for oversized scarves has arrived in menswear this season: some are long, reaching to the ground; others more akin to wide, coddling blankets. These scarves deliver warmth, protection and comfort, but also make for fresh style statements, with designers playing with new patterns, hues and textures.
On Ami’s autumn/winter runway, the brand’s ribbed wool scarves (£210) extended below the knee and came in rich camel, to complement camel coats, and burnt orange, to match simple, chunky knits. There was also a striking mélange wool version paired with a herringbone jacket, proving how well the exaggerated style goes with tailoring. In a similar vein, Rochas paired long, chunky scarves with tone-on-tone knits, including black wool/angora (£66) with brown stripes, and brown (£66) with black stripes. The brand also has a blue gingham style (£220) with intermittent black patches, as well as a fabulous tie‑dye wool scarf (£134) evoking Tom Baker’s seminal portrayal of Doctor Who.
While grand scarves can add theatre to more pedestrian ensembles, they don’t have to be avant-garde. Begg & Co has been making beautiful scarves and blankets in Scotland since 1866, and its new models come in at a generous 2m. Witness the Aberlour Farrell (£175), in a vicuña glen check with deft dégradé effects, and the cashmere Broderick Busby (£420) with its five-weave format.
Further traditional patterns were on display at E Tautz; its striped wool scarf (£295) is handmade in Wales – “in a family-owned mill known for making Prince Charles’s socks”, according to creative director Patrick Grant. Knitted on small frames, they are hand-linked in a double layer for a unique finish. Johnstons of Elgin’s oversized offering includes broad, college-style stripes in cashmere (£229) or tweed checks in fine merino wool (£149). For vivid blocks of colour, consider Holland & Holland’s 2m-plus cashmere scarves (£450) in khaki and scarlet. Or the houndstooth (£690) and micro-houndstooth cashmere styles (£550) that have wonderful subtle textural qualities.
A more urbane take comes from Maison Kitsuné, which has a large, logo-ed anthracite wool scarf (£180) and a black wool style (£180) emblazoned with the brand’s fox-head motif. Louis Vuitton artistic director Virgil Abloh’s luxury-meets-utilitarian ethos extends to an oversized scarf (£605), in purple or white, which is padded and has pockets at either end. Dior has taken large-scale scarves into an evening context, with a brown wool and mohair jacket (£2,900) that has a detachable ruched wool/mohair scarf evoking the sashes worn by heads of state at formal occasions.
Savvy dressers have for some time been sporting chic blanket styles that offer great styling possibilities once you get your head around them (or, indeed, them around your head). Slung over the shoulders, they evince a rugged charm – think Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars, searingly cool in a patterned poncho. Billionaire, now a sponsor of the Monte Carlo Polo Team, designs its virgin-wool scarves (£850) like horse blankets, embellished with the Billionaire crest and Polo Club emblem. Begg & Co’s collaboration with noted Scottish artist John Booth has also yielded some superb blanket-scarf options: the JB Paint Box (£330) is vivid yet accessible, while a unique tartan number (£330) features flower and face motifs, with Booth’s technique coming through like wax-relief work. I’ve been wearing Connolly’s shepherd’s blanket scarf (£775) in black and white houndstooth for the past few winters. I wrap it around myself like a graphic poncho instead of wearing a coat. “Shepherds would bundle sickly or orphaned lambs inside to carry them down from the hills,” says Connolly owner Isabel Ettedgui. “The real beauty is the weight and dry handle – it’s a piece you keep for life.”
Yet more rustic sensibility is on offer at Inis Meáin. The Aran-based knitwear specialist has taken inspiration from the island’s claíochaí, or stone fences, for a remarkable blanket (€590) and scarf (€220) in a merino wool/cashmere blend. There’s also the Keating wool jacquard blanket (€390) in reversible white and grey, based on a sketch by artist Sean Keating of a currach (boat) being launched out to sea.
Two of my favourite Italian designers nearly always offer scarf-blankets in their collections. Massimo Alba’s Cape mohair/wool style (£505), in a gorgeous tawny tartan, is effectively a large poncho. “I love it because it’s light yet warm, and can be worn over a sweater, jacket or coat in winter,” says Alba. Massimo Piombo uses Austrian wool for his mélange blankets (£320). “They give protection and feel like a giant hug,” adds Piombo. That’s reason enough to sling one on, wrap and go.