2023 has been a year of seasonless dressing. Think about it: tights as pants, sheer dresses, underwear as outerwear, a lot of this winter’s viral trends pretty much ignore the fact that it’s 30-something degrees in most of the country. And with winter winding down, it follows that spring’s warm weather would bring about some equally off-kilter trends for the temperature. Case in point: the rise of the skinny scarf.
If your TikTok FYP looks anything like mine, you may have heard of last fall’s kooky "Frazzled English Woman" trend. An ode to messy layering, the aesthetic is all about embracing the rom-com side of Y2K fashion (aka dressing like your love interest is Colin Firth). In this iteration, the skinny scarf acts as quirky add-on to a frazzled outfit ideal for spilling coffee on yourself as you jaunt around in the fall splendor of your chosen backdrop. And while it’s not necessarily the warmest option, it does the trick in autumn temps—plus, part of its charm is its very impracticality.
This spring, the trend is back, but with a different attitude. 2023’s crop of skinny scarves are even more impractical, sporting even less coverage and coming in sophisticated fabrics rather than quirky knits. Think of it as the femme version of a tie: It’s there just to look good, nothing else. And while the Y2K era favored a—let’s just call it “random”—approach to styling, the 2023 version is undeniably chic, as celebs and it girls go with a matchy-matchy approach.
Take, for example, the indie sleaze version of the look Celine sent down the runway on Kaia Gerber. Featuring sunnies, leather skinnies, a sharp tuxedo blazer, and a white tee, the gold skinny scarf is really the exclamation point on an otherwise classic outfit—it's an outfit formula I've already seen pop up on my FYP on more than a few occasions. For a more ethereal version of the look, check out the about-to-go-viral bustier top featuring a built-in skinny scarf from Orseund Iris. With its blousy fabric and matching tube top (that’s two trends for the price of one), this skinny scarf set is giving Greek goddess, rather than harried heroine.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a 2023 trend without mentioning a cool-prep option for the Sporty Spices out there. There’s Bella Hadid’s horse girl version—in which she paired a checked jacket and tan blouse with skinny brows (bold) and a matching tan skinny scarf (even bolder)—if you’re feeling weird. There’s also plenty of inspiration from Miu Miu, a brand that's spurred more viral trends than we can count in recent years (hello ballet flats, leg warmers, and micro minis). The brand’s fall 2022 collection paired crisp white tennis skirts, plenty of layers, and satin ballet slippers with a simple skinny scarf for that added bit of texture—and you can bet these styles will still be around come spring.
When it comes to styling, think of this trend as an alternative (or addition to) your jewelry. It’s not necessarily there to stand out (or even really keep you warm). Go sophisticated and classic with your styling (rather than the loud more-is-more attitude of the '00s) to keep it current. Think of a classic weekend formula like jeans and a tank top—a cool bomber jacket and a skinny scarf would add a bit of much-needed edge to the look. Or take a page out of the preppy handbook and pair an oversized v-neck sweater (we recommend a solid like navy, black, or white) with a contrasting skinny scarf to take a year-round staple to the next level.
In essence, this trend is about playfulness. While transitional weather continues to confuse and frustrate throughout March, this simple accessory can add a bit of fun to the classics we reach for this time of year. After all, the skinny scarf serves no purpose other than being cute and, as such, can take a “boring” look from forgettable to trendy in five seconds flat.