Sarah Balch for InStyle.com
Eric Wilson
Dec 17, 2014 @ 4:15 pm

Welcome to Now You Know, Eric Wilson’s column that will help you become a fashion know-it-all in one easy read. Each week, he’ll take a look at an endearing fashion influence and why it’s relevant right now. Enjoy!

This week’s revelation by Google that the No. 1 most-searched fashion question of the year is “how to wear a scarf” has prompted a peculiar amount of online snickering from those who find it curious that scarves should present any sort of sartorial challenge. “Don’t Google it,” sniffed The Cut. “Just wrap and tie.”

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Now, hold on a minute. Let me admit something to you: I’ve done it myself. And I’m not ashamed.

Scarves, for all their simplicity, really can be tricky to get just right. The wrap-and-tie approach can easily go so wrong in so many ways: A haphazard tie may result in one end being awkwardly shorter than the other. Avoid the knot altogether and you may find yourself in a losing battle with the wind just to keep the thing in place. Go overboard with the knots and you’ll wind up with a scarf so bulky, you won’t be able to button your coat over it. And there’s nothing worse, in my opinion, than a scarf with its label showing.

Google, help!

Among the top search results is a very helpful video from the clever folks at Nordstrom, who demonstrate how to tie four scarves in 16 ways, starting with the “simple loop.” Ah, I remember the first time I discovered this technique in Paris, where people seem to be born with mad scarf-tying skills. You fold the scarf in half lengthways, drape it around your neck, and loop the loose end through the folded end, et voila! Good to go.

Only thing is, the simple loop feels a bit dated. Wear a scarf this way for long and it begins to feel like a noose.

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And this is where I found myself reaching for the computer to search for new tricks. InStyle has explored the neck scarf, the belted scarf, and even how to pull off a lamé scarf, but my current favorite is the “pretzel,” a variation on the simple loop in which you place the loose ends through the folded end in opposite directions, one going in through the obvious side of the hole, the other wrapped around and pushed through the opposite side. The results can be marvelous, or disastrous, as this is a technique that only works with a thin, lightweight scarf. Try it with a chunky knit and you’ll look like you’ve got a goiter.

Delving further into Google, you will easily get lost in a veritable Kama Sutra of scarf-tying techniques, like the “infinity knot,” which looks as complicated as forming a double helix, or the deliciously titled “celebrity knot,” sort of a bib with fringe. There is actually one in the Nordstrom video called the “cowgirl,” though I do not recommend trying this at home. Nor am I a fan of the “Hipster Keffiyeh,” a trend of questionable taste that thankfully appears to have run its course.

Anyway, the point is, see what you can learn if you just ask.

Eric Wilson's "Now You Know" column is going on hiatus for the holidays, but will return Wednesday, Jan. 7. Happy holidays!

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