Updated: Jul 28
Throughout the history of cinema, the square scarf has vivaciously graced the screens, transforming the already enviable wardrobes of our favorite movie stars into works of art. It has become an iconic symbol of beauty, style, and cultural significance. From classic Hollywood glamour to powerful moments of self-expression, the square scarf has woven its way into some of cinema's most memorable scenes.
Join me in exploring 12 of the most iconic moments of scarf fashion in movies and television, and discover how this versatile accessory is much more than just a feast for the eyes.
Costume Designer: Ruthie West
1974 cult classic Foxy Brown features fashion icon Pam Grier as Foxy, a psychedelic powerhouse and vigilante seeking to bring the mobsters who murdered her government agent boyfriend to justice.
The films costume designer, Ruthie West (famous for her work as stylist for The Jackson 5) expertly curated a wardrobe that showcased the hottest fashion trends of the time while simultaneously celebrating black culture and style. West expertly captured the essence of the blaxploitation era (a period in American cinema of films produced with the intention of capitalizing on the growing African-American audience as well as the adjacent cultural trends) while ensuring that Grier's character exuded power and confidence.
Foxy's scarf look- a vibrant blue, emerald, and fuchsia hair wrap, left its mark on the fashion landscape of the 1970s and continues to inspire and captivate audiences to this day.
Thelma and Louise
Costume Designer: Elizabeth McBride
Likely the most well known scarf moment on the Top 12 list is Ridley Scott's 1991 Thelma and Louse.
The drama comedy follows two women, Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) on a fishing trip that quickly goes south. Sarandon's character is often remembered in her colorful 90cm chiffon scarf, styled very old Hollywood glam. This headscarf continues to be one of the most iconic articles of fashion ever worn on film!
We Are Lady Parts
Costume Designer: PC Williams
Writer and director Nida Manzoor's 2021 We Are Lady Parts is a semi autobiographical feminist juggernaut. The outrageously funny hit show follows an all female muslim punk band based in the UK, and their pursuit for musical success.
Much more than just fashion, the headscarves of Manzoor's characters are not only beautiful - but personal and complex. The show, in both its style and its controversial premise, is unapologetically honest in its nuanced exploration of life for young muslim women. Costume designer PC Williams methodically assembled each character's wardrobe, balancing their individual self expression with reverence to their unique expressions of faith.
“What I wanted to do was show that you can have multiple ways of being. There's no one cookie-cutter way of being a Muslim woman." - Nida Manzoor
The Devil Wears Prada
Costume Designer: Patricia Field
No "top #" list regarding the fashion industry would be complete without mentioning David Frankel's 2006 pop culture hit The Devil Wears Prada, a sort of expose on the cutthroat nature of the fashion world.
In a particularly fashionable moment from this iconic fashion film, Meryl Streep's character, famously based on American Vogue fashion editor Anna Wintour, struts the streets of New York City in almost all black, except for a pair of beige gloves and a, you guessed it, vibrant red square scarf wrapped around her neck. It is no doubt from a prestigious fashion house, as are most of the film's costumes.
The White Lotus
Costume Designer: Alex Bovaird
While Mike White's season 2 of The White Lotus brought us a handful of mention worthy scarf looks, who can forget Tanya, played by the always sensational Jennifer Coolidge, and her glamorous pink scarf look?
A truly audacious character and a style icon, Coolidge's Tanya stole the show, full stop. This look of hers in particular, which saturated the show's promotional materials, is one that won't soon be forgotten.
Costume Designer: Edith Head
Hitchcock's classic horror movie The Birds stars Tippi Hedren as Melanie Daniels, a chic and wealthy socialite who finds herself in the midst of mass assault by birds.
Hedren's wardrobe throughout the film is comprised of tailored looks, all dripping with sophistication. This wardrobe encapsulates the epitome of early '60s fashion, minus the psychedelia, showcasing the polish and elegance of the era.
In one memorable scene, Hedren drives through the country side in a blue Austin Martin. Her ensemble, an already stunning sage suit and lavish fur coat, is accessorized with a beige headscarf, styled in old Hollywood fashion.
Costume Designer: Dayna Pink
It comes as no surprise at all that one of modern day television's most fashionable square scarf moments comes from visionary director Jordan Peele (fun fact: his thought provoking 2023 horror flick Nope influenced one of the motifs in my own scarf collection!)
Lovecraft country, Peele's sci-fi period drama, sees actress Prisca Kim's character Young-Ja (season 1, episode 6) draped stunningly in a 90cm vintage style floral headscarf.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
Costume Designer: Catherine Martin
Known for directing films overflowing with decadence and flare, Baz Luhrmann's aesthetic in the 2013 rendition of 1920s themed The Great Gatsby was all glitz and glam. While personally I find the 1974 version's costume design superior, 2013 showcases a memorable scarf moment worth mentioning.
In an emotion moment of old lovers reconnecting under unideal circumstances, Carey Mulligan's character Daisy wears a black and white art deco style headscarf with red rose details. It is tied across her forehead like a headband, handing loosely to the side for an incredibly elegant look.
Costume Designer: Ruth E Carter.
While Ryan Coogler's cultural phenomenon Black Panther provided us many notable scarf moments, I was particularly drawn to a scene where Chadwick Boseman's character T'Challa has draped a 90cm black, bronze, and red scarf over his shoulder and across his body.
The scarf itself has been created by a fashion designer at menswear brand Ikiré Jones, who are known for their elegant designs created to illuminate the nuanced lives of marginalized people.
Costume Designer: Jacqueline Durran
Greta Gerwig's Barbie has been one of the (if not the) most anticipated films of 2023. The hype, as it so happens, was not for nothing - Barbie has proven to be an absolute smash hit!
While all of the Barbies (and Kens) wore an endless stream of sensational outfits, one pair of looks have left themselves ingrained in many of our minds. Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling's Western Barbie and Ken, featuring two bright pink 45cm bandana scarves, exuded an irresistible charm that won't soon be forgotten!
Costume Designer: Kasia Walicka-Maimone
Given the immaculately curated nature of Wes Anderson's film portfolio, that one of his character's styling would make the Top 12 list is a given. While there have been several instances of more subtle scarf moments throughout Anderson's films, what caught my eye was a scene from Moonrise Kingdom.
Set in 1960s New England, 2012's Moonrise kingdom was another aesthetic smash hit for Anderson. Here, actress Frances McDormand's character Laura sports a 65cm golden-tangerine colored scarf with a simple geometric black and white motif.
Costume Designer: Sue Gandy
Christopher R. Demuri's 2006 comedy-drama Bonneville is the story of three women on a road trip to Santa Barbara, set to deliver the ashes of one of their deceased husbands to his bitter daughter - in exchange for said widow's home.
Throughout their drive, each woman dons a 90cm headscarf, each in their own color scheme and print, making for exceptionally fashionable scenes in their 1966 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible.
Costume Designer: Hubert de Givenchy
Finally, what square scarf compilation is complete without Audrey Hepburn - movie star, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and world renowned style icon.
While this particular homage is for her role as Reggie in director Stanley Donen's 1963 suspense fueled comedy Charade, many of Hepburn's films see her in glamorous scarves of various stylings. Other famed films featuring Hepburn's square scarf style include Funny Face, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and Roman Holiday, but this particular still from Charade stole the show!
Hepburn's elegant aesthetic, her scarf styling included, remains one of the most lauded and emulated of all time.