Looking good at any age is what my favorite French-American author Mireille Guiliano refers to as “aging in style.” She suggests that the goal for mature-age women should not be to try to look young, but rather, to embrace their age and take care of themselves. She cites Catherine Deneuve, still gorgeous in her 70s, as a good example. Leave it to Coco Chanel, a connoisseur of chic, to put it best: “No one is young after 40, but one can be irresistible at any age.”

There’s no question that things can get tricky when it comes to clothing trends, which are often geared toward the younger set. Now, I like fashion. With most items of clothing, I stick to the classics, but, I confess that in my quest for looking chic, I’ve succumbed to the allure of the scarf. Few other accessories compare with the power of an elegant scarf. Ask any French woman and she’d say: naturellement!

French women have a natural knack for chic. This is a fact. Guaranteed to be found in every French woman’s closet, the scarf is a staple accessory—and so much more. The écharpe is the French woman’s trademark used as a stylish garment to highlight her individual identity. It’s generally worn to flatter the face, camouflage the neckline, divert or attract attention, spruce-up an outfit or to appear coquette at any age.

Fashion expert extraordinaire Nina Garcia said: “The only way to really understand the value of a scarf is to spend an afternoon at a Parisian café and just watch the women walk by.”

I can see myself sitting at a Parisian café. My guess is that my interest in this powerful garment may have something to do with my DNA; I carry one-eighth of French heritage in my genes. Despite that connection, I’m not an expert on how to wear scarves, which is why I recently went to the library and picked up a fabulous book by former model Pia Tryde Sandeman, “The Five-Minute Scarf Arranger.”

Sandeman recommends choosing scarves that “flatter your skin and eye color.” She believes that the idea is not to fuss too much with the scarf because the garment calls for you to be bold, adventurous and go for the gusto! Furthermore, she advises not to give a scarf as a gift, since this accessory is a personal item designed to highlight one’s own style statement.

The statement scarf is a trick that glamorous stars of the 1950s and 1960s used to bring their unique je ne sais quoi to the screen. Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn made the small rolled scarf, tied snugly to one side of the neck, an icon of the era. Kim Novak was the ultimate scarf diva with her flowing black chiffon version in the 1958 classic film “Vertigo.”

Lana Turner also made her own contribution to the era with the classic wrap: a long silk scarf folded into a triangle to cover the head with the ends crossing in the front while framing the face. The ends are tied together in the back of the neck and tucked under a top. If you want to complete her look, throw on a pair of vintage sunglasses—and you’re on fire!

Classic chic like that never goes out of style. What looked good yesterday still looks good today. Take, for instance, the scarf loop, or infinity scarf, style. It’s been around for a while, but over the past several years, it’s been gaining in popularity here in the States. The easy, practical look works well with silk or wool scarves and flatters women of any age. It’s another example of the enduring versatility of the scarf, and its contribution to timeless beauty.

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