When you think of the skull scarf, you can’t help but associate it with Alexander McQueen. After all, it was the legendary designer who popularized the piece and made it such a covetable item among celebrities and fashionistas. These days, you can score a skull scarf for as low as $5 at Amazon, thanks to cheap knock-offs and brands that capitalize on the skull’s popularity by producing their own interpretations of the the iconic accessory.
Like any other scarf, you can rock the skull scarf however you want. But allow us to go a little deeper than that for today. A skull scarf, whether it’s a genuine Alexander McQueen creation, or something from Collection XIIX, will always give off a dark and edgy vibe that is more punk and goth than sweet and feminine. So how do you wear such a piece without looking like a cliche?
Well, allow us to show you with these five simple tips we put together. These aren’t rules, but more like guidelines. You may or may not agree with them, and you’re free to break them whenever you want. However, we hope that by keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy a certain degree of panache whenever you sport your skull scarf.
1. Go with a colored skull scarf
Color, whether it’s pink, green, or blue, will neutralize the “darkness” of the skull. So that alone will already keep you from looking like a hard-core punk. Even if you wear an all black outfit, if your skull scarf is bright and colorful, you’re not going to look as intimidating. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t wear the classic black or white skull scarf. Do so if you wish!
Frankie Sandford of The Saturdays wears a green skull-print scarf with her maxi dress while leaving BBC Radio 1 Studios in London on August 19, 2013
Frankie Sandford wears a blue Alexander McQueen Skull scarf while leaving a recording studio in London on April 8, 2010
2. Go girly with a dress or skirt
This is probably the easiest trick in the book. Tone down the punk appeal by pairing your skull scarf with a dress. Nothing says feminine like a fabulous frock or a girly skirt. You can sport a strapless LBD or pair the scarf with a colored number, as long as it complements your look, you’re good to go.
Krysten Ritter wears an Alexander McQueen Skull scarf with a bright dress for her appearance on Good Morning America, April 10, 2013
Holly Madison accessorizes with a skull scarf around her neck as she attends the Rolling Stone Hot Party at Jet Nightclub, October 1, 2010
Michelle Keegan wears the skull scarf with a slouchy sweater and lace skirt while heading to Hoopers Department Store in England, October 2, 2010
3. Wear with colored separates
Now don’t get us wrong. You can wear the classic black or white skull scarf. But to put a little bit of happy flavor into the piece, pair it with separates that have color. It can be a blue shirt, a poppy red jacket, or even a bright bag.
Carrie Underwood wears her classic white McQueen skull scarf with a bright red jacket as she signs autographs for fans while in Dublin, Ireland, March 14, 2013
Mischa Barton poses for the photographers in a black Alexander McQueen scarf paired with a colored tee and an even more colorful blazer, April 21, 2009
Cher Lloyd wears her black skull scarf with a leather jacket and poppy red skinny jeans, November 30, 2012
4. Glam Up
Like wearing a dress or skirt, you can tone down the edginess of a skull scarf by glamming it up to the hilt. Rock your scarf with a pair of striking heels, gorgeous hair, and statement jewelry for flair. Just take a cue from Hilary Duff and Christina Aguilera below.
Hilary Duff looks all glammed up in a pair of drop earrings, high heels, and a fabulous updo as she presents her new book, Elixir, at the Hotel Costes in Paris, February 3, 2011
Christina Aguilera gets extra glam at the Nylon Magazine 8th Anniversary Celebration, March 22, 2007
5. Try the tailored look
If you don’t feel like putting on a girly outfit, why not try a tailored look with your skull scarf instead? Nothing polishes up an outfit like a good ol’ classic blazer.
Ashlee Simpson pairs her scarf with a classic black blazer as she attends the Rock & Republic for Kohl’s Fall 2012 Fashion Show, February 10, 2012
Rochelle Humes of The Saturdays adds polish to her look by capping it off with a textured blazer, August 31, 2011
If you don’t have a skull scarf in your closet yet, feel free to grab these pieces from Alexander McQueen. You can also try the scarves from their 10th Anniversary collection, which are designed by artist Damien Hirst (more about this collection here).
Also, if you’re on a tight budget, no need to splurge on a McQueen. Check out these affordable options from Collection XIIX, The Accessory Collective, Roffe, and John Varvatos:
Collection XIIX Skull Garden Square Scarf, $16.80 (was $28)
Credit: Michael Carpenter/ WENN