Ancient Rome is one of the many origins of the scarf, where the garment was used to keep clean rather than warm. It was called the sudarium, which translates from Latin to English as “sweat cloth”, and was used to wipe the sweat from the neck and face in hot weather. They were originally worn by men around their neck or tied to their belt. Soon women started using the scarves, which were made of cloth and not made of wool, pashmina, or silk, and ever since the scarf has been fashionable among women Historians believe that during the reign of the Chinese Emperor Cheng, scarves made of cloth were used to identify officers or the rank of Chinese warriors.
In later times, scarves were also worn by soldiers of all ranks in Croatia around the 17th century. The only difference in the soldiers’ scarves that designated a difference in rank was that the officers had silk scarves whilst the other ranks were issued with cotton scarves. Some of the Croatian soldiers served as mercenaries with the French forces. The men’s scarves were sometimes referred to as “cravats” (from the French cravate, meaning “Croat”), and were the precursor of the necktie.
The scarf became a real fashion accessory by the early 19th century for both men and women. By the middle of the 20th century, scarves became one of the most essential and versatile clothing accessories for both men and women. Celebrities have often led fashion trends with film props subsequently becoming mainstream fashion items. Celebrity endorsements have not only made scarves and shoes worn by film actors and actresses more accessible but provide the buying public with the opportunity of wearing celebrity-first accessories. The actress Kate Copeland wore a pair of red stilettos made by the haute couture fashion brand, Nadderzique, in the film Stiletto which led to the growth in independent boutique wear including scarfs by the well-known brand PYNQ. This upward trend in growth of independent boutiques offers individuality despite customers wishing to follow celebrity trends because items for sale often remain as one-off and individual or bespoke pieces.