An Hermès Scarf Gets A Makeover

Hermès pop-up shop in Century City mall. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

A Visit To The Hermèsmatic

Last weekend we were at the Century City mall, and stumbled across the Hermès pop-up shop, Hermèsmatic. They are offering free over-dyeing of Hermès scarves, to refresh and give them a more modern look. (If you’re in the West Los Angeles area, they’re open through this Sunday, November 19.)

Hermesmatic popup store in Century City. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

A few years back, I was really into Hermès silk scarves. I considered them wearable art. I’d collected a few, often seeking out favorite vintage patterns and colorways from consignment sites. But as styles became more casual and my own style shifted, they began to feel a bit….overdone. Stiff and a little stodgy.

Hermes "Les Voitures a Transformation" silk carre before overdying.

Over time, I sold all but a few of my Hermès scarves. One that I kept was this smaller silk square. It had been one of my first purchases. But when I changed my hair color a few years ago, the contrast level felt too strong for me, so I thought it would be a good candidate for over-dyeing. The nice sales associate holding up my scarf above suggested that we go with a pink over-dye (pink, purple, or blue were the options available).

Hermes silk scarf with pink over-dye. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

And here’s the result! It’s still a bright pop of color, but with the over-dyeing it’s not quite so harsh. (And I love how it looks with this burgundy sweater!)

And if you don’t already have a scarf that you want over-dyed, they have quite a few for sale. Some of them vintage designs.

Over-dyed silk scarves at the Hermesmatic pop-up shop. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I asked the sales associate about the over-dye process and after years of being told to baby my silk carrés, I was a little bit shocked to learn that they throw them into a washing machine with the dye and then…into a dryer!! (Low heat.) She said this is what softens the silk fabric and gives it a more velvety feel.* I had one scarf that I didn’t want over-dyed because I love the artwork on it so much, but also hadn’t worn it because the twill fabric was too stiff. So when I got home, I crossed my fingers, put it through the washer in a lingerie bag (cold water, delicate cycle) and then into the dryer. It came through like a champ, the colors intact but the fabric now nice and soft. I will say, do this at your own risk, but I was delighted with my results.

*She was also very clear that this was not the official care recommendation from Hermès.

I’ll be working on an updated scarf tutorial for silk squares now that I’m starting to wear mine again.

Affordable Silk Scarves

Yes, Hermés scarves are pricey, and I’ve had a few requests for some silk scarf alternatives at lower price points. My first suggestion is to hit your local thrift stores. While you may not find an Hermès treasure, quality silk scarves in good condition often go unappreciated and you can find some real gems.

Online, I’ve seen a lot of nice options lately.

Suzu Japanese Silk twill scarf from Black. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

A modern black and white colorway balances a classic pattern on this Suzu Japanese silk square.

Tory Burch silk square scarf in Dancers pattern. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Lively colors and a fun pattern with dancers make this an enticing choice.

 

kate spade map of Paris silk scarf. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I’m a pushover for anything with a Paris theme, and this scarf is such a nice wearable shade of pink.

Do you wear silk carrés? Do you have a favorite style or size?

Under $100

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50 Comments

  1. November 17, 2017 / 3:28 am

    Oh, I LOVE my Hermès scarves and (single) shawl. Happily, I was wise enough to select a shawl (hubby asked my input before gifting me with it) in colors that go gorgeously with denim. And that’s how I wear it most often … with jeans.

    Looking forward to your scarf tutorial and learning some new ways to wear them.

  2. Roseanne
    November 17, 2017 / 4:18 am

    I have two Hermès scarves. One summery; one wintery. Perfect neck warmers. Outdoor springtime college graduation. Christmas time church instead of a bulky winter scarf. If I get too warm, I tie them to my purse. Who did that? Jackie Kennedy, I think. Fold on the diagonal. With the point in front, cross the ends behind your neck. Tie in front.

  3. Kathy
    November 17, 2017 / 4:52 am

    Though it’s off the subject of Hermès, I recently read an article that highlighted Suzi Roher, whose scarves are described as a “marriage between fashion and art”. I immediately thought of you – you might like to check her out!

  4. Queenie
    November 17, 2017 / 4:56 am

    Thank you for this! I too don’t wear mine very often due to the “stiffness factor”. I did hand wash the darker ones that have more colors as they do seem to be more stiff. Helped a bit but will try the dryer trick. I have been debating selling them but I do love the art work. I enjoy the Hermes Kermit Oliver designed scarves; he is an American artist. I have one of the chiffons and I wear that one the most due to the softness. I also have one of the large silk/cashmere shawls that has been worn often. That was a gift and not in my budget! I am so happy to now know how to get that “vintage feel” for my loved but neglected scarves!

  5. Susan Harper
    November 17, 2017 / 5:01 am

    Great post! Very informative. Who doesn’t love a silk scarf?

  6. Sandra
    November 17, 2017 / 5:02 am

    I have several Hermes scarves that I have recently starting wearing with more casual clothes. MaiTai Collection’s website is devoted to all things Hermes and she offers more modern ways to tie the scarves. I have read that younger French women view the scarves as matronly and have gravitated toward the twilly, but I am hooked on the workmanship, the colors and the luxurious feel of the silk squares.

  7. Ellen
    November 17, 2017 / 5:29 am

    It has never occured to me NOT to wash my silk items, anything silk. Back in the early 70’s when we wore our hair parted in the middle and tied back with a scarf…everyone did it…I washed the scarves by hand and smoothed them over the side of the bath tub; they dried with no need for ironing. Silk is the strongest natural fiber on earth, and if it has been properly dyed, then it is fine for it to go in the washer. It will last longer because dry cleaning chemicals are harsh as well as being bad for the environment, and over time will reduce the lustre of the fabric. I usually wash by hand once, just to be sure that it is properly dyed that the colors won’t run, and then into the washer on the gentle cycle it goes.

    All that said, although I do wear scarves, i never wear silk scarves of that sort as they seem to me like the vestige of another era. Over-dying seems like a great idea.

    • Mojoriley
      November 18, 2017 / 12:18 pm

      The discussion was about machine DRYING, not whether they can go in the washer or not…..

  8. November 17, 2017 / 5:30 am

    No, I don’t own any Hermes scarves. But wanted to add here that I have recently bought two scarves at Ann Taylor, as you have shown in an insert here. One has a few tassles on the end! I’ve received SO many compliments on both: wonderful designs and the fabric is soft and lovely. Just a suggestion for others!

  9. November 17, 2017 / 5:43 am

    I’ve always washed my scarves, and sometimes if there’s a stain I’ll take a toothbrush to it! Silk is really tough as nails, despite being so beautifully soft…

    After thinking it over, I don’t think I’ll be having any of my scarves overdyed – I love them just as they are, even the ones with a bit of mark or stain. I consider it patina!

    hugs,
    Janice

    • Susan B
      November 17, 2017 / 11:03 am

      Hi Janice, yes it wasn’t the silk fabric I’d been warned about, but rather that the colors will bleed. I used to hand wash my scarves with a Shout color catcher. I mentioned this to the sales associate, but she said that she’s never seen colors bleed on Hermès silks, so that gave me the courage to wash mine in the machine.

  10. LeeAnne
    November 17, 2017 / 5:55 am

    This is slightly off-topic, but now I am so curious about what color your hair used to be! I love the platinum look you have now. It’s so flattering and perfect with your skin tone! I love the lipstick shade too! What color was your hair and what inspired you to change it?

    • Susan B
      November 17, 2017 / 8:04 am

      I began dyeing my hair red in my 20’s, and until 4½ years ago usually wore some sort of red or reddish-brown color. My natural color is a drab, dark blonde. If I ever get to the point where there’s more silver than dishwater, I’ll let the natural color grow out.

      • LeeAnne
        November 17, 2017 / 9:07 am

        Thank you for the quick response! I think the color you have now is just gorgeous with your complexion.

        • Susan B
          November 17, 2017 / 11:00 am

          Thank you!

      • Terri
        November 17, 2017 / 9:25 pm

        Would love to see you do a post about going blonde. Yours looks great, and inquiring minds want to know!

  11. Rebecca
    November 17, 2017 / 5:57 am

    Can’t wait to wash 2 Hermès scarves this weekend. Never wear them because they are so stiff and therefore never come out of their boxes. What a great discovery thanks for posting this!

  12. November 17, 2017 / 6:10 am

    Great post! Have a Kermit Oliver that I love and I simply handwash gently in baby shampoo. I considered framing it but will wear it instead!

  13. DB
    November 17, 2017 / 6:35 am

    I collect Hermes silk scarves and wear them all the time. For everything you EVER wanted to know about them go to the blog MaiTai Collection The writer is an elegant woman who lives in the south of France and her tutorials on how to tie your scarves (and care for them) and put them together with outfits is just TOP NOTCH!! I think you would like her style because it is mostly simple solid colored basics that she accents with her colorful scarves. Her taste is amazing. She also sells a variety of beautiful scarf rings ( as well as other accessories) and her videos show dozens of ways to tie them. And ladies if your scarves are too stiff you need to wear them and gently launder them! The Laundress makes an excellent product called Delicate wash. All the laundering instructions are on her blog. It’s very easy to do at home. Do not dry clean them! You don’t want those those chemicals next to your face. An excellent source for Genuine second hand Hermes scarves is Its- All- Goode.

    • Susan B
      November 17, 2017 / 6:38 am

      Yes, I love Mai Tai’s blog and have a couple of her lovely scarf rings. 🙂

    • ISABELLE PATTHEY
      November 17, 2017 / 9:09 am

      Never dry clean any silk garment. The dry cleaning will fade the colors. I’ve been washing my Hermès for years & they still look like new.

  14. November 17, 2017 / 6:45 am

    I have some beautiful silk scarves I purchased back in the late ’80s to mid-’90s from Banana Republic, on RIDICULOUS sale. I’ve machine washed them – cold, delicate cycle, in a bag – and dried them in the dryer – delicate, low heat – and like you, was thrilled with the result. Several years ago I also received a gorgeous silk scarf when we attended the gala to celebrate the art exhibition “All the Queen’s Horses” at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington; the taupes, mauves and a pop of red in it make it surprisingly versatile. LOVE silk scarves!!

  15. Lisa Bruzzese
    November 17, 2017 / 6:50 am

    I invested in Hermes scarves too and collected quite a few. I wore them with everything! Some are so ornate with the black, gold and red saddles that sadly, I really don’t know what to do with them. My husband once gave me a Hermes scarf with Victorian Age dolls on it called Hello Dolly because it reminded him of our twin daughters. All those little faces creeping around my neck! It’s awful but I still own it. Don’t think I ever wore it though. I do have one that I still wear called Grand Fonds and it’s beautiful. Ocean life motif that mixes navy, salmon pink and sea green. Scarves are making a comeback so hopefully I’ll be able to pull them out of the retirement draw.

  16. November 17, 2017 / 7:26 am

    The thing about an Hermes scarf is that once you have one, you have it forever. It never, but never shows any wear. Mine remains just as dreamy gorgeous as when I bought it 30 years ago.

  17. Debbie Williams
    November 17, 2017 / 7:30 am

    I love this post! i have been collecting Hermès scarves since I worked at I Magnin in the 70’s. I have always washed mine because it did make them softer…..I have never thrown one in the dryer, tho! That will be next. Thank you for the tips!

  18. Kate
    November 17, 2017 / 7:46 am

    You must have been reading my mind! I’ve been debating about washing my Hermes scarves for the last few weeks, mostly because I want to have a softer scarf to incorporate into some outfits (a la Vivienne Files). In the past I’ve worn them with suits but that was quite awhile ago, and now with my current casual style I’m thinking with jeans or tee shirts and a leather jacket. I have taken Hermes scarves to Paris but sort of felt that matronly vibe there and didn’t wear them at all. Maybe now it will work. I’ve had them for years and love the colors and artwork and it seems a shame for them to sit in a drawer.

  19. Cynthia Anthony
    November 17, 2017 / 7:47 am

    I have one Hermes scarf, found on the sidewalk in Stockholm. It was a very rainy day and there was a puddle with a pile of fabric in it. When I picked it up I found an Hermes scarf. It was the commemorative scarf for Queen Elizabeth’s 1977 Jubilee. Full of British regalia, but in black, white, red and gold. I wear softer blues, greens and pinks, so this has never been worn by me. Candidate for overdying? What to do?

  20. Kathleen Ludgate
    November 17, 2017 / 8:01 am

    My best find in a vintage shop was a brand new navy and white silk Shibui technique scarf. It is the envy of all my friends. The work that produced this scarf that I nabbed for $15 is awesome.

  21. November 17, 2017 / 8:34 am

    I was in Laos last winter and bought many beautiful silk scarves, but they are quite stiff and a bit scratchy. I am so excited to learn that I can wash them dry them to soften them up.

  22. Meg
    November 17, 2017 / 8:40 am

    So very happy to hear that the big stiff scarves can be washed. If mine were more supple I would wear them more frequently! I have three Hermes scarves with colors I don’t see much- one is a pale green, one lavender and one navy. Not the usual gold/ red/ black. Soft colors that should have soft fabric. I can’t wait to try to wash them.

  23. Nancy Klein
    November 17, 2017 / 8:53 am

    What fun! I never liked Hermes until a few years ago because, although the quality of the silk is superb, I do not like equestrian designs or wearing one shrieking Hermes. Then I found a silk and cashmere design, Folklore, which may be a very old or very fake, but since them have been looking for this design, by Henri d’Origny, in other colors. The Au grew du Vent is also a pretty one to look for. thank you for the blog, Susan, I really enjoy it.

    • Christine M Pisani
      November 17, 2017 / 9:02 am

      There are plenty that aren’t equestrian. And like you, I hate to show any designer labels. I just wear it without the Hermes name showing, as much as I can.

  24. Nancy Klein
    November 17, 2017 / 8:55 am

    Whoops, Au Gre not Au Grew!

  25. Christine M Pisani
    November 17, 2017 / 9:00 am

    Yes, please send the scarf tutorial. I recently received one of the 35″‘ (or approx.) Hermes carres as a gift and I already have two others. While it’s beautiful, I just retired, and I’m not sure how much I would wear it anymore. Maybe if I were better at tying them, I’d wear it with jeans!

    Interesting about putting it in the washer. I wonder if it helps to put in Color Correct or whatever it’s called – those things that go in the washer to prevent your colored clothes from running onto other clothes (or the dark colors onto the light, of the same item).

  26. Alison
    November 17, 2017 / 9:42 am

    Am I the only one here who wants to self-over-dye on her own scarf? Soooo tempted — but I don’t want to mess up my washer!

    Susan, your “new scarf” is gorgeous — and just beautiful on you!

    • November 17, 2017 / 11:46 am

      I’ve dyed a fair amount of items. You could do it in a plastic bin inside your tub. For smaller items I use about 1-2 teas. of liquid dye to 1 1/2 gal. of hot water. (Of course the dye would be adjusted depending on your preferences.) . I was thinking the same thing–good luck!

    • Jill Ann
      November 17, 2017 / 6:22 pm

      I have a cashmere sweater I bought at Dillards some years ago. It was pale pink, but over time became sort of grayish, & not pretty. I tried dying it with Rit dye, in a darker pink, and it came out fine!

  27. Vancouver Barbara
    November 17, 2017 / 10:52 am

    Love the new colour of your scarf – it’s just right for you. Lovely.

  28. November 17, 2017 / 12:56 pm

    I am glad you got fresh starts for your scarves. The bright pink looks lovely. The only thing my scarves do, is lying around in a drawer. I always have the greatest trouble wearing them. I feel old fashioned, or they just hang dreary, or they make me look as if I have a cold etc. Not really my “forté”. I have two beautiful silk scarves… never wear them. Hopeless.
    Greetje

  29. November 17, 2017 / 2:04 pm

    Just a P.S. here to comment on several others’ objections to Hermes silk squares as “matronly” and/or stiff … I’ve found that the more I wear my Hermes scarves the softer they get and the more approachable they are. I wear them as blouses, belts, bolero-jackets, sarongs, bathing suit cover-ups, and even (gasp!) headscarves. 😉

    The only mistake I ever made with an Hermes scarf was to have it dry-cleaned by an establishment that should have known better than to do whatever they did to that poor 1,225 square inches of beautiful fabric. But I still wear the scarf, if only to remind myself that once we all were young and unspoiled and, despite our wrinkles. still deserve to go out and be shown a good time.

  30. Gingerr
    November 17, 2017 / 3:46 pm

    What does it do to the resale value of your scarf to do that?

    • Susan B
      November 17, 2017 / 5:29 pm

      Not a clue, it’s a relatively new concept. But I’d only do this with a scarf I was planning to keep.

  31. Susan
    November 18, 2017 / 12:09 am

    I have collected Hermes scarves over the years, but rarely wore them as they reminded me of a flight attendant’s uniform. I intend selling them soon, but cannot part with the red and black scarf featuring South American cowboys on the pampas.

  32. Debbie Williams
    November 18, 2017 / 7:29 am

    I have one more comment…. I have been using antique or ‘old’ belt buckles for scarf “rings” for several years. You can find them at antique shops that feature old buttons or other couturier clothing items. Some of them are Bakelite or other plastic and even bone. Sometimes less spendy than the Hermès scarf rings…… and then there is the “thrill of the hunt” factor.

  33. DK
    November 18, 2017 / 2:06 pm

    I am wondering if that sam Edelman scarf violates copyright law. It is a blatant copy of the hermes savanna dance designed by Ardmore artists.

  34. November 19, 2017 / 4:32 am

    I love Hermes Scarves. I have about 17 of them! Some were new but I got a lot of them from Its All Goode. The new scarves are stiff at the beginning, but after wearing them, they soften. Unfortunately, I live in a very warm climate now, and hardly wear them! I always take a few on trips where the weather is cooler.

  35. Lesley Poulton
    November 19, 2017 / 9:34 am

    Oh, how I love silk scarves! And your comment about thrift stores is right on. I’ve found a few beauties for just a dollar or two. Looking forward to your post about them.

  36. Laurie Barger
    November 20, 2017 / 12:26 pm

    This post made me get my Hermes scarf out of it’s bag and box. It is a beautiful scarf bought for me for Christmas in Rome by some relatives a few years ago. I was going to have it framed and put on a wall. But now I’m thinking I should wear it…..but the instructions say to only have it dry cleaned in two places. Are you all sure I can wash it? I was thinking about taking it for Thanksgiving and maybe to Madrid and Barcelona for Christmas. What do you all think. Thank you Susan for making me take an interest again at what I’m wearing. I retired last year and it’s a whole new life style for me. (I love just wearing my work out leggings and a t-shirt or a sweatshirt.)

    • Susan B
      November 20, 2017 / 12:29 pm

      I’ve hand-washed my silk scarves for years without problems. If you’re nervous about putting in the machine, try hand washing and line drying first. (Cold water, soap for “delicate” items)

  37. Nicole
    November 21, 2017 / 11:28 am

    Well, since this is the post about silk scarves I guess I’ll lament here, if you don’t mind! I took out a silk scarf that I’ve had for a few years now and not worn and when I took it off it caught on the clasp of my necklace and created a huge snag. I’m so disheartened. It’s the -that’s why I can’t have nice things- moment that I so not want to apply to ME. I love nice things. 🙂 I don’t know how others handle such mishaps and I realize it’s a first world problem. I have the affliction(?) of wanting things to remain perfect. When quite the opposite happens I take it as a fail on my part. Ok, thanks for listening. On the positive side, it’s a beautifully soft silk and as I was driving it caressed my neck and I was focused on how luxurious and fluffy it felt. I pulled the edges and smoothed it out but the snag of the threads interrupts the pattern. Oh well. I will still wear it. Do you have a rule of not wearing necklaces and silk scarves at the same time? I don’t see how to avoid this in the future without avoiding necklaces.

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