A scarf goes a long way when traveling — and I think that statement holds for both men and women. I consider a good scarf to be one of my plane essentials and also a great cheat way to look pulled together. When living in airports and on planes for days, it’s a sartorial lifesaver.
I consider the ideal travel scarf to be one that gets both fashion and function right. Suitcase space is limited, plane seats are cramped, so I want something that works both for me and on me. It also must have purpose. The likemary Shoreditch Merino Wool Shawl & Oversize Scarf hits all those notes for $64.95 on Amazon, though the company provided me a sample. And before I lose too many males, I would like to mention that it’s unisex, styled and sold for both men and women. (Check out the photos.)
So, my primary criteria for a travel scarf is versatility. Ideally, I need to bring it on the plane, cocoon myself, deplane and wear it right out into my day or night. This garment was created with that exact person in mind. Or, it’s at least smartly presented as that. In fact, it is described on the website as a scarf, shawl, cape, poncho, wrap and blanket. While those terms might all sound like exact synonyms for the same garment, there are slight differences depending on how you wrap it. And you can wrap it many, many ways.
The last scarf I toted on my travels, as much as I loved it, just wasn’t right for the job. It was a teal, embroidered pashmina my sister gifted me from India. Beautiful and comfortable, yes, but versatile it was not. I do not shy from loud prints and bright colors generally but when I travel I try to keep things cool(er) and (more) understated because I consider it a silly to bring something halfway across the world that I can only wear once.
If I were traveling to London Fashion Week I might rethink that but that doesn’t seem that will be on my travel itinerary any time soon. And even then, by the way, I definitely would bring this scarf with me. (The style in inspired by east London shoppers at a Christmas market. Trés chic.)
It comes in multiple soft, neutral tones, all of which is versatile and works well. The options are dusty pink, navy blue, mink, stone grey and black. In the end I went with black, because when in doubt, go with black, right? Each is a solid color with a double-line detail in a complementary thread color along the edge. (On the black scarf, this is white.) The two shorter sides of the scarf also have subtle knotted fringing.
The scarf is billed as “oversize,” and have no illusions about it, oversize it totally is. It comes in two sizes: 29.5 inches x 78.7 inches (75 cm x 200 cm) and 39.4 inches x 78.7 inches (100 cm x 200 cm). I have the bigger option and even at 5′8, I felt at overwhelmed at first. After toying around with it a bit I found it was most manageable folded in half length-wise, though I also like to have the full width wrapped around my back. Soon enough I also started to own the oversize-ness and I began to feel much more comfortable in it.
It does make a significant statement with its size. When I fly I like to disappear as much as possible into my economy seat, shielded from the rest of the cabin in hopes of drifting off to sleep. This scarf, which is thick and well-knit, is my very able helper in that.
This scarf is made from merino wool, which is considered the softest of the wools. Now, no wool, even merino, is going to be as soft to the touch as cotton or pashmina. I sometimes find wool uncomfortable and scratchy but I had no issue.
As it turns out, wool is one of the best materials to travel with or really do anything arduous and unpredictable with: traveling, sports, what have you. It’s a choice material for hiking and athletic clothing, for example. It is a resilient and a durable fabric, great for insulation while also wicking away sweat, and so it controls body temperature well. Merino wool with its “ultrafine” fibers (that’s actually the term) is the softest and most comfortable of all wools.
Wool also doesn’t wrinkle(!). Here I thought everything, everything wrinkled after an overnight flight in economy. But nope, it doesn’t. So, that scarf will always look good — that is, unless you have an unfortunate spill or something. I maintain: Black is always a good choice.
This scarf has something else warm and fuzzy or feel-good about it: It’s fair trade. The founder behind likemary, Nicky Taylor-East, shared with me that these scarves all are handwoven on traditional looms in a remote region of the Himalayas in the north of India. The weavers likemary works with all are members of a fair-trade cooperative society founded to sustain the Himalayan weaving tradition.
Given its versatility and the different hats (scarves?) it wears, working as a travel blanket, scarf, shawl, poncho and more, this really is a travel scarf for all seasons and destinations. I’ve even wrapped myself in this scarf in lieu of a jacket and felt very chic doing it, not to mention warm and protected. Considering it’s always cold at 30,000 feet no matter the time of year, that’s especially the case.