n cold climates, a thick knitted scarf, often made of wool, is tied around the neck to keep warm. This is usually accompanied by a warm hat and heavy coat.
In drier, dustier warm climates, or in environments where there are many airborne contaminants, a thin headscarf, kerchief, or bandanna is often worn over the eyes and nose and mouth to keep the hair clean. Over time, this custom has evolved into a fashionable item in many cultures, particularly among women. The cravat, an ancestor of the necktie and bow tie, evolved from scarves of this sort in Croatia.
Religions such as Judaism under Halakhah (Jewish Law) promote modest dress code among women. Married Jewish women wear a tichel to cover their hair. The Tallit is commonly worn by Jewish men especially for prayers, which they wrap around their head to recite the blessing of the Tallit.
Young Sikh boys, and sometimes girls often wear a bandanna to cover their hair, before moving on to the turban. Older Sikhs may wear them as an under-turban.
A Somali woman wearing a traditional headscarf.
Islam promotes modest dress among men and women. Many Muslim women wear a headscarf, often known as a hijab and in Quranic Arabic as the khimar. The Keffiyeh is commonly used by Muslim men.
Additionally, several Christian denominations include a scarf known as a Stole as part of their liturgical vestments.
Silk scarfs were used by pilots of early aircraft in order to keep oily smoke from the exhaust out of their mouths while flying. Silk Scarfs were worn by pilots of closed cockpit aircraft to prevent neck chafing; especially fighter pilots, who were constantly turning their heads from side to side watching for enemy aircraft. Today, military flight crews wear scarfs imprinted with unit insignia and emblems not for functional reasons but instead for esprit-de-corps and heritage.
In India, woollen scarfs with Bandhani work are becoming very popular. Bandhani or Bandhej is the name of the tie and dye technique used commonly in Bhuj and Mandvi of the Kutch District of Gujarat State.
An absurdly long scarf that is striped is heavily associated with the Fourth Doctor from the television series Doctor Who. His iconic scarf is sometimes known as a “Whovian scarf.”
Scarfs can be tied in many ways including the pussy-cat bow, the square knot, the cowboy bib, the ascot knot, the loop, the necktie, and the gypsy kerchief.