A blog about vintage fashion, vintage jewels and art.....

Friday, November 6, 2009

Postcards on Silk

Souvenir Scarf Scarves can be staunch travelling companions - tied around the head for shade, around the neck for warmth, around the waist when your waistband loses its middle button and used to mop foreheads, dry hands…..

Yet, the most effective association between travel and the scarf comes through the souvenir scarf. Scarves are not something everybody wears, whether they make handy gifts or not, but they certainly offer a lightweight ‘souvenir-to-take-back-home’ option worth considering when you’re re-packing your bags for your return journey. But there is more to the souvenir scarf than meets the eye.

Souvenir prices being so exorbitant most times, and baggage limitations being so restricting at all times means most people will try to get cheapest and lightest, not necessarily loveliest. From a fashionista’s point of view, the souvenir scarf can seem like a tacky idea. Granted – some souvenir scarves tend to be loud, garish, vaguely vulgar and the kind of things only crotchety old ladies get given by nieces and nephews who don’t know any better. Remembering how souvenir scarves were always relegated to second-class consideration, if any – never refused, never thrown out, but always and perennially ignored by all the women I know, means these scarves get very easily sidestepped both in souvenir shops and in wardrobes. Even if it is the right colour to match your outfit, you very probably ignore it for the souvenir that it is.

There is another way of looking at souvenir scarves and finding them particularly enticing. Having come upon a couple of such specimens in a boot sale not so long ago, I took a long hard look at the things from a collector’s perspective. Being a collector of so many different things, I honed in on the memory of my postcard collection and realised that souvenir scarves are literally portable, wearable postcards. But is that all?

As collectibles, souvenir scarves become exciting when one starts looking out for the vintage varieties. Remember school atlases get upgraded every other year because geography changes, places get new names, countries gain independence and in the process prime sites get embellished, monuments get torn down. Some territories become no-go zones because of wars and guerrilla terror and the memories of a country’s heyday become things of yesteryear. Thus each vintage souvenir scarf depicts the element which was most considered to be eye-catching at the time of its production. Surely a 1980 London scarf would not have the same sites a 1930 London scarf included, nor those a 2009 London scarf would have woven in.

The more prestigious scarves tend to have hand-rolled and hand-sewn hems. Old silk scarves are very special things and if they include any form of embroidery then they are even more special. The ones which still have their label on can shed light on their year of making, unless this is firmly stamped on their skin for posterity. In that case you have a dated collectable, whose maker can be identified.

Where would you go to find these vintage souvenir scarves? Start by raiding wardrobes. Your mother, grandmother, great aunt, mother-in-law will most definitely have at least one souvenir scarf tucked away somewhere. The next best bet is car boot sales, charity shops, jumble sales, fundraising bazaars. You can opt to buy off ebay or other online auction sites. However the latter option, whilst opening up the possibility of finding choice items from all over the world, does not allow you to touch and handle and inspect your would-be purchase at closer range.

When you choose a scarf for your collection, decide whether you want to go for just any other souvenir scarf which may come in acetate, viscose, polyester or some such modern fangled material, or whether you want to focus on cotton or silk which might equate to quality brands. Whichever option you go for, do remember that vintage scarves are old scarves which may or may not have been gently used, so it is probable that there are minor defects in the form of slight tears, undone hems, pin prick marks and yellowing, that must be accepted as part of the vintage character they posses. Take heart in the fact that you do stand a very high chance of finding pristine quality souvenir scarves because nobody seems to ever wear them and they probably come still wrapped in their original souvenir shop bag.

Remembering that vintage scarves require gentle care will help keep them in optimum shape as your collection grows. If you need to wash them, do this by hand washing in very gentle handwash liquid. Do not use clothes pegs on them as the delicate material may tear. When dry, iron with gentle heat and try to keep folds to a minimum when you put them away. Some collectors advise hanging scarves onto padded clothes hangers to avoid damage especially if they are made of silk, and this avoids creasing which would require repeat ironing.

Certainly, wear them with confidence and use them as the conversation pieces that they are. Souvenir scarves can be curious things to have, to wear and to give away. Look out for quality, tasteful design and fine materials. The rest will take care of itself.


Unknown said...

The scarves can also be framed and hung on the wall. Though you do risk them fading from the sun.

Sharon S said...

Hi there-these are gorgeous and an ideal way to start a scarf collection!

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