Most of the time, I’m not big on accessories, but they sure can be an easy + inexpensive way to shake up a familiar piece.
And let me tell you … this small accessory has serious power.
But before we go too far, let’s back up for a second.
If you remember from last week, one of my goals for the summer is to restyle + rewear pieces I already have.
This shirt was one of those pieces I wanted to focus on — it’s started feeling a little too familiar to the point where I haven’t been reaching for it anymore. Which is just plain silly because this shirt has great drape, a classic shape, and that rich indigo color.
I think most of us do this with our older clothes from time to time. The piece may be still going strong but we just sort of lose inspiration.
The solution? Trying something new — something that is just outside of our style comfort zone.
And that brings us to the bandana.
It instantly adds a fresh vibe to anything I pair with it. A bit of pattern can go a long way.
(Cool side note: I tried pairing this bandana with patterned tops, and I’m really loving how it allows me to experiment with pattern on pattern without a big investment. But that’s level 2 styling. We’ll get there later.)
I thought I’d feel a little conspicuous wearing it, but I played around with it until I came up with the most chill styling possible.
Want to try it?
Here are my starter tips for subtle bandana styling:
- Tie it loose and let it sit on your collar bones. Definitely avoid tying it too tight or too high on your neck. Think more necklace, less choker. (Not sure how to start? Fold the bandana into a triangle and then roll it until it forms one long strand.)
- Wear your hair down — the effect will be much more subtle. In fact, in most of the photos we took for this post, we had to purposely make sure the bandana was showing because my hair kept hiding it.
- A chambray shirt (or a shirtdress like this one) always looks great with a bandana. It’s easy and fail proof — great for your first time styling a bandana. Bonus: you probably already have something chambray.
- Skip on other accessories like hats and statement jewelry.
- Tuck those bandana ends into the side/front of your collar — see the first photo for an example. You can see that mine slipped out in the third photo, and I actually like it either way, but tucked in is a subtle way to start.
- Try wearing a bandana in the same color family as your shirt, like how I paired a navy bandana with a deep blue shirt.
If you end up trying one out, I’d love to see how you style it! Tag it on Instagram with the hashtag #unfancy.
01 | Jeans by Madewell | similar by Paige Denim (made in USA)
02 | Sleeveless chambray shirt (old) | similar in light wash
03 | Sandals c/o Sseko (responsibly made)
04 | Bandana c/o Madewell
05 | Bag by Meyelo (responsibly made, FYI this is my sis-in-law’s shop)
P.S Austin, Texas! I’m going to be at the Madewell at the Domain on Sunday, June 19th from 10am til noonish. Come by and hang out, I’d love to get to talk with you! We can chat up anything from creating a personal style concept to cute raccoons on Instagram. See you there. :)
P.P.S Today is our unsubscribe date!
Here’s what’s going on if you missed last week’s post: A few clothing retailers have snuck into my inbox lately, and honestly, I just don’t want the temptation to shop. I don’t know why I don’t take five seconds and click unsubscribe right when the email hits my inbox, but I almost never do.
But there’s motivation in numbers and in accountability! So today at 4pm CST, join me and let’s all take 20 minutes, hop on our phones, and unsubscribe from those unwanted emails that keep cluttering our inboxes and our minds. You in?
Bonnie Rae says
Some of my much loved, well worn items have been feeling too familiar as well- I can’t wait to give this a try! You are just endlessly creative.
Thank you, thank you!
FASHION MANDATE says
I totally agree a cute bandana completes an outfit…. a must have this summer
Yes I am in. I never thought of my emails cluttering my life. Thank you
Heya! Just wondering, when you use “by” versus “c/o” in your clothing lists, what does that signify?
Hi Lyn! “C/o” stands for “courtesy of” which means that particular piece was a gift from that company. I’ve been on the fence about using the abbreviation, so I’m glad you asked about it. It’s probably a sign that I should stop abbreviating it so it makes more sense. :) xo Caroline
Many thanks for this post! I own a box full of bandanas as I used to wear them in my hair a few years ago. And as I still liked them I didn’t throw them away (what I tend to do with other stuff). Now I’m happy I kept them as thanks to you I see now many possibilities to wear them. Love your denim look btw <3
xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
Thanks for the reminder! Inbox cleared out! I have been needing to get rid of a few pesky frequent emailers! ?
Now to dig out my bandanas and into a new one!
Tania // girlwithanakita says
Cool idea to style a bandana! I always associate it with those cleaning women cartoons to hide their messy hair – but this is a fresh take.
two years after I learned about capsule wardrobe from you, I finally got a handle on creating my business appropriate capsule for the summer! thank you for the lessons :)
Tania, glad it’s working out for you! xo, Caroline
Love bandanas. I tie one on the handle of my straw bag for a pop of color if I am wearing a neutral outfit.
One of my favorite ways to wear it is around my wrist as a bracelet. I learned to do that from the sales girls at Hermès with a small square scarf.
Mary-Eilen, I absolutely love those ideas! xo, Caroline
To make your unsubscribing easier – use Unroll.me! It gathers up everything in your inbox into one list so you can choose unsubscribe, rolled up or left in inbox for each email. It’s saved my life.
Also, love the bandana look! I would totally wear this, but need to find the right bandana first.
Courtney Ellis says
I second unroll me! You will not regret it!
The bandana has been something I’ve been seeing everywhere, but always thought it was too “out there” for me to pull off. I’m glad you’re styling it, because the way you dress is always so applicable to real people!
Angelina Is | Bloglovin’
Angelina, sometimes it takes awhile for trends to grow on me too. But this one seems subtle enough for anyone to pull off. Give it a try! :) xo, Caroline
Great post. I am more of a head wrap kind of gal but I may try this out. Also I love the bag and the whole concept of your SIL’s shop.
I am in!
For the past two weeks, each time I open my inbox I unsubscribe to 3-5 lists. After several days I started seeing a difference and now a couple of weeks later my email has been cut by 2/3. Just doing a few at a time worked well for me and took just a minute.
Seeing all those offers from retail sites each day was making me feel like I might “need” something and I am feeling way more content with what I have without their influence.
Bronwyn, isn’t it crazy how the emails can influence us so much?? Glad you’re feeling good about getting rid of those. xo, Caroline
You make it look super cute!
I love it! I think in scared to rock a bandanna, but why? You make it look great! I’ll give it a go when I can find one ?
Stephanie, please do! Hope you like it! xo, Caroline
I don’t know how you do it that you often write about the things I am thinking about at that specific moment! It was just today that I struggled with styling my old, forgotten bandana because I want to combine it with my outfit for a local music festival, and here comes the rescue :)
Haha Mary! As they say, great minds think alike! :) xo, Caroline
Love the bag! On the link page the dimensions are listed as 12.5″x12.5″x3″ – is that accurate? It certainly appears taller than it is wide, and larger than that. Thanks, and it’s great to have you back.
Hi Mholmes, The measurements are accurate, but once I put all of my purse goodies in it, it definitely appears taller than it is wide. Hope that helps! :) xo, Caroline
I’ve been wearing bandanas for a couple years and love them! I little trick=tie a knot in one of the ends, then slide the orher end thru the knot. This works better than tying the two ends together because it lays flatter and the ends don’t wing out in opposite directions.
Great tip Laura! Thank you for sharing! :) xo, Caroline
This post came in a timely manner. I just bought a couple of bandanas and am keen to start experimenting with them!
laura diniwilk says
(Sorry – I appear to be stuck in caps lock land)
If you have any ins with madewell whatsoever, I would super appreciate you pointing out that tons of your readers want them to bring back that awesome dark wash sleeveless chambray shirt. I have been looking for something similar forever to no avail.
I like tying bandanas in my hair! I find that it looks nice with either a bun or a French braid. You can either leave the ends waving in the breeze or tuck them under.
Eva, that sounds adorable! :) xo, Caroline
LOVE this look! Been thinking of trying a bandana and I had no idea how to wear it. I also like the monochromatic look, and the touch of pattern in the bandana, and the color in the shoes, it’s great. I’m definitely going to try to recreate this look with items I have in my closet.
I love silk bandanas! I started wearing them at the start of the year and it seems it became a trend! (I still claim I was the first one to wear it ;) I got so caught up I even painted my own silk scarf.
My favourite is a bigger, square red scarf that I:
tie around my neck with one knot on the side and let the long tails hang
tie it around my neck twice like a big choker and finish with a knot
tie around handbag handles
tie around waist as belt – my fave!
I also saw a girl wearing one around her ankle as an anklet. One way I can’t wear it is around my hair – I feel like such a cleaning lady though I love it on others.
I like how you’re so analytical with style and fashion, it’s inspirational!
Hey Kat, all such cute ideas! Thanks for sharing :) xo, Caroline
maureen parkhurst says
I love the simplicity!
Lovely, bag. I’ve been looking for a leather one with a longer strap. Will probably buy one next month. Thanks for including!
miss agnes says
I’m all for the unsuscribe, and have been doing this a lot these past few weeks as I will be changing email. I decided to only keep these newsletters I really like. My inbox thanks me.
Love the bandana, and was toying with the idea of knitting one, until I found a great classic black & white bandana in my closet.
Such a nice outfit!
Love the tips, but here in Brazil its dificult to wear bandanas beacause its sooo hot!
But I’ll try in a fresh day :)
It is amazing how a bandana can completely transform a look! I’ve done that with so many of my pieces too! And thanks for all the bandana styling tips, Caroline! :)
You’re so beautiful in all of your photos! As always, I loved your post :)
Hi Caroline – I didn’t wait to start unsubscribing, I started after your initial suggestion in the previous post. Ummm, how did it get this bad? I’ve unsubscribed to over 45 retailers, some I don’t quite remember signing up for (??). At first it was all, then I decided to keep a few I liked hearing from or shop from often – about 5 bring me a little joy. One thing that surprised me was the message when unsubscribing on some (“Don’t go!” “Are you sure?” “We’ll miss you!”) which immediately gave me a yucky feeling, felt a little manipulative. Great exercise in controlling what we let into our technology environment. Thank you!
DKS, yes, they really lay the guilt on thick when you try to unsubscribe! Let’s be strong together! ;) xo, Caroline
I’m so glad that you’re back to posting again! I love your clean style and simple approach to fashion. Thanks!
I really like this combination.
Very nice post and pictures ! I adore your shoes :)
Esther Plaster says
Thank you for reminding me of my fun scarves. Lately I have been using a bright melon pink pashmina as a wrap for chilly indoors occasions. Its been such a lovely break from jackets and sweaters. Also I remembered I had a cute silk scarf and I have added it a few times to my ensemble in the last few weeks – feels good to use what I have! I love your concept of pulling “older” items out and reworking them. I seem to get in a rut wearing my t-shirts from Everlane – which I love – but then I neglect all the gorgeous blouses in my capsule. Trying to force myself to pull those lovelies out and am so happy when I do.
I have noticed that as a stay-at-home mama, its easy to go super casual to do errands. I have been making a real effort to ‘dress it up” a notch – day dresses – like a loose fitting light chambray shift has been my go to answer. Ladies from years back used to leave the home looking so put together. I don’t want to lose the Lovely. I have been reimagining by adding a straw hat rather then those long ago pumps, white gloves, and matching pocket books. I also make sure that I have a necklace or earrings on and a pretty lip. It just makes me feel so. much. better.
Abby | Lace & Lilacs says
I’m loving the bandana trend right now! I don’t know if I could pull it off, but it looks amazing on you :)
Alexa Johnson says
Love this look!