Have you ever wondered how the scarf developed into the popular fashion accessory it is today? With a history that begins with ancient Egyptians and touches upon Croatian, Chinese and French cultures, scarves, wraps and shawls have quite a record. Browse our scarves timeline to explore the scarf’s passage through history.

1350 B.C.Egyptian Queen Nefertiti wears a finely woven scarf topped by a conical headdress.111000 B.C.Chinese sculptures feature scarf-like, fringed rectangular pieces of cloth.2


230 B.C. Warriors of the Chinese Emperor Cheng don scarves made of cloth, which mark military rank. 2

10 A.D. Romans wear a linen kerchief or “sudarium” (Latin for “sweat cloth”) knotted around the waist or around the neck. 1

60 A.D. The Emperor Nero rarely appears in public without a sudarium around his neck. 4

c. 1150 Eleanor of Aquitaine wear scarves in a “gossamer cascade” from the tip of a tall pointed hat, starting a noted fashion trend of the Middle Ages. 11

1261 Egyptians adopt a dance style known today as belly dancing. Costumes include a scarf-like belt worn low on the hips. 6

1600 Croatian mercenaries wear scarves to signify rank. 1

1786 Napoleon Bonaparte is said to send his first wife Joséphine de Beauharnais cashmere scarves from India during his travels. 11

1783 The Third Duke of Krakow is said to invent the knit scarf in this year. 5 timeline1.gif

1810 Renowned composer Beethoven falls in love with Therese Malfatti and in hopes to win her heart, adopts a new look including fashionable suits, shirts and silk neck scarves. 7

1837 Hermès, French ready-to-wear retailer famous for its graphic silk scarves, is born.

1837 Queen Victoria comes to throne and popularizes fanciful accessories such as scarves. In the Victorian era in particular, these accessories aid to differentiate between the upper, middle and lower classes. 8

1856 Burberry, maker of iconic plaid scarves, is founded. 9

1900 Isadora Duncan, considered by many to be the mother of modern dance, popularizes long flowing scarves. Ironically, Duncan died as the result of a freak accident during which her long scarf was caught in the wheel of an automobile. 11

1914 The knitting of scarves becomes a patriotic war-time duty in the United States. 5

1930 Fur scarves are at the height of fashion in France. 10

1970 It is popular to wear scarves as a headband across the forehead and wrapped about the waist and chest as shirt.

2004 France passes a law that bans the wearing of Muslim head scarves in public schools. 12