My daughter likes to “borrow” my silk scarves to play dress up.  She fashions them into halter tops, wrap skirts or strapless dresses with a belt here and a knot there.  I protest, but I also love her ingenuity.  I  know that love for creativity and fashion all too well, and if I had the time I would create my own scarf masterpieces.  But for now, I’m admiring the works of my favorite brands and designers.  This season, there are so many gorgeous scarf prints and handkerchief hems on tops, skirts, and dresses that it’s hard to pick just one. What exactly is a handkerchief hem?  It’s an uneven hem with a point on one or two sides.  It looks like someone took a square scarf, turned it and sewed it into a top, skirt or dress.  Don’t have one in your closet? Here are some tips for buying and wearing scarf prints and handkerchief hems…


Structured Scarf Prints and Handkerchief Hems For Daytime

I bought this Donna Karan handkerchief hem dress a few months ago during my NYC trip and have worn it to a few of my husband’s work events with black sandals and a clutch.  This dress has now sold out, but Donna Karan has a similar style in a burnt orange and this one in an abstract print, both available at  

Donna Karan Painted Stripe Dress With Handkerchief Hem


These structured dresses with handkerchief hems are office event appropriate, and figure flattering because of their fitted waists.  


Scarf  Prints And  Handkerchief Hems For Parties

If you have a wedding, graduation party, or other special occasion coming up, scarf prints and handkerchief hems add an effortlessly elegant flair to your look.  I bought this Chloey Vintage Brocade Slip Dress from BCBG.  I wear it with simple jewelry, nude sandals and a straw clutch for summer events.  

BCBG Scarf Print Handkerchief Hem Slip-dress


BCBG’s MarrakeshStriped Handkerchief Dress is similar but a little more fitted. Wear it now with brown or olive sandals, and in the fall with tan booties and a cardigan.  If you prefer long sleeves, you could wear this red Fifi Porcelain Dress now, in the fall and even the holiday season.  Just be aware that the loose shape of these scarf dresses can make you look wider, so you may have to size down for a more fitted look.  


Handkerchief Hems In Lace 

Another option, for more formal summer parties, is the handkerchief hem made from lace.  This is another BCBG dress that I bought last winter (now only available in XXS here) and if probably one of the most comfortable cocktail dresses I own (the lace has some stretch to it.)

BCBG Lace Handkerchief Hem Dress


For a summer option in a brighter color, Taylor created a Handkerchief Hem Dress in yellow that is available at Lord & Taylor.  Banana Republic has a short sleeve dress in navy lace that is now on sale and selling quickly.  


Handkerchief Hem Tops 

If you’re looking for some casual pieces, trade your basic t-shirt for one with a handkerchief hem.  I carry most of my weight around my middle, so I don’t like to emphasize this area with a  lot of volume (like a gathered peplum or ruffles) so I love the detail of a handkerchief hem.  This is a top from Anthropologie from many years ago, but this one is very similar.  If you want a plain version, the GAP has a sleeveless ribbed handkerchief hem t-shirt in solid colors and stripes.

Anthropologie Eyelet Handkerchief Hem Tank



How to Pick The Perfect Scarf Prints And Handkerchief Hems

  1.  A scarf dress like my Chloey slip dress is very roomy and can make you look bigger.  You may want to size down or add a  skinny belt for a more fitted look.
  2. A shorter scarf dress in a heavier fabric will look more appropriate for work or work events.
  3. For a slimming casual look, try a handkerchief hem t-shirt with fitted bottoms (skinny jeans, leggings or fitted shorts).  
  4. Wear simple accessories so that the scarf print and handkerchief hem can be the main focus. 

 I’ve pinned dozens of options to my Pinterest Spring/Summer Buy Now! board which you can find here, or to the right of this post (scroll down in the box for more styles).  Follow me on Instagram to see how I style my scarf prints and handkerchief hems.   As always, I’d love to hear from you because I love to chat with real women wanting great style.   


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