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fashion

Scarves, the cruelest fashion item?

Molly Sims.
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for jcpenney
Molly Sims.

Is there a fashion item crueler than the scarf?

Run your mind over the contenders — the bikini, the mini, the stiletto — and remind yourself that at least with those, the emotional pain eventually ends. You accept defeat, mourn the loss, and move on. But you can go to your grave hoping, nay, believing, that this will be the season you master the scarf. One-size-fits-all and seemingly openhearted (the scarf doesn’t judge your BMI or your wrinkles) it is in fact the great separator.

I’m speaking as a person on the wrong side of the divide. When I try the look that’s trending this fall, where you wrap the scarf multiple times around your neck to create a large, woven necklace, I appear to be in the middle of a failed suicide attempt. When I tie a silk scarf around my neck, onlookers use words like “female ascot” and “flight attendant.” These are not compliments.

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Oh, to be Jennifer Aniston, Molly Sims, or anyone else who seems to just drape and go. On the off chance I were to get the morning tie-twist-knot-arrange combo right, by the time I got to work, it would be undone, and I’d waste the day darting to the ladies room trying to re-create my one-hit wonder, or pestering colleagues. “Better with, or without?” I’d ask, whipping it off, and putting it back on, repeatedly.

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And yet, with all the problems in this world, is it right to dwell on scarf stress? Assuredly not, which is why I decided to buy an “infinity” or “endless” scarf. No ends, nothing to tie, no problems, right? Nope. When I went on the Web pre-purchase, I noticed a “wardrobe doctor” offering the insecure tips on wearing the fall It Item. Among the options: cowl, shrug, hood, collar, flounce, vest, and, I kid you not, “hip wrap” and “ascot.”

Ascot? Help! I’m back where I started.

Beth Teitell can be reached at bteitell@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @bethteitell.