Introducing: The PS Arran scarf

Monday, September 27th 2021
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My favourite ever scarf is the Arran model from Begg. 

Over the years you will have seen me wear it with everything, from a Western hat to a baseball cap, a polo coat to a tweed jacket (examples at those links).

Outside of some lightweight ones and my beloved Hermes squares, I have worn nothing else for a decade or more. 

But there were still a couple of frustrations I had with them. 

The key one was colour. Although Begg offer the scarf in 32 different shades, there isn't a real menswear navy - just a strong, almost royal blue. It doesn't look right with a navy blazer or coat. (I've tried.)

Then a few years ago, they discontinued one of my favourite colours: the mid-green they call 'army'. It's still available in other models, but not the Arran.

So earlier in the year I decided to try and order both of them myself, so they could be sold through the PS shop

The other niggle I had with the Arran was more minor, and actually Begg went some way towards fixing it a few years ago. 

I wear scarves with a jacket a lot. In a temperate climate like the UK, a scarf and varying weights of jacket can get you through many months of the year. 

The problem is that, unless you use a rather complicated knot, most scarves stick out some way below the bottom of a jacket. Even when tied, they protrude below the waist button like some kind of weird sporran. 

I tried various affected ways of dealing with this - like the aforementioned knots, and sweeping the fringes back with my hand when I put my hand in my pocket. But they all felt a bit silly. 

The truth is most scarves are just too long for a jacket. And actually, I don't think they necessarily need to be that long with anything. 

A shorter length is still enough to wrap twice around your neck when it's particularly cold, and easily tie. Is anyone doing more than that?

Begg, in their wisdom, are offering a smaller size, which is 160cm long rather than 183cm. But again, not in dark navy or Army.

The two scarves we're offering, therefore, are in this length. I think it looks much better with a jacket (as shown above) and you only lose some material that would be dangling around your hips otherwise.

Plus it's a bit cheaper, which is always welcome (£170, including VAT, rather than £260).

The reasons the Arran has always been my favourite are the quality of the cashmere, the density of the weave and the 'ripple' finish. 

This finish is created by brushing a rack of dried plants called teasels (above) carefully across the surface. You can do this with a textured metal plate, but that loses some of the natural variation of the plant heads. 

Other mills also use teasels (on jacket materials as well as scarves) but the effect never seems as nice. It would take more of a technician than me - and perhaps a covert visit to the Begg mill - to say why. 

I guess the reason doesn't really matter. The important point is these are the best I've found and it's fantastic to be able to have them in both my favourite colours and length. 

Apart from shades of grey, I think dark navy and green are probably the two most useful colours of scarf in a smart menswear context. 

Navy is the smartest colour of all, and goes both with all shades of grey and with itself, alongside many browns, greens and cream.

In the outfit above, I think it really brings the jacket-and-trouser combination together. This may be because it helps replace the necktie that an outfit like this might often have had. It adds textural interest, plus another colour, and creates a similar vertical line.

As fewer people wear handkerchiefs or ties, adding a scarf like that can make a big difference.

The jacket is my herringbone tweed from The Anthology, the trousers are a pale-beige cotton from Dalcuore, and the shirt is a blue shadow stripe from Simone Abbarchi.

The green, on the other hand, is my perfect autumn colour. 

It's great with greys and navy too of course, but this olive-y green is particularly beautiful with more casual colours like beige, brown and tan.

Best of all is a tobacco-coloured suede like the shirt jacket pictured above, from Connolly (covered in a separate article).  

Put that with a grey crewneck and brown-suede boots, and you can almost see the multicoloured leaves drifting down around you. (Sorry, getting a bit carried away.)

In order to show how it looks with other outfits, I've also included some old images at the bottom of this post of me wearing the same colour.

(Those were in a different type of scarf from Begg. The lack of them in my favourite cashmere, colours and quality has led to a good few compromises over the years, such as those other types in 'Army'. No more!)

The two PS Arran scarves are available on the Permanent Style shop here.

I shouldn't have to mention that they make great birthday and (if you're reading this in November) Christmas gifts. But there you are, I have. Thank you as ever for your support. 

Details: 

  • 100% high-quality cashmere 
  • Woven by Begg & Co in Ayr, Scotland
  • Measures 30cm by 160cm
  • Only available through the PS shop, not through Begg
  • Ships from London
  • Price same as Begg's in the same size, £170 (including VAT, £142 without)

Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt

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Martins

Easiest way to deal with too long scarf… fold in half and feed the ends trough the loop. That is my favourite way to wear scarf because it always protects neck and chest without any adjustment necessary. Unfortunately it also means a lot of scarfs is too short for me.

Aaron

Would you use one of the three knots from this article for a cashmere scarf like this, or something else?

Joseph Leftwich

Please, please do a feature on wierd sporrans. Yours, a Scotsman

Mike

Simon, you’re absolutely right about the length of the scarf. In most cases when it’s worn below a coat you are paying good money for something that’s in the main, hidden. I solved my quandary with the purchase of a cravat scarf from Anderson and Shepherd which is shorter and does the job perfectly. The green colour looks particularly excellent.

Kenneth

Good article on scarves..do i wear them???? Yes!!! Do i have too many????? YES!!!!!!…You are right they are a great holiday gift to give..Simon i want you to enjoy your week and continue to do what you are doing..passing your vast knowledge on to men around the world..peace…

Ajbjasus

I’m afraid I have the opposite problem, invariably use the French Loop, and find I need a 2m scarf 😞.

ajbjasus

17.5

Just my preference, I’m sure – otherwise would have had the green one.

Martins

I’m a 17.5 neck too, and just measured my Burberry cashmere scarf. Same dimensions as yours and I almost never wear it because it’s too short. I literally can not make French loop on it.. I also need 2m scarf.

Aaron

How thick are your scarves? Up until recently my neck was the same size, and I also mostly use a Parisian knot. I find thinner scarves do come down to my hips at least.

Ajbjasus

Varied, from whisper cashmere to heavier ones. I’m pretty tall though

Peter Hall

Always have time for a good scarf.
He is an interesting piece about raising the nap using teasel

https://leafencounter.wordpress.com/2015/07/29/raising-the-nap/

Robert

Thanks Peter. Interesting link. A traveling “Teasel Man”. Who knew?

Fatih

That navy color is lovely. As mentioned in another post 160 cm might be a bit on the short side for neck sizes 17 and above. Aside from that, a not too short scarf adds a bit of extra elegance for m even with smart jackets. That knot in the third picture from bottom looks just gorgeous.

Prince Florizel of Bohemia

Dear Simon, thank you for the article. Interesting points about length. However, I’m more intrigued by what you wrote about colour combination. I’ve struggled with combining navy outerwear with navy scarves. What is the key, here? On my screen, it appears the scarf you offer is in relatively stronger shade of navy then most jackets or overcoats. Is it so? Also, would you say that the colour “slate” offered by Begg works with navy jackets and coats? It appears to be mid blue in a softer, greyish shade. Thank you. 

Prince Florizel of Bohemia

Thank you.

Freddie

Would you wear the navy with your Bridge Coat or the green with your Wax Walker? Or are they too similar colours?
I’m torn between the two colours and trying to work out which I would get more use from as my scarves are generally in contrasting colours and so work with both my navy wool coats and my green (/brown) wax jackets…

MBB355

Looks great! Does the tag on the scarf ever bother you? It bothers me–ideally this scarf would come without it. Still looks really nice, and I couldn’t agree more with your points on scarf length.

Harry

I know you’re referring to thicker scarves here, but how many with facial stubble have ruined a thin wispy scarf after a few days? Referring to the various quality brands mentioned all over PS.

It’s enough to make this vagrant shave every day. In fact, I’ve noticed how some seem to get away with the look, while others have coins thrust into their hands by kindly strangers.

Jan

My wispy scarf after wearing for 20+ times was full blown fussball with short beard. But after using clothes shaver for like 1 hour 30 minutes I managed to get it to about 95% or so close to what it was new. You could get probably like 75-80% well enough with half the time, also depends what kind of shaver you use. I think mine is very mild one, but that also means its safer and you can add more pressure without damaging.
Oddly enough I did quite enjoy the fussball effect which made formal scarf quite casual.

Neil

HI Simon,
The “Weird Sporran” is so true. I have cut linen and cotton scarves before, but you can not do it with Wool. Which is the one you want.
I think the length of scarves relates back to some uncool periods in the Seventies namely colleges and Tom Baker.
At 6ft, I am neither tall nor short, but I rarely can find a scarf that can be used for the very purpose you say. The majority of times, especially driving cars, where you just don’t want a coat.
Still chuckling about “Weird Sporran.”

Neil

Tom

Who makes the tote bag shown here?

Clifford P Hall

Simon, you mentioned brown suede boots, were those the same color as the jacket or the EG’s you sometimes show in darker brown.
Many thanks.
Cliff

Neil

Simon – I have had issues with pilling on cashmere scarves, including with some of the more well-known makers. Have you noticed that as an issue with these Begg scarves?

Simon Miles

Mine arrived today. I ordered both since they complement each other ideally and between them cover all the bases. The quality is wonderful and the size works just as described. Texture is something that’s easy to overlook (and hard to evaluate) when shopping online, but it’s often the most obvious indication of quality. These feel wonderful in the hand and against the skin, just as a fine scarf should. I’ll be setting mine aside for when close family members ask what they should get me for Christmas. As a man of a certain age and means, I’m aware that I’m not always easy to buy for. The price doesn’t matter in this scenario, I just tell them the item costs what I know they can afford and from my perspective I am more than happy to make up any difference so that I can be given something of lasting value that I really want. But talking of price, I think these scarves are a fair price and good value for the quality on offer. My only complaint is the Permanent Style watch cap is sold out. Any possibility of producing another batch, Simon?

Paul

My olive scarf arrived this morning – it is gorgeous, a subtle and rich colour. The beautiful soft handle and silky texture, with that lovely rippled finish, is just amazing! I don’t need any more scarves but I find myself very tempted to get the navy version, too…

L

I prefer wispy scarves, how mich thicker is this version to Beggs wispy?

SC

Hmmm…love Begg scarves, got quite a few but this size and navy colour with the rippled finish is tempting…surprised navy wasn’t in their colour palette

David Flores

I do prefer longer scarfs, 1.80 cm is the minimum. This ones look lovely.

Ben Frankel

Worked with Begg years ago on Escorial yarn, which wove beautiful scarves, shawls, and sold internationally to many Luxury companies as a cashmere alternative/ new luxury yarn. Escorial absorbed dye deeply, had a rich glow and a stretch which enabled knots not to crease.
Am fortunate enough to have travelled often to India, my favorite scarves and shawls found there, more individual than the “Scottish” muffler. Have visited weavers there and found wonderful products, cashmere and other yarns.
Ben Frankel.

Alex

Hi Simon,
Love the idea of a shorter scarf, I’ve often run into exactly the same problem you describe and find many scarfs out of my preferred reach, if you will. I’ll give this one a try I think! On a related note, do you think the PS square scarves will be available again in the future? And finally, any advice for finding a herringbone jacket like the one you’re wearing with the navy scarf? It’s a great looking jacket.
Thanks, and kind regards,
Alex

Jan

Hi Simon, is there any difference in the quality of the cashmere and / or the ripple finish between those and Joshua Ellis or Johnstons? Many thanks!

Stefan

An excellent treatment for French cold neck syndrome. The shorter length should still suffice in the most hot and humid climates where no one else would wear a scarf and this syndrome most visibly manifests.

Yash

Hello Simon,
I ordered both colours of the scarf last week but only opened them yesterday.
Another superb addition to your repertoire and my growing collection of PS products/collaborations!
The colour of both is superb. The navy is dark enough to go with various shades of blue (although perhaps not another navy – this could still work depending on what else was breaking things up). It is a deep, inky blue that struts right up to being as dark as it can be, without being black.
The olive changes colour, going from a true “mediterranean olive” to a darkish forest green, depending on the light. I think, with the increasing move towards a more casual wardrobe, this is going to be an incredibly versatile colour, going with all sorts of things including various shades of grey and even darker blues, as well as the more obvious browns, creams, taupes and similar.
The standout out feature though is the cashmere itself. That sheen, shimmer and almost zig zag play of light on fabric, the “density” and simultaneous lightness, the softness and, when worn today for the first time (olive), warmth and cocooning effect are wonderful.
Both scarves will become, without a doubt, regularly worn items for at least 7 months of the year being worn both in the bitter (for London anyway) depths of winter with a coat and hat (cue watch cap selection) and perhaps with a shirt or sweatshirt on a sharp spring or autumn morning.
Having made a reference to the watch cap above, I have also just added the navy and grey to my red and cream. When the black is released, that too shall be added. The red and cream got some real use last year and this really is the point about why the PS products so good.
Whether it is a lowly (but far from basic) scarf or watch cap or the donegal, trench or indulgent cardigan, unlike a lot of high end designer clothes, this stuff is built for daily wear. Tiny details that give you real pleasure all the time, and practical enough, even if made of delicate materials, to become integral to and integrated with the way I dress and the way I live.
Long may these really quite brilliant products continue coming our way.

Benjamin Miksa

Hello,

unfortunately, my scarf is stuck in transit and needs your attention. I tried to contact [email protected] twice about the issue but I have been waiting for a reply for one week. Could someone in charge please contact me?

Thank you very much.

Benjamin Miksa

Hi Simon,
thank you for your fast reply. Yes, same name and email.