Dec. 1 2021

Our Guide to Buying a Silk Scarf: Real vs Fake Silk

You’ve seen them on every style icon, have an arsenal of tying ideas saved on your TikTok, and now it’s finally time to take the plunge and buy one. Whether this is your first silk scarf or your 50th, you have probably realized that all silks are not created equal. But fear not: We have nearly a century of scarf expertise under our belt, and we’re sharing all the answers to the questions you probably didn’t know you should ask. 

1. Should I buy real silk?

Genuine silk has a compelling lineup of benefits. In addition to being durable, luxurious and soft, it retains warmth for the winter while still being breathable for the summer. Its insulating properties even help your skin retain moisture overnight (hence the rise of silk pillowcases). Purchasing real silk products is especially important for those with allergies, asthma and skin sensitivities as it is hypoallergenic and extremely gentle on the skin. Another advantage: sustainability. Silk is also biodegradable and can decompose in 1-5 years compared to other fabrics like polyester which can take up to 200 years. In its afterlife, silk can be repurposed as soil or mulch.  

2. How can I tell if it’s real silk? 

This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how convincing cheap imitations can look on a screen and sometimes even in person. So, before purchasing, consider these important differences between genuine silk and synthetic materials.

The name game
First things first, don’t be fooled by “Art silk” or “artificial silk,” which is a common synonym for rayon. Secondly, “silky satin” often refers to imitation silk made from polyester. Your best bet is products boasting “100% Silk.”

Let it shine
Real silk has an unmistakable sheen that reflects light, producing a colorful refraction. If you haven’t, look up a video or head to your nearest department store. Rather than a rainbow shimmer, imitations shine white regardless of the angle.

It comes with a price
The sad truth is cheap, heavily discounted silk scarfs should be a red flag. Silk is a pricey textile. Some manufacturers can make it slightly more affordable and a sale is a sale, but scarfs that rival the price of a cotton bandana are most likely not real silk. However, brand names often add a little (or a lot) of additional dollar signs simply by stamping their logo on the corner, so price alone isn’t a sure thing. Trust us, there is a happy medium.

Put a ring on it
Our favorite way to test if a silk is real is slipping off your favorite ring and gently pulling the fabric through it. Real silk will easily glide through the ring while imitation silks will get caught. Another great trick is to rub the fabric between your fingers. If it heats up, it is silk. Otherwise, it's probably synthetic.

Echo X Getty | Landscape with Mercury and Argus

Check out the 2nd installment of the guide: "Our Guide to Buying a Silk Scarf: Hems"