In cold climates, a thick knitted scarf (sometimes known as a "muffler"), often made of wool, is tied around the neck to keep warm. This is usually accompanied by a heavy jacket or coat. Also, the scarf could be used to wrap around the face and ears for additional cover from the cold.
In drier, dustier warm climates, or in environments where there are many airborne contaminants, a thin headscarf, kerchief, or bandanna is often worn over the eyes and nose and mouth to keep the hair clean. Over time, this custom has evolved into a fashionable item in many cultures, particularly among women. The cravat, an ancestor of the necktie and bow tie, evolved from scarves of this sort in Croatia.
In India, woollen scarfs with Bandhani work use tie and dye technique used commonly in Bhuj and Mandvi of the Kutch District of Gujarat State.
Scarves that are used to cover the lower part of face are sometimes called a cowl. Scarves can be colloquially called a neck-wrap.
Scarfs can be tied in many ways including the pussy-cat bow, the square knot, the cowboy bib, the ascot knot, the loop, the necktie, and the gypsy kerchief. Scarfs can also be tied in various ways on the head.
Silk scarves were used by pilots of early aircraft in order to keep oily smoke from the exhaust out of their mouths while flying. These were worn by pilots of closed cockpit aircraft to prevent neck chafing, especially by fighter pilots, who were constantly turning their heads from side to side watching for enemy aircraft. Today, military flight crews wear scarves imprinted with unit insignia and emblems not for functional reasons but instead for esprit-de-corps and heritage.
Students in the United Kingdom traditionally wear academic scarves with distinctive combinations of striped colours identifying their individual university or college.
Members of the Scouting movement wear a scarf-like item called a neckerchief as part of their uniform, which is sometimes referred to as a scarf. In some Socialist countries Young pioneers wore a neckerchief called a red scarf.
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