How to Wear a Bandana With Ease This Season

frank ocean red and white bandana white T-shirt

Not sure how to wear a bandana? We’re not going to tell you that it’s not a statement look, because it definitely is – but attempting to pull off a bandana doesn’t have to be completely terrifying. Read on, as this guide will show you how to wear it properly without looking like Rambo. 

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Forget the swash buckling pirates and biker gangs driving down American highways, the bandana has had a remodel. No longer are they just to cover that bald spot you’ve been tying to hide, they can be turned into a colourful accessory perfect for any time of the year. With celebrities such as Harry Styles figure heading this trend, it’s set to be a big one.

With celebrities such as Harry Styles figure heading this trend, it’s set to be a big one this season. The great thing about a bandana is the level of diversity in styles you can wear it with. Around the neck for a pop of attitude, upgrade your pocket square swag or just the typical around your head festival chic. The options are endless.

How to Wear a Bandana

Now the trick with wearing a bandana is, to not let it wear you. You don’t want it to look like a prop in any way shape or form. It needs to look like an extension to your style, not a last minute attempt to look cool. I would consider thinking about the way you colour match it to the rest of our outfit and style it on appropriate occasions.

joey badass wearing bandana streetstyle
Joey Badass shows one way to wear a bandana
PHOTO CREDIT: Vogue

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Ways to Wear a Bandana

So you have purchased a bandana, and you now need to figure out what style you want to go for. Fear not! We here at The Idle Man have listed off our top looks for you. The great thing about a bandana is they aren’t just for the festival season! Who would have thought. Thanks to a few runway hits (Louis Vuitton, Margaret Howell and Hermes) the trend has finally tricked down. Think more chic and add it to your tailoring, or update  your denim by throwing it around your leg. Keep reading and I guarantee you’ll be clamouring to buy a bandana at the end of this post.

Around the Neck

Now I’m not talking about covering your face and becoming a member of a biker gang, but small changes can help improve the look of a bandana and elevate your look.

You can really play around with this, adding colour and texture can be a great help when you’re sprucing up your outfit. By pairing a colourful bandana around your neck with a monochrome outfit, such as all black or grey, it will draw peoples attention and create a main focus to your look.

How to Tie a Bandana Around Your Neck:

  • Start by having your bandana in the full square
  • Pinch the end and start to roll diagonally, until you reach the end of the material
  • Tie it around your neck, leaving some excess to hang down
white-crew-neck-t-shirt-beige-dress-pants-black-hat-navy-scarf-original
Pair your bandana with a simple white T-shirt and neutral trousers
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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Around the Head

Whether you’re having a bad hair day or simply want to accessorise a little but more, a bandana around the head can work in your favour. Again, playing with colour and texture can really work in your favour, the world is your oyster when it comes to the pattern and designs you can have. So really go all out and try something new!

How to Tie a Bandana Like a Headband:

  • Fold your bandana lengthways into a long rectangle, tucking in the corner that you will have at the end,
  • Then simply wrap around your head wherever you feel necessary.

Around the Leg

Probably not the first place you’d think of putting a bandana, but hear me out. Wearing a bandana around your leg may not seem like the most logical of things, but it can heighten a casual look.

It may not be for the faint hearted, but if you’re feeling daring then give it a whirl. Tying it above your ankle breaks up the outfit. Wearing a simplistic outfit, such as blue jeans and a white shirt is classic, but it can be a bit like a uniform. Wearing a red bandana around your ankle will add colour to your look. It’s a small detail that people may not see, but turning up the bottoms of your trousers can show it off brilliantly.

The Pocket Square Bandana

Now I know what you’re thinking, that this isn’t going to work. However, the bandana pocket square has been a massive trend since GQ did an editorial on it in 2011. Wear your bandana pocket square with a suit (in a less formal occasion) to get the ultimate style upgrade.

How to Fold a Bandana Pocket Square:

  • First and Foremost, Iron your bandana. Unlike the other styles creases will not work on this occasion
  • Lay your bandana on a hard surface for the first fold – this is important to keep the square even
  • Fold your bandana in half vertically
  • Now fold the bottom part up. This should be about 2/3 of the way up depending on your bandana size, this should leave about 1/3 at the top unfolded
  • Finally, tuck the folded pocket square into your breast pocket. You many need adjust your folds depending on the depth of your pocket.
mens bandana street style pocket square
A man uses a bandana as a pocket square
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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Hairstyles with Bandanas

Now you have the fashion down lets look at the grooming. Depending on the occasion its not always the best idea to grace your head with a bandana. This is a look that usually works at festivals, however  you can rock a bandana at any point.

Naturally bandana hairstyles work better if you have a bit of hair on your head, and the longer the better. Try tying your bandana around your top-knot for an injection of cool to an outfits. Or take the Danny Seph look and style your pompadour with a bandana.

What to Wear

Now you know the tips and tricks of wearing the bandana, we thought we’ll rustle up a couple of headers of what to wear, and how to get the most out of your bandana.

Smart Casual

If you are wanting to spruce up your smart-casual wardrobe, then look no further. A statement yet safe addition to any white shirt, throwing a bandana around the neck can take you from plain to bold in a matter of seconds.

Adapting this look is easy, however always be careful with your colour choices. With any bandana, colour of choice always opt for a grey or black blazer. Keeping to more greyscale and neutral tones keep the look of your bandana safe and not too seasonal.

mens bandana neckerchief street style
A man demonstrates how to wear a bandana as a neckerchief
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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Casual

If a blazer is too smart for you, don’t be held back from keeping you look easy-going with a T-shirt. Whether you aim for simple or to play around with the pattern, tieing a bandana is our favourite seasonal go-to. Make sure to opt for more one colourway bandanas such as blue, red, black or white – to keep the look cool and collected, with minimum effort.

Lastly, we hugely recommend keeping your outfit a consistent story of classics. With your T-shirt of choice, step into a indigo or blue denim jean, or black chinos.

Celebrities Doing the Bandana Trend Well

Now if you are still not convinced about this bandana trend, then check out these celebrities that are doing it well.

  • Harry styles is the new age rock chic and he has coined the bandana as his go to accessory to tame his mane of hair.
  • Kanye West has been named a fashion genius… so it’s only right to copy his bandana look, right?
  • Tyga has a very distinctive hip-hop style, so if you want to dress in street wear we recommend getting a camo bandana for this season
  • Justin Bieber is probably one of the celebrities with the most diverse styles. Here he dons a black bandana to pull together his street look
harry styles tshirt, jeans boots look street style
Harry Styles wearing a bandana
PHOTO CREDIT: On Point Fresh

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Further Reading: History of the Bandana

The word bandana is thought to come from a Hindi ‘bāṅdhnū’ and in  Urdu ‘bāndhnū’, this means a tied or bound cloth. However, the bandana has another name the kerchief. Now kerchief is from the french word couvre-chef, this means to cover the head. It is described as a piece of material that is a triangle shape, used as protection or for decorative purposes.

Outside of western society the bandana has been used for a protective styling (mainly women’s hair) since before the 1970’s. But, for the western world they reached their height in popularity in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. Though they can any colour or pattern the traditional bandana has a paisley print overlay.

Jimi Hendrix in Bandana
Jimi Hendrix wearing a bandana
PHOTO CREDIT: The Hype

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The bandana originated in India, as large handkerchiefs made in silk and cotton and were often printed with spots. However, bandana’s printed for clothing were first produced in Glasgow from cotton yarns.

Infamously the bandana has been used to communicated your gang affiliation, most famously with California gangs the Blood and the Crips. Both wore a red or blue paisley scarf to identify which gang they represented – this was know as an open display of gang colours.

How to Wear a Bandana

  • A unique way of wearing your men’s bandana is to wear it as an alternative to a cravat.
  • A classic look is to wear your bandana as a headband. Simple, and practical.
  • For a subtle, alternative look tie your bandana around your ankle while wearing some wide fit jeans to show it off.
  • Finally give your bandana some class and wear it as a pocket square.
frank ocean style bandana
Frank Ocean wearing a bandana on stage
PHOTO CREDIT: Billboard

On That Note

Bandanas are a cheap and easy way to update an outfit. You can wear them in a classic way or go fully street with your look. If you are ever in doubt just refer back to this guide. Remember to avoid looking like your bandana is a prop! It should compliment your outfit as an added extra not be a stand out.

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