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Differences Between a Scarf and a Stole

Scarves and Stoles are two finished pieces that are versatile accessories for keeping you warm and for dressy occasions. But what exactly are scarves and stoles, and how do they differ from each other? Let’s find out!

Stole vs Scarf

The primary contrast between a scarf and a stole is how they are defined. A scarf is a long, narrow piece of cloth worn around the neck, shoulders, upper body, or head for warmth or a fashion statement. A stole is a long, narrow piece of fabric worn around the neck or over the shoulders as a decorative item or as part of a religious ceremony. Here are some key differences between a scarf and a stole:

1. Origin

The scarf originated in the Middle East. There is evidence of Queen Nefertiti wearing a scarf back in 1350 BC.Stole originated in Europe. In Greek, the word Stole means a garment.

2. Purpose

The scarf is primarily worn as fashion accessories, warmth, and protection from the cold in the chilly season.Stole is a stylish accessory worn for special occasions to highlight authority and rank.

3. Material

Scarfs can be made from cashmere, wool, silk, and cotton, including almost all fabrics.Stoles are typically made from elegant fabric like silk, velvet, or fur.

4. Length

Scarves come in various lengths, ranging from short and narrow to long.Stoles are longer and wider decorative sash than Scarves.

5. Width

Scarves can be wide or narrow based on fashion trends.These pieces of fabric are wider than scarves.

6. Shape

Scarves can be straight or have different shapes such as square, rectangular, or circular.Stoles are usually straight or have a V-shape.

7. Drape

Scarves can be wrapped around the neck in different ways to achieve different drapes.Stoles are draped over the shoulders and across the chest.

8. Occasion

Scarves are commonly worn during everyday activities or casual occasions. Sometimes, they also suit formal outfits. Stoles are appropriate for formal events such as weddings, galas, or religious purposes.

9. Closure

Scarves can have different closures such as buttons, zippers, or loops.Stoles do not have any closure as they are simply draped around the neck or shoulders.

10. Style

Scarves come in various styles such as printed, striped, or solid colors.Stoles often feature intricate designs or embroidery.

11. Price

Scarves can range from affordable to expensive depending on the material and brand.Stoles are more expensive fabrics due to their luxurious materials and intricate designs.

12. Functionality

Scarves can be used for both connoisseurs of fashion and practical purposes.Stoles serve mainly as decorative elements.

13. Seasonality

Scarves are commonly worn as a winter fashion and during fall seasons when it’s cold outside. Featherlight scarves can be worn in both seasons.There is no seasonal implication of stoles. However, some fur stoles are more favorable for winter months.

14. Ease of wear

Scarves are easy to wear and can be wrapped around the neck in different ways without any assistance.Stoles may require some help to drape properly around the neck and shoulders.

15. Cultural significance

Scarves hold cultural significance in many parts of the world such as India’s shawls or Middle Eastern keffiyehs.Stoles do not have any cultural significance beyond their use in religious ceremonies or formal occasions.

16. Comfort level

Scarves offer varying levels of comfort depending on the material used and how tightly they’re wrapped around the neck.Stoles may be less comfortable due to their thickness and weight.

17. Versatility

Scarves can be worn with different outfits and styles depending on the occasion and personal preference.Stoles have limited versatility due to their formal nature.

18. Maintenance

Scarves require regular washing and care to maintain their quality and appearance over time.Stoles require more specialized care due to their delicate materials such as fur or silk velvet.

19. Popularity

Scarves are more commonly worn than stoles due to their practicality and versatility in everyday life.Stoles may be less frequently worn outside of formal events or religious ceremonies.

20. Trendiness

Scarves come in various trends and styles each season.Stole trends tend to be more classic and timeless due to their formal nature and lack of seasonal variation.

21. Examples

Infinity Scarf – A looped design that drapes around the neck like an infinity symbol
Square Scarf – Large square piece that can be worn in various ways
Cashmere ScarfSoft undercoat of cashmere goats
Silk Scarf – Lightweight scarf from the luxurious fabric of silk
Fleece Scarf – Synthetic fibers like polyester or fleece
Liturgical Stole – Worn by clergy members during religious ceremonies as a symbol of their authority and rank 
Decorative Stole – Worn for decorative purposes e.g. graduation stole
Fur Stole – Made from luxurious fur materials such as mink or fox
Shawl Stole – A large rectangular shape that can be draped over the shoulders

Common Questions and Answers

What is a stole?

Stole is the wrap fabric worn by women for warmth or fashion. It is worn loosely over a shoulder. The liturgical vestment worn by Christian clergy is also referred as Stole.

What size is a stole or scarf?

The size of stole and scarf can vary upon style. Both of them are long and narrow. However, stoles are less wider and luxurious to some extend. The middle sized scarf have dimension of 100cm wide and 200cm long. While, stoles are 70 cm wide and 190 cm long.

Why is it called a stole?

The ‘stole’ comes from the Latin word ‘stola’. Its meaning is clothing or robe. As stole is worn loosely drapped on the shoulder, similar to the robe, it is called a stola or stole.

Why is it called a scarf?

Scarf comes from the Old French word “escharpe”. Escharpe refers to a sash or a strip of cloth worn over the shoulder. The primary purpose of the scarf is to provide warmth on the neck by wearing it over the shoulder. That’s why it is called Scarf.


Scarves and Stoles are both popular accessories that highlight a touch of sophistication. In a way, they both can be a stylish alternative for each other but a subtle difference is their intended use and design. Scarves are functional and versatile, while stoles are more ceremonial and decorative.

Scarves offer fashionable options in a range of styles and materials, from the trendy infinity to the luxurious cashmere scarves. Stoles made from premium materials are a practical and decorative accessory in ceremonial or formal settings. Choose your cherished fashion items as per your personal style and need!

Or maybe you are looking for something very warm for winter. How about a Muffler?