To some people, the difference between a scarf and a stole may not seem like much. In fact, these words are often used interchangeably. In the fashion world, however, they are almost always considered to be two different things.
While both are usually rectangular in shape and provide warmth and a splash of style, scarves and stoles do have their differences. Stoles are typically bigger than scarves, and they are worn around the arms and shoulders. Many times, a stole is saved for fancier occasions. Scarves are usually smaller, and they are worn around the head or neck.
A stole is considered to be a type of lady's shawl or long scarf. It is usually wider than a scarf, and it may be longer as well. Stoles are typically bigger because they are usually worn differently than a scarf. A stole is designed to cover a lady's shoulders and arms. Fur is a popular material for a stole, and they are often saved to wear over dresses and ball gowns for fancier occasions.
In Western civilizations, fur stoles were very popular at one point, and they were considered a sign of wealth by many. These could be either a plain rectangle, or the head and feet of the animal could still be attached. A variety of different animal furs can be used to make a fur stole, but because of the growing awareness of animal rights, many are now made from faux, or fake, fur.
A scarf is a long piece of cloth worn for warmth, fashion, and religious reasons. Sometimes, they may be longer than a stole. For example, an extra long scarf may be around seven feet (over 2 meters) in length. A scarf almost always has a smaller width than a stole though. Scarves are usually worn around the head or neck. They are considered by many people to be more casual than a stole.
Knit and fleece scarves are often worn in the winter to keep warm, and they make popular cold weather gifts. Scarves of lighter material, such as silk or satin, are typically worn in the warmer months. The purpose of a lightweight scarf is not necessarily to keep warm, but to keep up with the current fashion trends.
Scarves and stoles both may have fringe at the ends. This fringe may be simple, or it can be embellished with beads or other decorations. Fabric patterns can range from simple solid colors, paisley or plaid, prints, or even tie-dyed.