How to wear a bandana: Bringing back the basics

Are you ready to elevate your accessorizing game and add an extra edge to your wardrobe? Discover the endless possibilities of how to wear a bandana stylishly.

Updated on May 11, 2023  |  12:53 AM IST |  540.6K
Bollywood celebrity style
How to wear a bandana: Bringing back the basics

The ultimate accessory from the 1990s and 2000s, the headscarf has been making a comeback for some time, but it's currently more in trend than ever. This accessory is almost as old as time with women from all nations, religions, and regions of the world wearing some kind of a headscarf throughout history—but its popularity as a fashion accessory ebbs and flows. However, with its renewed relevance in the fashion world, we've decided how to wear a bandana as stylishly as possible!

From Dua Lipa's monogrammed bandanas to Maria Barnard's stylish silk beach scarves, we've compiled the most functional yet fashionable ways to style a bandana, and elevate your look.

What is a bandana?

A bandana is simply just a square piece of cloth that is extremely versatile in terms of functionality and can be used in a number of ways including a headband, scarf, hairband, mask and even a wristband. It’s unisex and can be styled in a number of ways depending on your vibe and style!

They are extremely useful yet highly fashionable items that keep your tresses out of your face, shield your freshly styled hair when needed and even subtly mask your roots when you're slacking on your hair washing schedule, making it a highly versatile accessory. Also, you come off as radiating easy-breezy summer energy that instantly elevates your look.



How to wear a bandana: Step by Step Guide

Styling a bandana is an effortless process that does not require too many steps. Though there are many different ways to wear a bandanna, the most popular one is as a headband and it comes with a basic process that is easy to follow through. 

Opt for a basic square bandana that is 50-60cm wide. Fold it in half to produce two equal triangles. To wear it as a headband, arrange it on your forehead and tie it underneath your hair. Pull your hair back- however you'd like to style it, with the knot under your hair. You can also style a bandana as a scarf top, or a neck accessory with a little DIY and creativity, and a lot of bobby pins.


10 Ways To Style A Bandana

1. As A Headscarf- Styling a bandana as a classic head scarf is a timeless fashion statement that can add a touch of retro glamour to any outfit. To create this look, fold the bandana in a triangle shape, then tie the ends together at the back of your head in a knot or a bow. You can leave the knot at the back or move it to the side for a more asymmetrical look. If you're feeling a little edgy, you can always go on to tuck the loose ends of the bandana under the knot to create a clean finish. 

To elevate the look, opt for a bandana in a bold print or a bright colour that compliments your outfit. You can always finish off the look by adding statement sunglasses and bold earrings for a chic, vintage-inspired style.

2. As A Bandana Top- One of the best ways to wear a bandana is as a scarf top. Not only does this radiate major bohemian summer energy, but is also super trendy. Choose a bandana in a color or pattern that complements your skin tone and personal style. Fold the bandana diagonally to create a triangle shape, then tie it around your chest, in a knot. Make sure the bandana fits snuggly over your bust so that you're not uncomfortable. 

Pair this top with high waisted jeans or denim shorts for a playful look, and add accessories like statement earrings, layered necklaces, and oversized sunglasses to elevate the vibe. However, aim to keep the rest of your outfit simple so that the bandana top is the focal point!


3. As A Bralette- Similar to the scarf top, a bralette follows pretty much the same process but vice-a-versa. A bralette top features the knotted side at the front, while the triangular end goes at the back. This style is a great way to create a chic yet sexy outfit, and you can pair it with a maxi skirt or jeans for a fitted silhouette. Opting for a bandana top with playful prints or patterns will add more texture and dimension to your ensemble, and chunky accessories like necklaces and drop earrings will add an extra edge.

4. As A Necktie- Styling a bandana top as a neck accessory is a chic way to add a pop of color and texture to your outfit. There are a number of versatile ways to style the bandana around the neck. One of them is to fold the bandana into a triangle shape and tie it around the neck in a knot, to create an effortless look that can be paired with anything. Style it with a t-shirt and jeans for a casual day out look or a sophisticated blazer and trousers, for a formal, put together ensemble. 

Another option is to tie the bandana in a bow or knot and wear it as a choker, which adds a touch of retro flair to any outfit. Experiment with different colors, patterns, and ways to tie the bandana to find the perfect style to complement your personal vibe.

5. As A Hairband- One of the different ways to tie a bandana as a hair accessory is to style it as a hairband. Begin by folding it into a thick band, and positioning it in a way that compliments your hairstyle. Tie a knot behind your hair once the bandana is in place. You can choose to wear it at the crown of your head for a retro, pin-up-inspired look, or wrap it around a low ponytail for a more laid-back vibe. To elevate the look, opt for a bandana with a bold pattern or print, and pair it with statement earrings or bold lipstick. This simple yet stylish accessory is the perfect addition to any outfit, whether you're running errands or hitting the town.


6. As a Sailor-style Bowtie- A sailor-style bowtie is a sophisticated yet playful way to add some nautical flair to your outfit. Begin by folding the bandana in a triangle shape, then roll the two corners towards the centre to create a long strip. Next, wrap the bandana around your neck, making sure the knot is centred and snug. Adjust the tails of the bowtie to your desired length. 


The bandana's unique pattern and texture add a touch of whimsical chicness to your outfit, while the Sailor-style bowtie's structure and shape give a refined and polished finish. It's a versatile accessory that can be dressed up or down, making it perfect for any occasion.

7. As A Belt- One of the more versatile ways to use bandanas is as a belt. To do so, Start by folding the bandana into a long, narrow strip and then wrap the bandana around your waist, ensuring that the knot or tie is placed off-center to one side. You can also try knotting the bandana using a belt buckle to secure it in place, as well as add some texture and pattern to your look. The bandana's vibrant colors and intricate pattern will also help to draw the eye to your waist, whereas the belt will cinch it perfectly- overall creating a flattering silhouette. This style pairs well with high-waisted jeans or shorts and a tucked-in t-shirt, creating a cool and casual vibe with a touch of bohemian flair.

8. As A Rubberband- Replacing your basic rubber band with a DIY bandana hair tie is a sure shot way to add an instant pop of color and texture to your hairstyle. Begin by folding the bandana in a triangular shape and rolling it into a thin strip. Wrap the bandana strip around your ponytail or bun, securing it with a knot or bow. This creates a chic and effortless look that is also unique. 

To add more texture to your hairstyle, try using a bandana with a bold print or a contrasting color. You can also add some extra flair by intertwining a small section of hair with the bandana knot, giving the illusion of a seamless finish. This look is perfect for adding some fun and style to your everyday hairstyle.

9. Add It To Your Bag- Adding a scarf to your bag is a recent trend that is catching on, where the fashion mongers add an extra element of flair to their handbag by adding scarves or bandanas, and also adding personalized, custom touch in the process.

Start by selecting a bandana in a colour that complements your bag and outfit. Fold the bandana in a triangular shape and wrap it around the handle of your bag, securing it with a knot or bow. This adds a playful touch to a structured bag, and the bandana can also protect the handles from wear and tear. You can also try layering multiple bandanas or mixing prints for a bold statement.


10. As a bracelet- To wear a bandana as a bracelet, start by folding the bandana in a triangle shape and rolling it tightly from the pointed end. Wrap the rolled bandana around your wrist, tying it in a knot to secure it in place. The result is a chic and edgy bracelet that adds a pop of color and texture to any outfit. You can pair it with other wristwear, such as a chunky cuff, delicate bracelets stacked together or even a classy wristwatch. By incorporating a bandana as a bracelet, you're able to bring a touch of individuality and a streetwear-inspired aesthetic to your overall ensemble.

Bandanas are a versatile accessory that can add a touch of personality and style to any outfit. From wearing it as a headband, scarf, or necktie, to using it as a belt, bag accessory, or even a top, the possibilities of how to wear a bandana are endless. Whether you're looking to add some edge to your look or add a pop of color, a bandana is an easy and affordable way to switch up your style. With a little bit of creativity and imagination, you can transform any casual outfit into one that radiates colorful and bohemian energy, with a mix of prints and patterns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to wear a bandana?
Yes. There are many different styles of bandanas, and though initially they came with a number of connotations ranging from gang cultures to religious associations- bandanas today are simply a style statement. You can see sportsmen, celebrities and a number of fashion icons sporting bandanas on different occasions.

Who invented bandanas?
Bandanas itself have a history that may be traced back to South Asia and the Middle East in the late 17th century. The word bandana is supposed to originate from the Hindi word bandhnu, meaning to tie. However their exact invention isn't clear.

What is the purpose of bandanas?
Even though bandanas have a lot of utility including protection from the sun and wind, keeping the hair intact during travel and even shielding it from fort and dust, it is also gaining momentum as a fashion accessory that contributes to the look of the outfit.

What bandana colors to avoid?
There are many different colors and styles of bandanas that you can experiment with, and most shades should be okay to opt for. However before traveling to a location, do check for the connotations different bandana colors have as there are some places that tie certain colors to gang symbolisms.

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About The Author

A student of mass communication and journalism, Anusha enjoys nothing more than cinema and couture. A fashion enthusiast, she



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