Out with the old, in with the new. That’s how the saying goes, and I heartily agree.

For a large part of my adult life, January has been my favorite month. I welcome the quiet that January brings after a long month of hustle-bustle holiday festivities, shopping and decorating. As soon as Christmas is over, I can hardly wait to take down all the holiday decor, get my house back in order and set my sights on the rest of the year.

Many people look forward to propping their feet up with a hot cup of tea while they pour through seed catalogs. Either they are die-hard gardners or wanna-bes who, with all the best intentions, know that this year they are going to finally get that first garden going. Personally, the publications I look forward to are the decorating magazines that feature a winter white theme. I love the inviting magazine covers that lure me inside with pages of photos filled with chunky sweaters and wool-textured blankets all in various shades of cream and white. My heart skips a beat when I see photos of white laces side by side with ironstone and milky canvas slipcovered sofas. These January issues get me in the mood to redecorate and pare down my possessions. I really do strive to have open spaces and a creamy white interior just like Rachel Ashwell’s.

January is also when the knitting begins. Since life is much quieter and less hectic, I have time to pull out my creamy white yarns (or purchase new ones, yea!) and load up my needles to commence a new knitting project. My favorite thing to knit is scarves, mainly because that’s all I can knit. I haven’t really got the nerve to learn how to read patterns. They scare me. I think my fear is of failing-that I really won’t be brainy enough to actually figure out the knitting key, codes or whatever they are called. Some day I will ask a seasoned knitter to sit down with me and give me ‘how to read a pattern’ lessons. But, until then, I will continue on, knitting my lengthy wraps, pretending to be a faux French gal.

Now that I’ve broached the subject of scarves, lets discuss them a bit. I love scarves for several important reasons. When I have one around my neck, it detracts attention from my hips and mid-section. Being a curvey gal, this is a nice plus. A scarf in a pretty color can frame the face and bring out the eyes. That can’t be all bad. Neckwear is our friend. And just like a woman, it can multi task. They can keep us warm, give us an aura of sophistication and, at the same time, balance out a big belly or butt.

My friend Cindy has a daughter who studied in Italy for one semester during her junior year of college. Susan told her mother about the Italian women and the type of fashion they all seemed to follow. La donna’s wore boots and scarves during the cold weather. Just like French women, fashionable scarves are also worn over tops and sweaters for a very chic look. Just last month, Cindy met me at a party wearing a very colorful scarf draped around her neck, giving her the presence of a sophisticated French woman. I loved her look so much, I had an urge to run out at that moment to purchase an equally sexy scarf so I, too, could achieve that same savoir faire. It may not be politically correct these days to desire to be French or even French-like, but you can’t deny that Parisians do have the right idea when they employ a simple scarf to bring about a look of utter, total fashion togetherness. Imagine how sophisticated you might feel if you sipped coffee in a restaurant, while reading the paper or typing on your laptop with a scarf softly looped around your neck. Oui oui, ohhlala and all of the above.

Scarves can be relatively inexpensive if you seek them out from the proper low cost sources. Every time I take a girlfriend getaway trip to New York City, I drag my travelling buddy to China Town or the street fairs in Little Italy to stock up on Pashminas where I can purchase them for around $5 each. (Once I found a fabulous designer silk scarf on the ground while walking through Times Square. I scooped it up, feeling like it was there waiting for me to find it and take it home to Chicago. How lucky to have scored such a find. It smelled so good, probably just like the woman who wore it. She obviously had equally as good taste in perfume as she did silk scarves.) I also love the thrill of the hunt when I get in the mood to search for them at my local thrift shop or second hand boutique where I’ve been lucky enough to find one for a song in a fabulous color, pattern or better yet, a designer label.

If you haven’t already, give a colorful, delightful scarf a chance to wrap itself around you and work its magic. You might feel amazingly French for a few moments, until you morph back into the amazingly fantastic you. Happy January!

Click here to learn how to fashionably tie a scarf once you find the perfect one.

This is me wearing the scarf I found on the ground in Times Square. It still smells like the Chanel cologne worn by it’s previous owner.

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