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Foulard, écharpe, châle…quelle différence?

Scarf, neckerchief, shawl... What's (really) the difference?

As a scarf designer, I'm always quite surprised by the multitude of different terms that exist to describe this fabric; you've probably heard them too: scarf, shawl, stole, pashmina... so, do they refer to specific styles, or are they interchangeable? Today on the blog, let's delve into some etymology and history to try to answer this question!

Definitions & Origins

Neckerchief: (in French: Foulard, derived from the Provençal dialect word "foulat")
The dictionary informs us that a neckerchief typically refers to a lightweight fabric, made of silk or cotton, worn tied around the neck or on the head. What's interesting is that specifically in Quebec, the word "neckerchief" or “foulard’ is used as a synonym of "scarf," encompassing any fabric or knit material, regardless of the material.
Sometimes a necessity for warmth, sometimes a symbol of belonging to a group (as with Scouts), the scarf has become an indispensable fashion accessory, adding a touch of color and style to any outfit.

: (in French: Écharpe, derived from the Frankish word "Skirpa," meaning a sack made of rushes) This rustic evocation recalls the early scarves, woven from raw materials to protect against the cold.

It was worn from left to right, across the chest, and was used as a symbol in wars, with each side wearing its own color. It also served as a tool of seduction or as a rank distinction. It's often associated with warmer materials like wool. 

Today, the scarf represents a strip of fabric available in a myriad of textures, colors, and shapes, while still faithfully fulfilling its original mission: keeping us warm.

Shawl: (from Hindi/Persian "Shàl") What sets the shawl apart is its distinct shape: it's typically a triangular piece of fabric (although square ones exist), usually wider than a scarf. 

It's worn over the shoulders and back for warmth but can also be draped over the head, serving as a protective veil from the sun.

: (from the Latin "stola" and the Greek "stolê," meaning robe) Here, the religious heritage and influence are undeniable, as traditionally, the stole is a long piece of fabric worn by officiants in the Catholic/Christian/Orthodox religions. 

In everyday life, the stole, with its more casual drape (simply draped around the neck, falling loosely on either side), is akin to the term "shawl."


Pashmina : The name "pashmina" originates from the Kashmir region and the fine wool of the pashmina goat. By extension, it refers to a shawl or stole (are you still with me?) made from this material. 

Synonymous with luxury and refinement, pashmina is appreciated for its unmatched softness and warmth. It represents the pinnacle of craftsmanship, requiring skill and exceptional attention to create this textile masterpiece.


Your input is invaluable to us! Would you like Princesse & Dragon to explore even more luxurious materials like cashmere and pashmina? We're all ears!



In conclusion, you may be wondering which term I should use to describe my creations at Princesse & Dragon. Well, each of these words - scarf, shawl, stole, pashmina - tells a unique story and has its own meaning. 

At Princesse & Dragon, we cherish diversity and uniqueness, which is why we prefer to call them by names that best reflect their character and origin. 

So, whether it's a lightweight neckerchief for the finishing touch to your outfit, a cozy scarf to keep you warm, or an elegant stole for a special evening, we take pleasure in presenting them to you with love and passion. And most importantly... feel free to use these designations as you see fit. 

Thank you for being part of this exciting journey and continuing to explore this world with us!

Our collection is available : go and check it out!

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