How to Wear a Shemagh and Look Super Stylish All Year Round

You may have seen pictures of men wearing a shemagh or have friends who always manage to look great in theirs and wonder exactly what the secret is to looking stylish. The good news is that anyone can look great in a shemagh - provided you choose the right one for you and know how to style it! We’re here with a few tips to ensure you always look great in your shemagh, so keep reading and we’ll share them with you.

What is a shemagh?

A shemagh (pronounced ‘schmog’) or keffiyeh, is an Arabic headscarf, kind of like a giant cotton bandana. In arid countries, it is worn to protect the face and mouth from dust and sun, but it can be worn almost anywhere! Did you know that Australia, British, and US Special Forces issue these to their troops? That’s because the shemagh is, as well as looking stylish, a hugely practical accessory. 

If you’re traveling, it can double up as a cozy scarf, be used as a pillow or towel, and has a whole host of other uses. However, we’re going to focus on how to style your shemagh to ensure you look great no matter what the occasion. Even celebrities like Zac Efron have been seen sporting a shemagh!  For most everyday uses, you won’t be wearing your shemagh in the traditional way, wrapped around your face. Instead, you’ll probably be wearing it as more of an oversized scarf - a really stylish look!

how to wear a shemagh

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Choosing the right shemagh - what color is best?

how to wear shemagh

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If you’re wondering how to wear a bandana or shemagh, we’re about to give you some great tips on choosing the best color to go with whatever you’re wearing. Firstly, think about what outfit you’re going to be wearing - the following table should help give you some ideas:

Outfit

Color Shemagh

Casual khakis and a linen shirt

Olive green, neutrals like beige, ecru, grey, white, or black

Light-colored pants and a pastel shirt (blue or pink)

Pastels, neutrals like beige or ecru, blue, black

Jeans and a dark-colored T-shirt

Contrasting lighter shades like beige, ecru, pastels, or darker shades to complement such as olive green, navy blue, brown, or black

how to wear a keffiyeh

Image source: Hirbawiusa

As you can see, there is a whole range of different outfits you can style your shemagh with, but the most important thing to think about when choosing the right color is whether you’d like your shemagh to blend in or contrast the rest of your outfit.

keffiyeh how to wear

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As a general rule, choosing a color a couple of shades lighter or darker than your outfit is the safest bet - so if you’re wearing a black t-shirt, go for a navy blue, burgundy or olive green shemagh. For a really eye-catching look, opt for a contrasting color - such as a navy blue shemagh with a plain white tee or a brown shemagh with an olive green shirt.

How to wear the best shemagh fabric

Although you will find most keffiyeh are made of cotton, you will find those made from other materials out there. Cotton is by far the best material to opt for - not only is it easy to wash and care for but it’s also incredibly cool. This means you’ll never be too warm while wearing your shemagh, and if you’re in a hot, arid climate you can wrap it around your head or face to offer protection from sun, sand, and dust. 

shemagh how to wear

Image source: hirbawiusa

Try to steer clear of non-traditional fabrics like satin or cheaper materials like polyester - not only do these not have the weight of a traditional shemagh, they will also make you feel hot and bothered if you’re wearing them around your face or head!

How to wear a shemagh on a date

Whether you’re going on a first date, a blind date or even a third or fourth date with a person you’re interested in, ensuring you look great is important. Accessories are a key part of any outfit, and many men are choosing to wear accessories like a keffiyeh, a bandana or a hat to add a touch of style to their outfit. It takes confidence to pull off accessories - particularly bold ones like a shemagh or a bandana, but if you feel good in what you’re wearing, you’ll look great too!

how to wear keffiyeh

Image source: Hirbawiusa

Here are a few things to remember when wearing a shemagh on a date:

  • Choose a color that either contrasts or blends with the rest of your outfit. For a first date, opt for a subtle shade that coordinates with your shirt or t-shirt.
  • Try to avoid wrapping your shemagh around your face or head unless you’re on a date somewhere very hot and arid - your date wants to see your face!
  • Remember that wearing a keffiyeh on a date gives you the perfect opportunity to be a gentleman. You can offer your shemagh to your date to cover their hair if it rains or their shoulders if they get cold.
  • Make sure your shemagh is laundered, fresh and clean, especially if you plan on offering it to your date for warmth or protection from the rain!

You’ll find you can pair your keffiyeh with almost any outfit for a date, although it looks most stylish worn with a simple tee or top and jeans/pants or khakis/light-colored pants and a shirt. It’s a great way to add interest to a simple outfit, so don’t pair it with clashing patterns or bright colors. Keep your outfit classic and wear neutral shades and you’ll carry off your shemagh in style.

how to wear a shemagh

Image source: Hirbawiusa

How to wear a keffiyeh to meet your partner’s parents

Meeting your partner’s parents is always going to be a scary time, no matter how long you’ve been dating. Whether you’ve been together a month or a year, you want to ensure you look your best and make a great first impression when you finally meet the parents. This isn’t the time to experiment with outlandish colors and prints, over-the-top accessories or shoes you wouldn’t normally sport, but adding a couple of simple accessories to your look is a great way to feel and look stylish.

If you’re in a hot country - or meeting the parents on holiday - a keffiyeh can be worn around the face outdoors or as a neck scarf/bandana for a more casual meeting. We don’t recommend wearing your shemagh with a suit or to more formal events such as dinner in a fancy restaurant, but it’s great for dinner at her parents’ place, lunch out or a day at the beach.

Stick to neutral colors like black, ecru, grey and navy blue when choosing a shemagh for a date with the parents. These are smart enough to pair well with any shirt, t-shirt or top, and won’t look like you are trying too hard. One of our favourite looks is a navy blue shemagh with a white or beige shirt, while a grey or ecru shemagh pairs well with a navy blue or black top.

how to wear shemagh

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Rocking a shemagh at a concert or gig

A shemagh isn’t just for more formal events like a date or meeting your girlfriend’s parents. It can also be an edgy accessory to wear when hanging out with your friends. Next time you’re wondering what to wear to a concert, why not tie your whole outfit together with a keffiyeh? This is especially suitable for indie or rock concerts or a gig at your local bar by that cool band you’ve been dying to see. For a gig or concert, here are some of the best colors to wear:

  • Navy blue
  • Olive green
  • Black
  • Dark charcoal grey

Opting for darker colors for a gig or concert, such as black, navy blue or olive green, and pairing your shemagh with a cool band tee and jeans ensures you’ll be rocking this look all night long! 

how to wear a keffiyeh

Image source: Hirbawiusa

What socks should you wear with a shemagh?

Socks may not be the first accessory you think of to pair with your shemagh, but the socks you sport actually say more about your personality than you might think! As well as matching them to your keffiyeh, you’ll want to think about the occasion - for example, you probably don’t want to wear space-themed socks to a formal event such as a wedding or funeral, where more formal, dark-colored socks are likely to be more appropriate. We’ve chosen some of our favorite Soxy socks to wear with a shemagh and here they are!

keffiyeh how to wear

Because a shemagh is great for traveling, why not pair it with some socks for your destination? We love these Japan socks with their stylish design including many things the Land of the Rising Sun is known for. We think these would look great with a red, purple, black or navy blue shemagh.

shemagh how to wear

A black and white keffiyeh is a classic style that never goes out of fashion. Not only can you pair it with combat trousers or jeans and a tee, it also adds style to a smarter pair of khakis or pants and a shirt. We think these black and white zig zag socks would be the perfect pair to wear with a black and white keffiyeh!

how to wear keffiyeh

Red and white shemaghs seem to be a very traditional look, and if you’re planning on wearing one, why not match your socks to your shemagh? We think these red and white striped socks from Soxy are a great match, paired with some dark-colored pants and a shirt or t-shirt.

how to wear a shemagh

Sporting an olive-green shemagh with your urban-explorer outfit of khakis and a shirt? Then these dark green polka dot socks are what you need! Perfect for any Indiana-Jones wannabes, these socks will see you through exploring the pyramids in Egypt, backpacking through Nepal...or just meeting your friends for brunch on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

how to wear shemagh

Our final suggestion for socks to pair with your Shemagh is these amazing blue zig zag no show socks. Because a shemagh is a great holiday accessory, you might find yourself wearing yours while exploring a city like Dubai or riding on a jeep in the desert. Or you may just be wearing your shemagh on a hot day in downtown NYC. Either way, pairing these no show socks with a comfy pair of loafers or boat shoes will ensure you look great. When you’re wondering what to wear in 60 degree weather, these socks will keep your feet cool while matching nicely with a navy blue, black or grey shemagh.

How to wear a keffiyeh with a beard?

Think of somebody with a big beard wearing a keffiyeh and you’re sure to conjure up images of a man in traditional Arabic dress. While it’s true that the shemagh is worn widely across the UAE, it’s increasingly being worn as a stylish accessory by men with beards all over the world! Whether you’re sporting a hipster-style beard or a full, bushy beard, you can wear a keffiyeh and look stylish. 

In hot weather, your keffiyeh can be tied around your face and beard to protect your beard from sunlight, dust and sand. This not only helps to keep your beard in great condition, it prevents it from being bleached by the sun and damaged.

how to wear a keffiyeh

Image source: hirbawiusa

In cooler countries, or if you’re wearing your keffiyeh as a stylish bandana-style neck scarf rather than wrapped around your face or head, you can add to your hipster style by choosing a neutral colored shemagh in olive green, black or navy blue to go with almost any outfit.

You could even pair a dark-colored beanie with your shemagh if you’re wearing it in a colder climate, and this blog post will give you plenty of inspiration on how to wear a beanie.

keffiyeh how to wear

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Outfit inspiration for your shemagh

We know that coming up with inspiration for your outfits can be challenging, so we’ve put together this handy table which should help you pair the right color shemagh with socks, pants and a cool top. With this, you’re guaranteed to look stylish and on-trend, whilst rocking a shemagh!

shemagh how to wear

Image source: johannesbruessau

Top

Pants

Shemagh

Socks

Dark-colored (navy blue, black, etc.) shirt

Light pants such as chinos or khakis

Olive green, navy blue, beige or grey shemagh

Dark-colored socks or a subtle zig-zag or polka dot pattern

T-shirt

Jeans

Black or navy blue shemagh

Be bold and opt for crazy patterns and colors - the bolder the better!

Light shirt (light blue, pastel pink etc)

Dark pants such as charcoal grey, navy blue or black

Ecru, beige, light grey or a pastel colored shemagh

Baby pink, light blue or beige patterned or plain socks

Olive green, ecru, brown or beige linen top or shirt

Explorer-style pants (chinos, combats, khakis) in olive-green, brown or beige

Olive green, brown, beige or black shemagh

No-show socks in black, beige, brown or olive green, to keep your feet comfortable while exploring and travelling

Matching stylish shoes to your shemagh

One thing we haven’t mentioned yet is shoes. Wear the wrong shoes with your outfit and no matter how cool your keffiyeh, you’re not going to look great. It’s important to think about the season when choosing shoes, and this list should help you with a few things to consider:

  1. Will you be wearing your shoes mostly indoors or will you be doing a lot of walking outdoors in them?
  2. Will these be for summer or winter, or both?
  3. Will you be wearing your shoes in a hot country?
  4. What type of socks will you pair with your shoes (athletic, dress, no-show, etc.)?
  5. What other colors are in your outfit?
  6. Do you want your shoes to make a statement or blend in with the rest of your outfit?
  7. What occasion are these shoes for? For example dress, formal, everyday, work, casual?
how to wear keffiyeh

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Bold Society Shoes offer a range of colorful, stylish shoes that go with almost any outfit and are guaranteed to get you noticed. If you’re the kind of man who can rock a shemagh, you’ll love some of their more eclectic styles.

how to wear a shemagh

Image source: Bold Society Shoes

These red leather sneakers would look super cool with jeans, a white shirt or tee, and a red shemagh - you could even add a leather jacket, if you like.

how to wear shemagh

Image source: Bold Society Shoes

Or why don’t you try on these black and blue suede driving loafers for size? If you’re wondering what color pants to wear with black shoes, we recommend jeans, black pants, or even navy blue pants - and add a bright or dark blue shemagh to complement the blue soles of these shoes.

Of course, if you’re wearing your shemagh while traveling and you’re going to be spending a lot of time outdoors, you might want to opt for sturdier footwear like military or combat style boots or lace-up boots which will protect your feet and ensure you’re comfortable in all weathers. 

For a date, you could be bold and pair navy and orange leather wingtip dress shoes with black or navy pants or jeans, a tee or shirt and an orange or black shemagh. This would be suitable for a second or third date where you really want to show off your personality and sense of style, and you could even add a smart jacket to the look if it’s chilly.

how to wear a keffiyeh

Image source: Bold Society Shoes

Choose from any of the following styles of shoes to pair with your outfit and shemagh:

  • Sneakers
  • Loafers (for summer)
  • Derbys
  • Oxfords
  • Wingtip shoes
  • Boat shoes (for summer)
  • Lace-up boots
  • Combat boots
  • Chelsea boots

Wear your shemagh with confidence

Wearing a shemagh requires a degree of confidence, whether you are sporting yours wrapped around your face and head in a traditional style or as more of a bandana around your neck. You’ll feel much more confident if you remember the following:

  1. Anyone looking at you is probably admiring how well you manage to pair your shemagh with the rest of your outfit.
  2. Avoid wearing a red shemagh unless you’re feeling super-confident, and instead go for a darker color that will complement your outfit.
  3. Generally speaking, you should take off your shemagh indoors, as you would with any neck scarf. You can get away with wearing your keffiyeh indoors at a gig, concert or in a bar, usually!
  4. Don’t sport a shemagh to a formal event such as a ball, wedding or funeral. These types of accessories are best saved for when you’re traveling or when you want your look to be edgy and on-trend, and are not really suited for formal occasions.
keffiyeh how to wear

Image source: Hirbawiusa

Need more shemagh style inspiration?

There are loads of instagram accounts out there to follow for style inspo, and bear in mind you can wear a shemagh with almost any outfit. We’ve got a few accounts you should definitely be following for outfits you can pair with your shemagh.

  1. Hirbawiusa
  2. mensfashionstylo
  3. 1_man_fashion
  4. Johanneshuebl

Hirbawiusa

This is a great place to get shemagh inspiration. The official US reseller of Hirbawi has loads of different shemagh to choose from, from colorful styles to more traditional ones - and styles for both men and women!

shemagh how to wear

Image source: Hirbawiusainstagram

mensfashionstylo

This insta account is packed with style inspiration and we love how they put together full looks, including ideas for shoes. Add a shemagh to almost any of these outfits to make it your own - like this cool outdoorsy plaid jacket, boots, and beanie combo.

how to wear keffiyeh

Image source: mensfashionstylo

1_man_fashion

Forget suits, shirts and ties - this Instagram account is more about casual dressing and is the ideal account to follow if you’re looking for some casual style inspo for hanging out with your friends or a day off. We love that they feature real guys in real-life situations, wearing stylish outfits, as well as celebs like Jake Gyllenhaal sporting cooler than cool combos.

how to wear a shemagh

Image source: 1_man_fashion

Johanneshuebl

Olivia Palermo’s husband and instagram influencer Johannes Huebl is a German-born model who ALWAYS looks so put together it’s unreal. We love his outfit inspirations, usually with backdrops of beautiful cities to gaze at. We think he’d definitely look great in a shemagh, and his insta is the place to get instant fashion inspiration.

how to wear shemagh

Image source: johanneshuebl