When filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich passed away earlier this year, I immersed myself in his work as much as I could. That means watching a few movies he directed, all of which I’ve seen over and over again. But Bogdonavich — because of his output, but also because of the mystery he has created for himself that people can describe as “witty, debonair and cocksure“And it wasn’t silly — it meant a lot to me, so I decided to take it one step further in my tribute. I went to my drawer, pulled out one of the towels I kept in there, folded it into a triangle, rolled it, and tied it around my neck – the same way Bogdanovich always wore them, in the fashion that had become his brand. I thought I’d do it for the day, but then I did it, over and over, and suddenly, the bandana/ascot/scarve is something I still do on a regular basis.
Coming across any kind of scarf can be daunting. Lately, we’ve seen men wearing everything from long necklaces to “Kooky cutleryWith colorful beads or charms. But the scarf – sometimes a simple cotton shawl, sometimes a proper silk shawl – feels like something a little more intense. Maybe that’s because it has a long famous history: Bogdanovich has made it his thing for decades, as have Marlon Brando and James Baldwin. More recently than Tyler, the Creator was seen wrapping a handkerchief around his neck, as well as Harry Styles. Big shoes (big neck?) For filling.
A certain amount of bandana apprehension makes sense. It’s an accessory associated with cowboys and train robbers. Perhaps Axl Rose or Tupac will come to mind. Guys who like western clothes tend to like to wear scarves; kind of writer like me…no. And so Bogdanovich is the perfect model for the bandana: he started out as a film critic and then turned to be a director. Sometimes I’ll write about the movie, not the director. But we both wear glasses, the guys look pretty Jewish. It’s not like a big leap.
Personally, I like the bandana that is rolled up when wearing it open like you’re about to rob a bank in the old West. And I prefer a real bandanna over a scarf or a turtleneck because it feels a little lighter. This is an important distinction for me, as for Peter Bogdonavich: When pressed in interviews, he always notes that it is a bandanna and Not an ascot. Ascot is a good accessory, but it’s not for everyone. They’re not for Bogdanovich, and I don’t think they’re for me either. I like to think I’m fancy, but I don’t. As he put it once, wearing a bandanna “seems like a good thing to do.” It’s a nice and simple philosophy in general for dressing: think about whether it’s pretty and start there.