Teach Your Child – There Is A Wealth in Languages

Teach Your Child – There Is A Wealth in Languages

Reading Time: 18 minutes

 

It is beneficial to teach your child multiple languages from the moment they are born, even if you aren’t fluent in the other languages you’re instilling in them. As I have lived in multiple countries and travel regularly, I’ve often said that in today’s world, true power comes not from position, but in the ability to communicate. Why wouldn’t we give our kids a leg up to be able to wield that power?


As the world grows smaller thanks to the Internet, satellite offices, shared work spaces, multi-culturalism, people marrying across racial, religious and geographical lines, etc., this issue of languages spoken (or not spoken, as the case may be) is at the forefront of how we navigate the world we live in now more than ever before.

We understand that work, life and love opportunities are not limited to our home soil. Rather, we are aware that those opportunities are spread throughout the globe – as far and wide, in fact, as the Internet (and low cost airlines) can take us.

 

 

Equipping our children with the tools to communicate in more than one language gives them a boost in life, and opens up entirely new places for them to explore – not just for personal enrichment, cultural exploration and sampling great new cuisines – but for job opportunities as well. In fact, even the businesses in your very own hometown often now require multiple languages to be spoken by employees, because partnerships with companies outside of our bubble are more and more common.

Language is the currency of the world, and the more you speak, the richer you are.

Some countries require their children to study more than one language in school for this very reason, but often that curriculum kicks in later than is ideal for a developing mind. The conclusion one can draw is that the best way to do this is at home from day one. Growing up bilingual used to only happen to children of that rare couple who spoke more than one language at the home, or if you grew up in a place where a minor dialect was spoken. Due to family units increasingly coming from a variety of backgrounds, this is happening more frequently, but surprisingly not as much as you might expect.

 

 

At this point, few people dispute that speaking multiple languages is an asset, which means that instead of asking “should we do this,” the question really becomes “how should we do this?” As someone who is only fluent in English, yet is part of a family (my husband, my daughter and myself) in which we regularly and consistently speak three different languages, I had to ask this question myself. There are many opinions as to what the right approach is to teaching your child multiple languages. Through research, conversation, interviews and my own observation over the last 21 months of raising my little girl, I can now definitively say that the only right way is to simply commit to doing it, without excuses. Everything else is just rhetoric.

A bit of background, so you understand where I’m coming from. I grew up in America only speaking English, even though my mother is from Taiwan and English is her third language (Taiwanese is her first and Mandarin Chinese is her second). I regretted being unable to communicate with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, let alone the rest of the Taiwanese people, every time I went to Taiwan as a child, which we did quite often. I decided to move to Taiwan and learn Chinese when I finished university, which I did. Unfortunately I never quite became fluent, and having been gone from Taiwan for 13 years prior to having my own child (and rarely speaking it with my mother even after learning it), my Chinese got worse and worse. Even so, I vowed to teach Chinese to my baby, to give her that part of her culture that was never given to me. Plus, what a useful language to know!

 

 

But how was I supposed to do this? When Xena was born, I started speaking Chinese with her immediately. It was fairly easy, and helped me refresh my Chinese, which at this point was barely above a beginner level. One word at a time, we learned together. Since she wasn’t communicating back, my limited Chinese skills were plenty sufficient. I pointed to a dog and said “gou” with as convincing a Chinese accent as I could muster, and she nodded and smiled. I was a genius.

As she’s gotten older, and has started speaking herself, it’s become more difficult for me. More and more, I’ve been coming across vocabulary I don’t have (thank you, Google Translate!), realizing I don’t know the correct grammar for a sentence, etc. Realizing I had to stay one step ahead of the baby at every turn, I downloaded multiple Chinese language apps and practiced daily. Once she had the attention span to watch videos, I only let her watch them in Chinese (or Hebrew, my husband’s language). We got books in Chinese and I re-learned with her.

 

My husband’s Hebrew is fluent though not native, as his native Hebrew-speaking Israeli mother also chose to favor English at home with him as a baby (it was a common thing in 1980s America). He lived on and off in Israel throughout his life, and served in the Israeli Army, so now he’s able to communicate fairly flawlessly. He speaks Hebrew to our baby and has since birth.

Conventional wisdom states that a baby needs to be exposed to a language 30% of the time in order to learn it, thus allowing for 3 or 4 languages to be learned (30+30+30+10). I primarily speak Chinese with her, my husband speaks Hebrew with her, and my husband and I speak English to each other. The baby is 21 months, understands each language and speaks all three. It really is fascinating to watch her soak up each word and retain them all, while recognizing that multiple words mean the same thing in different languages.

We spend a good portion of the year traveling around Europe for work, so she’s heard a variety of other languages since she was two months old, including Bulgarian, Hungarian, French, Spanish and German. She definitely prefers Spanish (her eyes light up when she hears it spoken and she’ll stop whatever she’s doing to look around and find the source), so we have decided to introduce that as language number 4, the language that uses the last 10% of the language learning capacity. Who knows if this current information is true, but it seems to make sense to us, and – not at all shockingly – she now peppers in the occasional Spanish word or phrase alongside her trio of languages, while not replacing any of the words she already knows. We want to continue to focus on four languages as a baby/toddler, with the idea that this exposure will help bolster her brain to be able to pick up an endless number of languages as she grows up and continues to develop.

 

 

We’ve been met with a surprising amount of criticism along the way, however, but we are undeterred and sticking to our guns. The progress we’re seeing is simply undeniable, and – frankly, even if there was no proof – sometimes you have to trust your gut.

Interestingly, the criticism comes mostly from family members, and the occasional know-it-all. We’ve heard a plethora of comments, such as:

“You shouldn’t speak a language with your baby unless you’re a native speaker.”

“You’ll give them bad habits and a bad accent.”

“Why are you speaking Chinese/Hebrew with her? That’s odd.”

“You’ll confuse the child.”

“That’s too many languages.”

“You’re not consistent enough.”

“They will start to speak later.”

“They’ll have difficulty communicating in preschool when they don’t speak the same language as others.”

“It’ll make her life more difficult.”

“They don’t need (insert language here). English is enough.”

 

Sadly, I could go on.

We’ve also been given this well-meaning piece of advice often: “The most important thing is that you be consistent in which language each parent speaks, so that they only associate one language with one parent, and make sure you consistently speak only that language.”

 

 

To be clear, I don’t claim to be an expert in linguistics, nor in child development. I know what I know, what I research and what I see myself. Thus far, as I said, the results speak for themselves, and we’re pleased. She said her first word at seven months (“Duck!” in English), and has been a little chatterbox ever since, really grasping the individual languages at around 11 months when she started saying handfuls of new words each day. I stopped counting new words once she hit about a hundred in each of her three primary languages. Yes, I said each. At around 18 months, she started saying the same word in multiple languages (sometimes saying “doggie” in English, sometimes “kelev” in Hebrew, and other times “gou” in Chinese). She recognizes that they all mean the same thing. She picks and chooses which language she wants to use and when she wants to use it, but she understands all three. It’s hard to argue with that.

In response to any criticism, I say that if a child has no problem communicating his or her needs and wants, then it seems to be working, despite us not doing it the way you would have done it.

 

 

Yes, there can be ramifications to the decision to introduce multiple languages early on, but said ramifications are neither positive nor negative. For instance, it can happen that a multilingually raised child can begin speaking later than normal (whatever “normal” means). Others can confuse the various languages towards the beginning of their learning cycle until they sort them out. In both of these cases, we’re talking about things that happen when they are still young and meant to be developing. Normally, even in severe cases, by the time they pass toddler age, they’re over it. And let’s be real – while we love listening to our children talk, they haven’t developed enough to the point where what they’re saying is going to be deep and profound. The things kids say in the first couple years of their life mostly serve as cute memories, videos and stories for us… not for them. Even if they do fall into the small percentage of children who experience one of the above situations (or any other), the benefits that come with the skills they’ve acquired once they finish going through that period are tremendous. Bluntly, trading the long-term benefits of language skills, cultural connectivity and brain development for us being able to hear some cute phrases we can laugh about later on is selfish, and nothing but. And most of the time, you still get the cute phrases… now you just get them in multiple languages!

 

As for the advice I get regarding consistency, or of having the child associate one language consistently with one parent, both my husband and I do our best, but – beyond not being native speakers – I can’t help but learn Hebrew as my husband is spouting it all day, and he, vice versa, is learning Chinese, so we slip into each other’s language occasionally, without even thinking about it. We jokingly say that our family speaks Chebrish, because sometimes one sentence will include all three languages. And lately, four! Xena doesn’t seem to mind.

I readily admit that it’s been challenging for me to keep speaking Chinese with her, but I won’t stop, and neither will my husband with his Hebrew. We won’t, because we believe we’re doing our child a service, not a disservice. Even if my grammar has flaws, or my accent isn’t perfect, and that gets passed down to her initially, she will have a foundation in the language, which is better than not speaking the language at all. Once she gets a little older and we enroll her in a Chinese “school” and a Hebrew “school” (at that age, they will be more like playgroups), she will start to evolve that foundation into something more organic. This should naturally help mitigate the accent, grammar and vocabulary issues that I unintentionally instilled in her early on.

 

 

As for worrying about confusing Xena, I’m not at all worried. I see her grasp each language and say more words every day. I watch as she plays with children who don’t speak any of her languages and they get along just fine. I know when she goes to school, she’ll be able to figure out which language to use with her peers, just like she’s figured out to say “dobre den” when we’re in Bulgaria, “shalom” when we’re in Israel and “adios” when we’re in Spain.

I’m just not stressing about it. I think that the “consistency” that we give her at home will be enough to help her figure things out in her little, but powerful, brain. Remember, babies are born with the maximum number of neurons they ever have throughout their life. At three years old, babies’ brains more than double in size, but they go through what’s called a synaptic pruning, which means that even though their brains are now bigger, they have less neurons firing. This is why early development matters, and why it’s recommended to introduce multiple languages early. In fact, the fastest rate of human brain development occurs between the ages of zero and three, so hurry!

 

 

Of course, research and science are ever-changing, and each human is different. Being a parent means knowing your child and assessing what they’re capable of. It also means being able to really pay attention and observe in order to see what does and does not work for your specific offspring. Babies and toddlers are capable of so much – far more than people give them credit for. Let’s give them a chance, and they will learn as many languages as we possibly can teach them.

 

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Emily Ramraz’s TravelMomma – Episode 1: Flying With Baby

Emily Ramraz’s TravelMomma – Episode 1: Flying With Baby

Reading Time: 15 minutes

I’ve watched time and time again as friends and family have completely changed their lives once they’ve had a baby. They stop socializing, their hobbies fall by the wayside and instead of listening to the music they love, children’s tunes play in their car. Where they once watched “Breaking Bad”, they now watch “Sesame Street” – nice outfits remain untouched, instead opting for comfy threads. Pre-Baby, I swore that wouldn’t be me, haha little did I know there’s a reason these things happen once Baby arrives. Babies, magical creatures that they are, monopolize all of your time, sap you of the energy you need to focus on yourself and shift your priorities. As a result, I’ve fallen victim to many of these things – my hobbies, grooming, TV shows and social life have all taken a hit… but due to my work (and my husband’s), there’s one thing we cannot allow to stop: Traveling.

We have no choice but to travel often, travel far and often travel wide. We’ve been on the go with little Xena since she was born. At 8 weeks, we took her from Israel to Bulgaria. Then a few months later, we went to Paris, then Barcelona, then Budapest. All of these were relatively easy trips, being that we were based in Europe. Which brings us to our first (dreaded) Trans-Atlantic flight, followed by a cross-country flight across America. Add to that a few train rides and interstate car trips along the way, another Trans-Atlantic flight, a few more trips within the EU, yet another Trans-Atlantic flight (and back again!), and now here we are! Phew. That exhausts me just writing it.

To put that in perspective, we’ve recently taken our 21st flight in the 18 months since Xena came into our lives, which provides the experience for me to be able to give a piece or two of advice about the subject. Let you learn from my mistakes. So, without further ado, here are my top five tips for traveling with Baby.

1) The Carry On: Baby Carriers To The Rescue

Oh, the joys of the baby carrier! It is truly a life saver (or, more accurately, a back saver!). Many people suggest putting your little one into a stroller (pram) for transport across the airport, since they can often roll right up to the airplane door (which is great), but wearing Baby on you allows you to take even more advantage of the stroller by loading it up like it’s a luggage cart! On our last trip, with Baby on my front, our stroller carried her diaper bag, my husband’s backpack, my backpack, both of our coats, my purse and one full-sized carry-on bag. It was the freest I’ve felt walking through an airport in years. A few things to consider when selecting a baby carrier. First, I suggest using one that allows for hands-free options, which means you should focus on buckle carriers as opposed to ring slings, pouch slings, mei tais or wraps. There are exceptions, but I’m speaking in general. Second, get one that has solid head support. You will inevitably be leaning over multiple times – going through security, waiting in line, etc. – and you want Baby’s head and neck to be safe (not to mention, it enhances just how hands-free you truly are). Lastly, if you can avoid carriers that require infant inserts, do. This isn’t the biggest deal most of the time, but because you have to take the carrier off to go through security and then stow it (at some point) when you get on the plane, the more pieces there are to it, the more likely it is that something will get lost or left behind. Keep it simple. My go-to carrier is the Lille Baby. It’s aces on all of the above, plus has lumbar support (!) and allows you to safely wear Baby facing out when of age. On top of all of that, for those that care about such things, it also is fashionable. People comment on its design to me regularly. Highly recommend.

2) Snack Time: Breastfeeding Cures All Ails

I watch mothers lug extra bottles, formula and nipples, worry about hygiene and struggle to find clean water at the right temperature, often forgetting that they have a baby snack machine built in… breasts! Of course, there are mothers that cannot do so, and this does not apply to them, but for the rest of us, when you fly with baby, keep this mantra in mind: Lighten your load as much as possible. If Baby is under 6 months old and not yet on solids, you don’t need anything but you, which makes life very easy. If you go this route, be sure to wear a shirt that allows for easy access – I find a button-down works best. This isn’t just for when you get on the plane, but even when you’re rushing through the airport or standing in line. When coupled with the right carrier (see #1), Baby can nurse whenever she wants and no one will even know you’re breastfeeding. This technique is guaranteed to make Baby feel safe throughout all the chaos of the place (and there’s plenty!). Also, if you nurse on take off and landing, it will help Baby’s ears from the pressure. Hint: Make sure to time it right. I used to start nursing too early and she’d finish before we actually took off. Wait for the plane to start rolling towards a proper lift off, and you should be good to go.

3) Bags, Bags, Bags: The Hidden Luggage Allowance

Babies under 2 fly for free in the United States. In Europe, you’ll pay 10% of a standard fee, even if the baby is sitting on your lap. Most people know this, but what the airlines don’t tell you is that babies have luggage rights, too! Of course, you get to gate check a stroller or car seat and you can bring a diaper bag onto the plane worldwide, but in the EU, Baby also gets her own checked bag (sometimes bags plural). On some airlines, Baby gets a full-sized suitcase of his or her own, and on others, the checked bag can be up to 10kg. Because of the discrepancies, double check with your airline, but we’ve never encountered a single airline that didn’t have this policy. On the other hand, we’ve never purchased an infant ticket where this information was readily available or provided to us, and in talking to other parent travelers, we were shocked how many people simply had no idea this was an option. More than that, many airline employees aren’t aware of this policy either, which has been interesting. I’ve taken to saving a screenshot of the infant baggage policy from their own website on my phone to show those workers not in the know. This is a right, and don’t let them deny it to you.

4) Rest Easy: The Elusive Baby Bassinet!

This is another free item offered by airlines, but not widely publicized. It often seems that airlines have the tools that make your life easier, but don’t want you to know about them. You can “reserve” a baby bassinet right when you book your ticket, both over the phone and online. I put quotes around “reserve” because just reserving the baby bassinet alone does not always – ironically – reserve the baby bassinet. There are a limited number of seats available on any flight that are equipped with the connectors that allow for a bassinet to be hung (depending on the size of the plane, there can sometimes even just be two available on the whole flight). Normally, I would say it’s first come, first served, but I’ve discovered that this is just not the case. When it comes to the bassinet, the person that is the most persistent, wins. A travel agent friend of mine told me to call right after purchasing my ticket to confirm that the request went through, and then to call once a day for three days prior to the flight to confirm that the request was still in the system. Once you check in, confirm verbally with the agent, and then mention it one final time when you arrive at your gate. I know it’s a lot, but when we didn’t go through the entire process, we did not get it. Hint: While I’ve seen babies sleep soundly in a plane’s baby bassinet, our little angel won’t even sit in the thing. Regardless, it is unbelievably helpful in terms of keeping drinks, food, iPads, toys, diapers, wipes, etc. off the floor, so I still recommend getting this, if you can.

5) Timing Is Everything: Choosing When You Fly Can Make All The Difference

We’ve taken so many flights where we haven’t had the luxury of picking the time of departure. This nightmare scenario has taught us a thing or two about how much certain times can make for a cranky baby. Each child is going to have their own internal clock and peccadillos, but for me, when given the option, I always go for a mid-morning flight. If you’re not sure what your baby will like, start with this, when possible. Baby will have almost a full night of sleep and be in a good mood for a hefty portion of the flight. Some people suggest night flights, but for many babies, the sheer chaos and distractions of flying keeps them from sleeping even when exhausted. This makes for a cranky baby when you get to the airport, while on the plane and even when you finally arrive at your destination. If your baby can sleep whenever and wherever, then by all means, book the red eye, but be sure you know his or her sleep schedule, or else this can backfire. Hint: Keep in mind that the time of departure is not the time to take into consideration. With car or train travel time to the airport, and the standard two to three hours you’re supposed to arrive before your flight, think about what time you will need to leave home, not what time you’re going to be taking off.

Bonus Tip: Toy Extravaganza!

This is a tip that came my way through my husband’s wonderful cousin, Rachel, and now I cannot imagine not using it whenever I fly a long distance. Go to the Dollar Store (aka Pound Shop, Two Euro Store, 100 Yen Store, ad infinitum all over the world) and buy a big bag worth of cheap, disposable toys. I usually buy twenty or so of them. This is a spectacular method of distraction for your little bub who doesn’t have the longest attention span. It’s important not to let them see the toys beforehand, so that each new trinket is an unmitigated surprise. It’s equally important to only dole them out one at a time. Each time Baby gets bored with whatever toy he or she has, simply stow it and pull out another shiny (as in new) object to occupy their time. This way, you don’t need to expect patience, since each toy comes with a built-in round of new attention. Even better – if you’re like me, and don’t like to accumulate too many toys at home – at the end of the trip, you can just toss the toys that were used, if you so desire, without breaking the bank.

There are, of course, many more tips on flying with Baby that I could provide, but – as space is limited – this is a good place to stop. These top five (plus one) should provide you with the tools to make flying with Baby less stressful than ever. Get ready to be Zen and add the lust back into wanderlust. Bon voyage!

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WorldEater – Le Bouchon Bordelais, Bordeaux

WorldEater – Le Bouchon Bordelais, Bordeaux

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Food is a passion of mine, and I adore discovering new places to eat when travelling. I have even been known to jump on a plane just to experience a new restaurant or type of cuisine.  When home based I explore random eateries – and if I can discover a new culture whilst I am at it, all the better.

When I’m traveling, I also like to explore the history, people, art, and the best way to ‘taste’ a region is through their food.

Over the course of the life of this blog, I will be taking you to different countries and cities, some may be a short hop from where you live, others further afield. The food will vary in taste, culture and cost and a blog could detail an entire meal, or may expound on the merits of a perfect cup of espresso.

I will go everywhere and take you with me, and perhaps inspire some adventures, either in travel or new food experiences.

So, as this is our inaugural journey, and as I love a good wine pairing, I thought I would start with a place known for its fermented grape libations – Bordeaux, France.

The food in Bordeaux is exquisite. Even the places I stumbled upon were incredible.
Perhaps because Bordeaux is famous for its wines, it attracts the most discerning wine lovers.

The restaurant owners subsequently understand that their food needs to stand up to the quality of the wine, and as a result, you get truly beautiful meals all over the city, and since it’s France, much of it is done seasonally, which is even better.

I begin with a little gem I happened upon while sauntering around the cobblestone streets of Bordeaux with a group of close friends, trying to enjoy the time as my baby slept in her buggy. Luckily for us, this place had a couple of tables outside, and the weather was crisp but not cold, and we enjoyed the fresh air as we dined.

 Le Bouchon Bordelais
https://www.bouchon-bordelais.com/

The passion of Chef Frédéric Vigouroux, feels at first like a quintessential French bistro with a menu filled with tried-and-true classics.

However, upon closer inspection, I realized it was far from typical.  The waiters were patient and friendly, and didn’t pressure us at all to order or finish our meal.

They even spoke some English, a rarity in the City, which helped tremendously when Google Translate froze up or when we couldn’t connect to WiFi, as our French was very rusty.

The first thing the waiters do on arrival is to bring over a portable blackboard with the menu written on it in chalk. They explained that they do not have paper menus because the dishes they offer change daily, both for lunch and for dinner. Each meal, they offer up consists of le soup, le saladier, poisson, viande et le dessert (soup, salad, fish, meat and dessert, but it sounds so much better in French).

Every once in a while, depending on their fresh find that day, they also offer up la grilladea beautifully cut, marbled and cooked steak.

They had some fantastic recommendations, and, of course, appropriate and beautiful wine pairings to go along with them. As there were three of us in total, and in an effort to try as many dishes as possible – we ordered a selection for us all to share – soup, two salads and a large fish dish.

I’ll break down each dish, to give you an idea of the content, Like I said, if you go, you probably won’t be able to emulate the meal we had, but you’ll be able to have a new experience with the same level of quality and craftsmanship.

The start of my infatuation was in the form of a velvety pea shoot soup. Floating like an island in the middle of a delicious, bright green ocean was a huge dollop of fresh goat Chantilly cream. For those of you who don’t know what that is (as I didn’t), it’s a salty sweet cream, whipped to smooth oblivion. It was perfect. And by the way, when I say there was a “dollop” of cream, I mean it took up half the bowl and was covered in chopped herbs (mmmmmm, chives). It was so scrumptious, even my baby scarfed it down eagerly (and that’s no easy feat!).

This was followed up by the first salad, a spring bruschetta (bruschetta printanière), which is a perfectly crisp piece of crunchy toast topped by a delectable combination of chunky cucumbers, succulent tomatoes and cured meat, with an uber-fresh green leaf salad on the side. What made this salad stand out from all the other “topped toast” dishes I’d had in the past, aside from the sheer quality of the ingredients, were three things: 1) the perfectly soft-boiled egg served alongside the toast, 2) the super fresh chimichurri-style dressing ladled liberally over the top of the proceedings and 3) much like the pea soup, the dish was covered in herbs and fresh cream, tying it all together beautifully, while providing little bursts of unexpected added flavor.

Then came salad number two, which was an unbelievable pasta dish with huge, fresh-made conchiglioni seashell pasta topped by a fresh herb pesto, with sprigs of parsley scattered throughout. Lest I forget the best part, it is also paired with a chopped, gorgeously crispy veal, making this salad feel more like a fully fledged entrée than a modest interim dish.

Conchiglioni is one of my favorite types of pasta, because it is designed to do two things – make sauce stick to it, and make other ingredients get trapped inside of it. Which means that every forkful is a perfect bite. And this did not disappoint in achieving that level of perfection. It almost feels unfair to merely call it a pasta salad.

Finally, we reached our closer. Again, calling it simply a fish dish seems to diminish what we were served. Yes, it was a wonderful piece of hake, a white fish from the cod family, but it almost felt like that fish mated with a shepherd’s pie and this dish was born. The base of the dish was a smooth and fluffy potato mash filled with fresh spring onions and various herbs and spices. Sitting in the midst of the mash was the hake, flaky and creamy, which was sprinkled with beautiful greens. Perched atop all of it were meaty stalks of chunky white asparagus. It brought the idea of a fish pie to a whole new level for me, which makes sense because this chef has been known to say that fish is his favorite thing to cook.

In finality, the meal was one of the best I’d had anywhere in the world. I’m sure it was because everything there is super fresh, in season, properly prepped, flawlessly seasoned and cooked to perfection. I’m equally sure too that it’s because Chef Vigouroux cares so much about his food, his patrons and the entire experience of dining at his establishment. Overall, Le Bouchon Bordelais was a huge success, and a place not to miss when you take that trip to the ultimate wine capital of the world!

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Emily’s Fashion Hack – SCARF SEASON – THE ULTIMATE STYLE TWISTER

Emily’s Fashion Hack – SCARF SEASON – THE ULTIMATE STYLE TWISTER

Reading Time: 10 minutes

How wonderful it is to be in the midst of the season for scarves (as if there’s only one season… but we’ll get to that)!

I recently made a major house move, so had to go through my closet to reorganize my clothes. I had a hard time making decisions on what to throw out, as I’m still working on losing those last 15 pounds of baby weight – (eek – baby is actually 18 months old)! As a result, I ended up bagging and boxing some items, and putting them in storage for when I do shed those last couple of inches around my middle.

Having said that, I’ve actually come to terms with my new curves and I’ve purchased a few new wares in my lovely, current, baby hip-holding size, and (luckily) a good portion of my tops fit me once again. Being a designer and a fashion lover, I have actually figured out a way for my new wares to stand up to the wardrobe I had pre-baby.

I’ve never been the person who buys a new wardrobe every year and donates last season’s garbs to charity.   I’m actually someone who shops for items here and there, buying a garment when I fall in love with it, or when I have an occasion and need something new.

I tend to keep my clothes and wear them for years, restyling them as the seasons and the trends change. Some items I have had long enough to see them go out of style and then come back into fashion.

I’m also a huge advocate of layering – probably because I hail from New York, a place with a harsh winter and four full, glorious seasons.

Why toss that glittery, gold tank top from your college clubbing days away when you can layer it under a classy, fuzzy ivory cashmere sweater and get a peek of shimmer at the waist and at the shoulder straps?

But I digress, as this article is supposed to be about scarves, and I am just preparing you for the other topics in my series, so watch this space because there is a lot more to come.

So back to the scarves. As I embark on another autumn/winter with this new limited wardrobe at my disposal, I am faced with the eternal question… how do I liven up my closet without spending a fortune? Luckily for me, I’ve accumulated quite a collection of scarves in my time. Scarves are a true wardrobe workhorse. They’re the ultimate article of clothing that should stay put in your wardrobe.

They do not have to be replaced during pregnancy, and though the chillier months are known to be “scarf season,” they actually have such versatility that you can use them as a lifesaving accessory all year long.

Keep your hair up and out of your face in summer with a light silk scarf. Channel your inner Audrey Hepburn and cover your head in the storms of spring. In colder autumn and winter days, you can wear them in the usual way, around your neck for warmth, but there are endless ways to wear a scarf that can liven up any outfit, any time of year. And you can wear them anywhere you please, as well! Use scarves as a necklace, as a hair band or tie. As a bracelet, a belt, a head cover, a shawl. Tie one around the hips to accentuate a skirt. Even when worn traditionally around your neck, there are countless methods of securing them. Their uses are endless, as are their abilities to transform an outfit. The scarf truly does take a drab, boring look and make it exciting. You can add a pop of color to an otherwise monochromatic look. Bring in a pattern to offset solids, or – if you’re daring enough – mix and match different patterns by adding a wild scarf. Wear a scarf up by donning a fine-fabric one with beaded embellishments, or wear it down by using a well-loved cotton voile paired with jeans.

What I’m trying to say is simply this: Move your scarves to the front of your closet. Mix and match them. Wear them in whatever way strikes your fancy. Expand the options that exist for you without shopping for whole new outfits. Get creative with your wardrobe, and have fun while doing it. I know I will! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go dive into a big pile of scarves…

 

French Knot: my favorite.

This is a classy, beautiful and timeless look that never goes out of style.


1.Take a long scarf and fold it in half lengthwise


2.Drape it around your neck so loop and ends are at your front


3.Take one part of the loose end and put it through the loop, over one side and under the other.


4.Take the other loose end and put it through the loop in the other direction – under the one side and over the other, then adjust to desired tightness and length.

 

The Belted Scarf: a wonderful way to show off your favorite scarf.

I love it now, in my current post-baby state because some of my tops still fit a little snug, but not enough to retire, so wearing a scarf in this way hides some of those unwanted creases and bulges (no need for that shaper underwear here)!


1.Start with a long light to medium weight scarf that has a fringed edge


2.Drape over shoulders, and adjust length so both edges are even


3.Take a belt and secure at the natural waistline


4.Tug scarf to tighten beneath the belt

 

The V-Neck Front Knot: if a cowgirl went to Paris this is what she’d come away with.
A chic and fun way to wear a scarf that also keeps you warm.


1. Take a medium to large square silk scarf and fold in half diagonally, to form a triangle


2. Wrap it around your neck with the fold at your chin and the tip of the triangle pointing down


3. Take the other two corners around your neck and bring back around to your front


4. Tie the two corners in a double knot slightly to one side, then fluff for desired fullness

 

The Infinity Necklace: a flirty, fun and oh-so-easy look.
This may be the scarf combination I get the most compliments on. Simple, different and playful.


1. Take a medium to long rectangle scarf and tie the ends together


2. Put it over your head with the knot at the back of your neck


3. Loop the scarf around your neck again


4. Leaving the knot at the back of your neck, adjust one part to be tight, like a choker (but not too tight!) and the other part loose, like a long necklace

Stay tuned for more of Emily’s Fashion Hacks on GloTIME.tv

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