How to Wear a Bandana – A Style Guide

No longer the domain of 80s rockers and musicians, the bandana is coming back in a big way – but would you know how to rock one and still look cool? For those wondering how to wear a bandana, we’re about to fill you in with some great tips that will ensure you look stylish no matter what the occasion. When it comes to how to wear bandanas, all the info you need is right here. So whether you’re rocking out at a gig like Axl Rose or heading off on a sophisticated date, keep reading to find out all you need to know about wearing a bandana.

What is a bandana?

A bandana is a large square or triangular piece of fabric that can be made out of many different materials, from cotton to silk. You might also hear it called a kerchief, although that’s less common nowadays. Traditionally bandanas were worn around the head or neck, and as well as being a fashion accessory, they were designed to provide protection from the sun and other elements. Today they’re more likely to be worn purely for fashion and have never really lost their ‘bad boy rocker’ image. That doesn’t mean you can’t wear a bandana if you’re a sophisticated gent – it’s all about the style and how you wear it! A bandana can be worn around the neck, head, or wrist. It can hang from your waist or even be used as a pocket square. Classic styles were a bold color with a white paisley print, but today you’ll find a wide variety of different colors, patterns, and fabrics to choose from.

What fabric should you choose?

The type of fabric you pick for your bandana is really a personal choice, but it’s a good idea to think about the occasions where you’re planning on wearing your bandana. While we don’t recommend rocking a bandana to the office – unless your workplace has a super casual dress code – you can get away with wearing one almost anywhere else where a casual or semi-casual dress code is in force.

Bandana fabric and sizeOccasion
Silk or satin, regular sizeSmart casual occasions such as a date or meal out with friends
Cotton, regular sizeEveryday wear for hanging out with friends, a gig or music festival
Any fabric but a larger sizeSmart casual wear as a scarf for a date or hanging out

Generally speaking, the smarter the occasion, the richer the fabric—for smart-casual events or occasions, a silk or satin bandana should be worn, while for every day, a cotton one (either plain or patterned) will be just fine.

How to wear bandanas: 5 ways to rock this look

There are loads of different ways to wear a bandana, so we’ve got 5 great ways to rock this look that will leave you looking super stylish. 

  1. Around your head
  2. Around your neck
  3. Around your wrist
  4. As a pocket square
  5. From your waist

Let’s take a look at each of these and give you a bit more info!

Around your head

Think of 80s rock gods like Axl Rose and Bon Jovi, and you’re likely to remember (if you’re old enough!) them wearing bandanas with almost everything. It takes a certain amount of attitude to carry off a bandana around your head—it’s a bold look that won’t suit shy and retiring types. This is the style for rock and roll types, musicians, and creatives – anybody that loves to dress a little differently and stand out in a crowd. If you’re a battered leather jacket and ripped jeans kind of dude, wearing a bandana around your head is going to suit your style perfectly. A bandana around the head works great with long hair, too, as it helps keep it out of your face while looking rockin’. This is also an excellent look for a music festival, gig or concert, but you need to ensure you find the perfect bandana to wear. 

Opt for a cotton bandana and make sure it’s big enough to fit around your head! You can choose neutral shades like black or gold or a more vibrant color, or a bold black and white bandana for a classic rocker look.

Around your neck

Wearing a bandana around your neck is a super-easy way to introduce the bandana into your wardrobe without looking like a fashion victim. If you’re not entirely confident rocking a bandana around your head or on your wrist, this is the way to style yours. Wearing a bandana around the neck suits almost anyone, and it’s a great look for casual or smart casual occasions. Opt for bold brights like red or orange to add a pop of color to a neutral outfit like chinos and a shirt, or wear softer, more neutral tones with a colorful outfit. If you have a larger bandana, you can simply wear it as a light scarf with almost anything you own.

Around your wrist

Is your style edgy, filled with attitude, and a little bit badass? Then wearing a bandana around your wrist is the style for you. This look is meant to be messy and a bit undone, so don’t iron your bandana and tie it perfectly around your wrist. This gives any outfit a rockstar, 80s vibe that’s great for gigs or music festivals. Ideally, you should choose a dark-colored bandana with a striking print, like skulls, for example. 

As a pocket square

A bandana can double up as a pocket square for smart-casual occasions, but don’t forget to iron it first! Nobody wants a creased, rumpled bandana poking out of their jacket pocket. For a pocket square, your bandana shouldn’t be too bulky, as it won’t sit neatly in your jacket pocket. Choose a satin or silk material that’s nice and thin; simply fold it and place it in your pocket. You can keep things subtle so that your bandana blends with the rest of your outfit, or opt for a patterned style or bright color so that it contrasts.

Hanging from your waist

Wearing a bandana hanging from your waist is fast becoming popular as it’s an easy way to rock a bandana without looking over-styled. A bandana hanging from the waist can add a pop of color to your outfit and gives a less edgy vibe than wearing a bandana on your head. Super easy to wear, just tuck your bandana into your waistband, belt, or pocket, or tie it around your belt loop. You can wear any fabric, style, or color of bandana you want with this look to blend in or contrast with your pants and shirt.

How to tie a bandana around your neck

In the past, we’ve helped you out with tips on how to wear a beanie and a whole host of other cool accessories. So if you’re wondering how to wear a bandana around your neck—stop right there! It doesn’t have to be tricky, and we’re here to help. Remember that wearing a bandana requires a certain laidback, confident attitude. Get that right, and you can pull off a bandana effortlessly. Here’s how to wear a bandana around your neck:

  1. Twist your bandana along its length
  2. Place it around your neck
  3. Tie a knot at the front (and leave the ends dangling free)
  4. Alternatively, you can wear your bandana knotted at the back with a corner loose at the front for a more edgy, cool vibe.

That’s not the only way to wear a bandana around your neck, though. You can wear larger bandanas as a scarf for a more everyday look if you don’t feel confident enough to wear one tied around your neck.

How to tie a bandana around your head

It’s essential to get things right when tying a bandana around your head so that you don’t look like you’re trying too hard! Be confident and laid back, and you’ll carry off this look effortlessly. Here’s how to tie a bandana around your head:

  1. Lay your bandana flat
  2. Fold it lengthwise a few times until you have a long rectangle
  3. Tuck in the loose edges 
  4. Tie around your head
  5. Rock on!

Bear in mind that this is easiest with a larger bandana, and cotton is the easiest fabric to work with here. Silk and satin fabrics look great but can be more difficult to tie and hold in place.

When should you wear a bandana?

You can wear a bandana for casual or smart casual wear, which means although it’s probably not suitable for a job interview or wedding, you can get away with wearing it almost anywhere else! There are a few things you should bear in mind when choosing the right bandana, depending on the occasion, though.

Smart casual outfits

A bandana is an excellent accessory for a date. It’s a way to add a touch of personality to your outfit. Women notice the little details, so choose the right bandana, and you’re practically guaranteed a second date! Pair your bandana with a white shirt and chinos on those hot summer days or opt for smart jeans, a tee, and a suit jacket, with a bandana tied around your neck.

For smart casual outfits, it’s best to avoid cotton bandanas and opt for a silk or satin fabric, something that’s not too bulky and has a bit of sheen to it. The added bonus of these fabrics is that they’re easy to iron for wearing from your waist or as a pocket square. If you’re going for a printed bandana, look for something subtle like polka dots, stripes or paisley. 

There are a few things to bear in mind when it comes to choosing the right color bandana too:

Bandana colorOutfit colors
Bright colors like red, orange or yellowA neutral outfit, or something dark-colored, for example, a white tee and chinos or a black jacket and pants, and light-colored shirt
Neutral shades like cream, grey or blackAnything goes, but a neutral bandana can help tone down a more colorful
Patterned bandanas such as paisley or stripedA patterned bandana is best paired with a neutral-colored outfit such as a simple tee with jeans or chinos – add a blazer too for a smart casual look that’s hard to beat

Off-duty casual outfits

The bandana is an excellent addition to your off-duty wardrobe, and if Fall is approaching and you’re wonderingwhat to wear in 60-degree weather (aren’t we all?), then a bandana will help keep you cozy while ensuring you look stylish. In fact, a bandana is an excellent accessory for all seasons. In the summer months, pair a cotton bandana with a bold Hawaiian shirt and jeans. Throughout the fall and winter months, opt for a silky bandana paired with a striped tee, jeans, and denim shirt for a cozy yet trendy look. 

Lightweight fabrics like cotton are the most versatile if you’re planning on wearing your bandana in a variety of ways, and they tend to be larger too, so you can wear your bandana as a scarf when the temperature drops.

For casual wear, opt for a red, blue, or black bandana or add a cool print like camo or paisley. Wear your bandana around your head, neck, or wrist or from your waist for a relaxed, confident, and stylish look.

Which socks should you wear with a bandana?

When it comes to accessories, you can choose to have them complement one another or contrast. With a bandana, which is already a reasonably edgy style, we like our dress socks to match – and we’ve got some tremendous Soxy socks to wear with your bandana to a gig, out with friends, or even on a date. Here are a few of our favorite pairs…

These musician socks from Soxy are the ideal way to add a touch of fun to that bad boy rocker image you’ve got going on. If you’re sporting a bandana around your head or wrist for a gig, why not pair it with these fun, colorful blue and orange socks with their musician print?

These vibrant blue and pink stereo socks are the perfect addition to any music festival outfit. Paired with jeans, a band tee, leather jacket, and a cool black or navy and white print bandana around your head or neck, you’re going to be the coolest guy there.

Perfect for a gig or festival, when you’re rocking an indie style black and white bandana around your wrist, these black and white square men’s dress socks will ensure that you look stylish from head to toe. We love the cool checkered design, which you can rock with a pair of Converse Chucks, some dark-colored sneakers, or even a pair of black leather boots.

Rocking a red and white paisley bandana? This classic style goes with a variety of different looks and is one you’ll see loads of celebrities wearing. Why not pair your bandana with these cool small red polka dot socks, which add a pop of color to your feet?

How to wear bandanas at music festivals and gigs

Wondering what to wear to a concertBandanas are great accessories for concerts, music festivals, and gigs—and they can be pretty practical too. Here are a few tips to ensure you rock a bandana in style at your next festival:

  • Pair your bandana with a leather jacket for rockstar style
  • Add skinny or relaxed fit jeans – if they’re worn with tears in the knees, even better!
  • Choose sneakers or leather boots depending on the venue 
  • Opt for a black or navy blue bandana with a white print for a classically cool look

Tie your bandana around your head for rockstar style, and a great way to keep long hair out of your face—or tie it around your wrist for a cool, edgy vibe. If it gets chilly, you can wear it around your neck and knotted at the back to keep you warm.

How to wear a bandana with long hair

We think bandanas with long hair are rockin’ and most 80s celebs would agree with us— as well as a fair few movie and music stars nowadays. There’s nothing quite like a man who’s confident enough to pull off long hair, a leather jacket, and a bandana. If that’s you – make sure you choose a bandana that matches your style.

When it comes to how to wear a bandana in your hair, there’s no contest – the best way to wear it is tied around your head. Just bear in mind this isn’t always appropriate for every occasion. If you’re attending a vital job interview or heading to a wedding, leave the bandana at home, or opt for a satin or silk one worn as a pocket square or around your neck (you can still choose a bold, edgy pattern).

Make sure your hair is smoothed out underneath your bandana – although this is a rockstar look, your hair shouldn’t be sticking out all over the place unless that’s the vibe you’re going for! As an added bonus, a bandana will help keep your hair out of your face when you’re at a festival in windy weather or driving around in your rockstar convertible.

Bandana Dos and Don’ts

Last week we taught you how to wear a shemagh, this week the focus is firmly on bandanas. While these are one of the easiest accessories to wear, no matter what look you’re going for, like anything, there are some bandana dos and don’ts to follow.

  • Do wear a brightly colored bandana with a neutral outfit and a neutral bandana to tone down a brightly colored or patterned outfit.
  • Do wear your bandana as a scarf if you’re not sure you can pull off wearing it around your neck or your head.
  • Do hook your bandana on your jeans and wear it around your waistband for a pop of color.
  • Do rock a bandana around your head or wrist for a gig, concert or music festival to be the coolest one in the crowd.
  • Don’t wear a bandana around your head to a smart or formal event like a funeral, wedding, or work meeting. Just don’t!
  • Don’t wear a bandana around your wrist or head with a smart outfit like a suit – this doesn’t work, and you’ll be the center of attention for all the wrong reasons.
  • Don’t wear a bulky cotton bandana stuffed into your suit jacket pocket as a pocket square, opt for a satin or silk bandana (and make sure it’s ironed).
  • Don’t iron your bandana and tie it neatly around your wrist – if you’re wearing a bandana around your wrist, it’s meant to be messy and a bit rocky.

Abide by these rules, and you’re sure to pull off a bandana no matter what the occasion.

Bandana outfit inspiration: Instagram accounts to follow

Sometimes it can be tough to know exactly what color pants to wear with black shoes orhow to wear a beanie. And working out what to wear with your bandana can be just as tough! Luckily there are some fabulous Instagram accounts out there to follow for style inspiration when you’re putting together an outfit with a bandana. Here are a few of our favorites that you should be following right now!

Bandits Bandanas

These guys based in Joshua Tree, California, make artist-designed bandanas out of 100% cotton, with 10% of your purchase going to artist-chosen charities. Pretty cool, and they have some great styles to choose from as well as inspiration for how to wear them!


When you’re looking for inspiration for bow ties, bandanas, or ties, Beboldmen’s Instagram is the place to come. They have loads of different accessories to choose from, with some pure silk bandanas with really cool prints!

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