Get in the mood for a snood: For the fashionista who has everything (else)

The Lorax said, "Sir, you are crazy with greed. There is no one on earth who would buy that fool Thneed!" Dr. Seuss had the Thneed; we are being asked to consider the snood (like: s-nude). The snood is also a "fine-something that all people need." It's a scarf, it's a hat, it's a hood, it's a muff, and there are other great uses if that's not enough.

Designers and retailers alike appear to be romancing the snood this holiday season in a desperate attempt to sell us something we don't already own. Dictionary.com defines the snood as either a small, net-like cap that holds or covers the back of a woman's hair; or as the pendulous skin over the beak of a turkey (who knew!).

Needless to say, we're talking here about the first definition.

A fashion trend that began as a hot style for unmarried women in 8th century Scotland and Northern England -- it symbolized chastity -- the snood was also wildly popular in the 1940s when women wore it in factories to prevent hair from getting caught in machinery. Today's snoods are not limited to virgins and line workers, thank goodness.

Already snooding? (Yes, really a word.) If not, the fashion industry would be happy if you gave it a go. Don't be a snood prude, or so the slogan might go. Everybody's doing it. In fact, this time around, men are getting in on the action. A man's snood at the trendy H&M stores sells for only $14.95. For him, the look translates into an over-sized turtleneck worn as a chunky, knit layering piece for added texture and style. Women can also wear the snood turtleneck style, or draped over the top or back of the head. Some snoods are dramatically long and drapey, sort of a cross between a hood and a cowl neck, while others snuggle closer to the neck and shoulders.

I do sense retail reluctance, however, in actually calling a snood a snood. At Banana Republic, it's not a snood but a cashmere "infinity scarf" that is selling for $98. Target offers cable knit "neck warmers" for $16.99. Nepali by TDM at Bloomingdale's offers a lovely "Large Loop Scarf" for $135. Michael Kors is acting snoody too, preferring to call his $78 creation a "neck warmer" as well.

Perhaps it's their UK heritage, but it seems only Burberry feels comfortable touting actual "snoods" designed in the company's signature plaids and checks for $295. In fact, Burberry showed a snood on almost every male and female model in their Fall 2009 runway shows.

British GQ has also been more than compliant on the snood scene offering a "how-to-guide" for first-timers. Heralding the trend as one of this winter's "must have items" the magazine describes the innate appeal of snoods as: "Arousing the curiosity and envy of your off-trend peers (definitely a plus)...(and) keeping you toasty warm without superfluous material flapping in the wind - or your face." No more of those nasty Isadora Duncan incidents.

Beware, however, if you decide to make your own snood (because really, how hard could it be?) since most Internet sites only offer advice on how to make old-fashioned looking snoods and not the modern interpretation. It's not the snood a'la Romeo and Juliet, but instead more like the "Moebius Scarf" of knitting aficionados everywhere. One website offers "How to make a snood from a scarf" and promises there will be time remaining to wrap up your creation for the holidays.

Ideal for people who never got the hang of wrapping long scarves, the accessory challenged, or the friend who has everything, snoods provide a gift-giving trifecta: price point, popularity, and practicality. Most importantly, it's one-size-fits-all gift giving nirvana.

In answer to Rachel Dodes of the Wall Street Journal who asked, "Can the Snood Save Christmas?", my Magic Eight Ball points to a definite maybe.

Of course, we all know how it turned out for the Lorax:

"For just at that minute a chap came along, and he thought that the Thneed I had knitted was great. He happily bought it for three-ninety-eight.

I laughed at the Lorax, You poor, stupid guy! You never can tell what some people will buy."


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