Silk foulard
Marek Jakubiak with foulard

A foulard is a lightweight fabric, either twill or plain-woven, made of silk or a mix of silk and cotton. Foulards usually have a small printed design of various colors. Foulard can also refer by metonymy to articles of clothing, such as scarves and neckties, made from this fabric.[1] In men's ties, foulard refers to the pattern rather than the material; it is a small-scale pattern with basic block repeat, also called a set pattern or a tailored pattern.

Foulard is believed to have originated in East Asia. The word comes from the French word foulard, with the same proper and metonymic meanings.[2] In modern French, foulard is the usual word [3] for a neckerchief. In Quebec foulard is also used for scarf (écharpe in France).

Ralph Lauren’s fashion industry success began with his importation of foulards from London to the United States.[4]

In 1989, a public debate over headscarves erupted in France when three Muslim girls in a state secondary school refused to remove their headscarves to comply with the school administration’s concept of secularism.[5] It became known as the “affaires de foulard.”[6]

Foulard fabric is also used in home décor wall coverings.[7]


  1. ^ "foulard", The Free Dictionary, retrieved 2023-12-22
  2. ^ Tikkanen, Amy (2010). "Foulard". Britannica. Retrieved 2023-12-22.
  3. ^ "What does foulard mean?". Retrieved 2020-10-17.
  4. ^ Fury, Alexander (March 16, 2016). "Just Dandy: T: Men's Fashion Magazine". New York Times: M2.91 – via ProQuest.
  5. ^ Scott, Joan W. (2005-01-01). "Symptomatic Politics: The Banning of Islamic Head Scarves in French Public Schools". French Politics, Culture & Society. 23 (3). doi:10.3167/153763705780793531. ISSN 1537-6370.
  6. ^ Moruzzi, Norma Claire (1994). "A Problem with Headscarves: Contemporary Complexities of Political and Social Identity". Political Theory. 22 (4): 653–672. doi:10.1177/0090591794022004005. ISSN 0090-5917.
  7. ^ Rybczynski, Witold (1987). Home: A Short History Of An Idea. USA: Penguin Books. p. 7. ISBN 0140102310.