All about neckerchiefs

Learn all about this versatile piece of optional uniform

15 September 2021

Sometimes members of Girlguiding will wear a neckerchief with their uniform.

It’s a piece of triangular cloth with the long edge of the triangle rolled towards the point. A small part is left that hangs down at the back and it’s fastened with a friendship knot, slide or a woggle. Traditionally, a woven badge with the Girlguiding county of the member is sewn onto the point at the back. 

They aren’t a compulsory part of uniform, but some units might decide to wear them in meetings, at events or when they’re abroad.

Why might units wear a necker?

Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers will often decide as a unit if they want to wear a neckerchief. If units decide to wear neckerchiefs, which are sometimes called neckers, they might design their own in the Girlguiding online shop.

Units might have neckers to show that a girl belong to a certain unit when they go to a big event with lots of girls from the same section. A unit might also wear a necker in meetings. When abroad, members might wear Girlguiding’s international neckerchief or a necker representing Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

They can be a fun addition to uniform that shows the unit that the member belongs to. Some groups of units in the same area might have the same neckerchief for the Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers and girls will keep their necker as they move sections.

When meeting with other WAGGGS organisations abroad, international neckerchiefs can be a way of showing what country a member is from.

Why are there neckerchiefs in Girlguiding?

Neckerchiefs which look like the ones we wear today were brought in for Rangers in the 1940s, Guides in the 1980s, Brownies in the 1990s and Rainbows in the late 2000s. They are an updated version of the ties that have been worn since the very first Girlguiding uniform back in 1909.

Not only are they great to work out what unit someone belongs to, they can also be very practical. A necker can be used as a blindfold, flag, bag, can be tied together to make a rope and much more!

What about scarves?

There are two scarves that volunteers can choose to wear with their uniform – square tiled and long tiled. These can be worn with a scarf ring or in a knot. Many volunteers choose to wear these with their blouse for formal occasions.

What is a friendship knot?

The friendship knot can be used to tie a neckerchief. It symbolises the ties which bind the girls and adults who belong to the WAGGGS and is a sign of the friendship they share. It’s often tied by another friend in guiding.

Learn how to tie a knot by watching this video.

  1. Put the scarf on a flat surface with the longest side closer to you.
  2. Roll the long end of the scarf as tightly as possible until until you only have a about 10cm of flat fabric left. Fold the rolled scarf in two and you're ready to start tying the knot using the two ends. Hold the ends pointing away from you.
  3. 15cm from the ends of the scarf, cross the right part over the left part.
  4. Bring the right part back underneath the left part.
  5. Bring the left part back underneath itself. Both of the ends will be crossed under each other and pointing towards you.
  6. Take the piece that you folded underneath in step five and fold it over itself.
  7. Take the piece that you folded underneath in step four and fold it over the piece you just moved in step six.
  8. Loop that same piece through the whole that has been created by the other piece of scarf (which started on the left hand side).
  9. The most difficult bit is done! Now, pull all the parts tighter so that the knot won't come apart.
  10. You've tied a friendship knot!

Be sure to remember that neckerchiefs aren’t a compulsory part of any Girlguiding uniform – they’re just a fun extra that some units choose to wear.