Rustic headscarves have had their dowdy day. Think Pucci on the Cote d'Azur instead, says JAMES SHERWOOD
Style Police paid an official visit to the FA Cup final last weekend. Newcastle United wore black and white. So did Style Police. By Prada. Surrounded by 70,000 over-excited men, opportunities for a fashion moment looked admittedly bleak. But as Style Police scuttled to the VIP area, like Anastasia fleeing the Bolsheviks, we scored.

Who'd have thought anyone at the FA, bar Manchester United mascot Posh Spice, would activate our trend radar? But a girl in a Hermes-style headscarf did just that. The look was totally Jane Birkin circa Evil Under The Sun. She'd tied the lurid printed silk headscarf tight around her head and wrapped it into a kitten's tail trailing down her back. It was less this season's peasant girl and more Sixties Liz Taylor incognito, in Pucci print in Portofino.

So what's new about a printed silk square? Well, last spring Jo Gordon gave us the boiled wool handkerchief-point headscarf. It was two parts Babushka to one part Doris Day. These pastoral headscarves spread like a virus into urban girl uniform. Before Jigsaw and Elspeth Gibson leapt onto the bandwagon, you were all cutting gingham check and floral Liberty print fabric into DIY scarf squares last summer. You knew it was time to move on.

Maybe you saw how fresh classic Sixties psychedelic Pucci print was looking on the catwalk this season. Maybe you quite rightly refuse to wear those god-awful towelling pork pie hats the magazines are trying to push you into for summer '99. Or just maybe - say no to rustic - you understand that scarves shouldn't be peasant. They must always be high-voltage Riviera Chic. Whatever the reasons, street style ingenuity has handed the red card to high fashion again.

How to wear it

In New York the fashion pack is inspired by the turn-of-the-century prairie aesthetic. They're wearing little cotton or crochet peasant headscarves by Anna Sui and Jo Gordon. London, meanwhile, knows how to make a headscarf look chic and European. The look is luxe silk Cote d' Azur glamour rather than cotton or boiled wool gypsy. The cover of this month's Italian Vogue, for instance, shows Amber Valetta wearing a silk scarf tied to drape down her back.

But how do you do it without looking like you've got a napkin on your head? Fold a large silk square into a triangle, hold it just below the hairline and tie it tight at the nape and let the two handkerchief points drape.

Where to buy it

If Pucci psychedelic print worked for Jackie O, Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe in the early Sixties, it's going to work for a Nineties Riviera princess. This season's Pucci prints are totally Sixties retro: overblown flower prints which look like Triffids compared to the delicate little Liberty florals.

If the look says luxe Hermes - and you are prepared to sell your first- born into white slavery to finance the purchase of a 100 per cent silk Hermes scarf - it's an obvious place to shop for fancy scarf schmutter. If you want Style Police's advice, we wouldn't bother. Head off instead to Tie Rack, hunt down the wildest, most lurid swirly curly horrible prints and buy three (in 100 per cent polyester) for pounds 12. If you need a guideline, remember this: if you can imagine Donatella Versace wallpapering her bedroom in the same kind of print, then you're on to a winner.

Address book

Hermes: 0171 823 1014.

Pucci at Harrods: 0171 730 1234.

Tie Rack: 0171 629 1644.