Why Does Marty Stuart Wear So Many Scarves?
You would think there would be much more important business to attend to in the lives of country music fans than to worry about what clothing accessories Marty Stuart chooses to adorn his wardrobe with, but you may not find a another topic of more intrigue or discussion amongst some country listeners than why Marty decides to indulge in neck finery as part of his public fashion.
No, I’ve not discussed the matter with Marty himself. In fact I would be fairly embarrassed to bring up the subject matter to him even if the opportunity presented itself. Why? Because despite all of the questions and consternation about Marty Stuart’s fluffy adornments, the answer to his scarf fetish should be quite obvious to all students of traditional country music, and Marty Stuart listeners especially.
Oh but that hasn’t stopped the questions, the concerns, and sometimes even the accusations concerning Marty’s scarves, and what they might be hiding, literally or figuratively. Did he injure his neck? Is he concealing some big scar? Perhaps he tried to hang himself and is trying to disguise the embarrassing evidence (one of the most ridiculous accusations I’ve seen). Or perhaps he’s a dandy, you know, one of those types of dandies, despite having married Johnny Cash’s daughter once, and currently being married to Country Music Hall of Famer Connie Smith.
One of the biggest misnomers about Marty’s neck wear is that his scarves are an essential accoutrement for him to be able to leave the house, when it reality you can find many recent promotional photos of Marty with a naked neck. And lo and behold, there’s no grotesque scars, embarrassing birthmarks, or big hairy moles. Some have said Marty Stuart wears scarves to conceal a a neckline that has aged faster than the rest of him, but this certainly doesn’t appear to be the case in his scarf-free pictures. If Marty was a man concerned with concealing his age, why doesn’t he dye his hair?
Furthermore, if you look at promotional photos of Marty from earlier in his career, before the sands of age started carving their cruel lines into his collar, he also wore shirts that many times concealed his neckline. It just sort of seems to be his thing.
Okay so now we know Marty has nothing to hide, then what is he trying to say with his scarves? This calls for a simple country music history lesson.
From the very beginning of country music, flashy fashion has been at the very heart of the presentation. From The Maddox Brothers & Rose in the late 30’s who were known as “The Most Colorful Hillbilly Band” from their flashy Western costumes, to legendary designers who became icons all their own through their country finery like Nudie Cohn and Manuel Couture, all the way up to today, the fashion of country music has been a way for performers to show off their personality on stage. Someone who is at the forefront of preserving all of this textile history in country music is Marty Stuart, who owns a huge collection of country music memorabilia, including Nudie suits and other such costumes from acts like The Maddox Brothers & Rose, Ray Price’s Cherokee Cowboys, Porter Wagoner, Johnny Cash, and many others.
As country music and Nashville was throwing these vintage styles away throughout the 80’s and 90’s, similar to how they were discarding the legacy of the music itself, Marty Stuart was dashing around town, saving these stylistic expressions from dumpsters and thrift shops, eventually making him one of the most forefront students of country music show clothing that’s still living.
Now, how does the scarf come in? It’s simple. The scarf was a very early standard of country & western fashion.
Marty Stuart started playing country music professionally at the ripe age of 14 in Lester Flatt’s bluegrass band. As can be seen in the picture below, he was wearing fluttery neck wear even then, like most everyone was in Flatt’s band.
One of the very earliest appearances of Marty Stuart was on The Porter Wagoner Show playing with Lester Flatt. Porter Wagoner regularly wore scarves, cocked to the side similar to how Marty sometimes does. Many country and western music artists from that era wore scarves, and the examples are endless.
But where did the scarf tradition in country music come from?
It was established as part of Western garb by Hollywood, including The Singing Cowboy Gene Autry, who helped establish country music as a commercial enterprise as much as anyone.
Another Hollywood cowboy was Roy Rogers, and lo and behold, it’s hard to find a picture of Roy without his scarf.
Okay, but where does this tradition come from? It’s simple, the actual cowboys who roamed the West through dusty plains and parched deserts, sometimes on long cattle drives where the cows would stir up incredible dust, all wore handkerchiefs and scarves to protect their necks from sunburn where the cowboy hat wouldn’t shade, and to pull over their mouths and noses to keep the dust out of their lungs. Here’s Billy the Kid wearing a scarf.
So that’s that. Marty Stuart wears scarves because it is a link to country music’s and America’s vibrant Western history that Marty has worked so hard in his life to both preserve and carry on. No conspiracy theories, no gruesome scars, nothing to hide or show, just Marty being Marty, finding ways to express his appreciation for the traditions of country music in his own colorful way.
February 3, 2015 @ 9:41 am
Because he’s Marty Stuart, the field general of traditional country music, and he does what the hell he wants.
January 13, 2018 @ 9:29 pm
Article talks around the issue and never answers the question:
Why did Marty Stuart start wearing scarves? Which is sometime
after the Johnny Cash Memorial Service where he (with open collar)
& Superlatives perform ‘Rock Island Line’. Earlier scarfs were smaller
while later they cover entire neck all the way up to his chinny chin chin.
Yes it’s his choice, only natural that inquiring mimes wanna know.
September 19, 2019 @ 11:38 am
Because he “THINKS” they make him look better. Same reason any of us wear whatever we wear.
June 2, 2020 @ 10:16 pm
“Mimes” are usually silent……..
October 3, 2019 @ 8:47 pm
to hide his ever growing double chin……..country tradition ? my arse………
January 17, 2022 @ 2:07 pm
I heard he was covering up a tattoo, buddy’s got on his neck when he was intoxicated??
Elizabeth Karlene Pounds
April 18, 2023 @ 3:10 am
My first terrible thought was that he is really a Transgenderd human being thats pulled off one of
Country music’s best all time life performances. Wouldnt that be a complete shocker for Nashville and the Grand ole Op. Hahahaha
May 11, 2022 @ 12:39 pm
He may be hiding a bite from a vampire!
February 3, 2015 @ 10:23 am
When someone asks that question online, I always want to reply that it’s because Connie likes giving him hickies. I don’t care how untrue it is.
I’ll probably just send them this article if someone asks in the future.
August 9, 2021 @ 1:51 am
Simple. Because of vanity. He’s obviously had some botox over the years and turkey neck is a dead giveaway of age. So wears the scarf to try and make himself appear younger.
February 3, 2015 @ 10:25 am
Already asked and answered?
(See Comment #21)
February 3, 2015 @ 10:44 am
I’m not sure of the exact episode number, but on The Marty Stuart Show one evening, he went back to Philadelphia, Mississippi, where he grew up. He toured the town and let the viewers see his childhood home, and had a literal backyard session with his family. During that episode, he told a story of an encounter with a gypsy/hobo type character on a train. He was explaining how trains influenced his life and sound, and even style. He said the gypsy wore scarves and had wild hair just like how Marty wears it now… He said that gypsy made a mark on him and he copied his style as much as he could when he became famous. It could be a tall tale, but it seemed legit to me at the time…
February 3, 2015 @ 11:05 am
June 2, 2020 @ 10:18 pm
I wonder if the gypsy was named Stephen Tyler?
February 3, 2015 @ 11:12 am
Well, it sure beats having to set his guitar down to dig a handkerchief out of his pocket if he has to blow his nose onstage.
February 14, 2021 @ 2:54 pm
Women wore scarves as well around their neck in the late 50’s snd 60’s
February 3, 2015 @ 11:58 am
February 3, 2015 @ 12:04 pm
The age of his neck.
September 8, 2019 @ 9:09 pm
I agree. He didn’t wear the scares wide fluffy and tall like he does now. Mr. Marty could be saving himself pain and suffering getting plastic surgery on his turkey neck, which we all get with time.
He didn’t wear wide ones as a younger man and now he’s never ever shown his neck ! It’s so distracting compared to just a few wrinkles!☺
His choice. But it’s contrived looking.
February 3, 2015 @ 12:08 pm
Very interesting history lesson. I would have thought it was a reference to Elvis Presley and his scarfs. But I see now it goes back much farther. Thanks Trig!
February 3, 2015 @ 12:25 pm
According to Don Maddox of The Maddox Brothers & Rose, it was a show early in Presley’s career where Presley opened for The Maddox Brothers and saw their colorful stage clothes, and that is what inspired him to start wearing similar Western garb, including the scarfs. According to Don, it was really hot at that show so they had taken their coats off and left them backstage. When they came off stage, Elvis was parading around in one of them and saying, “Someday I’m going to have clothes like this.”
February 3, 2015 @ 7:12 pm
Marty wears his scarf like a woman would…and that’s fine. It’s great that you guys are loyal, but the guy is hiding his neck, nothing more.
Wanda Dulaney Rogers
November 27, 2018 @ 5:30 pm
My mom was a huge fan of RosevMaddox !
I must have been 5 or 6 when we went to see her at a nearby rodeo. My mom even got a 8×10 b&w signed by her! That was one of her most prized possessions!
September 8, 2019 @ 5:52 pm
Rose Maddox was appearing at the 101 Club in Oceanside California one night when we were there in 1968. Got up to go to ladies room during a break and Rose was in there, when she came out of the stall, I told her I was going to tell all my friends I used the same stall as Rose Maddox. She laughed and hugged me and said “you do that little girl”. She later sang a song for me.
July 9, 2022 @ 5:10 pm
He is hiding something. I hope it’s nothing but wrinkles. He just keeps wearing them wider and wider. You can barely see his chin. It’s very distracting and in my opinion, unbecoming. He would look my attractive without them.
August 14, 2022 @ 7:08 pm
I agree..nonsense about roy Rogers wearing one, his was a small scarf, we wore them in the 50’s, but not like a turtle neck.. totally different
February 3, 2015 @ 7:29 pm
oo very cool
December 12, 2020 @ 3:32 pm
Hes been wearing them as far back as I can remember and I don’t think it has anything to do with his chin
Bigfoot is Real (and wears bandanas thank you)
February 3, 2015 @ 12:16 pm
And they look great!!!
February 3, 2015 @ 12:27 pm
I know the guy who taught Marty Stuart how to play guitar. I was his student for years.
June 6, 2020 @ 5:29 pm
I heard or rather read someplace he went out with a bunch partying and came home with a huge tattoo on his neck and keeps it covered…. I find nothing wrong with a tattoo and stage makeup would probably cover it.
February 3, 2015 @ 1:44 pm
It is interesting to read about the scarf’s history in country music. I have always associated scarves with Northeastern culture.
February 3, 2015 @ 2:02 pm
Bloody Bill Anderson and Quantrill’s men, personal heroes of mine, were also fond of the scarf and garish dress…
February 3, 2015 @ 3:17 pm
…..not to mention, indiscriminately robbing and killing people.
February 3, 2015 @ 3:26 pm
You must have watched too much PBS and Ken Burns. There was nothing indiscriminate about it. The black flag was raised on them. The worst of what Quantrill’s men did, while operating under a black flag, was done by the entire Union Army as a matter of policy.
February 4, 2015 @ 2:06 pm
I haven’t even had broadcast TV for several years, and when I did the only things I watched on PBS were some kids’ shows with my daughter and a show called “Old Time Country Music” which was produced locally for Iowa Public Television. Although I’m aware of Ken Burns, I’m not familiar with any of his work. I wouldn’t mind seeing his documentary on baseball, but I’m sure the Civil War piece would be too biased for my taste.
Prior to the Civil War, Quantrill was a drifting thief who was pro-abolitionist as late as 1859 when he found out there was money to be made in capturing escaped slaves and returning them to their owners. Anderson was a horse thief who stole mounts from both cavalries before joining the Confederate army, reportedly for the pay rather than any loyalty to the south.
Atrocities were committed on behalf of both sides. The Sacking of Osceola does not make the Lawrence Massacre any less horrific than it actually was, it just adds to the overall senseless carnage. A truly objective person with no dog in the fight would be hard pressed to identify very many truly heroic figures in that war.
September 14, 2017 @ 12:50 pm
I wear them myself. Also a guitar player
February 3, 2015 @ 4:02 pm
I think that they are supposed to cover up his gang tats on his neck from when he was in prison for …………………….
I have always like the way Marty dresses.
I view his clothing as his way of giving homage to the founders of country music whom he holds so sacred.
I think that Marty views the mantle he holds as a transitory honor and that he feels deeply indebted to the artists who walked before him.
You don’t see much of that.
And he is an individualist.
Marty doesn’t need to look like he spends all day in the gym and wear clothes to accentuate his badness.
He reminds me a little of Dwight Yoakum in that regard.
February 3, 2015 @ 4:32 pm
Lots of cowboys out here in MT wear still silk scarves just like Marty’s everyday in the winter, not just because of tradition, but they are toasty warm. I wear one a lot and it’s really warm when the cold north wind picks up.
February 3, 2015 @ 7:45 pm
Thanks for the history lesson. I’ve always loved Marty Stuart’s style and his band The Fabulous Superlatives in their Manuel outfits. If you get a chance look up The Big Interview with Dan Rather in AXS TV from Jan.25. He interviews Marty. Great interview done in Los Angeles at The Roxy. Dan Rather is a huge country music fan so he respects the genre and asked really good questions.
Otis Lee Miller
February 3, 2015 @ 8:44 pm
I don’t know, man. You can’t really see the right side of his neck in that photo of him with no scarf. It seams suspiciously shadowed. I think there’s more to it. I think that hobo/gypsy he met on the train, stabbed him in the neck… That’s what I think…
February 4, 2015 @ 6:03 am
Thanks for the history lesson trigger. Great read!
February 4, 2015 @ 8:05 pm
Nice read Kyle!
July 20, 2015 @ 1:35 pm
You can’t tell me Marty isn’t hiding anything on his neck, he does’nt just wear a scarfe like others do, he makes sure his entire neck is covered. The picture you showed does not show the right side of his neck, it’s dark on that side so who knows.
April 21, 2021 @ 6:09 am
Marty covers his neck all the way up to his ears, no one else has ever worn their scarf like that. Donnie Jones
November 6, 2016 @ 5:20 pm
I asked the question because while watching a television show, it simply occurred to me. There are scarves and there are scarves. And if he or his biographer do not want to explain it, so be it. I will not lose any sleep over it. However, implying that the question is inappropriate or endeavoring to insult the questioner so as to avoid answering the question is asinine. I am not a “fan” of anyone’s but I know who Marty Stewart is and I appreciate his talent and his music. I suggest he fire the frog who responded to my simple and inoffensive query.
September 24, 2017 @ 7:41 am
You can not post this but marty Stuart need to read it. I found the article that told about the tattoo. If you are a true county fan and may grew up on a farm pig was the liverhood of many and are not that bad just smelly. If you are a true county fan that tattoo would not matter but stuart and his people are cause the rumor by wearing a scarf which in my opinion looks stupid. I was rasise on a farm and I grew up with my grandfather listen to his music. I would rather see the pig than these scarf which makes him look like he has no neck. Marty Stuart get real
November 3, 2017 @ 2:30 pm
Marty Stuart is cool
And can wear what he wants to
Are you jealous??
January 15, 2019 @ 6:29 am
His “scarfs” are pulled and seemingly GLUED up to his chinny-chin chin , that is NEVER how people wear this rag around their neck , he is hiding something , old neck or the pig’s butt tattoo I have read about .
Oda May Jones
August 31, 2019 @ 7:02 pm
I’d say from the bulge in the front of the scarves he’s had a tracheotomy (often from throat cancer) and he’s trying to hide the stoma.
September 18, 2019 @ 8:54 am
If you look at gentlemen from the 1800’s, they absolutely wore scarves and not necessarily ties especially in the antebellum period. It’s part of his act, and so what if it serves to cover his aging neck! I would rather obsess about the music and history of it. Loving the Ken Burns’ documentary that Marty contributed to so generously. Preserving the roots is his goal, and it helps me not to despair over how programmed contemporary country has become.
January 2, 2020 @ 6:03 pm
They look great. I want to know where he gets ’em!
February 16, 2020 @ 12:37 am
Try Boot Barn are google wild rag not really a scarf it’s a wild rag it’s a part of western wear
April 12, 2020 @ 4:26 am
I will love Marty Stuart & Ms Connie Smith until forever. They are pure country. There will never be anyone to take their place. He is carrying on the tradition of the Man in Black as well.
February 1, 2020 @ 7:25 pm
Forget the scarves, Marty should sell wigs like his hair style! I want one. (Bald Guy!)
February 16, 2020 @ 12:34 am
It’s not a scarf it is wild rags I’ll wear them also made out of silk very cool in the summer keep the sun off your neck warm in the winter extremely functionable
May 29, 2020 @ 6:40 am
The past three Marchs and a couple Octobers, I’ve developed a seasonal cough. My doctor this year told me to wear a scarf and digest local honey… I have to regulate the temperature of my throat (it’s a getting older thing). So i wonder if along with the style implications, it helps regulate Stuarts’ throat temperature so he doesn’t develop a cough (especially when he’s touring through different climates).
June 2, 2020 @ 11:24 pm
I wonder if the gypsy was named Stephen Tyler?
June 20, 2020 @ 5:42 am
im a Teddyboy, i wear all sorts of string ties, bandanas, tattoes, and am facinated by clothing styles, western fashion, everything from the muskeeters to robin hood..yes a neckscarf, bandana , etc..its standing out from what society says goes, being an outlaw, being an individual, or bit eccentric, and nobody wears the same thing everyday anyway..i could never go in normal clothes, thats someone elses world..but sometimes you want to fit in aswell….to each his own like the great willie nelson sings!
September 10, 2020 @ 6:09 pm
The scarf is a turn off. Makes one think there’s something medically wrong with him. He wears turtlenecks too. Not very appealing bc he looks like Bon Von Jovi sissified. Just saying. Change the look.
November 10, 2020 @ 9:41 am
Well I read some where that some guys attacked him and put a ugly tattoo on his neck and that is why he wears the scarfs , may not be true but that is what I read .
November 28, 2020 @ 6:50 pm
Noticed on tonights show, from 2008, while his wife was singing, he was pulling the scarf up. Got me wondering too!
June 29, 2021 @ 5:36 am
Marty needs to go see Amir Karim, MD…best plastic surgeon in the US for vertical neck/face lifts! I don’t buy the ‘cowboy style’ comments for one minute. Im also his age and get why he wants to cover up his neck. Im in line to get my face & neck done by him, too. Im working on my thighs & arms now. He can follow him on IG, etc.
August 15, 2021 @ 4:18 pm
Who cares why he wears them. You either like his music or you don’t all the other shit it irrelevant. He was sexy as hell when he was younger.
September 11, 2021 @ 5:28 pm
We love Marty each Night on RFDTV and love his music and guests. I say Go Marty Forever. WE Don’t care what he wears..
November 22, 2021 @ 5:15 am
Just saw Marty & his band on Friday night 11/19 in Shipshewana, IN! Fantastic show, my 2nd time seeing him. The first was at the old Elco theatre in Elkhart and he signed every autograph that was requested after the show. He and the band signed a CD for me and he shook my hand. Out of a hundred concerts I’ve seen, HE is the only artist to ever do so. Just Great! I hope he keeps doing it for his loyal fans.
He told a story about him standing in a group talking with Dwight Yoakum, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and Merle Haggard. As they were kind of going around telling what they admired about Dolly, when it came to Willie, he stunned everyone by asking her if she had any rolling papers! And she did!! He told it so well the crowd went nuts! That’s Marty. Singer, musician extraordinaire, storyteller, historian, friend, fun, and considerate bandmate. I loved everything he played. He played Orange Blossom Special which was my favorite song growing up. It was on a Johnny Cash album. He gave every member the lead on several songs that let them share their talents. Not just a drum roll, but several songs. I love that about him and they were all fantastic!
Don’t know the real reason for the scarves, but he looks and moves great at 63, so I don’t think it’s due to a physical defect. It’s probably a double chin like I have.
November 26, 2021 @ 3:17 am
Where I live, those scarves are called Wild Rags, and everyone in sitting distance from a cow wears one. Silk and almost as big as a small tablecloth before it’s rolled.
A bandana is the cotton rag you blow your nose on and hang in your back pocket.
They’ve always been in the cowboy culture. They’re working and dress attire both, and there is no ‘standard’ way to wear them. Some aren’t ever knotted, and are held with a special ring, while most are knotted in every knot every known and some that are made up in the morning.
I don’t know when Marty picked up on them, but he must have seen them when he was hanging out with the genuine articles when he wrote the music for “All the Pretty Horses” back in the 1990s.
May 12, 2022 @ 2:43 pm
I was told sometime ago by someone who used to work for Marty that he had developed a “turkey neck”. When it was suggested to go the face lift route Marty was opposed of the idea and strongly declined. His close friend designer Manuel Cuevas suggested using a scarf.
May 24, 2022 @ 8:27 pm
Is it me or does Marty not wear a shirt under his jacket?
June 19, 2022 @ 2:02 am
Story I heard…supposedly from Marty was that he and buddies got “tore up drunk” one night and when he woke the next day he had a pig tattoo on his neck… Supposedly …. since has had it slowly removed. Now scarf is a trademark. ??
July 24, 2022 @ 12:09 pm
Maybe because his Mama told him to tie a scarf around his neck to remind him of whose son he is.
I’ve heard that she was wonderful lady.
August 28, 2022 @ 11:59 am
Kind of thought so, copying someone else. Not really a good thing to do in his profession.