We tuned in for the White House briefings but stayed for Dr. Birx’s glorious scarves

Dr. Deborah Birx
(Illustration by Kay Scanlon / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

Dr. Deborah Birx appears to be a steadying voice of reason in the White House, crisply addressing issues about the coronavirus pandemic in her role as the Trump administration’s coronavirus response coordinator. And while she’s talking about critical matters from the podium during those regular press briefings, can we be forgiven for pausing to take a look at her scarves?

Birx’s accessories — an elegant swirl of silk coiled around her neck, a large square draped beneath her collar or a rectangular swath of fabric suspended neatly down one shoulder — have their own devoted fan base.

An Instagram fan account, @deborahbirxscarves, was set up by Fort Worth, Texas, music marketing executive Victoria Strout as a series of screen grabs chronicling each scarf and shawl worn by Birx.


There’s the Hermès scarf Birx wore in brilliant blue and orange, tied sailor-style over a wide-collared cobalt blue dress; the voluminous saffron shawl that enveloped Birx’s frame over her pale dress; the red-and-gold eagle print from Washington, D.C.-based jewelry designer Ann Hand that Birx tied in a chic knot at the front of her neck above a black military-style jacket.

The Instagram account, which has more than 29,000 followers, was started by Strout as a way to celebrate Birx’s accomplishments as much as her style.

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“I channeled my admiration for her through this account,” Strout told NBC affiliates during an interview that aired last week. “I don’t want to suggest the focus [should be] on her fashion or just the scarves by themselves. What I loved about her is her as a whole person.”

Some local fashionistas also are taking note of Pennsylvania-born Birx’s style choices. “She comes across as very European in many ways,” said Los Angeles designer Deborah Sawaf, whose Robertson Boulevard boutique Thalé Blanc sells her line of handbags, shawls and scarves. “She wears her scarves as they do in France and Italy.”

Sawaf said she hopes Birx’s fondness for foulard might inspire other women to take a closer look at what is often an underrated accessory.

“It can be the very piece to elevate any ensemble,” Sawaf said, “and for now, a great thing to wear for those Zoom calls.”


If you want to step up your WFH attire, here are some scarves and a shawl worth a look.


Birx seems partial to the vibrant silk scarves of Hermès. From the brand comes this Plumes en Fete scarf designed by Aline Honoré. $420.

Club Monaco

Club Monaco makes this chic cotton scarf in navy and white. $129.50.


Saint-Tropez brand Vilebrequin (it has outposts in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills) has this Evening Birds silk scarf in black with a vibrant plumage print. $215.


Karl Lagerfeld Paris

Until you can get there again, the Paris Shopping Print square from Karl Lagerfeld Paris conveys some of the flair of that French city. $68.

Laura Ashley

This lightweight Spotty Wildflower Tassel scarf from Laura Ashley is a refreshing wardrobe addition. $38.

Johnny Was

The colorful Indianio scarf from Johnny Was features braided tassels. $98.


Thalé Blanc

The message on Thalé Blanc’s Happy scarf is sweet and cheery: “I have a reason to be happy. And that reason is you.” $75.

Bon Ton Studio

Australian brand Hobo & Hatch sells cotton/wool blend shawls such as this Terracotta version, which was handmade in Nepal. $68 through Healdsburg, Calif.,-based e-tailer Bon Ton Studio.

Lula Dharma

From Los Angeles-based Lula Dharma comes the Ink & Sea scarf, made of natural modal and featuring trim on all four sides. $58.


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Sidney Byron

Christina Kite, founder of fashion brand Sidney Byron, uses photographs from her travels to inform the designs of her scarves. This Moody Ocean Abaco scarf is named after the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas. $135.

Paul Stuart

A silk and cashmere scarf in a tie-dye pattern in shades of gray and lilac comes from New York brand Paul Stuart. $225.

Mila & Such

New York artist Mila Sohn created her Lots of Luck oblong silk scarf emblazoned with images inspired by tarot cards. $165.


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Lilly Pulitzer

Lilly Pulitzer’s signature bright colors are in the cashmere silk Murfee scarf with fringe. $118.

Out of Print

Out of Print uses book-related motifs on its fashion and accessories, including this cotton and silk Typewriter scarf. $32; purchases support literacy programs around the world.