Taylor Swift revealed the meaning behind the red scarf referenced in “All Too Well,” but not without keeping things cryptic. The singer revealed the scarf is a metaphor while speaking at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival over the weekend to promote her 10-minute short film, All Too Well.
Swifties have long speculated that the references to the scarf were about her ex, Jake Gyllenhaal. She dated the actor for three months in 2010. In the short film, Stranger Things‘ Sadie Sink wears a red scarf while Teen Wolf‘s Dylan O’Brien sports similar facial hair to Jake’s. The actors’ age difference also reflect Taylor’s relationship with Gyllenhaal, with Sadie being 19 and Dylan being 30. Swift was 20 when she dated Gyllenhaal, who was 29.
The song mentions a scarf left “at your sister’s house and you’ve still got it in your drawer even now” because “it reminds you of innocence and it smells like me.” But Swift said the scarf wasn’t literal.
As we previously reported, Jake’s sister Maggie said she’d been asked about the scarf during a 2017 appearance on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. “I never understood why everybody asked me about his scarf, what is this?” Maggie said in response to a question about whether the infamous scarf was still at her house. “I am in the dark about the scarf. It’s totally possible. I don’t know, but I’ve been asked this before, and I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’”
32-year-old Swift offered a little more insight about the scarf, but just as it seemed like she was about to dive deep into it at the Film Festival, she stopped herself. “Basically, the scarf is a metaphor and we turned it red because red is a very important color in this album, which is called Red,” she said as audience members laughed awkwardly. “And, I think when I say it’s a metaphor… I’m just going to stop.” She then told the moderator, “And I’m going to say thanks for the incredible question to whoever wrote that. You’ve really taken us for a ride with that one.”
Taylor’s awkward reaction combined with the confirmation that the scarf is a metaphor ties into a longstanding fan theory that the scarf represents her virginity. “I do not care what anyone tells me i’ll always believe that the scarf represents taylor’s virginity,” one fan tweeted last November. And in 2020, someone else wrote, “The scarf taylor was talking about in all too well was her virginity.” “Taylor swift pretty much confirming the scarf is a metaphor for her virginity is NOT something I expected,” tweeted one person.
In 2014, a source told RadarOnline that Taylor had indeed lost her virginity to the Donnie Darko actor, which is why she took their breakup so hard. The insider claimed that Taylor had initially been waiting until she was married to have sex but changed her mind while with Gyllenhaal. “She thought she was going to marry Jake, that’s how in love she was with him,” the source said.
Watch a clip of Swift at the Toronto International Film Festival below: