Whether wrapping it over your shoulders for warmth on a sweet spring night or styling it like a scarf, the shawl is one of the most versatile pieces in your wardrobe. So much more than an easily added layer, shawls are an institution in their own right and have a decadent cultural history and timeless appeal that has carried them through the ages. The title of the shawl is said to come from Persia in the 14th century, and the motif of wearing the draped and folded fabric in this fashion can be traced back to Kashmir, Punjab, and places in Central Asia. But the shawl quickly took force and made its way across the world, and the European shawl was already in vogue when it came to 19th-century fashion. Now, you can find every type of shawl, made with materials and motifs, in every port - from tourist stands to world-famous designers. There is something about shawl wraps that have kept them alluring and the perfect accessory for every occasion. We take a closer look at how to style the shawl.
Why Shawls are a Must-Have Accessory
Pashmina shawls, wrap shawls, classic shawls, simple shawls, or statement pieces - this accessory is one of the most versatile pieces you can find. There are endless possibilities when it comes to choosing and styling the shawl. This extra layer brings warmth and invites you to add a pop of color, texture, or creative style to your outfit. Here are some more reasons why shawls are the ultimate accessory.
- Shawl wraps offer an instant layer of warmth, especially on chilly evenings or shoulder seasons.
- Shawls can be dressed up or dressed down depending on the occasion and style.
- Shawls can be draped and worn in numerous ways - lending individuality to your look.
- There are so many choices of shawls out there in beautiful styles.
- You can change the look of an entire outfit with a shawl.
- Shawls can be worn as a warm alternative when you don't have a coat or jacket to suit/fit an outfit.
Classic Draped Styles
The Basic Drape: Simple, elegant, and perfect for a classic look
One of the most popular styles of wearing a shawl, the basic drape, is all about elegance and ease. You drape the shawl over your shoulders in an even fashion and let it hang naturally. This elegant style works perfectly for dressy occasions like weddings and dinners and when you want to wear a decorative shawl or designer shawl as a statement piece.
The Shoulder Drape: Great for adding warmth to your shoulders and neck
The shoulder drape is another way of wearing this timeless accessory. The shoulder drape is one of the best ways to stay warm in the cold winter months - particularly if you choose wool shawls or a cashmere blend scarf. To achieve this look, fold your shawl into a triangular shape and then drape it over the shoulders bringing the longest length to the front of your chest in crossover style. You can secure it at the center with safety pins or a decorative broch to bring a new edge to your chic outfit. This look works well with everything from evening dresses to skinny jeans.
The Loop and Through: Adds a bit of texture and interest to your outfit
The loop method lends a playful slant to how you wear a beautiful pashmina shawl and can be one of the best ways of adding a new accent to outfits. To get the look - fold the shawl into a triangle and place the folded edge over your chest with the ends hanging around your back. Bring the ends forward and loop them through the triangle so the shawl is draped around your neck.
Creative Knots and Twists
The French Knot: A simple and elegant way to add some dimension to your shawl
Fold your shawl in half to create a triangle. Place the triangular side of the fabric at the front of your neck, with the long ends hanging loose over the back. Take the ends of the shawl and cross them over the front of each other. Tie a loose know, let the ends hang naturally, and adjust the length to create a stunning focal point.
The Belted Shawl: A great way to define your waist and add some shape to your outfit
Drape your shawl evenly over your shoulders and let it hang naturally. Take a belt and wrap it around your waist so it cinches the shawl. This will deliver a natural hourglass shape, and you can adjust the fabric to create volume and style.
The Infinity Loop: A versatile style that can be worn in a variety of ways
Fold the shallow in half to create a triangle. Hold the two ends of the triangle together and bring them together to create a loop. Place the loop over your head so the ends hang down on your front. Retake the ends and cross them at the back of your neck, pulling them back around the front and adjusting them to your preferred length.
Pairing Shawls with Different Outfits
One of the best things about shawls is that they can be paired with different outfits for various occasions. Whether following current fashion trends or wanting to wear a classic style, there's always a shawl to suit your mood. We take a look at some ways in which you can pair shawls with your favorite outfits.
Shawls with Casual Outfits
Elevate your everyday wear with the simple addition of a shawl. A shawl draped and tied with a simple knot or Parisian knot over a pair of jeans, ankle boots, and a chic shirt is a favorite look for all occasions. Look for simple pastel-shaded cotton shawls for warmer months or a basic wool shawl for the winter season.
Shawls with Formal Outfits
A glamorous shawl is the perfect accessory for a night out or when attending a more formal, dressy occasion. You can either look for a statement embroidery shawl and pair it with a simple yet elegant bare-shoulder dress or bring a pop of solid color to a beige dress or black dress. You also can't go wrong with a silky lace shawl in a muted color scheme, as this will suit any evening dress you can dream up.
Shawls with Work Outfit
Wearing a shawl to work is easy as it can create a polished look. Wearing it as a shoulder drape or opting for the French knot will bring a note of elegance. To wear your shawl for work, you may want to stick to more neutral tones or avoid bright colors or bohemian fashion prints. You can use a shawl or square scarf as an accent piece over women's tops.
Shawls with ethnic attire
Embroidered or embellished shawls also suit ethnic attire, and it's not unusual to see them paired with saris. In fact, you can even choose to use a shawl as a Palu part of the saree by draping it over your shoulder in a similar fashion. Look for complementary colors, patterns, and styles for a cohesive and well-orchestrated finish. Pair with gemstone jewelry, crystal necklaces, and crystal earrings for a beautiful bohemian look.
The Many Types of Shawls
- Pashmina - cozy shawl made from cashmere wool
- Jamawar - intricate designs from Kashmir
- Silk - lightweight and elegant
- Chiffon - delicate and sheer and good for dressing up
- Prints - bold color palettes, bright patterns, and individual styles
- Summer shawls - breathable fabrics and bright colors like cotton or linen
- Winter shawls - basic winter wools and heavier fabrics for staying warm in the winter season
Choosing the Right Shawl
Choosing the right shawl is mostly down to personal preference, but there are some things you may want to consider when picking your shawl style. The occasion and your wardrobe will be the first point to consider. Are you looking for beautiful shawls as an accessory for weddings and other classy occasions, or are you seeking an everyday scarf shawl that you can wear casually with any piece of clothing? Dressy events and weddings may call for a pashmina shawl in silk or light chiffon or even a classy cozy bamboo, whereas an everyday scarf or winter scarf needs a heavier material like wool or cashmere if you live in a colder climate or cotton if you live in a warmer place.
If you want a shawl that will fit a range of different outfits, you may want to select something with a more neutral color or pattern - maybe with just 1-2 prominent colors instead of an array of colors. You may instead opt for a statement scarf if you want a showcase piece to brighten up a basic dress.
Shawls for Different Body Types
Pear-shaped - pick a shawl and wear it in a way that encourages volume so that you draw attention to the upper body. Shawls with embellishments around the neckline can also lend a look of proportion.
Apple-shaped - longer shawls that drape can be a good choice for elongating apple-shaped body types. The shoulder drape or wrap is also a good look for this.
Petite - opt for shawls that don't overwhelm you by looking too big or embrace the classic blanket scarf look.
Shawls for Men: A Rising Trend
The versatility and vibrancy of the shawl world means they are a great gender-neutral accessory for all kinds of dress codes. Famous designers like Alexander McQueen and Burberry have featured shawls as part of their men's fashion lines, and from the red carpet to street style - shawls lend warmth and originality. They can even bring a touch of sophistication.
How to Care for Your Shawl
When caring for your shawl, you should always check the label and adhere to any specialist washing and drying instructions given. How you clean your shawl will depend on the material. If your shawl is delicate, you may want to hand wash it using a mild detergent, or if machine washable - still make sure you choose a delicate cycle. To dry - avoid wringing or twisting your shawl and lay it flat or on a drying rack to air dry out of direct sunlight.
How to wear a shawl in different ways
There are many ways to wear a shawl. You can wear it like a scarf, or you can wear it like a pashmina draped over the shoulders. You can also experiment with different knots - the French knot, the infinity loop, or belt your shawl at the waist.
How to wear a shawl for a wedding
Depending on your outfit, one of the simplest and most elegant ways to wear a shawl to a wedding is to drape it over your shoulders. You can tie a simple knot at the front if you want to keep it in place.
What are the benefits of draping a shawl?
Draping a shawl has many benefits and is one of the best ways to customize your outfit. When you drape a shawl, you bring a layer of warmth that doesn't obstruct but only adds to your look. You can also tie the shawl or leave it open depending on the look and the temperature.
How can you purchase the best quality shawl?
When purchasing a shawl, look first at the quality of the material. Pashmina shawls, cashmere shawls, and silk shawls are all going to be good quality pieces that will stand the test of time.
How many shawls should you have?
You can have as many shawls as you like, but a minimum of two shawls can also work in your wardrobe when it comes to versatility. You can have one dressy shawl for formal occasions and one day shawl for casual wear.