Cashmere wrap, bright bohemian print, blanket scarf style, or classic silk shawl - there are many different kinds of shawls out there, and this is part of the reason why this timeless fashion garment has never gone out of style. You can never have too many shawls - whether you want an extra dose of warmth, a touch of elegance, or just a beautiful handcrafted piece that you can turn to when you want to make a statement - you can be sure there is a shawl for every occasion.
Historical and Cultural Significance of Shawls
Shawls have been around forever - or at least as long as the Middle Ages. What started as a simple piece of fabric to be loosely worn over the head and shoulders has evolved to become a gorgeous garment that can be worn for fashion, religion, culture, and more. The roots of the shawl can be traced back to Kashmir on the Indian subcontinent, and this is where it takes its name. It's tracked to the 14th century when an Iranian scholar called Sayeed Ali Hamadani came to Kashmir and started to use soft goat wool to create handicrafts and garments, and thus - the Kashmiri shawl was born. Back in these days, a shawl would have been a necessity to help protect the wearer against the elements. Now, shawls can still be used in this way, but they are also celebrated as decorative pieces, fashion statements, and ways to celebrate the beauty of intricate patterns, rich colors, and elaborate fabrics.
In many cultures, traditional shawls are part of the daily dress or can be worn for special occasions and certain celebrations. Pashmina shawls in India hold deep significance in the Kashmiri region and are even passed down from generation to generation. Himroo Indian shawls were a symbol of nobility and high status and were prized for their silver threads. Scottish shawls were worn to symbolize which clan you belonged to and are still worn as a ceremonial dress for weddings and social gatherings and for the highland games. Chinese scarves and shawls celebrated the craft of silk as an expensive fabric, and in the Middle East, shawls are often worn as part of religious identity.
Different Types of Shawls
Pashmina shawls are among the most well-known and expensive shawls. Originating from the heights of the Himalayas, they are crafted from the fine cashmere wool of the pashmina goat. Pashmina wool is famed for its softness and warmth and for being a beautiful, luxurious textile. You often find pashmina shawls in a wide range of colors and adorned with beautiful design motifs.
Wool shawls straddle the line between timeless elegance and being a highly practical item of clothing. They are popular in colder climates and places where extra warmth is needed. They can come in a variety of styles, materials, and designs - from heavier materials like cashmere shawls to thick khaddar and patchwork loom shawls. Cozy wool shawls often have bold patterns, or you can find plain shawls in block colors.
Silk shawls are a popular type of shawl for those seeking luxury and elegance. Spun from the fibers of the silk moth, silk shawls are often crafted in rich colors and tend to be a more formal shawl type that you would wear for formal events, special occasions, or with your party dress. The delicate embroidery and silk threads bring a timeless beauty that never goes out of style.
Cotton thread shawls can be a great choice for when you want a lightweight extra layer in warmer weather. Cotton shawls are beautifully breathable and light enough to stash in your bag when you don't want to wear them in hot weather. These quality shawls can also bring a bright pop of color to any outfit, and it's easy to find beautiful shawls made from cotton in a range of styles, prints, and shades.
Utterly unique and enchanting, embroidered shawls can be made from a range of fabrics (woollen fabrics, silk, and lighter materials like cotton and more). Embroidered shawls are celebrated for their intricate designs - these can be hand-painted designs, shawls made from Indian fabrics, floral motifs, other intricate motifs, geometric patterns, tree designs, life designs, traditional paisley patterns, and more. These shawls really celebrate the embroidery stitch, and these are also the type of shawls you tend to see in national folk dress.
Lace shawls are lightweight but can lend a delicate and sophisticated look to any formal setting. You may wear a lace shawl for an evening event, a wedding if you are a chilly bride or any occasion where you want an extra light layer or delicate touch without losing that elegant edge in your formal wear. Lace shawls can be made from silk or cotton and are often draped around the shoulders.
Classic woolen wear - knitted shawls are a cozy choice in chilly weather. Often crafted from warm materials like wool or any basic fabric that is warm. You can find knitted shawls in basic colors or emblazoned with contemporary designs.
Choosing the Right Shawl
Based on Occasion
Formal events - If you want to wear shawls for formal events, you may be best seeking those that boast intricate embroidery and that are made from luxurious materials like silk or lace or even pashmina wool for colder occasions.
Casual adventures - Lightweight cotton shawls or shawls made from soft wool can be great for those days when you are running errands, taking a casual lunch, or going for a stroll. You can find shawls in rich colors and with fun floral patterns to bring a pop of style and color.
Traveling - Shawls can be priceless accessories when traveling. Look for shawls that are made from light materials like cotton or bamboo so they are easy to carry, and slip them on when you need a dose of warmth or even to protect yourself from the sun (depending on the material).
Work-life - You can wear shawls to work or in any professional setting. Look for shawls in muted colors and high-quality materials like wool or cashmere to bring a sense of sophistication.
Based on Outfit
Color and style - There is a wide range of shawls out there, so pick colors and styles that mesh well with the rest of your outfit. You can pick a shawl in a contrasting color to the rest of your look to shake things up a little, or you can pair the color to be similar to other accessories for a coherent and polished finish.
Pattern play - One of the best things about typical shawls is that they play with patterns and intricate designs. Sure, you can wear a plain shawl, but you can also look for shawls that are bold and bright. Just make sure to balance your look; if you are already wearing bold patterns, you may want a shawl that plays it down a little to balance it out.
Layering - A quality shawl works really well as a layering piece. You can use shawls to create texture, shape, warmth, and a whole new dimension to your look. For example, draping a lace shawl over a sleeveless dress will bring a whole new element of romance.
Care and Maintenance
Looking after your shawls properly will expand their life span and keep them feeling fine for many years to come. Remember, shawls were so much more than a luxury accessory and were considered to be heirlooms that would be passed down from generation to generation. Here are some tips for keeping your shawls in tip-top shape.
- Always read the care instructions when it comes to washing, as different materials have different needs.
- Handwashing your shawl may be best, especially if it is made from a delicate material like silk or cashmere.
- Always use delicate detergents.
- Avoid wringing or twisting your shawl, as this can stretch the fibers. Instead, squeeze water by pressing it between your palms.
- Avoid hanging your shawl to dry in direct sunlight, as this could cause the rich colors to fade.
- Store your shawls in a dry, cool place to avoid exposure to moisture and heat.
- You should store it in a breathable place rather than using storage bags, as these can lead to mildew and moisture.
Shawls are a fabulous way of staying warm, looking chic, bringing dimension and delicacy to your dress, and celebrating the heritage of fashion. It's totally versatile; there are a thousand and one ways you can wear shawls, and there are so many different types of shawls out there. Explore the world of the finest shawls and find your own signature way of bringing this ancient garment into your modern world. Check out our bamboo clothing and tunics too.
How many types of shawls are there
There are many different types of shawls across the world - spanning different styles, colors, and materials. From Kashmir shawls to silk shawls, crepe shawls, and wool shawls for cold weather, you can find an endless array of shawls waiting for you.
What are shawls called in Kashmir
Kashmir shawls are also sometimes known as Pashmina shawls, as they are crafted from the soft wool of the pashmina goat.
Which type of shawl is world-famous
Pashmina shawls are one of the most famous types of shawls in the world. These shawls are one of the oldest types of this gorgeous garment and are made from the soft wool of the pashmina goat.
What is a ladies' wrap called
Ladies' wraps are often called shawls and scarves, although there are also stoles, dress scarves, and pashmina - the latter of which is also a type of shawl.