…are fast becoming indispensable fashion accessories because of their versatility. They originated in Persia where even men used to wear them… mostly as protection from the cold. Some of the shawl wraps are made of the finest silk, which originally came from China where they became famous during the early 19th century.
By the early 1800s, embroidered shawls with fringe made their way to Europe and the US. Some countries such as Spain integrated embroidered shawls into their national costume, because they were popularly worn during the early years. Shawls, sometimes called stoles, are also part of the traditional wear of Middle Eastern women who use these to cover their heads.
These days, wraps and stoles are not just worn for practical reasons, but also for the elegance they add to an evening attire or to a daytime casual dress. Women usually drape shawls over their shoulders, upper arms or on top of their heads. Those that are made of fine materials such as silk can be used as scarves while those made from heavier materials like cotton are often wrapped around the whole body. Most of what we find in the market today are exquisitely designed, with some being hand-embroidered. They are priced based on their designs and the materials used in manufacturing.
Shawl Wraps Materials
Different types of materials are used to make shawl wraps. The most popular ones are made from silk, cotton, cashmere, and pashmina wools. Pashmina and cashmere wraps have been around for generations, mostly in Persia and India, but became more popular by the late 1990s as French designers integrated them as accessories to their fashion collections. The word pashmina originally referred to woolen wraps made from the capra hircus goat in the Kashmir valley, but these days, it is now generically used for wraps, scarves and shawls woven from natural fibers. These soft fibers are often finer than cashmere and produce more light-weight materials.
There are some shawls that are banned in the market, because of the materials used in making them. Those made from shahtoosh are more exquisite and delicate, but only because they are not made from goat wool, but from the hair of the chiru antelope of Tibet, which is an endangered specie. Often called ring shawls, they are so fine that they can be passed through a ring.
Tips To Remember When Buying Shawl Wraps
Here are some things you may want to keep in mind when buying shawls and wraps:
1. Consider the material.
For more formal wear, you can choose to wear a silk, cashmere or a pashmina shawl. Stoles made from these materials usually come in exquisite designs and are soft to touch. They add a sense of sophistication to your wardrobe, especially for cozy evening dinners. Shawls and wraps made of cotton provide the best warmth during winter days. During spring and summer, satin wraps are perfect even during the day. Stoles made of lightweight material such as chiffon or lace in pastel colors can add radiance to any daytime outfit.
2. Consider the shape and size.
Shawls and wraps come in various shapes. A rectangular wrap can be draped around your body while a triangular shawl is usually worn over your shoulders.
3. Consider the price.
What determines the price is the material used for the shawl. The most expensive ones are made of exquisite material, usually pashmina and cashmere fibers. A pashmina shawl made in Nepal is quite expensive because the material is very finely woven. The extreme weather that the goats have to survive make them naturally produce warm, yet light wool. There are also exquisite stoles made from silk and their price depends on the fiber count, the feel and the texture of the fabric. These days, it is easier to compare prices by visiting online shops that sell shawls and wraps.
4. Consider the color and what you can pair it with.
You may fancy buying a red polka-dotted silk shawl, but if you can’t pair it with any of your clothes, then you may just end up keeping it in your closet for years. It is fun to collect these fashion accessories that come in various colors, sizes and designs, but remember to wear them according to the weather and the occasion.
Different Ways To Wear A Shawl
Decades back, people used to think that a shawl is just used to keep oneself warm during the winter months. With the way stoles and wraps evolved into trendy fashion accessories, there are now many ways you can wear them.
Here are just some innovative ways to wear pashmina shawl wraps:
1. During cold days, drape it around your body to keep you warm. You can also use is as a “skiing scarf” where you first fold it in half, wrap it around your neck and put one end through a loop.
2. If you are wearing a sleeveless dress, you can use your shawl as a small bolero by draping it around your shoulders. Pull the two ends towards your back and make a knot.
3. You can use it as a scarf to complement your daytime wear.
4. Drape a silk shawl on one of your shoulders and attach a brooch pin on top.
5. Fold the shawl in half, wrap it around your neck and make a loop. You can use it as an elegant neck scarf by tying the ends into a ribbon or using a pin to gather the edges together.
6. A fine shawl can be draped on your upper arms to add elegance to an evening gown.
7. Wear a shawl on top of your head and let the edges hang on your shoulders. You can also let one edge drape over the other, or tie them together into a knot.
You can experiment on many other ways to use your scarf by using your imagination. A beaded, fine shawl can even be used as a belt which can make your day or evening wear look very stunning.
Starting Your Shawl Wraps Collection
In the same way that shoes, bags and costume jewelries can immediately transform your look, a shawl can also make your wardrobe more interesting. Women are discovering the versatility of a shawl, that some are even starting their own collections. Not all shawl wraps are expensive, but it pays to invest on good quality ones that are made of the finest materials. If your budget is quite restrained, you can start a decent shawl and wrap collection by comparing prices on online stores. You would find that they come in different shapes, sizes and designs which make them even more interesting.