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Ways to Wear a Shawl Wrap

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Woman with crocheted shawlIt’s a fashion classic, a favorite of stylish women for generations. And it’s as up-to-date as today.

It’s the shawl. And it’s more versatile than you might imagine.

Shawls and wraps work with fashions from gowns and heels to jeans and boots. Depending on the fabric and size you choose, they add the perfect finishing touch to your outfit in every season, too. Still not sure how to add this always-on-trend accessory to your look? Here are ten ways to wear a shawl wrap in every season, from dressy to casual.


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10. Over a wool coat

woman with shawl over coat

When winter’s bite is at its worst, it’s only natural to focus on the things that keep you warm, like gloves, hats, and of course that cozy wool coat. But even on the coldest days, you can add a touch of style and color to your look by layering a colorful shawl over your coat. Not only is it a bright pop of color, it can also double as an extra scarf or can be pulled up to keep your face warm when the wind blows.

9. A silky feminine touch with business attire

Scarf with business attire

Do you have to wear a business attire at work? Why not at a little feminine touch by accessorizing your outfit with a silky alpaca scarf or shawl? Select a subtle color and simple pattern to express yourself without overpowering your power suit.

8. A cozy layer with a sweater

woman with sweater and scarf

I don’t know about you, but I love sweater weather! And even more than getting to pull out my cozy sweaters, it’s also the season when I can start adding layers of color with my collection of pashminas. Of all the ways to wear a shawl wrap, this is my very favorite, because I can play with color and texture to my heart’s content. Today silk, tomorrow a soft as a cloud alpaca, the next day, who knows? It’s all good!

7. A pop of color with a monochromatic outfit

silk scarf grey suit

There’s a certain elegance in a tone-on-tone outfit. Whether it’s soft ivory, muted charcoal, or basic black, it’s a classic. But have you ever considered elevating that look with just a spot of color from a wrap or scarf? A single bright solid or a simple pattern can bring a whole new freshness to your signature business look.

6. A shabby chic finishing touch with jeans

Woman with colorful shawl

The seventies left us with many fashion memories we wish we could forget like polyester pant suits and of course, the disco scarf (thank you, John Travolta!)

But one look that came out of that era does have staying power: the fringed (or not), silky and tie-dye or floral shawl, worn with a well faded pair of jeans. This shabby chic look is still popular on the pages of Rachael Ashwell’s popular books and in magazines on every newsstand. Add a pair of colorful western boots for a down home Texas twist, or make it all about comfort with some slipper-soft flats.

5. A barely-there shimmer with evening wear

You spent days (weeks?) picking out your gown for the gala. Or maybe it’s your prom, and you finally found the right dress. Either way, the last thing you want to do it cover it up!  Thank goodness there are barely-there stoles that can add a touch of mystery, a soupçon of texture or color to your outfit without hiding anything.  Look for something in fine lace or ethereal chiffon for the perfect final touch.

4. An homage to the glamour of yesteryear

By Madeleine Wallis for the House of Paquin 1924 - The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Women used to get dressed up all the time. And they looked amazing… at least in the movies. Gowns around the house, and even fancier gowns for a dinner date. Wraps and hats and silky, sparkling bits of something for every occasion. While I wouldn’t trade my jeans and hoodies for the world, I do like to add a bit of glamor to my look now and again.

If you want to find treasures like this one from the 1920’s, check out your local vintage shops. Or head to estate sales in the more expensive areas of your city. Beauties like this may have been hiding in a closet or chest for decades, just waiting for you to discover them.

3. A must-have with your travel outfit

black shawl wrap

Air travel is more stressful and crowded than ever, so most of us are looking closely at every item we bring. As space tightens, a big shawl or scarf should be among the very first things in your carry-on. You can easily put them on and off at security, and they add a lot of color without bulk. Once on board, these slender lengths of fabric are surprisingly warm, so they can double as a blanket. And perhaps best of all, if your seatmate, is, well shall we say, aromatic, you can spritz your favorite scent onto it and pull it up over your nose for some sweeter breathing.

2. A beautiful addition to your wedding gown

Sure, we all love those pretty strapless wedding dresses, but a bride with goosebumps just might not be at her best for that all important moment. If the church or reception hall is a bit chilly, there’s no need to hide your dress under a coat or sweater when you include a bridal shawl in your wedding outfit. These lacy accessories can be made to match your dress, or can coordinate with the attendants’ dresses. Either way, you’ll be a lot more comfortable for every unforgettable second of your big day.

1. A snuggly part of reading time

Mom and baby warm shawl

I had sweet memories of curling up with my great-grandmother, a book in hand, and both of us wrapped in her big, soft knitted shawl. So when I had kids of my own, I made sure to find a cozy “reading time” shawl of my own. Whether you’re reading to your own little ones, your grandkids, or just reading a favorite book of your own, a big shawl is a way to make any reading time just a little more perfect.

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