Keeping It Warm & Cosy in Style!
Profiling the new winter trends making waves
Winters, which are definitely more pronounced in North India, earlier meant sartorial wear revolving only around jackets and shawls. Although stylised options under each were available, there were not much available besides these in winter wear. The shawl, a versatile garment, is available in a host of options from pashmina to tribal weaves to silk. However, it is restrictive and cumbersome. What one can now see suddenly is the myriad variants in winter wear. Traditional shawl designs are being reinvented into jackets and stoles. Ponchos are in vogue in numerous designs; shawls are fashioned into chic buttoned avatars, while sweaters are being combined with a stole covering the arms yet being pinned for work and are interestingly called ‘sweater shawl wraps’. Well, one can say that these are interesting times to experiment with winter wear.
These have been around for a long time but suddenly have found their place in the sun. It is, today, the one word encompassing a lot of innovations in street wear in India. For research purposes, poncho is referenced to the Spanish word. But historically, it is South American apparel. There are references to it in Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. Hence, broadly, it is called a South American garment. The poncho is an outer garment which is used to keep the wearer warm. It has, as per online research, been used since
THE INNOVATION WHICH IS THE MOST STRIKING IS THE COLOURS. THE COLOURS AVAILABLE NOW FOR WINTER WEAR, ESPECIALLY PONCHOS, ARE PLENTIFUL.
pre-Hispanic times by the Native Americans. Though in simplistic unglamorous terms it is a loose garment with an opening or slit for the head, there are umpteen versions of it.
The Indian versions now available are in a host of styles, colours and materials. There are reversible ones; there are those with a sweater that have sleeves while the front hangs like a regular poncho. Then there are those which have arm holes, giving it manoeuvrability. There are also plenty of those with borders, those reinvented from shawls and those with closed necks. Gone are the days when the neck styles were simplistic; ponchos now come with high neck collars, ‘V’ necks, turtlenecks, cowl necks, and also with collars, buttons, pinned brooch effects and more. In terms of material, they are available in woollen knits, crochets, embroidered ones from Kashmir, acrylic, Lycra, machine knits, hand-knits, eri silk, with silk finish as well as kantha inspired reversible ones.
The innovation which is the most striking is the colours. The colours available now for winter wear, especially ponchos, are plentiful: solids, prints, and stripes. However, it is the solid bold colours or pastel ones which are popular since they can be teamed with anything. Those with prints or stripes are festive and look dressy. Probably seeing this versatility, there are plenty of designs and styles available on the street.
Ponchos are short, so they can be worn over any Indian garment. They are warm and can be wrapped and snuggled into like a shawl but are not as cumbersome or unwieldy. They can be worn over a sari, salwar-kameez, dresses and jeans, thus making them a versatile garment and essential to a wardrobe. Cover-up styled ponchos
WHAT WORKS FOR PONCHOS AND RUANAS IS THAT THEY CAN BE STYLED IN MANY WAYS.
are haute too. There are also plenty of options with sleeves and unstitched portions–a cross between a kaftan and a poncho.
The online media is full of references on how to style a poncho. One such titled, ‘Mastering the Poncho Trend for Fall’, by www.wardrobeoxygen.
com says, “The left look is a great casual or weekend way to wear a poncho. While this look would work great with skinny jeans and boots, switch up the silhouette with boyfriend jeans and an ankle bootie. A solid poncho pairs great with prints; a classic Breton tee peeks out from underneath and leopard print brogues add interest. A poncho adds weight on the top of the body; if you need a bigger bag, look for one with a long shoulder or cross body strap to better distribute the bulk. For the right look, this shows how a printed poncho can look quite chic. With a trim black turtleneck (can be easily switched for a crewneck), ponte pants and sleek heeled booties, this poncho look could work for the office or dinner. A gold pendant and cuff add shine while also weighing down the poncho to better show your shape; a bag with texture or a contrast colour will add the necessary pop to the clean look.”
This is another interesting varied version which is not known much but is slowly making its presence felt. It is a form of the poncho, the difference being that it has a slit from the head hole through the middle, making it look almost like a kimono except that the kimono has sleeves. It originates from the Andes region of Colombia.
What works for ponchos and ruanas is that they can be styled in many ways. They can be stylishly draped, pinned with a brooch, belted or draped over one shoulder to reveal one’s décolletage. The website www.wardrobeoxygen.
com celebrates the styling of ruanas as, “I like ruanas because they are easier to get on and off, and you can switch up their look by belting them. Also with the slit in the front, prints are easier to carry off because there’s a break in the pattern. Longer ruanas (hip length or longer) are less likely to slide off your shoulders or slip back; like ponchos, the heavier the weight the longer the ruana should be to get better drape.”
Sweater shawl wraps or vice versa as ‘shawl sweater wraps’ are in and the trend seems to be ‘the more the merrier’. Shawl sweater wraps are like sweaters with sleeves but can be wrapped around with the front left loose like a shawl. This gives the apparel a lot of potential to play around
with. It can be a straightforward pinup for work and for downtime, it can be thrown around the neck or over the shoulder like a shrug or a wrap, making the ensemble look glamorous. Pinning it up with a beautiful brooch can make it an elegant formal outfit. It is also combined with sleeves à la shrug. It can be used as a cover-up if made using cotton, knits or linen. The versatility of the design makes it useful for all seasons with the appropriate change in the material used. One can see plenty of these in knitted avatars in most of the markets. The other thing which stands out is how the shawl has been repurposed with sleeves to make it resemble a shrug or a loose kaftan with a tie. Without a tie, it can be teamed with a belt. Those with a delicate texture are even paired with bridal wear. Sweater wraps also uses kimonostyled sleeves which are shorter and wider, giving the apparel a very casual look. Again, given the contours of shawl sweater wraps, it can be teamed with both formal and informal wear. SHRUGS Shrugs are a loose garment worn over apparel. They come in customised sizes and can be defined as a cape without a hood, a sleeveless jacket or a scarf with sleeves that can be draped attractively. It is the fall of the garment which is wonderful to play around with. A lot of these are reversible, which adds to the charm and beauty of the garment.
What works for these garments is that they can be worn with both Indian ethnic wear and western wear. It is this casual comfort of the garment which is making it popular on the fashion street. Clothes are becoming unisex and the difference between formal and informal wear is slowly declining. Casual and comfortable seems to be the mantra; this style of apparel fits the definition to a T and is catching on in a big way.
THE VERSATILITY OF THE DESIGN MAKES IT USEFUL FOR ALL SEASONS WITH THE APPROPRIATE CHANGE IN THE MATERIAL USED.