Keep­ing It Warm & Cosy in Style!

Pro­fil­ing the new win­ter trends mak­ing waves

Apparel - - Contents -

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


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


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.


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