Good accessorizing can take an outfit’s statement about you from, “I put on clothes.” to “I am intentional about my appearance!”
My winter go-to is a “Pashmina” shawl. I have many colors and different weights, and I wear one nearly every day. It’s such a versatile and functional styling piece that I can hardly walk out the door without one.
Pashmina comes from the Persian word “pashm” which means, “wool.” Pashmina is not actually an internationally recognized fiber, it is a marketing term used to describe different products. Sometimes it is cheaper standard wool treated with resins to make it softer. Sometimes it’s not even wool, but acrylic! Always check labels, as anything with actual wool in it will be labeled as such. Cashmere is the fine wool produced by goats in cold cold high altitudes, and that term is regulated – like Champagne!
I choose a wide shawl instead of a narrow scarf because I can do so much more with it. Since I often use it as a scarf, however, I sometimes refer to it as such. Just know, for the sake of this post, I mean shawl!
I typically start the day with one wrapped around my neck a few times, like a typical scarf. My office gets fairly cold (maintenance is still trying to figure out why the air conditioning comes on at 11 a.m. regardless of the temperature), so the Pashmina gets unwrapped and used as an actual shawl or blanket while I’m at my desk. Our main conference room is always super warm, so off comes the scarf. So versatile!
They are not just functional, though. I like adding a pop of color, and sometimes I feel like I need something long and drapey to finish an outfit. Or hide behind. You know what I’m talking about! As I mentioned earlier, accessorizing can make all the difference in an outfit.
Here’s my styling tip: Instead of letting the ends hang straight, which kind of cuts across the body, make the scarf longer and hang the edges diagonally. Here’s how:
1. Hang it from your neck without wrapping it around, so the ends hand pretty evenly in front of you.
2. With each hand, grab the opposite long edge.
Now your scarf is longer, it’s hanging on the bias so it looks a bit fuller, and the edges are hanging at diagonal angles instead of straight across your body. I think it looks better this way, and you can now wrap, twist or tie it however you like.
PURCHASING TIP: Some shawls that have not a hair of actual Cashmere wool in them are marketed as “Pashmina” when they are really viscose. Anything with actual wool in it has to be labeled as such, so look for indications of “70% Cashmere/30% silk” as opposed to, “100% pashmina” which could in fact be anything. For the price, I’m willing to buy and wear other wool blended with silk and marketed as Pashmina, but I really prefer not to wear the completely artificial ones. They pill up easily, and are often treated with weird chemicals to make them softer.
CLEANING TIP: Cashmere can be washed! Put each piece in a mesh bag and wash it in the washing machine on the gentle cycle, with only cold water. Use baby shampoo instead of detergent. Pull them out of the washer immediately so they don’t sit there on each other, and then dry flat. Voila!
TRAVEL TIP: When flying, the shawl can be rolled up as a neck pillow, or serves as a much-nicer-than-airplane-issue blanket. Or both – just bring multiples!