One of my favorite things about fall — other than apple cider — is the comfort and ease of tossing on a wrap. It’s far more cozy than a jacket; lighter than a coat; and more versatile than any sweater.
Moreover, the popularity of the pieces (which includes not just wraps, but shawls, ponchos, ruanas and capes) means that this fall is seeing a deluge of new styles and chic new designs that work with almost everything — from casual/everyday looks to fancy-schmancy evening ensembles.
Ruanas: Yes, I know they sound like an exotic animal that you might find in the Andes or at a petting zoo. But ruanas are far more fashionable — and less high-maintenance — than that. They’re wool coverings that most closely resemble a poncho, except with a slit down the front, which makes for much easier wrapping. They look great open, but can also be swept across or around the neck. They’re often made of light wool, and come in all kinds of stripes and plaids, too. The Everyday Ruana ($79 on echonewyork.com), for example, is simple and elegant — perfectly sleek yet cozy, in solid colors like silver, black, charcoal and a bold cardinal red. For a statement-making splurge that’s as good for a campfire as it is for popping out for a nice dinner, pull on the Cashmere Fringe-Detail Ruana ($249 on garnethill.com); it comes in pretty camel or fir-green stripes, and will bundle you in a heavenly, stylish cloud.
Shawls: Possibly the most classic and best-known of all the types of wraps, the shawl is a square, triangular or rectangular piece of material (usually wool, cashmere or a wool-silk blend) that’s almost always worn around the shoulders. And my favorite types are those you can just keep nearby for a bit of extra warmth. The best are lightweight, like the Roxy Wrap ($119.90 on jmclaughlin.com) in color-blocked camel heather and powder blue. That lends a softness to every outfit, in color and texture. And my favorite new shawl this season is the Chappy Shawl, which are about to launch in mid-September ($90 on chappywrap.com). Made by a Boston-based mom-and-daughter duo, they use the same fiber content as their regular cozy blankets, but have lightened up the thread count and been reshaped so they’re perfectly wearable. The classic Harborview Herringbone design in cream goes with everything, and they’ll be coming out with new colors (light blue, light pink and charcoal grey) in early October.
Ponchos: Sometimes hooded and sometimes not, the poncho is usually a pull-on affair (though not always). In the latter camp is the Ralph Lauren Collection’s Ruana Striped Blanket Poncho ($2,390 on bergdorfgoodman.com) a black-and-cream splurge that incorporates a ruana’s open front with a poncho’s shape. In an Italian silk and wool blend and striped intarsia edges, it’s no ordinary topper. Nearly as luxurious and just as flexible in your wardrobe is the Hooded Poncho in Felted Wool-Cashmere ($321.30 on theory.com), a buttoned, free-flowing number that comes in a soft oatmeal/camel combo, ready to add a plush layer to any outfit.
Pashminas: Although they took the ’90s by storm and seem to have died out as a trend since then, they’re still around and very much in demand. The name “pashmina” refers not to the shawl itself, but to the material — a type of fine cashmere harvested from a breed of goat found in the Himalayan Mountains. (Pashminas these days are often a blend of pashmina and silk). Pay homage to their exotic heritage by donning one that’s equally unique in design — like Alexander McQueen’s Cloud Skull Pashmina Scarf ($260 on neimanmarcus.com). With its edgy-meets-luxurious swagger — its skull patterns are framed by an eyelash fringe trim — the Italian-made wrap has the right kind of attitude to finish just about any look this fall.