Look and feel like a red carpet diva with the glamorous look of a pashmina shawl wrap. Shawls can offer clever concealment for those less than perfect figure problems while they change the look of any outfit instantly.
Drape them across the body to create slimming diagonal lines or ditch the more traditional look and wrap them tightly around the waist to draw attention to a trim slim midriff. No matter how you wear them, a pashmina is as much of a fashion staple for the trendy woman as the ubiquitous little black dress (LBD).
The term pashmina refers to apparel—typically shawls—made from a finely woven cashmere wool. The traditional pashmina is manufactured from finely spun fibers made from the wool of Asian mountain goats (Capra hircus.) This wool, which is collected from the goats’ underbellies, is hand spun, woven into textiles, and embellished with embroidery.
Historical reports pinpoint the origin of these shawls to Kashmir in the fifteenth century, where they were only fashioned from the finest pashmina fibers, which produced lightweight yet incredibly warm shawls. Both men and women wore these shawls. They were considered a symbol of wealth and status with those that were embellished with gold or silver fringes or embroidery being the most desirable.
Today, however, the term pashmina may be used for many types of textiles and the wool of the Himalayan Ibex is often used in manufacturing rather than the wool from the Asian mountain goats. Do your due diligence before purchasing any shawl that purports to be a “pashmina” so you can be sure you are not paying more for an imitation than you would for an authentic shawl.
How to Wear a Pashmina
Types of Pashmina Shawls
According to the report “Traditional Textile of India Kashmir Textile,” some of traditional examples of these shawls are:
- Do-shalla: two shawls woven together so the undersides are never seen, made fashionable by the Emperor Akabar.
- Do-rukha: Reversible shawls combining weaving and embroidery on both sides of the shawl
- Shahpasand: Features larger decorative borders at the ends of the shawl
Where to Buy
When you are shopping for your pashmina, you’ll get the most traditional look and feel by choosing one of these colors:
If you opt for an embroidered or patterned shawl and not a solid color one, look for those with bird, nature or fruit designs for a more authentic look.
Look for these elegant shawls at your local brick and mortar stores that specialize in upscale apparel or scarves or find them online.
Although it is not an all-inclusive list, here are some online merchants who cater to those looking for pashminas:
The Pashmina Store: The shawls, scarves and wraps offered here are sourced directly from the finest pashmina artisans in Nepal and sold to the end consumer. Charlene Martina, owner of The Pashmina Store, is passionate about providing top quality pashminas at an affordable price point for anyone who wants to own one of these fine pieces of wearable art.
Choose from 100 percent pashmina or blends in a variety of colors, animal prints and sizes. Some perks for patrons are standard free shipping and a satisfaction guarantee. Pay for purchases with most major credit cards or PayPal.
Peach Couture: This is a women-owned business whose shawls made by hand throughout the manufacturing process from dying to knotting to fabrication. The fabric dyes are chemical free and the textile is environmentally friendly bamboo fabric.
Currently shipping is a low flat rate for orders under $25 and free for qualifying orders over $25; however, these terms could change in the future so be sure and verify the real shipping costs before placing your order. Most major credit cards are accepted for payment.
These pashminas are made in India and available in a rainbow palette of colors. Size of shawl is 28 inches by 78 inches.
Yours Elegantly: Choose from pure pashmina wool shawls or those made from a blend of pashmina and silk. This is an excellent source for paisley shawls with an exotic Far East look and feel, which are sourced from Nepal and India.
They also feature reversible shawls as well as those that are embellished with beadwork or embroidery. Order conveniently online and pay with PayPal or most major credit cards, and in stock items feature same day shipping options. They offer a reasonable return policy and international shipping.
Tying and Wrapping Pashmina Shawls
Because shawls are such a versatile fashion accessory, the options for wearing them are almost unlimited. However, some popular ways of wearing shawls are:
- Draped over one or both shoulders.
- Wrapped around the head with the ends draped over the shoulders.
- Tied at the waist or hips to skim the midriff.
- Folded in half or quarters and draped around the neck or shoulders.
- Twisted into a long rope and used as a belt.
- Draped around the neck and loosely knotted (tie the knot as high or as low as you prefer.)
- Wrap around the neck from front to back (loosely), bring ends from back to front and drape loosely over the front of the body. Tug gently on the draped fabric to form a cowl-neck effect.
Accessorize and add a vivid splash of color with shawls for dresses, jackets, swimwear or suits. They make sumptuous, rich looking bridal wraps and many brides even give pashminas to their guests as wedding favors. (See the image below for an example of how to use one as a wedding favor). Pair them with prom or evening gowns for an utterly elegant look.
Depending on the fabric and design of the shawl, they can be casual, semi-formal or formal in appearance, and because they are lightweight, they can be worn comfortably year round. Choose from a traditional triangle shawl or long oblong or opt from a collection of both styles in a wide range of colors, patterns and textiles to create a signature look.
Pashmina Shawls Make Unique Wedding Favors
No matter what you might read on the Internet or hear from others, you should always follow the manufacturer’s care instructions (on the label) exactly to ensure you receive the maximum use and enjoyment of your pashmina. With the proper care, your pashmina shawl wrap can be passed down to your heirs as a family heirloom.