Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

August 19, 2011

Shawls: What Would Frida Wrap?

Filed under: Accessories,Art,How To Wear It — Miss Plumcake @ 10:53 am

I have a confession: the fine art and subtle science of wearing a shawl has always eluded me.

I can carry off a scarf eight million ways to Sunday, I can wear white mother of pearl sunglasses without looking ironic, I can even deploy a Spanish silk fan without channeling Karl Lagerfeld in the pre-tapeworm days –these are no small feats– but the shawl? Jamais!

Oh sure I TRIED to wear a shawl, but I was always like the White Queen from Alice Through the Looking Glass and got myself all tied up higgledy  –and on more than one occasion– piggledy as well. So in the end I’d just throw on a shrug or a seasonally-appropriate mink, depending on the time of day and weep bitter tears.

The problem was twofold.

The first fold is I’m not naturally shaped for most of the ways I’ve seen shawls worn.

I’m pear-shaped without an excess of neck, that means my delicious self is most naturally flattered by keeping everything from the waist up free from heavy visual clutter, like a broad swath of bulky fabric obscuring the loveliest parts of my body; my neckline and my waist.

Fold two, the most important fold, was that I didn’t know how to wear a shawl in a way that flattered me without being fiddly.

Then when I went to Mexico, something clicked. Call it the spirit of Frida Kahlo (did I mention no waxing services for a month? Just a further reminder that I am at any given moment no more than six weeks away from looking like Harry from And The Hendersons fame) but I finally GOT the shawl.

For me the best look is to drape it evenly around my neck, adjust the scarf over my shoulders and then taking each of the outside edges –about five inches below the elbow is comfortable for me– bringing them together in front and tying just those bits in a small square knot, pulling down on the bottom of the shawl to make a nice sort of hospital cornered look that covers my shoulders but keeps the neckline open and the bulkiness to a minimum.

I discovered this by accident, but if you’re smarter than I am –and let’s face it, that’s not setting the bar prohibitively high– you’ll check out this series of tutorials by fellow big girl Kathie Plaskiewicz for The Proud Peacock.

Although I can’t imagine anyone even owning, much less using a scrunchie in public, what with it not being 1994 and all (an elasticated or drawstring bracelet is a chic-er choice) she gives you a whole mess of ways to wear a shawl, very few I’d seen before. What’s better is since she’s a big girl, you can see how these folds and knots look on someone of more, as Alexander McCall Smith would say, “traditional build.” Enjoy!


  1. I’m not sure about the shawl. Whenever I think of wearing a shawl I think Grandmama. Hmmmmm…It just looks too dowdy for me but I like cleaner lines with not alot of print. But maybe when I get out of my comfort zone a shawl will be one of the accessories for my risk-taking experience.

    Comment by Plus Size Workout with The Curvy Goddess — August 19, 2011 @ 11:51 am

  2. I love a good shawl. I have a dozen gorgeous lace shawls I’ve knit myself from hand-dyed yarns. I find the triangular ones can be easier to deal with than the rectangular stole shape the proud peacock is showing here, but she looks to be a good bit taller than I am. I’m a short girl, but I have a long neck which does make the shawl easier to pull off.

    Comment by Cedar — August 19, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

  3. Funny, I was just thinking the other day about how somehow word got out that formal ensembles necessitated a shawl–in case you get cold? to cover your unsightly arms?–so every woman started carrying one of those polyester “pashminas” on her elbows in an awkward, droopy way. How did that start??

    Comment by Kim — August 20, 2011 @ 12:13 am

  4. @Kim: My best guess is weddings. I suspect most adults ever wear formal clothes for weddings, and most weddings are religious ceremonies, often inside a house of worship. It is an appropriate sign of respect in most houses of worship to have the female shoulders covered, however most eveningwear is either strapless or bare-shouldered. Women might also have realized bare arms don’t look so hot in photographs and grabbed a shawl, just in case. And you don’t can’t discount the chill factor. Most women don’t have an evening jacket and can’t carry off a fur stole, so it’s either the shawl or the Lands End car coat with plaid lining.

    Comment by Miss Plumcake — August 20, 2011 @ 3:06 am

  5. This sort of wanders into evening and bridal territory, but when I was a young minx (minxhood has been left waaaay behind, trust me), there was such a creature as a ‘winter wedding gown’. Now, I realize this was also during a time when you could get wedding gowns with sleeves which is almost impossible now, but there was a whole different deal for winter weddings which included items such as: jackets with fur collars (and or cuffs) that came with regular wedding gowns, wedding gowns with long sleeves and sometimes fur collars and cuffs and so on. I actually went to a Christmas wedding in 1975 where the bride wore a dress with a fur trimmed hood and a matching fur muff (I think there might have been a poinsettia flower pinned on it…), which I recall I thought was completely awesome (the rest of the wedding and reception was not so awesome but that is a tale for another time). What do brides do today? Just not get married within the months of November and March? Get jackets made to go with their dresses? Shawls? Freeze? Enquiring minds and all that.

    Comment by Toby Wollin — August 20, 2011 @ 11:30 am

  6. I’m really hating the scrunchie – I just can’t have one near my body or in my home – but I love the method and would totally do that using a sarong tie instead.

    Comment by Jennifer P — August 22, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

  7. Sorry, here’s a sarong tie:

    It’s a small piece of wood, bone, or shell with two holes in it. You can draw the shawl (or sarong) through the wholes and make a very secure and decorative knot.

    Comment by Jennifer P — August 22, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

  8. Try using a brooch instead of a scrunchie — so much prettier!

    Comment by lali — August 23, 2011 @ 2:02 am

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