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 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!