Monday, 3 November 2014

The Return of the Poncho

       Newman and Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 1969

Having been wearing capes, thick shawls (my favourite is one made out of Tibetan yak's hair) and ponchos for a while to cries of "where did you park your horse?" I was slightly amazed by this year's crop of non-stop complements and enquiries of "OMG, that's fabulous" and "Where did you get it"?

Sometimes a trend seems to come out of nowhere. Several designers, in that supposed fashion synchronicity, march it along their respective catwalks et voila! An unmistakable fashion directional piece. Well actually, the truth is much closer to using fashion forecasters who patrol the major cities and advise design teams what's going on, on the street but let us gloss-over the intimate mechanical workings of the fashion industry and believe in the miracle of Zeitgeist.  

One thing is for sure we are not calling the new happening poncho a 'poncho' this time around. In this incarnation it's a blanket, blanket-wrap, a shawl, a cape. Although they've been bubbling up for a while and been on catwalks for a few years, this AW14 Burberry sent a 'blanket-wrap' down the runway on every model (that's what one calls a statement) and no celebrity's outfit seems complete without a blanket (over the head handy for those bad-hair/face days).  

Whether you want to splash out on a Burberry's blanket-wrap or Hermes' fabulous 'riding' poncho, get the real thing in a cosmopolitain market or charity shop, play safe with a Marks and Spencer's Per Una striped blanket-coat or follow the trend with a Top Shop seasonal special, the choice is amazing and at any price point. 

These 'blankets' do need to be thought about before wearing, because unlike a scarf or thin shawl, one can't just stash it away in a bag when the piped heating takes hold, and unlike a coat it doesn't always just stay put. They are excellent for travelling with (extra blanket or head rest no problem) but when wearing they often need an extra hand, so if you can get one with ties or a fastening so much the better. On the positive side they will fit over whatever you're wearing (so think about a universal colour for your own wardrobe) even over a jacket or coat and they one size literally firs all (but check on the length. Attention to footwear though, the silhouette with stillies/courts/mid-heels will look top heavy and flatforms/trainers maybe look clumpy. I will leave clogs and Uggs to your conscience. Boots are the natural choice, flat to high sky-scrapers but chunky brogues or any sturdy shoes, including wedges should work too. Careful with accessorising and the rest of the silhouette, as although in Bolivia it is customary for women to pair poncho with Bowler hat and flared skirt (and make it look fabulous) it may be more fashion-forward and advanced volume for most of us to pull off. 

How ever you intend to wear yours, if you aver wanted one of the poncho family now is the time to grab one. And possibly one of the only seasons (since 1974) in which people will tell you, with a straight face, how fabulous you look and not ask if it's Rag Week at uni.