Blanket wraps, ponchos and capes make cosy work of cold weather dressing. Stephanie Smith has advice on getting it right.
Fashion’s easiest key piece of outerwear for this autumn/winter simply has to be the wrap.
Slip it on over whatever you are wearing, whether it’s an ancient pair of leggings and a baggy tee or your très sophisticated little black dress, and you’re good to go, looking for all the world as if you always have the paparazzi in mind whenever you head out the door.
As with most fashion that is truly glamorous, a wrap is effortless, versatile and looks good on everyone.
Actually, I am being slightly cavalier with the term “wrap”, because I am using it here also as shorthand for ponchos and capes, but we’ll start with the blanket wrap.
This season, there’s a lot of heritage going on in fashion, which has prompted an eccentrically British look that layers tweeds, checks and plaid over often quite opulent pattern and shine.
So, for example, Burberry threw a green and grey plaid wool coat over floral prints and metallic dresses, in a collection that played with both time and gender, richly inspired by Virginia’s Woolf’s Orlando.
Blanket wraps work well with this mood of time-travelling. They have a dashing, era-defying quality, luxurious and yet practical, which means they look both contemporary and forever rooted in tradition.
Don’t be afraid to mix and mis- match multiple plaids, checks and a variety of other patterns, including geometrics and animal prints. But take a look at how it was done on the catwalk. Gucci, for example, teamed check, geometrics, paisley-esque prints and snakeskin, but kept the size of the patterns roughly similar, which helped effect a pulled-together look.
Checks and plaids are a key trend for the autumn, especially on fringed blanket wraps, and the style tends to be for large checks. If you choose one with black in the pattern somewhere, you’ll find it easy to co-ordinate with black clothing underneath, perhaps in cashmere or in leather.
Incidentally, when it comes to blanket wraps, you will soon realise that they are either shaped, with a neckline cut in so it can be worn easily over the shoulders, or they are unshaped, simply a square or an oblong, just like an actual blanket.
I have both styles. The unshaped ones are definitely best for achieving that authentic Poldark look – off the shoulders, hooked over the elbows and held close to the bust, all wrapped up and ready, as if you are expecting a storm to blow a galleon into a nearby cove. However, if you have anything to carry, such a handbag, it’s almost impossible to stop it falling off. I’ve no idea how they managed to carry great barrels of ship-wrecked port while wearing the darned things. The shaped variety is much more practical in this regard, and also works well thrown over a coat or jacket, when you need an extra layer.
Capes and ponchos are easier still, allowing you to dash about with flair, and no danger of your outerwear flying away.
Some tailored styles of cape have armholes crafted into the front sides, and this looks very chic, expecially if you wear a beautiful pair of leather gloves, or want to show off the cuffs of whatever you are wearing underneath.
Look out for long chunky knit styles too, with huge cowl-like roll-neck collars, to wear with jeans or leggings and knee-high boots
However, this autumn/winter, the quickest shortcut to luxe glamour is the addition of faux fur trim to knitted ponchos, adding a touch of opulence and texture in a remarkably easy and wearable way. Some styles have faux fur trim all around the hemline, but for a super-classy and polished look, choose a simple wool or cashmere poncho, asymmetric if you prefer, but featuring a generous fur collar. Now you’re ready for anything.