Relaxed Outerwear – Blanket Coats, Ponchos, Ruanas
When it comes to layering up, ponchos and ruanas are an ideal choice. They are an alternative to jackets and coats. They’re lightweight enough to work as a cover-up and cozy enough for the cooler weather. So what is the difference between a poncho, blanket wrap, cape and ruana?
- A cape is a sleeveless garment which usually hip or thigh-length with a fastening around the neckline.
- A poncho is quite similar to a cape in the sense that it is also worn over the neck and is sleeveless. It is typically made from a single piece of fabric with a hole for the head and is usually a much freer flowing garment in comparison to the cape.
- A ruana is like a poncho as it is made of a single piece of fabric with a hole for the head; the difference is that there is a slit down the front from neck to hem. It has no sleeve closures, rather just drapes over the shoulders and is kept in place with your arms.
- A wrap as its name suggests is a long piece of fabric that can be draped over your shoulders and wrapped around your upper body. The shape of a wrap is usually rectangular in shape and has a very unstructured fit.
So now you know the difference between the styles, check out my suggestions on how to style them to suit your body….
Ponchos and ruanas tend to add volume and draw attention to the upper part of your body. It’s important to think carefully about balancing out your proportions. Wearing form fitting garments on your legs, such as skinny jeans, ponte pants or leggings will give you the best overall silhouette.
If you are petite, don’t get one that is too bulky or long. The key for petite ladies to pull off these roomier knits is in the proportions. I avoid too much bulk material-wise, and like to keep the length above my upper thighs.
Wearing a poncho or ruana isn’t as easy as just throwing it over your head. There are so many different shapes to choose from.
A poncho can be worn with the hem straight across, which can emphasize the width of your body, especially if the front is shorter.
The universally flattering shape for a poncho is the diagonal, high on one hip dropping diagonally lower to the opposite thigh. It shows off the most leg, complements and creates shape.
The front point poncho is a good shorter length option but it will draw attention to your hips so is the best choice for I; O and H shapes.
The rainbow hem (longer at the sides, shorter at the front) can be a great option for those with broad shoulders and no hips such as V shapes and also the A shape who wishes to hide the sides of their thighs.
If you aren’t sure about your body shape, try my Body Shape Calculator Quiz. Once you’ve figured out your body shape you will know where to add detail and interest to your outfit, where to keep boring, plain and free of detail. You will discover in your Body Shape Bible where to add vertical lines to lengthen and slim your body, and where to add horizontal details to highlight or balance your figure. Click here to take the Body Shape Calculator Quiz now!
We all have sweet spots on our bodies that hems end and flatter us. When you’re deciding where to end your hems, remember that hems usually create horizontal lines. Horizontal lines broaden and balance – find out more about how they work here. Alternatively, look for diagonally shaped ponchos so you avoid that horizontal line completely!
The closer a garment falls to your body, then it should be hemmed more ‘exactly’ at the point you want it to stop at. The wider a garment, with more drape, need to be hemmed slightly shorter as it will appear longer as there is more volume.
Because vertical lines elongate, they also slim, so if you want to create a longer or leaner line consider wearing a ruana with a front opening or a poncho with button closure in the centre.
If you’re a bit self-conscious about your hips then I’d suggest avoiding styles that have embellishments on the hem, such as fringing or pom poms that fall right at the widest part of the hips.
Scale is one of the most important elements to consider when thinking about prints and patterns. Often ponchos and ruanas have large, oversized patterns. If you choose a check or tartan print, make sure the scale of the print doesn’t look like you are wearing a picnic blanket.
The larger the scale the taller you need to be to wear it successfully unless you have a very dramatic or bold personality, otherwise, it will overwhelm you. If you aren’t sure which prints and patterns are overwhelming, check out my post on choosing slimming prints here…
For coloured ponchos and ruanas with the greatest versatility, choose a colour that works for you in a similar value to your hair. Signature colours are ideal as they are your “wow” or “knockout” colours. The very best colours for you. If you were to receive a colour swatch that is totally personalised to you with only around 10 or 15 colours, it would be one that is all signature colours. These colours are brilliant to know when you want to buy an expensive item, for example when you want to choose your best winter coat or investment handbag, using your signatures is the way to go. Would you like me to help you find your ideal signature colours? If this is something you’re after, you get this as part of my 7 Steps to Style program (along with also discovering everything about your body shape and proportions, how your personality influences your style plus so much more!). Find out more here.
You could also choose ponchos and ruanas in your best neutral. The neutrals you choose ideally want to work with the vast majority of the colours you wear (which is why having a colour palette makes choosing both the colours and the neutrals so much easier as they are preselected for you and designed to go together). You can base your choice upon your hair colour as an easy way to decide on neutrals that flatter you. Check out my guide on Neutrals – What They Are and How to Wear Them
I hope these tips are helpful for finding that perfect poncho, cape or ruana. It’s not something every woman has already, yet they can add warmth and a bit of glamour to a woman’s wardrobe! What do you think of ponchos and capes? Will you embrace this trend?
Pertaining to body shape, which shape(s) look good in a peplum like this? https://www.target.com/p/women-39-s-plunge-criss-cross-peplum-tankini-top-kona-sol-8482-black-xs/-/A-83649303
The cut looks great on me but I almost didn’t buy it because the shape looked off on the models! Glad I trusted my style “gut” and bought it for this summer though! Just wanting to understand the “why” behind why this suits my shape🤔
This is a fairly forgiving shape and will work on the undefined waisted shapes as it’s narrowest point is on the rib cage, under the bust, not at the waist.
Thank you Imogen! This seriously helps me narrow down my options. If you don’t mind me asking a last question to help me figure out my shape once & for all. This is the most flattering cardigans I’ve owned, and again it’s something that I see look “off” on others but shines on me. (Cardigans usually swamp me so I’m glad I found this.) https://poshmark.com/listing/Chunky-Honeycomb-Cardigan-by-Universal-Thread-5e769e1829f03081b271cfc4
Of all the undefined waist bodyshapes, which bodyshape(s) would you say suit this cardigan? Again, I really appreciate you’re help on this💕
I’m not sure why without seeing you – if you’re after some specific style advice I offer online Style Q&A sessions https://bespokeimage.com.au/services-women/personal-styling-online/ where you can ask all the style questions you like – there is a lot more to why this may work than just body shape.
Wish I’d seen this before I purchased a poncho. I can never seem to get it sitting right! Good thing is its a lightweight wool and not bulky so I can wear it as a scarf instead 🙂
I’m petite, so I stay away from ponchos and similar garments. They often look very appealing, though. I’ve got a few pasminas so I sometimes wrap them around, almost creating a cardi. It was an accidental creation as I was cold and needed a layer over my body rather than something solely around my neck.