Winter is already here. Chilly breeze has surrounded all of us and lying all day in cozy beds has become like a hobby. But there is no reason why we need to hide behind the blankets and oversized sweaters. We do need to look super stylish in every season. We just came up with an alternative that could keep one warm throughout the day as well as make you a style icon. And that alternative is the world famous Pashmina shawl from Kashmir.
Pashmina is the art of handcrafting fine Cashmere wool into luxury scarves, shawls, and wraps. Cashmere wool is found in Ladakh where a rare species of goats grow it as an undercoat. It is extremely warm, soft, and delicate. The Pashmina goat grows this specific wool at a temperature of -40 degrees, which helps it survive the harsh weather.
But as soon as summer arrives, the goat becomes uneasy and keeps rubbing itself against rocks, shrubs, and trees to get rid of the same. As herders realize the time has come, they professionally get the hair combed and collect it all in lumps. These lumps of soft wool are in a raw form and need further processing. First spun, and then handwoven, Pashmina shawls are an entire matter of labour. A Pashmina shawl or wrap is so warm that you would hardly need oversized jackets and baggy woolen coats to layer up if you own this treasure of an accessory
Back to History
In Kashmir, it was around the 15th century when Pashmina got discovered. A Sufi saint by the name of Shah E Hamdan visited the valley from Persia. He brought along some 700 craftsmen who were masters in a number of crafts. These craftsmen trained local Kashmiris in handicrafts like Paper Mache, Walnut wood making, willow making, and many more. However one of the crafts became more popular amongst all. And that was Pashmina making. Pashmina making is the art in which fine Cashmere is transformed into luxury wraps, apparel, and accessories. The largest section of the society chose the same art as their profession and did the same for 8-10 hours a day. The wraps hence produced would be completely labour intensive and their artistic demeanour would be unmatched.
Not only in Kashmir but the admiration of Pashmina also grew all over the world. Be it Europe, Asia, or America, patrons of handicrafts came from all over the world to Kashmir to invest in these beauties. Kashmir used to be a hub of Pashmina trade back then. And it became the source of Pashmina from which it spread like a wildfire.
Also read: Pashmina - The Heritage
Making a Pashmina
The making of a Pashmina itself dictates the user how to use it. The immense craftsmanship put into it, the delicate finesse that the final product has, and the exquisite patterns that are handwoven in kaleidoscopic colours are all proof that Pashmina is the most luxurious and extravagant art in the world. But what goes into its making is absolutely overwhelming.
Over a height of 15000 feet, in Ladakh, there is a region known by the name of Changthang, where an exotic goat species is found. This goat grows fine Cashmere as an undercoat which keeps it warm and helps it survive a temperature of -40 degrees. This fine wool is combed off the goat’s body in hot summers as its warmth makes the goat uncomfortable.
As the wool is collected, it is cleaned and sorted as per quality. The finest quality goes into spinning and weaving, and later embroidering, all in the valley of Kashmir. Artisans work for years together, and complete masterpieces for art admirers all over the world.
As soon as a woman receives her Pashmina, she herself chooses how to use Pashmina. Whether she chooses to wear her new piece as a shawl, a scarf, or an accessory, it's all up to her unique style.
Also read: All you need to know about Pashmina Wool
How to use a Pashmina
Pashmina wraps are so versatile, that there can be over 50 styles to use them. There are hand-embroidered pieces, solids, ombre, Kani, patterned and printed, and Swarovski embellished ones. How to use Pashmina is up to the needs of the wearer. You can use it as a shawl, as a wrap, wear it like a scarf, or even make a DIY shrug out of its downy base. Here are a number of ways in which you can use a Pashmina
Wear your Pashmina like a shawl
Pashmina can be used as a shawl. The measurements of such a piece should be at least 100 * 200 cm. This type of Pashmina is generally draped over the shoulders to cover the upper portion of your body with its pleasant warmth. Or else you can let the shawl dangle on one shoulder by placing the center of it on the shoulder and suspending the rest down.
Pashmina is worn as a shawl usually at weddings or special functions. Here you flaunt your classy sense of accessorizing and prove that you haven't let go of your cultural influence.
Wear your Pashmina as a stole
The Pashmina can be worn as a stole. Place the center of the stole over the neck and let the two sides loose from the front. You can take one of the ends and flick it over the other. The stole size is usually 70 cms * 100 cms and those wraps are used as stoles which are solid, printed, patterned, or other contemporary patterns. Women do not prefer to use a large heavy embroidered scarf to be worn as a stole. Having said that, it again depends on the style preference of the wearer.
There are again a number of ways of how to wear the stole, which gives more variety to it. Hang from a shoulder, drape around the neck, tie over the waist in a large bow with a dress ors style however the diva inside you demands.
Wear Pashmina as a scarf
Pashmina can be worn as a scarf in so many ways. Tie it in a french knot and you are done for a formal day at the office. Wrap it like a loop around the ends with ends suspended down or fitted inside your sweater. Scarves are essential in winter in ways that they act as the ultimate warmth producers, and if they're Pashmina, then you will forget about every other wrap you ever possessed.
Wear Pashmina as a dress accessory
Pashmina can be easily paired with a dress - long or short - by choosing the right colour. Usually, women pair Pashmina wraps with plain dresses. You can tie your Pashmina by making a large bow at the neck for a classic look. Or else you can just wrap it around the shoulders and let it brighten up a basic dress. A warm shaded Pashmina can be worn to pep up a basic nude outfit, and a minimal solid scarf might calm an overdone look.
Sometimes a Pashmina is tied over a bag for a modish demeanor. Simply make a beautiful knot when tied to the straps.
Wear Pashmina as a Bandana
For a chic look in the cold season, tie your Pashmina as a head accessory. Make a knot at the back of your head and let ends loose from the back. Pashmina, when used as bandana keeps a person warm as well as protects the hair and adds a chic touch to winter and fall outfits
Wear your wrap as a shrug
You can even transform a Pashmina shawl into a shrug easily. Spread the shawl across the back and bring the two ends from under your arms to the front. Extend these ends to the back of the neck and make a knot. This style of wearing Pashmina rids of a sweater, which is too much of a burden in the fall.
Pair warm and bold prints with minimal outfits, and similarly nude solids with overdone outfits which needs to be balanced properly.
Also read: 7 Ways to Style your Pashmina
How to use Patterns in Pashmina
You can pair a solid wrap with almost everything and on a number of occasions. Be it wearing a scarf with your formals, casuals, or an evening walk with friends, a solid piece never looks dull or out of fashion.
For a more chic look, you can combine bold and colourful prints and patterns with modish apparel to give them a stylish twist. Be it your favourite pair of jeans and shirts, or skirts, a Pashmina scarf will seamlessly blend with everything you shopped for.
Shaded Ombre Pashmina
We love colours, don’t we? How wonderful would it be to dress up in all our favourite colours, as well as gradient shades. Ombre Pashmina shawls serve the purpose. Skillfully handwoven and more skillfully coloured in a number of gradient shades, or a combination of two or three shades make ombre styled shawls perfect for those who love to take a dip in the bright world of warm hues.
Flaunt your culture with hand-embroidered Pashmina shawls that come from the valley of Kashmir. Done artistically by local craftsmen, hand-embroidered shawls look amazing in the wedding season or as a gift to your loved ones
Kani shawls got fame when French Empress Josephine got a few hundred of them. Handwoven over a handloom, Kani Pashmina shawls from Kashmir are a must-have for those whose taste in accessories is purely artistic.
The sophistication of a Pashmina shawl doubles with it is embellished with lace. To make a shawl look exclusive and utmost graceful, it is at times adorned with a chantilly lace in contrast or a tone on tone shade. Such shawls look especially pretty on semi-formal occasions or to gift your bridesmaid for the efforts she put to make your wedding day beautiful.
Have you ever met an accessory which can be wrapped from both sides, front and back, and both are equally exquisite? Pashmina shawls are on some occasions handwoven in such an artistic weave that the front side looks exactly like the backside. Reversible Pashmina shawls were one such type that fascinated ancient royalty, who had never encountered such masterpieces before.
For semi-formal events and when you're the bridesmaid, nothing looks more gentle and dainty like a Swarovski embellished Pashmina scarf would. Swarovski wraps can be ideal gifts for women who meet their friends after a long time.
How versatile is this single piece of cloth? Apparel, gifts, wedding favours, and more, the way to use Pashmina Shawls known no bounds. For this reason, it has popularity like no other art in the world. That is the reason why even after an introduction of fake copies, the real pure Pashmina doesn't die. It is the grace and elegance of the age-old traditional pieces which had kept the traditional alive.
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