One of my favorite childhood memories is of my mother wrapping me in a fluffy towel after my evening bath. The towel was twice my size and had been warmed by the heater. Nothing was more heavenly than that hug — of being embraced by my mom and a big warm towel at the same time.
I recalled this memory in vivid detail this summer while on a beach in Southern Italy, mid-vacation. I sat on a rock with two striped linen towels draped across my body because I forgot to bring a sweater. The sun was hiding behind the clouds, it was a little cold, and my companion and I had run out of beach snacks, but thanks to my towel-turned-shawl-wrap, I was warm and secure and felt like nothing but good things could happen to me in that moment. That’s when it occurred to me: Wearing a shawl is, at least sartorially speaking, the self-comforting version of being wrapped in a warm towel by a loving parent.
Which is great news, because winter is coming and I still need to do my taxes (I live in Germany) and wearing a shawl is really easy. It’s the fetal position of clothes. It’s also elegant, flamboyant and never makes me feel like I’m trying too hard. It’s cozy and comfortable and, though it never looks sloppy, only takes five seconds to put on.
There are just one or two things one might want to watch out for when putting on a shawl; not rules — because rules are for board games — but helpful tricks. In my case, the first time I wore a shawl was at my debutante ball in 2008, a very awkward occasion. Almost all girls, including me, wore stoles – the shawl’s little sister – that matched their taffeta dresses. We looked like well-behaved mini adults with curtains draped around our shoulders. Let’s not go back there.
Instead, try a shawl with wide jeans. Wrap it around your wrists like spaghetti. Rather than attempt to match shawl to gown, clash on purpose instead: mix a flashy, colorful knit wrap with a slip dress — then wear it wherever your heart desires. Throw a shawl over your tracksuit, pantsuit or winter coat. Explore new methods for how to tie it: backwards, diagonally, around your hips or waist. Play around, have fun! Then send your mom a mirror selfie and ask if she’s available for a towel hug anytime soon.
Photos by Theresa Reimann-Dubbers.