Out of curiosity what do you think of ponchos?

Ponchos are one of those clothing items that usually elicits a visceral reaction - you either love 'em or you hate 'em. No in between.

I find I'm suddenly drawn to outfits with ponchos. Now I'm not talking Clint Eastwood "spaghetti western" ponchos that look like you're wearing a horse blanket. Nor am I talking the boho style with tons of fringe and beads that could pass for a macrame crafts project.

I'm talking sleek not bulky. Something in soft merino wool. A poncho that doesn't overwhelm and that leaves your arms able to eat and no disastrous toilet mishaps. Yes. I'm talking Eileen Fisher ponchos - like you hadn't guessed!

The two pictured below are ones that I keep staring at. I almost always wear a topper of some type - could something like this be an alternative for a drapey cardigan? I could see the first one with a long tee and jeans or pencil skirt and the second one with slim trousers, pencil skirt or even popped over a dress (don't worry about the color - this is just generally about the style).

Do you need a specific body type to wear a poncho? i.e. would a petite apple just look pregnant in this? Is it better to be smaller busted? Tall and slim?

So what are your thoughts when it comes to ponchos - generally speaking and specific to my style? Bring it on... :)

(and in case you hadn't noticed, it's not busy today at work AT ALL...)

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    I like the ones you've pictured, Shannon, and I do think they could work. My caution would be that in some cases the arms or fabric can "get in the way" in work situations, if you know what I mean. These ones look pretty good -- but at the same time, if you are typing (for instance) you sort of have to push the fabric up on your arm which leaves arms exposed. Which might mean they wouldn't offer the warmth of a sweater. Which could be a good thing if you run hot or have a hot office. Or a bad thing. 

    The other issue is how do they fit under a coat? 

    I think it would involve trying them on, not just with the type of outfit you plan but also a coat. 

  • Sara L. replied 5 years ago

    I like the two you show here. I'm not a fan of the cowgirl or boho ones.

  • Aziraphale replied 5 years ago

    I like the ones you posted above. My best friend bought a similar one in apple green about ten years ago when we were out shopping in San Francisco, and it looked fabulous on her. She's petite (5'3") but she's a definite pear/hourglass. When I tried it on, I looked ridiculous. I'm not saying that you will, too; just that I think a poncho (like anything else!) needs to be tried on and assessed. 

  • catgirl replied 5 years ago

    I have a couple (one from F21 which is an EF knockoff), and I love them for travel.  They are a royal pain in the derriere for wearing with winter coats.  I saw a woman wearing a nice simple draped one over jeans and cute booties at the mall which inspired me - and that's how I wear mine, or on the plane.

  • Louise replied 5 years ago

    I adore ponchos though I rarely manage to wear them. I have 2, a petrol blue cowl neck and a dark beige one which is a bit like a poncho cardigan with buttons up the front x

    ETA I keep the bottom half slimline or wear a knee length dress to avoid looking overwhelmed x

  • Laurie replied 5 years ago

    those are the nicest ponchos I've ever seen!  

    i have one poncho from Nordstrom, you always see a rack of them...has the one button at the neck?  I always get compliments on it.  

  • Gail replied 5 years ago

    I have a really soft navy poncho with a cowl neck. I cannot wear it under a coat  unless I want to look like the Michelin man. Mine is not a bulky poncho by any means. I also find that it gets in the way if I am using my cross body bag. The strap on my bag seems to trap the poncho so it's hard to move my arm. Does any of that make sense ? I find that I am not wearing it as much as I thought I would .

  • torontogirl replied 5 years ago

    I like the look of both of those and I think they can look very chic, if not overly practical!

  • deb replied 5 years ago

    I am not fond of them. I was not fond of them in the 70's either so it is just my poison eye perspective.

  • ATLynn replied 5 years ago

    I love both of those.   But I can't wear ponchos without sleeves - too much fussing.  I do wear this Alfani "poncho" that has sleeves (find below), and it is my dream item when worn with skinny jeans/pants on my most apple of days.  It covers up all my body image issues, and the slim bottoms provide structure. I would think that the ponchos you've selected would work in much the same way. 

  • Nebraskim replied 5 years ago

    I love the streamlined ones shown here, the boho horsey ones not so much. I have two poncho like tops that are essentially pashminas with a seam partially up one long side, leaving a neck hole. They are lightweight and warm and I liked them for my office. Because they are thin and drapey, they could be manipulated to look like scarves so they were great under coats. I got them at an art fair and am glad I have them.

  • Peri replied 5 years ago

    I have a cashmere wrap similar to #2 and I love it. It can be worn at different angles and as such it does have a tendency to slide around. There is some fussing involved. I like it anyway but it might be too much for a busy work day.

  • replied 5 years ago

    I love a good poncho and have two in fact.  I don't wear mine indoors though, as I can't imagine having all that extra yardage to fix and fuss with all day long.  I will say though that the whole purse issue is really annoying.  Obviously, a shoulder bag doesn't work .  I'd love to have the asymmetric Helmut Lang one that's floating around in the Finds somewhere though:)

  • Classically Casual replied 5 years ago

    In the last month I scored my very first poncho ever. It's EF, sort of a marled color knit, with some yak wool. It's sleek, soft and I love it. It forms an asymmetrical hem, which I happen to like. It folds into a flat square in my drawer. So far, I've worn it to an indoor party, where I didn't need a topper for the car. I wore a turtle neck under it. The only downside I noticed is that it slides around a little. I think you should give one a try if you find the right one.

  • TraceyLiz65 replied 5 years ago

    I say try them and see... they come in such different lengths, going for a shorter version would be better.  I like the options you've pictured.  I love a poncho and do wear them with a coat..

  • Susie replied 5 years ago

    I am wearing a poncho today! Mine is charcoal cashmere and I love it- it was my favorite purchase last winter. This one does sort of have sleeves so it is very easy to wear. It comes to about my elbows so I wear a long sleeve tee with it. I'm a petite (read as short but because I'm not little!) apple and the length comes to about mid thigh front and back and a bit longer on the sides.

    I also have a lightweight cashmere one in black that does not have sleeves, just a small opening at the neck. It's a bit longer than either the ones you have pictured. I wear it as a lightweight outer layer. Like yesterday, when my mom and I were out shopping, I wore it over a cashmere sweater and was warm enough. And to deal with the purse issue, I used my new clutch!

  • Erikajl replied 5 years ago

    I love ponchos. I have seven of them. Two light sweaters, one heavy sweater, one hand woven and very artsy, a teal one for spring, and a soft metallic one for summer. 

  • Dimity replied 5 years ago

    I love them too. I used to have a crocheted multi coloured one when I was a kid in the seventies and don't have any at the moment but they are on my wish list. I think they're most useful when you don't have to wear a coat as well. What to do with a handbag can be an issue. Do you hold it on top or underneath? It probably depends on the size of the bag. I also love capes.

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    You might find these posts helpful, Shannon:



  • Debbie replied 5 years ago

    Shannon I have the 2nd one and I love it. I bought it thinking I might not get much use out it but I have and it is truly is a great piece. Mine is a golden beige color.
    I say try it.

  • Sterling replied 5 years ago

    They are ridiculous.  

  • Firecracker replied 5 years ago

    Shannon, I may be one of the few in-betweeners. I like the look of them, but I don't have one (yet). Unless you count my shoulder cozy, which is like a very small-scale poncho.

  • Thistle replied 5 years ago

    I like the ones you picked, and until recently, only ever thought of ponchos as something Clint would wear or if you were living in a commune. Not really sure how well they would work at a desk job where your arms need to be up, so to speak.

  • Echo replied 5 years ago

    I really love the look of some of them, but without fail, they make me look like a marshmallow with legs. I have always blamed it on my (lack of) height, but then again I have seen shorter stature women wear them beautifully, so perhaps I have to blame my proportions instead. 

    I am not quite as fond of the ones you have posted here as I am of the ones in Angie's first link. I prefer the look of the longer ones that could double as tops/tunics/dresses. I have a poison eye for anything shorter than what you have posted here, though, so perhaps I am not the best judge.

    But I have learned through experience lately that sometimes the things I hate on the rack look great IRL (and vice versa), so the only true way to know is to try it.

  • shevia replied 5 years ago

    I have noticed lately that ponchos are super popular around here. The mornings start in the 50s and can be quite warm by mid-day and apparently ponchos work well in that sort of weather (no need for another coat). I recently thrifted a (brand new) poncho that is sort of similar to ones you posted. I must get my camera set up!

  • K2 replied 5 years ago

    I really like them, like a cardigan, but edgier. I have several, but do find the heavier ones difficult to wear under a coat and rarely is it the right weather for them on their own. My fav is a v-neck cashmere cotton one from Spendid. It light, easy to layer under or over and can be dressy or casual, depending how I style it. I travel a lot, so also find it easy to travel in, pack or take along with me during the day. Lol, I sound like an ad for it.

  • Karie replied 5 years ago

    I love ponchos. They are a pain when wearing coats, so I tend to wear them when I'm not going to have a coat on for long - like going to a friend's house, or places where I might leave my coat in the car, like the movies or the mall.

  • Sveta replied 5 years ago

    I think they may work Shannon as long as they are on the shorter side for you. These 2 are pretty attractive and I am not a poncho gal :-)

  • Joy replied 5 years ago

    I like the look of them on others but do not have one myself. I like the ones that you are thinking of and think that they would stay in place over a sweater of similar fabric as they are light weight. They seem like a refined version of a pashmina. For proportions you need to try it. I suspect that those who are tall and slim have the easiest time styling them. They are not a good style for the flat of chest as they just create a large flat focal point. :)

  • Transcona Shannon replied 5 years ago

    Ha! I knew responses would be varied on this question and you ladies have not disappointed :)

    I didn't think of the annoyance factor under a coat so that is definitely a consideration. The handbag problem is not relevant for me - I don't use a shoulder or cross body bag, only a satchel held by my hand or a clutch. So a non issue there.

    Hmmmm.....problem with desk job such as typing...another consideration. Although if the sides are not too long, could be ok.

    I honestly have no idea whether I'm going to pursue trying one or not but I have thoroughly enjoyed the discussion :)

  • Louise replied 5 years ago

    I wore mine the other day instead of a coat. Big chunky jumper with long sleeve t underneath then poncho over the top I was lovely and warm x

  • Elizabeth P replied 5 years ago

    I think they would be great for the fall, as an outside layer.  I like them, but have always questioned how many wears I'd really get in.  I think they would drive me nuts to wear at work.  But never say never!

  • trekkiegirl replied 5 years ago

    The other day a coworker of mine wore a houndstooth poncho with black skinny pants and stiletto booties - that outfit was absolutely killer! I don't have any though, I have issues with things that aren't even/symmetrical and I can never seem to keep the poncho straight. Plus the whole non-sleeve thing is annoying to me. But I think they are adorable if done right!

  • thimblelina replied 5 years ago

    TracyLiz wears them well; check out her posts. I had the great ruana debacle, so for me they are definitely a 'no' for hands free classroom teaching -- too floppy, too twirly. I did see a cute cropped poncho here in Ashland OR this week that was more appealing but I'm a large big boned woman and worry that cropped things on me skew more toward looking tragically ill-fitting than delightfully winsome. (Ironically, the day I picked up my butchered ruana scarves from the seamstress I was going to a party in an outfit that would have been perfect for a ruana... sigh). I say if you're jonesing after one, try a starter example at a lower price point.

  • thimblelina replied 5 years ago

    PS: purely an aside, but about 10 years ago when my husband was doing a week of work in DC the kids & I were all about town from our hotel I was repeating a lot of mini skirt/boot combos due to some bad weather. A friend in Pittsburgh had knitted me a poncho and we learned if you pop a poncho over yourself & let just the legs hang out men will dog you to see what's under the poncho... call it the poncho effect! You're welcome!

  • Jules replied 5 years ago

    I like the look generally, but I don't think they are terribly practical unless one has endless dry fall weather. Same with those trendy long cardis. I did have a shorter fur one passed on to me that I kept at work for when I got cold. It didn't get in the way of typing or annoy me generally. I didn't try to wear it under coats or make it part of my outfit though, it was just something warm and cozy to keep at my desk. I can see it for lounging-by-the- fire-type lounge wear but not very practical for being busy around the house.

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