Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Can a man ever get away with wearing a shawl?

shawl.jpg

I’ve always been Team Wear Whatever The Hell You Want. I don’t like to be prescriptive when it comes to style because for every question – say “Can I get away with wearing socks or sandles?” or “Should I try and make all of my old jeans into jorts?” – the answer is usually “I mean, yeah, sure, if you’re cool.” But this…

This shawl. It makes me feel some type of way. It conjures in me feelings of confusion. I don’t know that anyone could ever get away with wearing this, and that’s a space I’ve never come across before. I am in uncharted territory here. Is this the natural creep of time’s conservative conversion? The type that turns middle-aged people into letter-writing prudes and old people into big racists?

Or is this shawl just dumb?

1

Engineered Garments have consistently created extremely high quality menswear, from the expensive men’s fashion Tumblr inception to its current high street heyday, but this shawl. This Engineered Garments charcoal wool-jersey knit (currently priced approx. £15 plus postage - because Gentry have it on a 90% sale) button shawl, man.

It makes no sense, for a kick-off: sort-of a quarter-cardigan with buttons up the front and a high-rise at the back, I’m not quite sure of its practical purposes. Is it to be used under a light winter jacket, like an extra layer of insulation? Is it for snacking and relaxing: the rear rise giving ample room for a cool back while your arms are free to play Uncharted 3 and eat biscuits?

Gentry – New York’s coolest store, btw – describe it as a “combination scarf, shawl and cape in wool blend knit” in a cool tone that is enviable for its simplicity. A scarf I can get my head around; a shawl is described by Google Dictionary as “a piece of fabric worn by women over the shoulders or head or wrapped round a baby” and a cape is something only magicians and Larry David wears. 

But could the regular man ever wear such an item?

“This is a button-up bib,” said Sanden Totten. Which is quite fair. 

“That’s not bad,” said ShortList’s own Dave Fawbert. “I’d take the risk.”

“Just a really extravagant bib,” said writer Joe Baimonte, keeping the bib motif going.

“I own a cape that looks a little bit like this,” said musician Charlie Gleason, “but I find it difficult to find appropriate occasions to wear it.”

“Fuck off,” said VICE’s Joel Golby. “As if this isn’t the best TV-watching clothing item ever made.”

“This is useless,” said designer Gary Ogden. “I guess you could wear it down the park on a sunny day and then take it off and use it as a picnic blanket, and then just leave it there.”

2

With opinions split, I’m left facing some serious questions, namely: What is cool? What is style?

Thomas Jefferson once said: “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like the rock.” But then again, he was the owner of a fucking huge plantation and kept hundreds of slaves, so fuck his rock-principles. 

Better was poet Richard Eberhart, who said: "Style is the perfection of a point of view."

But what is the point of view of an item like this? What does it say? What is its stance besides “I get a hot back sometimes but my arms are fine”?

But then, does every item need to stand as a signpost of what we’re about as people? If I wear this shawl, does that change who I am? Does this shawl make me a different person? People would react to me differently, sure. But what if without the shawl, I am still the same person as with the shawl, only now I have cold shoulders? Have I been a shawl-less shawl guy all along? Is this… Is this Schrodinger’s Shawl?

I stare at my screen, the pixels of black on white: can a shawl ever really be just a shawl?

Related

clrcff.jpg

The Tab Clear of coffee has arrived and it won't stain your teeth

PASTELBLU.jpg

5 best pastel trousers for this summer that won't make you look dumb

tQ09X6g.jpg

Gucci's new collection channels sixties Northern Soul

More

Farah's AW17 clobber takes classic London style and runs with it

The iconic British label heads for the colder months in style

by Sam Diss
18 Aug 2017

Supreme's FW17 collection is here, and it's quite grown-up actually

Well, slightly more

by Sam Diss
14 Aug 2017

Blood Brother's Selfridges: Music Matters capsule channels 90s rave

The graphics feature a retrospective of club night flyers.

by Sam Diss
11 Aug 2017

Why do we love 90s football shirts so much?

Taking a look at a classic era

by Will Magee
08 Aug 2017

Andre 3000 stars in sportswear for Tretorn's new collection

Outkast legend shows off his sense of style

by Sam Diss
02 Aug 2017

Percival's colourful Umami collection has us ready for autumn

Because you can't rely on the British sunshine

by Sam Diss
01 Aug 2017

James Bay's first TOPMAN collection is a slice of rock-star cool

And yes, there's a cool hat

by Sam Diss
01 Aug 2017

adidas announce the #EQT Cushion ADV in 3 region-specific colourways

Exciting news about one of the brand's newest (and coolest) trainers

by Sam Diss
31 Jul 2017

Tyler, the Creator & Converse drop full One Star x Golf le Fleur range

Dress like a Flower Boy this summer

by Sam Diss
28 Jul 2017

New Balance's release ace new trainers to celebrate 35th anniversary

Brand's four new trainers honour Flimby, the west Cumbrian town they're made in

by Sam Diss
26 Jul 2017