A Passion For Pashminas

Published: 06th February 2012
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Flying to Italy for a short holiday recently I was glad of my faithful Pashmina – why do planes always have the air-conditioning turned up so high? It doesn’t matter where you’re going or what time of year, it always seems to be freezing in the cabin – particularly challenging if you’re going on a summer holiday in August and dressed for high temperatures.

Marilyn and I got to thinking about just how versatile the Pashmina is. We bought our first ones years ago when they first became the cover up of choice, and they’re still going strong, but we’ve collected a few more over the years.

We’ve used our Pashminas in so many ways and we thought we’d share some of them. For flying, taking one in your hand luggage is essential. The warm, soft Pash is lightweight, doesn’t take up much space but boy are you glad of it when they turn on that aircon! If you’re taking a night flight and find the blankets aren’t plentiful, or warm enough, the Pash makes for great supplementary bedding.

Whether flying or not we always travel with at least one trusty Pashmina, usually a black one – the most versatile. I remember staying in a very draughty hotel in Scotland; freezing in the night due to lack of heating, insufficient bedding and probably my own Sassenach softiness , I remembered my Pash and spread it on the bed – it made a perfect bedspread and kept me cosy all night.

We have also used Pashminas as makeshift nighties to preserve our modesty and as a sarong over swimwear for trips to the bar.

But a word of caution here, your versatile Pash is only versatile if it’s the real thing. Beware of imitations. There are lots of shawls and scarves out there that look like the genuine article, they may even be called Pashminas but they’re not.

Firstly it has to be the real Pashmina wool – a very fine Cashmere that comes from a special breed of goat called the Changthangi or Pashmina goat. This is what gives the Pashmina its exceptional softness and warmth. Then it should be full size 90cm x 200 cm if you want true versatility – and if you’re going to use it as a nightie or sarong and still retain your modesty. The real Pashmina isn’t cheap (which is another way to check for the genuine article), but it will pay dividends in terms of cost per wear.

One feature I was delighted to discover was that whilst not waterproof, the Pash is surprisingly shower resistant; at Royal Ascot last year I was caught in a positive monsoon while wearing my blue Peacock, pure silk dress. I wrapped my pashmina around the dress cloak style to protect it from the worst of the weather, and protect it, it did. We have also used Pashminas as oversized headscarves and snoods to protect head and hair from the cold and rain.

But we do wear Pashes more conventionally too. They are the perfect summer companion to cover bare shoulders on cooler nights. For added dash, we’ve started wearing two Pashminas at once to contrast or co-ordinate with our outfits, it not only keeps you extra warm but looks really stylish too. Just layer one on top of the other and fold in half lengthwise so the one colour can be glimpsed from beneath the other. We must be on to something here because a number of our friends have started doing the same thing!

Whatever the occasion we are never far from our Pashes, a wrap in summer, draped over a jacket or as an oversized scarf under a coat in winter, we are as inseparable from our Pashminas as we are from each other! X


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