A poncho is an unstructured and loose outer garment that draws its inspiration from the authentic South American poncho. It’s usually made of a knit or a woven wool, and was originally designed to keep you warm. 

Ponchos were fashionable about ten years ago, but those looked different to the ones that are trending now. Those ponchos were often plaid, had fringe, sometimes a hood, and resembled some sort of blanket. Current ponchos tend to look more like knitwear or capes and are available in lots of variations. Neutrals or colours. Short or long sleeves. High or low necklines. Long or cropped lengths. Functional or faux sleeves. Fine gauge or chunky knits. Patterns or solids. Light or heavyweights. They usually showcase a high-low and/or asymmetrical hemline, and are oversized in the extreme, which creates excessive fabric drape.

My clients run the gamut when it comes to wearing ponchos because the look has its pros and cons.


  • Dramatic: The excessive drape, asymmetrical hemline and volume creates a theatrical effect. You’ll probably like the look if you have an arty eclectic or avant-garde streak to your style. 
  • Forgiving: It covers the body with loose, unstructured layers that do not cling. 
  • Easy: It’s a throw-on-and-go piece that creates an interesting effect with a simple pair of bottoms. 
  • Comfortable: Its unstructured design and soft fabrication makes for a cozy piece. 
  • Practical: It’s an excellent topper for mild Winter weather. Leave off the coat, and wear a poncho with slim fit jeans or trousers and boots. 


  • Unflattering: The sack-like silhouette and voluminous nature looks unflattering to those who prefer wearing structured pieces.
  • Uncomfortable: Ponchos can be drafty and “lots of fabric”, which can cause discomfort. Some prefer the comfort and warmth of closely fitting pieces. 
  • Too Bohemian: Too casual, frivolous and dramatic.
  • Impractical: It’s hard to layer a jacket or coat over a poncho, which makes it hard to wear outdoors unless the temperature is just right. 

Petites can wear ponchos when they aren’t too long or overly voluminous, so don’t think that you have to be tall to pull off the silhouette. Furthermore, a solid colour, tailored sleeves, or shorter sleeves do wonders to streamline the unstructured style on a smaller and/or shorter height. 

Although I love unstructured pieces, the drapey and swingy integrity of the poncho is too arty, whimsical, boho, and avant-garde for my personal style preferences. That said, I like the pink style below because it’s more streamlined on the hips. I like the look on others, and encourage my casually eclectic, artistic, and bohemian clients to give the poncho a go.

Over to you. What’s your take on the modern poncho?

Portolano Poncho with SleevesEileen Fisher Turtleneck Wool Poncho

27 Miles Lexie Striped Poncho

Vince Poncho Style SweaterFoxcroft Plaid Poncho Sweater

Ami Dans La Rue Solid Poncho Sweater2nd Day Knitted Poncho in Twisted Yarn

TOMAS MAIER Cashmere PonchoDONNA KARAN Modal Jersey PonchoDONNA KARAN Draped Cashmere Poncho