How to Wear a Cowl

Apparently cowls are the next hot thing.

A cowl is basically a knitted or crocheted (or fabric) tube that you stick over your head and wear around your neck. Like this:

from womansday

When you think about it, it really makes sense. What keeps you warm, doesn’t dangle, and doesn’t unravel in a strong wind? A cowl, of course!

Cowls originated in medieval times. Look familiar?

from swordnation

It only makes sense. You protect your head and neck from bleak weather and gusty winds–and look good doing it, too. Well, maybe not him, but she does:

from static

She just looks silly:

from justmaryse

Perhaps the most challenging thing about wearing cowl is knowing how  to actually wear it without looking like your head is emerging from a vagina. Or like you’re wearing sea anemone.

 from…some website

Or a neck brace.

from imgurl

Or like you belong to the Kayan Tribe in Burma.

from fotopedia

How to Wear a Cowl, Lesson #1

Retain the ability to breathe. This is paramount, not just for overall health, but also because corsets only look good around your middle. Even then, it’s iffy.

from digitalchangeling

My opinion is, if you need this much help putting your clothes on, pick a different outfit.

from tumblr

She looks…goofy. And like breath–or at least movement–could be constricted.

from mainstreetmail

Sometimes you try to pull it off anyway. Don’t.

This girl tried:

from farm4

She looks constipated.

I’d say that’s a fail.

Also a fail:

from imgurl

How to Wear a Cowl, Lesson #2

Bigger is not better.

from thestylehandler

This woman looks absurd. To emphasize my point, here’s another one:

from thestylenumber

That’s scary looking.

If I saw that walking down the street at me, I’d stare. You would too.

This leads into–

How to Wear a Cowl, Lesson #3

Smaller is not better, either.

from laboroflove

The cowl should flatter your body and your outfit. Not dominate or look like you got a cotton ball stuck to your neck.

from staticartfire

Nor should it look like an oversized necklace. Not attractive.

from weaverknits

Sorry, chick, that did nothing for you.

How to Wear a Cowl, Lesson #4 (aka, Lesson’s 2 & 3 recapped)

Size matters.

Good size:

from patterncentral

Bad size:

from papernstitch

This looks like she grabbed a shawl and thought it was a cowl.

How to Wear a Cowl, Lesson #5

Texture matters.

Too chunky will probably end up being too large. And remember–bigger is definitely not better.

from recklessglue


Too flimsy is also a problem. And–guess what?–it ends up being–you got it!–too small.

from katcoyle

How to Wear a Cowl, Lesson #6

A cowl is not a turtleneck.

I repeat: a cowl is not a turtleneck.

Don’t try to make it one.

from knittingbee

How to Wear a Cowl, Lesson #7

Draping matters.

This is beautiful:

from ninachicago

This is not:

from knittingwarehouse

Go home and try again.

Obviously you can’t just throw a cowl over your head and hope it drapes right. These things take effort. And taste.

from artfire

That was not tasteful. And it had such potential.

When I was growing up, my dad always told me that when someone says, “You have potential” that really means “You suck.”

He didn’t use those exact words–“suck” was not acceptable verbage in my family–but the meaning was the same.

Anyway, draping is easy once you have a cowl that is the right size and texture (see lessons 2-5).

Here area couple of helpful images that show the versatility of the cowl/infinity scarf (which is a whole ‘nother topic).

from lionbrand

She looks so happy.

from lionbrand

And snug.

Ok, here are some well draped cowls. Look and learn, young Padawan.

from sweetnumber

from sixoneseven

from etsy

from jilllauren

And one last one:

from jilllauren

How to Wear a Cowl, Lesson #8

Unless it’s bitingly cold outside, don’t wear it over your face. You look like a terrorist.

from goback

from straw

I shouldn’t have to say anything else.

How to Wear a Cowl, Lesson #9

Cowls are (apparently) unisex.

Men, be careful.

You don’t want to look like this:

from farm5

Or have a Jabba the Hutt neck:

from craigslist

And this, um, just don’t do this:

from menwhoknit

Where would you wear that anyway?

This boy almost makes it work. It has potential.


This guy is manly. Manly, I tell you!

from deviantart

Last thing–cowls are for humans. Don’t torture your puppy.

from peachcherub

Now that you’re educated, it’s time to start preparing (early) for the cold and blustery season. Next post: how to make a cowl.

suck it, martha.

Tags: , , , , ,

Categories: Life, Tips


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9 Comments on “How to Wear a Cowl”

  1. Eileen
    June 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    Awesome. Now I’m all psyched up to make a cowl.:) Knit or crochet?

  2. June 1, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    First post will be a crocheted one. Next one will be knit! Look for them in the next couple of days!

  3. Eye of the kitty
    July 29, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    Nice insights! That’s what I needed. Any idea of how many rows I’d need to knit one that makes sence? US size 6 wool and needles, some 600 yards (plenty). I’m knitting with needles connected by a cable, so I need to get the right size right away… :/

    • July 30, 2012 at 6:58 am #

      Without seeing everything (your yarn, your neck, etc.) I can’t really say, but it would probably be in the neighborhood of 200 rows? I’d just knit until it looks right on your body. Its what I do!

  4. Vicky
    October 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    You probably should have named this article “How Not to Wear a Cowl” instead of “How to…” Still funny and amusing though.

  5. Karen
    January 9, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    I actually do drape some cowls over my head like a very wide headband, if that’s how they fit, to keep my ears and head warm and to show off the lace.

    I also fold them to a triangle pointing towards my chest, like those boob covers you can buy for low tops, and stuff the triangle under my jacket/over my shirt.

    If it’s cold outside, I’ll use a small round shawl pin to clasp my cowl at the shoulder area so that its tighter around my neck.

    I knit my cowls in the round and flat, with all kinds of weights and textures. I agree that bulky yarn is very unflattering for any kind of clothing. A lot of those magazine cowls are designed like Vogue hair, crazy. I believe your point is not that one should over scrutinize their cowl wearing, but do so because they like the cowl more so than that fact that they/someone made it.

  6. August 19, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    While currently making a cowl for one of my best friends, I came across this when wondering how this thing would go on anyway (in case she asks for demonstration!) This has actually made me laugh so much, you cheered me up with your humorous way of describing and I also learn that DRAPE and Size for this matters 😛 hahahah. Thanks again so much x

    • August 20, 2014 at 10:24 am #

      You’re welcome! I’m so glad it was….educational!

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