Shawl vs Wrap vs Stole vs Scarf…What’s the Difference?

Ever wondered what exactly the difference is between a wrap and shawl, or when a scarf becomes a wrap?

These days there seems to be a fair amount of confusion with regards to these terms, and no wonder, they are very frequently used interchangeably. So, for those who want to be fashion term savvy, here’s a quick run-down for you. All four names represent finished pieces of fabric that are worn. They can be made from natural fibers such as silk, cashmere, wool, cotton and linen, or man-made fibers such as acrylic and polyester.



A shawl is a rectangular/triangular/square larger piece of fabric generally draped over the shoulders or wrapped around the body. It is worn for decorative purposes (to accent an outfit or cover bare shoulders in formal attire), religious purposes, or to keep warm. In past shawl was used for winter only and were made from only pure wool. Shawls mostly come 80-110 cm wide to 180 cm – 210 cm long.


Pictured above is our Book Of Kells Shawl


A stole would be known more as a formal shawl of expensive fabric used around the shoulders over a party dress or ball gown. A stole is typically narrower than a shawl, and of simpler construction than a cape, wrapped and carried about the shoulders or arms. Lighter materials such as silk and chiffon and are simply finished. It has been said that the term ‘stole’ probably is related to the ancient Roman stola (the woman’s version of the toga).
Generally comes in size of 50-70 cm wide to 175cm -190cm long.


As a rule of thumb, scarves are long and thin; think of a typical winter wool scarf or they can be square like a classic silk scarf. In other words, the term is usually used to describe a fabric item that can be wrapped or tied around your neck for warmth and or style. Scarves can be casual or formal and everywhere in-between.
Size of scarf normally varies from 10cm -40cm in width and 120cm – 200 cm in length.

Merino Wool Scarf Violet Check
Pictured above is our Merino Wool Scarf Violet Check

There are scarves, and then there are blanket scarves. Blanket scarves are a giant version of a scarf that are so big they could even be used as, you guessed it, a blanket. They’re warm, cozy, comfortable, and wonderful, and they are very much on trend this season. They are extremely versatile as scarves, makeshift ponchos or capes, shawls, and yes, even a blanket.

Tartan Blanket Scarf in Navy & Grey and our Oversized Herringbone Wool Scarf

Pictured above our Tartan Blanket Scarf in Navy & Grey and our Oversized Herringbone Wool Scarf



Wrap is a more recent term, and used primarily to describe both shawls and stoles. Effectively it is an interchangeable word that covers any loose outer garment or piece of material that can be wrapped around the upper body.

Fisherman Aran Cable Wrap in Wool & Cashmere
Fisherman Aran Cable Wrap in Wool & Cashmere
Now that you have a handle on all those terms Happy Shopping!

Shop Irish Capes, Shawls & Scarves

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like