The Poncho Guide

poncho guide

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Ponchos are a unique ancient garment that is still in style in 2023. In this comprehensive guide, we will try to cover everything you’ll want to know about this beautiful piece!

What is a poncho?

A poncho is a practical yet stylish piece of clothing. It’s simply a large rectangular fabric with a central hole for your head. Unlike a jacket, it doesn’t have structured sleeves, It is simply draping over your body to shield against wind and rain (or just for style!). When you wear it right (we’ll get to that later), It adds an easy charm to your outfit, making the ordinary extraordinary.

Are Ponchos in Style for 2023?

Unquestionably, Yes – Ponchos are in style for 2023! It seems like there is a poncho feast, as they are spotted in so many collections of the latest seasons and the seasons to come, and they are so chic, one wouldn’t like to miss the party! 

Here’s how top fashion designers feature ponchos in their 2023 collections:

At Fendi’s Fall menswear 2023, you can’t help but fall in love with a few amazing, super sophisticated ponchos that gave the feminine-masculine style some new soft silhouettes. EENK RTW Fall Winter 2023 show in Paris presented amazing cozy chic poncho coats that feel like the best choice for easy-going stylish winter. On Paris Fashion Week F/W 2022-2023, Chloe exhibits the ultimate long-knitted sunset ombre warm poncho, To Live For! Kenzo played with plaid and made a super comfy hooded poncho. 

It is hard to cover it all, but we just have to mention Free People which always give us the option to enjoy some boho breeze, and in their latest collection, you can find beautiful ponchos as the ultimate cover-up for the beach.

Samantha Sutton from InStyle magazine wrote it so beautifully, she said: “We’ve Been Home With Our Blankets for so Long, of Course Ponchos Are Coming Back”. In her article, she said that according to Jennifer Lopez, ponchos might be the next throwback trend to return. She shows ponchos that landed on the runways already in 2021 and reminds us how ponchos pair well with just about everything (in her words). 

Types of Ponchos

There are MANY types of ponchos, I believe that only in Central and South America you can probably find dozens of types that are unique to a specific region or culture. Here are a couple of the most popular ones worldwide:

#1 Aztec Poncho

Nomad Chic! Aztec patterns, originating from ancient Mexico, are really popular in today’s fashion due to their bold geometric designs and ethnic nomad feel. They often appear on ponchos, offering a vibrant and visually interesting look. Despite their historical origins, these patterns feel fresh and modern. Here are a few beautiful ones:

#2 Mexican Poncho

There are MANY types of Mexican ponchos, but the most famous one is the colorful, cheerful, vibrant striped poncho with white fringes. These can be made from various materials, including wool, cotton, and even synthetic fibers.

However, if you want to go for a more authentic style, check out these:

#3 Rain Poncho

These are probably the most common types of ponchos in the world. They are lightweight, waterproof ponchos designed to keep the wearer dry in wet weather. They are often made from plastic or other water-resistant materials.
In their simple form, they are used pretty much everywhere as they are super easy to carry in a glove box, under the seat of a motorcycle, in a bag, or in a backpack if you’re traveling.

If you’re looking for a simple waterproof rain poncho, I think the best place to start would be Amazon. However, rain ponchos have evolved quite a bit from simple ones to more sophisticated statement garments. Here are a few gorgeous ones from Etsy:

#4 Alpaca Poncho 

If you’re looking for a truly authentic feel, go for an alpaca wool poncho! They often feature traditional Andean designs and patterns. But today, you can easily find beautiful alpaca ponchos in plain designs too. The alpaca fleece is soft, warm, and water-repellent, and if you want the best, go for baby alpaca wool which is exceptionally fine, soft, and luxurious.

#5 Crochet Poncho 

These iconic ponchos are hand-knit using crochet techniques, resulting in a unique, homemade feel. They can be made in a variety of patterns and colors. And with the right crochet poncho, it can be quite easy to create a stunning boho look:

#6 Hooded Poncho 

These ponchos come with a built-in hood for added warmth and protection from the elements (OR just for style!). They can be found in a variety of materials, from waterproof rain ponchos to cozy knit versions and much more!

#7 Festival Poncho 

Usually bright, colorful, and fun, these ponchos are perfect for music festivals or similar events. They can feature everything from tie-dye designs to fringe details.

#8 Poncho Sweater

This is a more fashion-forward take on the traditional poncho, often made from knitted materials and designed to be worn as a regular piece of clothing. They might include features such as cowl necks or belted waists.

#9 Argentinian poncho

As the Andes mountain range crosses all of South America, it makes perfect sense that different cultures along that track will develop their own variations of the poncho. Here are a couple of gorgeous Argentinian ponchos: 

#10 Sheer Poncho

Sheer ponchos are a contemporary, feminine take on the traditional poncho. They serve as a light cover-up, perfect for warmer months when a gentle layer is all that’s needed. Crafted from lightweight, airy materials, these ponchos are a super quick & easy way to add a touch of elegance and femininity to any outfit. Their delicate nature is a testament to the modern evolution of ponchos, demonstrating their versatility across cultures and styles.

#11 Kids Poncho

An absolutely joyful garment for the kid and the parents!
The absence of sleeves makes ponchos simple to slip on and off, reducing the usual fuss associated with dressing up. Furthermore, their distinct design adds an adorable flair to a child’s outfit. With an endless variety of charming patterns and colors available, these ponchos are more than just clothing items – they’re fun, convenient, and irresistibly cute.

#12 Fleece Poncho 

Fleece ponchos are designed for warmth. They are popular for casual wear in colder climates. The beauty about fleece ponchos is that they’re super easy to DIY because fleece doesn’t fray when you cut it.

#13 Surf Poncho 

These ponchos are designed for surfers, providing an easy way to change in and out of wetsuits while also keeping the wearer warm and covered from the sun. They’re typically made from towel or microfiber materials that dry fast. They are also known as ‘changing robes’.

#14 Military Poncho 

Military ponchos are designed for functionality in various weather conditions, often with added features like grommets for use as an emergency shelter, tent, and much, much more! Ponchos are used by soldiers and preppers worldwide. In fact, even the Wehrmacht (German army during WW2) used a type of poncho called Zeltbahn which was also a quarter of a tent.

When & Where did ponchos originate

The ponchos originated in the COLD Andes Mountains of South America as a practical garment that keeps you super warm while allowing you the freedom to move and work without interruption. Ponchos have been worn by the indigenous people of the Andes for centuries (according to my research, probably around 500 B.C. or maybe even earlier)

In the 15th century, the Spanish conquistadors encountered ponchos worn by the Inca people, and they quickly adopted the garment for their own use. Ponchos were soon being worn by people all over the Spanish Empire, including in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

In the 19th century, ponchos became popular in the United States. They were often worn by cowboys (remember Clint Eastwood? We’ll get to him later!) and other working people. Ponchos were also popular among artists and writers, who saw them as a symbol of the American West.

Here are some more interesting facts about the poncho:

– The word “poncho” comes from the Quechua word “punchu” which means “blanket.”
– Ponchos were also used for carrying goods.

How popular are Ponchos today?

Today, ponchos are extremely popular in one form or another all over the world. In South America and Mexico, the classic versions are still seen everywhere. In Asia, the super-simple poncho rain cover (usually made from plastic or nylon) becomes an essential garment for everyone during the rainy season (I even saw some ponchos in Nepal that were specially made to fit 2 people riding a motorcycle!). Ponchos are worn as fashion garments across the world, mostly (but not solely) by women. And soldiers everywhere absolutely LOVE them for their versatility. And they’re even loved by gamers!

Do Men Wear Ponchos?

YES. But, for men, wearing a poncho isn’t as simple as draping it over any outfit. Choosing the wrong poncho or poorly styling a poncho can lead to an unflattering look. So choose your poncho well!

Many male celebrities have showcased ponchos in their outfits, from Clint Eastwood and Eric Clapton to Lenny Kravitz and Michael J. Fox. While not every star nailed the selection, their efforts demonstrate the broad appeal of this versatile garment.
If you’re still unsure whether ponchos are for men or not, we wrote a whole article about it:
Do Men Wear Ponchos in 2023?

Where can you buy a poncho?

  1. Etsy.
  2. Amazon.
  3. Google it and see what comes up.

Poncho vs. Serape

While ponchos are recognized for their central head opening, a serape is essentially a vibrant, long blanket, often fringed at its ends.


Poncho vs. Ruana

Ruanas are less known than ponchos, and therefore MANY people call ruanas – ponchos. But even though both originate from the Andes area and are quite similar, they do have distinct features. A poncho is defined by a central head opening and a closed-off design. A ruana, on the other hand, is open in the front and allows for a bit more versatility in terms of styling. 

ruana vs poncho

Poncho vs. Shawl

Many people consider the poncho to be a type of shawl. But the classic poncho and the classic shawl differ from each other quite a bit. As mentioned, a poncho will always have a hole to place the head, while the shawl is basically an open piece of fabric (often in a rectangle shape, but not limited to it at all!).


Poncho FAQ

Do Cowboys Wear Ponchos?

Absolutely! And if you’re asking this question, you should probably go to see some Clint Eastwood movies! Cowboys have long enjoyed the numerous benefits the poncho has to offer, such as heat, flexibility, cover, and much more.

How Much Fabric do you Need to Make Your Own Poncho?

It depends on a couple of factors:
1. Different fabrics come at different widths. If you want to keep it simple without the need to stitch, buy a fabric that is at least 5ft wide (1.5 meters).
2. Different ponchos require different amounts of fabric. Decide which design you want to achieve. Is it a knee-length poncho? Waist length? How well do you want the arms covered? 
3. After you know which design you want, it’s time to measure the model to fit it perfectly.

To give you a general idea, if you’re making a standard poncho for an average American woman (5’4’), I would go for about 6.5ft X 4.9ft (2 meters X 1.5 meters)

Are Ponchos Cultural Appropriation?

In my opinion, not really. Like many other traditional garments, the poncho has naturally become popular all over the world, and I don’t see an issue with wearing one. 
But, if you’re asking this question, here are a couple of things you can do to make sure you’re not crossing any lines:
1. Buy from an authentic source: If it’s not a simple rain poncho, but a beautiful, stylish one, you can consider buying from authentic south-central American sellers.
2. Don’t wear it as a joke.
3. Consult Hispanic friends.

How to Wear a Poncho

The beauty of ponchos is that they’re super quick and easy to wear, which makes them the perfect, effortless way to style up your outfit!

In this video, Rachel Zoe will walk you through what you need to know to style a poncho beautifully!

But don’t limit yourself to these styles only!

The questions: ‘What to wear with a poncho?’, ‘What to wear under a poncho?’ And ‘how to style a poncho?’ Are all really depends on the poncho you have and the look you want to achieve! 

As you probably understand by now, ponchos are really diverse, and you can create SO MANY looks with the right poncho. Here are just a few (beautiful) styles you can rock with ponchos:


Many types of ponchos are a really easy way to create a stunning bohemian look. Here are a few ponchos that will work perfectly:

For a more curated boho look, consider adding accessories. A wide-brimmed hat, layered necklaces, a pair of statement earrings, or rustic leather boots, can accentuate the boho vibe. Play with textures, patterns, and earth-toned colors to truly make the style your own.


A poncho can be a unique, chic, and versatile addition to a modern wardrobe. Its easy, draped silhouette can help create a bold contemporary look with minimal effort.

To maintain a modern aesthetic, try to pair a neutral-toned poncho with fitted bottoms like skinny jeans or a sleek pencil skirt. This will balance the relaxed fit of the poncho, creating a clean, streamlined ensemble. For a polished finish, wear accessories like a structured bag or minimalistic jewelry pieces. Ankle boots or clean white sneakers can seal the deal on your modern look.

It’s about playing with proportions and keeping the rest of your outfit relatively fitted to let the poncho shine as the centerpiece of your look.

Poncho and Denim: A Love Story

The easiest one to pull off? (:

Combining a poncho with denim creates a stylish, timeless look that can suit just about anyone. This ensemble merges the comfort of a poncho with the classic appeal of denim, promising both versatility and style.

You can pair a poncho with loose, relaxed-fit jeans for a laid-back, bohemian vibe. Or go for torn denim to add a bit of edge to your outfit. On the other hand, skinny jeans paired with a poncho can strike a balance between fitted and flowing, making for a VERY flattering silhouette.

Whether you’re going for a relaxed, chic, or edgy look, a poncho paired with your favorite denim piece can help you achieve your desired style with ease and grace.


Ponchos have a unique appeal among those embracing an earthy lifestyle. This is due to their rustic charm, versatility, and ethnic qualities. Earthy-style ponchos frequently feature natural materials like cotton and wool, and simple color palettes inspired by nature.

Ponchos for all ages

For the mature crowd, ponchos are particularly appealing for their ease of wear – slipping on and off without a struggle. They can be a stylish and comfortable addition to fall in love with in chilly weather.

How to wear a poncho with a belt

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million”

How to Wear a Poncho Like Clint Eastwood

Used rustic jeans, leather boots, and a western-style poncho will give you the ‘Clint Eastwood’ look. In the Dollars Trilogy, Eastwood is rocking an authentic brown poncho with a white western pattern over his cowboy outfit. So cool! 

Wrapping it up

Ponchos are magnificent unique garments that are definitely in style in 2023 (if you style it right!). It’s such a versatile garment that is perfect for every age and can achieve so many looks with minimum effort.
Follow the tips we shared, and you’ll be able to rock the poncho!

poncho guide

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