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A poncho is usually considered to be a square of cloth with a hole cut in the top for the head. However, within these parameters is a wide variety of fashion. Designed for women and men -- remember Clint Eastwood in Fistful of Dollars? -- the poncho has gone in and out of style. It is an old garment, with roots in antiquity. However, most people recognize the familiar garment as a mainstay of the cowboys of Latin America.
There are two main things to consider when buying a poncho: function and fabric. One determines the other.
For rain gear, a poncho will often be made of some kind of plastic or rubber material, often with a hood. It will be waterproof and will usually fall to the wearer's knees, in order to keep the rain off more efficiently. This type of poncho is usually strictly for keeping dry, and rarely contributes warmth.
A poncho for warmth may be made of wool or other fleecy knit material. This poncho may be joined under the arms to keep the wind from blowing in, and may also have a matching hood. These kinds of ponchos are the closest to those worn by the vaqueros, the cowboys of South America. They are usually best for chilly weather, rather than deep cold. They are usually lighter weight than a winter coat, although heavier than a typical sweater or cardigan.
With the poncho's resurgence on the fashion scene, many women wear one as a fashion statement. They may be made of glittering cloth with rich fringe, meant for an evening out on the town. They may simply function as a wrap for a glamorous evening gown, or they may be an integral part of the outfit. Crepe, georgette, suede, silk and velvet all take their turns in making up a fashion poncho.
A buyer should think about size when buying, as well. She should make sure the poncho is as long as she wants it to be, and that it fits loosely around the neck area. A poncho may cost anywhere from US$4 for a cheap rain garment to over US$50 for an elaborate, formal wrap. With the varieties available, a woman is certain to find the poncho that fits her style and needs.
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