A shrug is a type of extremely short, open-fronted jacket with long sleeves. Most commonly, it is knitted, although other assembly techniques can be used to manufacture one. Since a shrug is relatively easy to make at home, some knitters prefer to custom design jackets, using distinctive patterns and wools. For the less craft-inclined, they are usually available in boutiques and department stores. A shrug is designed to fit snugly, so wearers should check for fit and make sure that it will not shrink when washed.
Wearing a shrug helps to keep the arms and upper torso warm, and for women who are shy about their upper arms, it allows them to wear stylish sleeveless or strappy dresses while remaining comfortable. Other women wear them over evening gowns to prevent catching cold, as many such gowns expose a large part of the back in addition to the arms. The shrug insulates the body to prevent the wearer from catching cold, and also looks fashionable, showcasing most of the garment being worn. When traveling to events, many women wear longer evening coats to stay warm until they enter the public eye.
A knitted shrug may resemble a radically shrunken sweater. Any type of yarn can be used, ranging from silky mohair to chunky novelty yarns designed more for looks than warmth. As a general rule, it can be created as a single knitted garment, with the knitter starting at one wrist and working his or her way across to the other wrist. Many are knit in a lacy pattern, although warmer shrugs are made with thick yarns and tight stitches.
In some cases, a knitted shrug may blur the line between a jacket and a shawl, with a more loose, flowing fit. It may also use a large, floppy shawl collar, to enhance the neckline or provide additional warmth. Knit shrugs are extremely popular, and they are relatively easy to make, making them excellent projects for knitters who are trying to build on basic skills.
It also possible to crochet a shrug, or to fabricate one from textiles like velvet, brocade, cotton, linen, or silk. Lightweight textiles may be used to create one that is suitable for keeping off a summer chill, while heavier fabrics are intended for cooler evenings or night time formal events. One made with a textile may also be beaded or embroidered.