A cashmere stole is a ladies' fashion garment, worn as a wrap around bare shoulders, typically while wearing a dress. Every stole is not necessarily a cashmere stole; in fact, many different luxurious fabrics are used, such as fur, satin, silk, or organza. Cashmere is a type of wool from the Kashmir goat, and is a soft, expensive, and warm fabric that is available in many different colors, making it a popular choice for this type of garment. In general, a stole is rectangular and is approximately 2 to 4 feet wide (60-122 cm), and 5 to 6 feet long (152-183 cm).
The term "stole" is often used interchangeably with a shawl, but this is incorrect. A stole is a smaller, narrower garment than a shawl, designed to fit more closely to the body, and typically made of a more luxurious fabric. A shawl may be more of an everyday garment than a stole.
In addition, though a cashmere stole is typically a similar length to a scarf or shawl, it is virtually never wrapped around the neck. Scarves and shawls are used to keep warm when outside, whereas a stole is worn for fashion. Though cashmere stoles can be quite expensive, they are beautiful garments that can be worn for many years.
A cashmere stole may be worn with a party dress or elegant evening gown, and may be placed loosely around the shoulders or arms. Some choose to knot the stole in front of the dress to keep it in place. In addition to making an elegant fashion statement, this type of stole may be used to show respect while in a church, such as for a wedding, where it might be inappropriate to display bare shoulders or a low-cut gown. There are many different ways to wrap and wear a cashmere stole, and searching online for images can be a great way to get ideas.
Though some types of cashmere may be hand washed, it will generally be necessary to dry clean a cashmere stole. It is important to care for cashmere properly to ensure that it does not shrink or become damaged, particularly because a cashmere stole is worn for fancy occasions. If hand-washing cashmere, it is generally recommended to use a gentle cleanser such as baby shampoo, or a detergent designed for delicates. Never wring out cashmere or place it in the dryer; instead, reshape it and lay it flat to dry.