What is a Silk Stole?

Mandi R. Hall

A silk stole is essentially a small version of a ladies’ wrap, made of silk. A stole is typically narrower than a cape or wrap. Though these garments or accessories aren’t always made of silk, they are typically manufactured with quality fabrics akin to such. Stoles of silk and other materials such as chiffon are meant to provide a bit of warmth, though fur stoles would clearly provide more. The silk stole has historically been paired with an evening gown or dress.

Silk fabric.
Silk fabric.

The silk stole is typically finished with a simple hem on either end. A more basic accessory, these stoles are quite sheer and thin. Stoles of other thicker materials such as fox fur may be lined, though stoles made of lighter fabrics needn’t be lined.

Silk comes from the cocoon of the silkworm.
Silk comes from the cocoon of the silkworm.

In regards to warmth, a stole is generally a bit cooler than a scarf. Because it is typically light and gauzy, it acts as more of a comforting accessory than a practical one. It is merely draped over the shoulders in a casual manner. Though a stole may be worn at any time of the day and during any occasion, it is typically reserved for formal occasions. A stole may be seen at fancy cocktail parties, dinners or black-tie events. Typically paired with a dinner dress or ball gown, the stole often complements the dress itself.

While it needn’t match in color, the stole accompanying a dress should go well with it. A silk stole may come in a variety of colors, as silk can be dyed most any color. Such a stole may also be patterned. While many women own many stoles, however, a couple of neutral stoles can complement an entire wardrobe.

A silk stole may be pricier than stoles of other fabrics such as cotton or linen. Silk, a natural fiber made from the larvae of silkworms, is not as easy to come by for an inexpensive price. Because the material itself is derived from insects, the process to manufacture silk is a bit more laborious. The protein fiber is gathered from the insects, which are generally raised in captivity by sericulturists, also known as silk farmers. Once gathered, the silk material is spun and woven into products such as stoles.

A silk stole is typically shiny. It shimmers in various lights due to the configuration of the fiber, which produces the shine-inducing prisms. Though it’s quite soft to the touch, it’s not necessarily slippery like fabrics made to imitate it.

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