Shawls for Men

Scott's box lace scarf started me thinking about shawls and why we associate them almost exclusively with women. It occurs to me that men often wear "shawls" without realizing it- consider: how often have you seen a man with a sweat shirt or sweater with the sleeves tied around his neck and the body of the sweater draped over his back and shoulders? Watch a football game on tv and you'll likely see players sitting on the bench with towels draped around their necks.

I think a shawl would be acceptable apparel for men if it were tailored to the male sensibility: strong solid colors or tweeds (no pastels); clear geometric lace patterns as opposed to more delicate, subtle patterns; shaping which would be designed to sit in a fashion similar to the above-mentioned "anonymous shawls". Also, it would need called something with more of a "male" sound to it, like a"neckman", or a "necker".

I believe there are possibilities. What say you lace guys sacrifice a chicken and have at it?


scottly's picture

Mens shawls are part of many cultures and I don't see why we couldn't adopt them.

Here are some I found,

and here's a book on the subject that I think I need.

MMario's picture

Having had plenty of time lately to watch TV - I have noticed more "mufflers" and scarves on guys - that on closer examination are triangular "shawlettes" WORN as scarves.

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

ronhuber's picture

Here in Mexico, men wear a blanket with a hole or slit in it for the head to go through. It can then be used to keep you warm when in bed. Some call it a serape and others just call it a blanket. It is usually woven rather than knitted. In my opinion, it is a shawl and is used as one. I have knitted many shawls in my life. Each of my sisters and sisters-in-law has a lace one that I made and that I never see. They also have a huge square one made from Shetland wool (often leftovers) that I have given them and those I see all the time. They are on the sofa, over their shoulders, wrapped around a baby or sleeping child, and picked up for a quick trip outside. In fact my niece asked me to make her another one as her husband uses hers when he is on the computer or watching tv. I taught her to make her own and she has made some for her brothers. I have several here and both men and women guests use them when napping and when it is cool in the evening. In one of the movies about Truman Capote, he mentions that he has several shawls.
I think a shawl can be used as a fashion accessory or something to keep you warm. In most cases men wear a scarf (small shawl) as a fashion accessory and not as something to keep them warm.

KnitsWithBalls's picture

most of the shawls I made I a boy, not a Sister... most of the time since they are pinned on people think they are fancy ponchos lol

Born Gay...FABULOUS by choice...

Born Gay...FABULOUS by choice...

mwkbloom's picture

I know that several of the prayer shawls that I've made and contributed to my various churches have been given to men (the female coordinators think it's "cute" for a man to received a shawl made by a man). I was given one before I had surgery a few years ago and it is now my security blanket on all sorts of occasions. There is a book in the works that will be all crocheted prayer shawls. I hope some of them are suitable for men (I did not know about it in time to submit one I was designing for men!). I'm now making myself one large enough to wear instead of a winter coat. I've heard that skirts on men are returning, too.

scottly's picture

Seriously, I saw a kid in a khaki kilt the other day at a coffee shop - I thought it looked great on him and not at all feminine. I wonder where he got it. I bet they're comfortable.

Bill's picture

that may have been a Utilikilt.
...they're widely denim, khaki twill, leather...and being sold at street fairs, on line at

scottly's picture

OMG they aren't cheap! But very cool, when I retire to the mountains.....

Bill's picture

do a little ca get seconds...and used ones...check ebay.
...but a real woolen kilt costs about $650. up....

rjcb3's picture

My roommate got a Utilikilt for just a few dollars over $100...not exactly sure from where, but, it was new and unused.


Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I think that we men can use shawls in so many ways...neckwear, over the shoulders, etc. Albert's original comments make a lot of sense. I have a Nepalese prayer scarf that I use as a shawl or neckscarf as I see fit. It seems men wore shawls in Victorian times as a way to keep warm in drafty houses, so the bias against them must be fairly recent. The main thing is to be comfortable with yourself as you wear it. [Even if you go for a really fantastic lace pattern.] If others can't deal with it, that's their problem. (Edit to add: Prayer shawls for men are often passed off as lap robes in the Prayer Shawl group I participate in. Of course, the basic pattern is rectangular.) -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Aaronknits's picture

Check out Stephen West's (westknits) stuff on Ravelry.

There are some great designs that are very appropriate for men!

TomH's picture

He does have some great patterns. Have yet to knit any of them. Have you?

YarnGuy716's picture

I've made his Boneyard Shawl, which I love and have a couple of his other designs in my queue

Aaronknits's picture

I haven't, yet. There's a couple things on my to-do list though!

james's picture

The extremely lovely, and extraordinarily talented Anne Hanson has designed several shawls with men in mind. Take a look at Hypoteneuse (, Oh, Canada ( and Stonewall ( All three are written to be done in scarf size or stole. I'm a huge fan of her designs and her patterns are very well written.

TomH's picture

Great patterns. Thanks!

rjcb3's picture

One of the things, as a Kabbalist, that I've always loved is the tallit (the fringed shawl donned in the synagogue -- or anywhere else really) -- it's embroidered with a blessing written in the Hebrew letters, which form a strip at the top and when it is worn over the head, it forms a crown.

...there's a lot more personal significance to it for me -- something magickal, mystical, spiritual, and just plain comforting to be wrapped up in a garment as big as a personal little tent that you wear -- personal space for the person and his Creator.

I'm actually working on a project to knit a tallit (that's the one that you see in the link from the site.) 'will be tying my tzitziot as well.

daleweaver's picture

Found myself in this older thread from a Google search on shawls for men. Does not seem like we have progressed too far since '09 developing this clothing item for men.

What I'm looking to do is weave or knit a large, probably rectangular piece of fabric appropriate for outer wear that I can wrap around myself, draped shoulder to shoulder, but wide enough to cover the torso and hips. I guess it would look much like a poncho in the end, but I'm not looking to express the triangular shapes usually found in these garments. I like the look of the prayer shawls I find at meditation retreat houses, but I'm going for a definite outerwear appearance the weight of a sweater. I like the small photo in the pic as well as the O'Canada pattern. The latter is probably too lacy for what I'm looking for, which is why I'm leaning for a woven piece over knit.

If anyone has had any updated experience with or knowledge of these garments, I'd be interested in hearing it.