Please and poncho

camino-inca-porteadores

Formerly published in The Other Press. Feb. 19 2013

The practicality and comfort of a great garment

By Elliot Chan, Staff Writer

Unlike cowboy hats and bolo ties, ponchos are a fashionable and practical southern style. It is a shame that Canadian culture has been reluctant to adapt this awesome form of clothing in day-to-day life. Often associated with Latin conquistadors and Peruvian mountaineers, ponchos are considered a style too hip to pull off in urban communities. But as Vancouverites we come into contact with atrocious clothing hourly, and if we are going to be avant-garde with our fashion sense, we might as well dress in something that is pleasing not only to the observer, but also to the person wearing it.

From the Andes to the Rockies, we all live in the perfect poncho environment. Subject to unpredictable weather patterns, it is always handy to carry a poncho in your bag. It might sound like a primitive garment—after all, how effective can a piece of fabric be at insulating the body and deflecting wind? But there is a reason that the poncho is one of the few articles of clothing that has gone unaltered since its creation in Inca culture in 500 BC. It remains more than traditional garb. Its simplicity and functionality make it perfect for poverty-stricken areas. That does not mean it is just for hobos; ponchos are dignified attire worn by military, merchants, and craftsmen alike.

Imagine spending the day in bed, wrapped up in a blanket. Unless you are an infant or in a coma, you are unlikely to have such an opportunity. Ponchos are the compromise for getting up in the morning. A day in one will feel less strenuous. For any social event with an optional dress code, I recommend a poncho. It offers the wearer an approachable demeanor, a carefree attitude, and a nonchalant sagacity. Like a person gaining the placebo effect of wisdom from putting on a pair of glasses, a person draped in a poncho will feel quiet confidence and comfort, one that a dress shirt and tie will never offer. So, why not?

There are countless of situations perfect for ponchos. During a day at a beach, a poncho can keep the sun off and double as a blanket. For a night in with a movie, a poncho becomes the stylish alternative to night robes and that horrendous invention—the Snuggie. Camping trips, wilderness escapades, dreary transit rides, and long road trips are all excellent occasions to cuddle up or stand proud in a poncho.

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