How to Wear a Shrug

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How to Wear a Shrug

The shrug, a small cropped jacket-like garment, has been well on its way to becoming an essential staple in a woman’s wardrobe, as ubiquitous as a pair of jeans or the classic little black dress. Shrugs offer a way for women to add a bit of colour and dynamics to an outfit, while also providing an added level of warmth in cooler weather without bulking up a silhouette. For women who do not have a lot of experience with this entry to the world of fashion, it can be helpful to have a clearer idea about the different ways in which one may wear and leverage this useful accessory. Getting to know the fashion basics of the shrug, such as what items to pair a shrug with, how to use a shrug as an accent in an outfit, and even understanding how to purchase a quality shrug, can benefit a woman who is interested in incorporating this garment into her wardrobe. Although shrugs are available at retailers such as department stores, one may find a wider choice online at eBay.

What is a Shrug?

A shrug is a cropped cardigan-like garment that typically ends just below the breastbone on a woman. Similar to the bolero jacket of the 1980s in terms of proportion, the shrug is actually closer to a sweater in design and is often found in light knits or cotton blends that cling softly to the body. Shrugs can be found in any number of colours and patterns and are manufactured with a range of materials, including cotton blends, lycra, acrylic blends, cashmere, and knits.

Types of Shrugs

Shrugs come in several varieties, giving women a range of ways in which they can accessorise an outfit. The tie-off shrug features two long strips of material in the front that can be used to create a bow or knot or be wrapped around the torso. A shawl shrug comes with a larger wrap structure that can be worn over the shoulder like a shawl. A drape shrug may fall a bit below the average shrug, adding a bit of volume and flow to a shrug. The cropped shrug does not include a tie-off element and ends just under the armpit or a few centimetres below. Shrugs can come with full-length sleeves, three-quarter sleeves, and short sleeves.

Tips for Wearing a Shrug Effectively

There are a good deal of creative ways in which a woman can wear a shrug to make the most out of this accessory item. By following some useful techniques, women can create effective shrug ensembles for day, evening, and even formal occasions.

Experiment with Contrasting Lengths When Wearing a Shrug

Given the minimal proportions of a shrug, women can look at one as an opportunity to experiment with varying lengths and proportions. For example, a shrug can go well with an extra-long fitted tee underneath, which can then be followed by a mini skirt, creating different levels for the eye to follow and assembling a look that maintains an overall balance. Pairing a shrug with two long elements, such as a long shift and a long skirt, can create an awkward, imbalanced effect that drags the eye downward and makes a woman appear drab and dishevelled.

Use a Shrug to Dress Up a Casual Look for Evening

A black shrug in a material such as a light knit or cashmere blend can take a tank top and a pair of jeans well into evening by dressing up an otherwise casual look. Since shrugs are small and compact, they provide an excellent way for women to change when out for the entire day and in need for a transition piece for evening. By simply toting a shrug along with, say, a pair of drop earrings, a woman can transform a basic tank and jean look into an appropriate evening ensemble in an instant.

Contrast Materials When Wearing a Shrug

Trying out a mix and match of materials with a shrug can be a dynamic way to assemble an effective look. A shrug’s small dimensions help it function as a subtle accent in an overall design scheme. For example, a light silk top may be contrasted with a shrug made of a bulky knit or a heavy material like tweed, giving an outfit just enough contrast to make it interesting. Women looking for a bolder choice can also even experiment with contrasting patterns, such as wearing a striped shrug with a different pattern in a shirt. Since the shrug is small, its pattern does not create an overwhelming effect, but rather provides a quirky bit of contrast to a separate pattern in a shirt.

Look into Dressier Shrugs for Black Tie

Nothing can be more frustrating for a woman than putting together a stellar ensemble for an evening, only to find herself confronted with a cold night out and nothing but an overcoat to warm her shoulders. Evening shrugs can provide a woman with a stylish and flattering way to stay warm during a cool night on the town. Shrugs also do not get in the way of a dress, allowing an evening gown to be the centrepiece of an evening look. Evening shrugs can come in satins, sequined designs, cashmeres, and even metallics, giving women a number of ways in which to accessorise a formal look.

Don’t Go "Matchy-Matchy"

Wearing a cotton shrug with a cotton shirt and a cotton skirt can make a woman look drab and monotone. Women should work to create a dynamic in a look with the contrasting materials and pattern experiments mentioned earlier. A woman can adhere to a consistent pattern in her choice of colours, however; keeping a shrug in the same general colour family as the rest of the ensemble can make a woman look slimmer and taller.

Use the Tie-Off to Create a New Look with a Shrug

When wearing a shrug that ties off, women can experiment with different knots, tie-offs, and placements to create a new effect with a shrug. Placing a bow between the breastbones can create an entirely different look than wrapping the ties around the torso and tying them off at the back. Women should take the time to consider how a tie-off shrug can best be leveraged in an ensemble to create some contrast or to complement another piece in a look.

Shopping for a Shrug

Women who are on the lookout for a shrug to supplement their wardrobes may consider visiting local shops and clothing stores. These types of retailers stock a range of shrugs, but the inventory is often defined by season and driving trends, and this can affect the availability of an item. A much more comprehensive catalogue of shrugs can be accessed via online auction sites such as eBay. An online auction site offers a number of shrugs no matter the time of year, the seasonal demands, or dominant trends.

Buying a Shrug on eBay

While there are many ways to shop on eBay, a great first step when looking for a shrug is to run a basic search on the website. If you want to get an idea of the overall range of shrugs available, try running a general search with the term "women’s shrug". If you have already settled on a style and colour, try running a very specific search to pull up your ideal listings. Don’t forget to take advantage of eBay’s related search suggestions. These helpful hints can push you in a direction you might not have considered on your own and help refine the purchasing process.

When shopping on eBay, it can benefit you to take a bit of time to vet the sellers on the site. If you see a listing that seems relevant to your needs, visit the seller’s page and review past auctions. You can also look through the feedback a vendor has received from other customers, giving you a good idea of a seller’s record in customer service before you place an order.


Wearing a shrug is one of the fashionable ways in which women can address both form and function in an outfit. A shrug serves the dual purpose of adding contrasting style elements, patterns, and colours to an outfit, while also allowing a woman to stay warm and look good. Since shrugs come in a wide array of designs, it can behoove a woman to take the time to look through various style types and ascertain which works best for her needs. She can then use the shrug as an effective element in a daytime ensemble or use it as a useful warmer with formal attire. Whatever her end goal, a woman can find a number of shrugs online at auction sites such as eBay. By utilising the search features, looking through the listings on the website, and taking the time to get to know her sellers, a woman can utilise eBay to find the shrug she needs to complete an ensemble.

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