Rad or Bad: Are Ponchos Something to Hide From or Under?

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Two Christmases ago, a well-meaning relative gifted one of us with a warm, hand-knit, alpaca poncho. Though it was a nice gesture, ponchos have always seemed better suited for a jaunt in the Andes than brunch at the Bowery, and so it was promptly relegated to the back of the closet. Though lately, the topper has been gracing the shoulders of everyone from Jane Aldridge to cool-girl Erin Wasson , which makes us wonder if the still unnamed relative was way ahead of the game. Rendered in a slightly updated silhouette, these ponchos look less like their collegiate hemp cousins and more like a cashmere wrap, but we're still a little undecided. What's the verdict, daring fashion-people? Can we hold our heads (though maybe not our arms) up high in a poncho, or is it better left for our next trek up to Machu Picchu?
Above, from left: Chloe spring '10, image from Style.com; Jane Aldridge, image from Sea of Shoes; Erin Wasson, image from The Fashion Spot.
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