Switch Up Your Wardrobe with 3+ Great Summer Ruanas from Chico’s

Alison in an orange and blue linen ruana with white jeans and a white tank and gold Margaux Uptown sandals

Okay, let's talk about ruanas. I've loved ruanas for winter and always have one; they're great to throw over most everything for warmth without bulk or restriction. But summer ruanas… they can feel a bit cliché, like I should be rocking them with some cropped wide-leg linen pants with an elastic waist, orthopedic sandals, transition sunglasses, a large reversible sun hat, and a very elaborate pendant necklace.

No offense to y'all who rock the ruanas with such a look, you do you and do it well. But it's not my personal style aesthetic. That being said, a ruana is such a quick way to switch up your summer wardrobe.

What is a Ruana?

Alison of Wardrobe Oxygen styling a summer ruana from Chico's with white jeans. She is leaning against a gray wall and looking to the left

A ruana is a poncho-style outer garment native to the Colombian and Venezuelan Andes. When you lay a ruana flat on the ground it is a rectangle with a slit and occasionally a hole for the neck. Some ruanas are attached under the arms to fit like a roomy vest, others are free to hang or even throw a tail over the opposite shoulder.

Ruanas are often lumped in with pieces brands inaccurately call kimonos (read this to understand why such pieces should not use that term) and others are called wraps or robes or dusters. Made from anything from heavyweight wool to delicate lace, these toppers can be added to so many different outfits to add style as well as warmth.

One Outfit, Three Summer Ruanas from Chico's

Alison of Wardrobe Oxygen wearing a denim ruana from Chico's with white straight jeans and a white tank and gold Margaux Uptown Sandals. She is standing against a pale gray brick wall, one hand in a pocket, looking at the camera.

As an ambassador for Chico's I get to pick out an outfit or two from their New Arrivals each season. I really love taking something on the Chico's site that is styled one way and totally giving it a different style. And last month I saw this denim jacket/ruana hybrid and was obsessed. I planned to rock it with my Universal Standard Next to Naked Bodysuit and some Adidas shelltops.

I got it and thought it was so fun. Denim jacket effect, but this funky '80s-esque silhouette and not as heavy as a denim jacket. My husband thought it was stupid. My daughter thought it was weird. But I was like… I want to rock it not only with the US NTN, but also a white tank and jeans. And so I did!

Alison wearing a summer ruana of denim from Chico's with white jeans and a tank. She is laughing and looking at something off camera
An alternative to a denim jacket that has much more air flow! Heads up, this runs big so if in doubt size down.

Yeah, this isn't everyone's cup of tea but I think it's super fun. And I kind of want to take some sandpaper to it to make it look old and distressed and maybe put some buttons all over it. I'll wash it and see how I feel.

Alison in an orange printed linen summer ruana from Chico's with white jeans and a white tank. She is laughing at looking at the camera, her left hand in her hair.
With the high slits of a ruana, you can wear it with shorts or a shorter dress and not look naked. Also, you can reach your pockets!

And then I saw this ruana from Chico's and was thinking this is the kind of thing I'd rock with a graphic tee and cutoff denim shorts and Birkenstocks on a Tuesday to the grocery store or a Saturday to Target. But it too would totally work with white jeans and tank and some gold jewelry…

Alison in a watercolor summer ruana from Chico's
Switching up a ruana's silhouette by tying it in front.

So I ordered it and when it came, this third ruana was also in the box. I didn't order it, but gosh the colors were pretty in person and the fabric really soft. I was playing with it and grabbed a little bit of it in each hand and tried tying it… and I really liked the effect. And then the topic for this article was formed.

how to tie a summer ruana to create a different look
With a lightweight summer ruana, you can grab two pieces of the edge of the collar and tie together to create a blouse-like effect. Alternatives are using a brooch to pin to the pieces together for a looser option, or cinching the whole ruana with a belt (the width of your choosing).

I know many of us want fun and exciting new looks for getting out in the world, but may not want to buy a whole new wardrobe. Maybe we're traveling and want to pack light. Or maybe want to update perfectly lovely but not very exciting pieces already in the closet. A summer ruana is a great way to create different looks without buying completely different outfits. Below I share some other great summer ruanas, robes, and wraps that I found online:

Shop Summer Ruanas, Wraps, and Robes:

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Alison of Wardrobe Oxygen wearing a linen ruana from Chico's in an orange and blue print with black tassels. She is walking away from a gray wall, her hand in her hair

15 additional ways to style summer ruanas:

  1. Cropped jeans, a solid-colored tank top, and flat sandals
  2. High-waisted flare jeans, clogs, and a cami
  3. Ankle jeans, trendy white sneakers, and a graphic tee
  4. White tank and white linen full-length pants with metallic sandals
  5. Belted over a tank dress
  6. Slip over a slip or cami dress
  7. Thrown over your overalls
  8. Pair with a jumpsuit and metallic heeled sandals
  9. Cotton and linen ones look smart over a Breton striped tee and Bermuda shorts
  10. Pair with distressed denim shorts, a tank top, and sandals
  11. Use a wide belt to cinch it over slim pants
  12. Wear with the Universal Standard Next-to-Naked Bodysuit or a similar garment
  13. Use as a swim coverup
  14. Knot it in front, or consider using a brooch to hold it together
  15. Tie the bottom like a shirt, tuck in the back and wear with wide-leg linen pants or jeans
Alison of Wardrobe Oxygen in a lightweight summer ruana from Chico's that is white with a watercolor brush stroke design in reds and greens and yellows. She is wearing it with white jeans and is walking away from the camera but looking back and smiling

For reference, all the ruanas I am wearing are in size L/XL from Chico's I am wearing this Chico's tank in size 1 (I find the Touch of Cool collection runs big) and these Chico's jeans in size 2.5 petite. My shoes are these from Margaux (read my original Margaux shoes review for wide feet). My date necklace is from Etsy, my chain from Rellery. The hoops are from Baublebar, my wider gold bracelet from REALM, the slimmer one from Metal Marvels.

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23 Comments

  1. RoseAg
    May 20, 2021 / 11:54 pm

    You did do a much better job of styling the denim than the retailers’ website. It looks downright frumpy there.
    If one was to want to wear it over longer sleeves I think taking a hint from your style, keeping things simple and the monocolor approach would be the way to go.
    It may channel the 1980s, it doesn’t have to make the same mistakes as the 80s.

  2. Elizabeth
    May 20, 2021 / 5:55 pm

    Just going to differ with you a little about kimonos and cultural appropriation. Kimono encompasses a wide array of styles, from the very ritualized attire and techniques of a bride to the Yucatán bathrobes of the hot springs. It is however, a Japanese word which means that which is worn. Likewise ruanas are made from heavy weight to light, and are worn like shawls or blankets, but it is a word in the language of a conquering people, which means ragged, and was used by the conquerors to describe the attire off those they enslaved.

    Both garment styles are useful, efficient ways to make clothing from fabric, and can be appreciated for their utility and beauty. But the soft, pink ruana my husband has adopted as his tv watching wrap, is not the same as the Japanese cotton kimono that I covet as my summertime robe. They are constructed differently and fulfill different roles. They deserve to be respected for what they are, and how they are similar but different. We honor the people who created them using them.

    • Elizabeth
      May 20, 2021 / 6:00 pm

      I meant to type yukata not autocorrect to Yucatán

  3. Alison
    May 20, 2021 / 5:43 pm

    Hey Alison –
    I think you styled these better than Chico’s. The site pics aren’t nearly as appealing as how you styled them. I like how you made them the ‘star.’ Their styling seemed too busy and if I had just seen their version wouldn’t have given them a second thought.
    Also I didn’t know there were ruanas that were a summer weight. I have just the winter versions. I do use lightweight scarves but I love the idea of a summer ruana like #2 and #3! Great job… 🙂

  4. May 20, 2021 / 12:48 pm

    Love the denim piece on you! So many ways to rock that and not just for Summer. I feel inspired .
    You look great in all 3 pieces.

  5. Rita
    May 20, 2021 / 12:40 pm

    The ruanas look great on you.
    Your comments about cultural appropriation and the article you linked to have me wondering where to draw the line. Is it not ok to wear a Mexican themed embroidered blouse since I’m not Mexican? Is it wrong to wear a pendant of Buddha if I’m not Buddhist? Do you have another post where you talk about this issue or a resource that would help me understand.
    I love your blog because I always learn something new. Thank you.

  6. Nancy
    May 20, 2021 / 11:37 am

    I am confused as to why kimono-esque clothes are cultural appropriation but ruana like capes are not? Not trying to argue, just honestly wondering what the thought process is on this? Offense of cultural appropriation is obv a personal thing but as both garments are being sold using a heritage garment name I’m wondering why you called out one but promoted the other? You are always very thoughtful about what you do and I am interested in your perspective. If you don’t want to get into it, which I can totally understand, please ignore.

    • May 20, 2021 / 11:50 am

      Oh no, good question! A ruana has been worn by multiple cultures over the centuries and is in general worn exactly as this – a rectangle with a slit in it to be a layering piece over other clothing. A kimono is a very specific garment that has cultural and ceremonial significance and what Westerners usually call a kimono is nothing at all like the actual garment.

      A traditional kimono has a specific method for wearing, wrapping, folding, etc. Different colors and motifs of kimono are worn based on specific holidays and seasons; they can also signify the seniority of a geisha, if a woman is married or single, or if the person wearing it is in mourning.

      The ruana does not have such specific cultural history and significance. It was made to be a practical garment, worn as a layering piece against the cold and as a blanket in the evening. There is no specific fabric, color, or even shape of a ruana and it has morphed over the centuries depending on who was wearing it, what country it was being worn in, and what materials were available to create it.

      Thank you for asking this, I think conversations like this are very important! And if anyone has additional insight into this please do share!

      • Nancy
        May 20, 2021 / 1:32 pm

        Interesting points and very thoughtful, as I assumed you would be on an issue you post about 😉 It is one of those things that can evoke different opinions and emotions depending on who you talk to. I appreciate you not shying away from the conversation. I think that honest conversations that originate from a desire to understand and see the bigger picture are so very important too!

        And I have to add that you look fabulous, as always! You have a great sense of style and are beautiful!

  7. patricia
    May 20, 2021 / 10:39 am

    You’re not just rocking the ruana, you’re killing it! I’ve got one in my closet that needs to come out to play!

    • May 20, 2021 / 11:51 am

      Yes! I encourage you to try styling it in a new way this summer!

  8. Joannawnyc
    May 20, 2021 / 9:34 am

    I have a few of these I never wear. Time to get them out and play around!

    • May 20, 2021 / 11:51 am

      Yes! Let me know if you end up rocking them!

  9. Susan Olson
    May 20, 2021 / 9:34 am

    Your styling of the second ruana with fringe is WAY BETTER than what’s on the Chico’s website! This is what I love about your blog – you style things on a curvy body and make simple changes that really improve an outfit. Thanks!

  10. Krista
    May 20, 2021 / 8:53 am

    Oh these are pretty! I may or may not have a thing for ruanas/wraps/oversized scarves. They’re a summer staple because A/C can be worse than the heat. The colors in these are gorgeous!

    • May 20, 2021 / 11:52 am

      Right? They are a necessity, especially down south where you are and there’s such a contrast between outside and indoors!

  11. Marlene Rizzo
    May 20, 2021 / 8:39 am

    Love these looks on you. I’m inspired!

  12. Erin
    May 20, 2021 / 8:21 am

    HOLY TOLEDO, do I love that denim ruana. I’m going to wear that will ALL the outfits this summer! Please tell your daughter that her “weird” comment pushed me over the edge to buy it; I just live for people to tell me my clothes are weird. HA. I mentally interpret that to mean “cool” or at the very least interesting to look at…and that’s the sweet spot for what I like in my wardrobe.

    • May 20, 2021 / 11:53 am

      LOL when she said it was weird and not stupid or ugly I saw it as a green light!

  13. Leu2500
    May 20, 2021 / 7:50 am

    The 3rd ruana seems really you.

    Looking forward to how you distress the denim ruana.

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