When I was in Russia in early August it was sweltering, but when I flew from there to Buenos Aires it was freezing in Argentina (it’s winter in August in this country). I didn’t bring a warm coat because I’m headed to warm-weather Spain from here and I didn’t want to have to carry something as bulky as a topcoat. (My luggage is heavy enough since I’m on the road for an entire month.) So I discovered the perfect item to solve the problem of surviving in comfort in a place like chilly contemporary Argentina: an elegant poncho.
I’ve just bought a lovely version that I wear over my suits here in Buenos Aires at night when it gets quite cold and gusty. This poncho is a solid-colored maroon with black trimming on the sides that does not bear the rustic or dusty ranchero look one typically associates with poncho-wearing people. So long as you steer clear of that shaggy, Santa Fe Motel 6 mode, a poncho can be worn at night with elegant attire—indeed, it can have the air of a cape while being more securely affixed to the body, not so loose and flowing as a cape, and also (on windy occasions) not going on in different directions from where the wearer wishes to walk.
Equally important: the poncho packs well. It takes up little room in a suitcase; when flattened, it occupies less space than a woolly sweater or a cotton bathrobe. My opera singer friend Marina Poplavskaya, who loves taking pictures with her iPhone, or whatever it is she carries, took these photos of me wearing mine in the streets of Buenos Aires.