My sentiments exactly, Dot! I use my shawls EVERYWHERE--for warmth (you wouldn't believe how they can warm up your back when put over a winter coat in cold weather and how handy they are in air conditioning in the summer), and to add some color or dress up/update an outfit, or to personalize my look (I use them as accessories like jewelry or shoes or a handbag). I am chronically cold, and I don't much like sweaters (I hate sleeves, but I can't go sleeveless), so for me, shawls are the perfect answer. Since I can't go sleeveless (because I am self-conscious about my upper arms), all of those cute sleeveless dresses I used to pout that I couldn't wear now become an option for me because I throw a shawl on and I don't have to worry about my upper arms showing. I've also used them around my shoulders to conceal a neckline that was a bit deeper than I felt comfortable about. Like Dot, I also believe they are utterly feminine and enjoy wearing them for the femininity reason, and they are like a knitted hug, too. I like to wrap up in them when I'm having a crummy day. You certainly don't need a special occasion or place to wear shawls; I believe they are always appropriate. You can dress them up by knitting in beads or you can knit them simpler to suit your tastes/needs.
Most shawls don't need to be fitted, so they make great non-fussy gifts to give away or to keep for yourself. Depending on the pattern, you can sub yarns, and yes, you can use beautiful sock yarns which I think would make a STUNNING shawl! Shawls are truly one of the most practical things I knit for myself and for others. I never knew how much I would use a shawl until I knit myself one, and now, I'm addicted.:oops: