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Cold weather is a chance for us to layer up and look runway-chic. There’s also the danger of looking like that marshmallow man from Ghostbusters — and still, be cold! The trick, we discovered, is to wear the right fabrics in the right order for ultimate cosiness in the winter.
Below is our shortlist of the best (and worst) fabrics to keep you warm and how to care for them. After all, no one likes a shrunken sweater!
Why silk keeps you warm: The saying ‘smooth as silk’ originated somewhere! This super-soft natural fabric is hypoallergenic and an incredible insulator — a great choice as your base layer.
Silk care tip: Curious how to wash silk? Turn inside out and place in a mesh bag if machine washing (on a delicate cycle). Also, try and remove silks as soon as the cycle ends to reduce wrinkles.
Why wool keeps you warm: Ever seen a cold sheep? Probably not! That’s because wool — and woollen fabric like tweed and flannel — is an excellent insulator. It regulates heat and repels the cold by trapping air in tiny pockets. Rain droplets bead and run off fluffy wool. And if water does soak through, wool can abs orb a third of its weight in water before feeling soggy. Merino wool is crowned queen for staying toastiest.
Wool care tip: Different wool needs different care! Use our guide to washing a wool sweater to avoid shrinkage. But as a general rule, turn your woollies inside out and pop them in a mesh bag to machine wash them.
Why cashmere keeps you warm: Superior to wool, according to some. We say, different fabrics for different folks. Like wool, cashmere is a natural, breathable material. Its extra-fine weave makes it especially good at insulating. Even when it’s freezing.
Cashmere care tip: If washing by hand, don’t wring out your cashmere. It can stretch the delicate fabric.
Why down keeps you warm: Synthetic and plant-based down mimics traditional down’s impressive insulating properties by trapping air. Rather than real feathers, cosy plant-based down is engineered from all kinds of materials: bamboo, wood fibre… even wildflowers!
(Plant-based) down care tip: If machine washing it, use a front-loading machine rather than a top-loader. It’s gentler on the fabric. Always read the label.
Why fur keeps you warm: Are we faux real when we say synthetic fur keeps you warm in winter? Yup! The tiny hairs keep rain and snow near the surface of the coat and help insulate, too.
Faux fur care tip: Handwashing is best. Then, lay your faux fur flat in its natural shape on a drying rack or hang it to dry. Don’t tumble dry.
Cotton: Although it’s natural, cotton doesn’t insulate or wick moisture well. Increasing your chance of being wet and cold. Achoo!
Synthetic fibres (if you’re exercising): Man-made fabrics like polyester and acrylic don’t breathe. They trap heat and make you sweat. Not ideal in cold weather!
If you want to reduce your Carbon Footprint, consider buying clothing second hand, from a vintage store, or an ethical brand. If you opt for new items, go with high-quality pieces that last, contributing less to fast fashion. Alternatively, reduce the number of wash loads your household are putting on by doing more mixed washes; protecting clothes from colour run accidents by adding a colour run sheet such as Colour Catcher into the drum along with your clothes. Most importantly, stay cosy in your winter layers — and stylish!