The best (and worst) fabrics to keep you warm
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 coziness 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: 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? Not likely. That’s because wool — and woolen 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 absorb 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 every kind of wool to avoid shrinkage. but as a general rule, turn woollies inside out and place them in a mesh bag if machine washing.
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 handwashing, don’t wring out your cashmere. It can stretch the delicate fabric. Get all our tips on treating your cashmere with care here.
Why down keeps you warm: Synthetic and plant-based down mimics traditional down’s impressive insulating properties by trapping air. Rather than real feathers, cozy plant-based down is engineered from all kinds of materials: bamboo, wood fiber… even wildflowers!
(Plant-based) down care tip: If machine washing, 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 to dry. Don’t tumble dry.
Fabrics that won’t keep you as warm
Cotton: Although it’s natural, cotton doesn’t insulate or wick moisture well. Increasing your chance of being wet and cold. Achoo!
Synthetic fibers (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.
Most importantly, stay cozy in your winter layers – and stylish!