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Winter fabrics and colours

The range of winter fabrics and colours to choose from for any part of your winter wardrobe is huge. What these heavier weight fabrics have in common is that they all have a high insulation value. Since you need to wear more clothes in winter, the fabrics you wear, need to be both warm and as well as comfortable.

Natural and man-made fabrics

Both natural and man-made fibers are used to create a wide range of fabrics and materials for winter wear. The natural and most common fabrics include wool, linen, silk, leather, hemp and cotton. The synthetic or man-made fabrics include polar fleece, spandex, polyester, nylon and acrylic to name a few types.

The man-made micro fibers are more lightweight but combined with wool can be just as warm as pure wool I think. Although wool does keep you really warm, the disadvantage is that it may be too warm or quite heavy to wear comfortably, especially indoors. Thick wool is great for being outdoors but too warm to wear indoors on occasion.

For me, I like to wear a polar fleece zippered jacket by itself. With a micro fiber knee-length coat over top of it, I'm very comfortable for most of the winter. For more formal occasions or business events, I have a calf-length wool coat but I can't wait to get out of it as it's just too heavy and becomes very annoying. But that's just me!

Types of winter fabric

The most common types of winter fabrics used for winter clothing includes:

  • Wool: Worsted (manufactured), Woolen,
  • Manufactured wools: Flannel (cotton or wool) Cashmere, Gabardine, Chenille, Felt, Plaids, Tweed and Mohair
  • Wool blends
  • Corduroy
  • Fleece (sheep and lambs wool)
  • Polar Fleece (acrylic)
  • Knits
  • Fake Fur
  • Fur
  • Velvet, Velour and Velveteen
  • Silk and silk blends
  • Leather
  • Suede
  • Sheepskin
  • Shearling.

The basic natural fibers like wool, cotton, silk, linen and hemp can be used by themselves or combined with natural or other man-made fibers. The names of some types of winter fabric may seem unusual like "Velour" or "Velveteen". That's because it's a manufactured material using a blend of natural and perhaps man-made fibers to create something completely different.

Beside the types of fabric used, what makes the new fabric distinctly different is usually how the basic structure of the fabric(s) itself is weaved together as it's being manufactured. For example, "Corduroy" is composed of mostly cotton but the way it is manufactured, gives it the distinctive look of ribbed and raised vertical stripes in the fabric weave. When we look at the result, it's not something that we automatically think of cotton since it looks so different to what we normally think of as cotton.

Lighter fabrics used for winter clothing

Hemp, bamboo, cotton and silk are lighter natural fabrics but do have their uses in winter wear. For example, long thermal underwear, cotton, silk and increasingly, bamboo are being used as they are all light to wear and feel soft.

These natural fibers are also combined with man-made fibers like spandex, acrylic, nylon, rayon, polyester and polypropylene to give long thermal underwear great elasticity and good body fitting qualities.

Another great use for these lighter weight fabrics is for spring hats where you still want coverage but not too much. However, for winter you generally find them being used as lining for hats or combined with the heavier winter fabrics to create hats, caps and scarves. Cotton is thin and has little insulating value by itself but it's soft and comfortable against your skin so it's perfect for a hat lining.

What winter fabrics best suit which type of clothing?

Some materials are better suited for a particular type of winter wear. Here are some examples:

  • Worsted wool is typically used for suits, skirts, blazers, jackets as it's a hardy, smooth, long-wearing manufactured yarn
  • Flannel is perfect for warm, comfy pajamas or a shirt as it's soft, warm and fuzzy
  • Corduroy with its raised and ribbed texture is ideal for casual pants, long-sleeved shirts and jackets
  • Leather, Suede and Sheepskin are great for jackets, outdoor coats and hats
  • Velvet, Velour and Velveteen are soft, silky fabrics that are light but warm and is perfect for casual indoor lounging around wear.
  • Wool for trousers, suits, blazers, sweaters, ("jumpers" to our Aussie and Kiwi friends), skirts, coats, socks and scarves.

Colours for winter

It's a fact of life in North America that the majority of winter clothing sold here is composed of dark colours. Black, grey and brown dominate. The weather can be gloomy enough as it is so there should be more colourful fabrics available in an equally wide choice of winter clothing than these standard dark colours.

There is hope however, because of the complimentary jewel-tone colours that appear and are popular every winter in some form or other. With a little creative searching, you can find something bright to wear as a contrast against your dark colours. Just keep in mind that the choice may not be as extensive as you'd hoped for but don't give up the search!

These "winter" colours are deeper and richer in hue, shade and tone unlike the lighter shades for summer. The popular jewel-tone colours for winter are:

  • Golds and yellows
  • Browns, beige and copper
  • Burgundies and Reds
  • Purples
  • Greens
  • Blues.

All provide great contrast and style that will brighten up your wardrobe considerably.

Colour choices

I think adding as much colour as possible goes along way in the do-it-yourself-colour-therapy department to lessen the impact of the grey, dark days of winter.

In fact, the brighter the better!

It brings that hint of a future summer to come to your winter wardrobe. Nothing wrong with that. Just because it might be grey and gloomy outside doesn't mean you have to dress the same way in dark colours.

So, brighten up and lighten up!

Wearing bright colours is better for your safety too. If you are out and about walking, drivers can see you more clearly.

Winter hat fabrics

Just as with winter clothing, many of the same winter fabrics are used for hats and caps, shawls and scarves. The most common winter fabrics used are:

  • Wool e.g. Alpaca, Angora, Cashmere, Mohair, knitted wool, cable knit
  • Fleece
  • Felt
  • Flannel
  • Corduroy
  • Sheepskin
  • Persian Lambs wool
  • Fur, e.g. Rabbit, Badger, and Raccoon
  • Faux fur (wool, leather too)
  • Plaid
  • Suede
  • Leather
  • Down-filled (duck and goose down and feathers)
  • Acrylic and other
  • Synthetic fibers e.g. Polar Fleece, Acrylic, Polyester, Nylon, Spandex

Then there are blends or combinations of some materials as well so that increases your choices yet again. You'll have fun deciding!

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