As the year cycles its way around, the wardrobe’s looks start to meld into each other before a strictly seasonal style becomes dominant. Winter is all about getting snug and warm to browse the Christmas markets and get ready for whatever the British weather has in store – snow, chilly winds and rain.
In some ways, that makes it easy to choose an outfit for a given day. Layer up, pull on a jumper and put on your best coat and hat before heading out. But in others, it can bring a few minor fashion dilemmas. After all, you’re probably not spending all your time in the chill winter air. You’ll be sitting in cars and on trains, you might be in an office, or popping in and out of shops, and there are all those social functions to think about, where the heat will inevitably be turned up to 11.
At Luella, we recognise these issues and know a simple way to turn them all into smashing opportunities for you to beat the freeze while still turning heads when you walk into a cosy room. It’s called cashmere.
But why is cashmere such a perfect fabric to coast through the winter months in comfort? Let us count the ways.
If you’re interested in where cashmere comes from and why it has been such a prized yarn for so long, get yourself a coffee and read about its marvellous history and qualities. In a nutshell, it’s one of nature’s gifts to us, courtesy of the goats that evolved in mountainous environments that make the Christmas market feel like the Mediterranean.
The goats have developed two distinct types of hair. One is the shaggy, coarse layer that you’ll see when you look upon them; the other is a soft, incredibly insulating layer that sits close to the skin, underneath the external hair. That is the layer that is used in cashmere wool. What adds to its value is that it is seasonal, and can only be harvested when the goat moults in late spring. This is also why it’s considered an ethical product – the industry only uses what would be discarded by the goats anyway, so it’s all about timing.
In many ways, cashmere wool is similar to the down found on birds – its primary function is warmth. It achieves this by having a microscopic structure that traps warm air between its fibres, rather like the way a sponge holds onto water. This cushion of air slows the speed at which heat leaves your body, and since you’re always producing heat, that’s enough to keep you toasty warm.
We mentioned that the way cashmere traps warm air slows the rate of heat loss down – it doesn’t stop it. And that’s an important property. Because as the warm air eventually escapes, it takes with it the sweat and aromas that your body produces, keeping you fresh and dry. If you’ve ever worn a top that doesn’t let air flow freely, or if you have worn too many layers, you’ll know exactly what this feels like. It’s doubly uncomfortable, first because you feel all hot and damp, but also because the last thing you want is to take your coat off when you arrive at your destination!
Because cashmere is such a good insulator, you might only need one layer underneath and a coat on top, and you’ll be perfectly warm. That helps you stay at just the right temperature to be comfortable – not too warm, not too cool – and perfectly dry.
Not many people would want to wear clothes made of sheep’s wool directly against the skin for one simple reason – it can be itchy and irritating. Most of the time, that isn’t a problem because you can simply layer with a cotton top underneath. But that can still limit you to a long-sleeve underlayer if you’re wearing a traditional woollen jumper or cardigan.
Cashmere doesn’t have that problem at all. It’s made of a radically different type of hair, one that’s not scratchy, even against somewhat sensitive skin. That means you can wear it as a single layer, or just have a vest, slip or T-shirt underneath it for a little more insulation. Combined with its warmth and breathability, it’s the perfect layer for when you’re popping in and out of shops, your home or your office from the cold street outside. And, of course, you’re being treated to a wonderfully soft sensation against the skin all along.
Warm yet light; soft yet structured; airy yet covering – it all adds up to a really versatile fabric to make the complete range of winter clothing from. Whether you’re wearing a delicate cashmere cardigan over your party dress or wrapping up for the frosty dog walk, the cashmere garment will always look and feel sumptuous and perfectly appropriate to the activity you’re taking part in.
That’s one of the true beauties of this wonder fabric – it bridges the gap between traditional woollens and lighter alternatives such as cotton knit. And that means you’ve got options when it comes to choosing what to wear. Over a broad range of temperatures, you’ll be comfy and warm, and because it’s such an exquisite yarn, you are never going to look underdressed whether you are inside at a social event or outdoors braving the evening chill.
Pair your cashmere jumper with your favourite jeans or canvas trousers and you’ve got a laid-back look that holds its own when you can see your breath but it’s not shiveringly cold. Wear a roll-neck cashmere top with a long floral skirt and boots for the ultimate in Bohemian chic. Or wear a cashmere cardi unbuttoned to the belly with a light T-shirt or vest underneath when you mean business and need a space to breathe.
Admit it, you look forward to winter more than any other season because it’s all about wrapping up warm and indulging in some festive cheer. Winter certainly gives autumn a run for its money when it comes to the sheer romantic joy it brings, and the sweet memories it evokes. And the clothes you’re wearing just add to the magic – so why not choose the absolute best when you’re looking for a real Christmas jumper?
Cashmere gives you all the best elements of winter wear – cosy warmth, huggable softness and style that pushes the boat out a little. That’s what makes it the perfect fabric not only for jumpers, cardigans and tank tops but for scarves, hats and gloves too.
And of course, if you’re giving a Christmas gift of knitwear add a sequin jumper link to someone you love, you can’t go wrong with a beautiful, luxurious knit made of this most lustrous of fabrics. They’ll really know you care when they feel it against their skin!
Cashmere is always really expensive, right? Well, not necessarily. If you’re talking pure cashmere, harvested from wild goats living in the Himalayas, then yes, you can expect to pay top dollar for it. But the modern industry is based on responsible farming of goats – a healthy lifestyle promotes healthy coats and better quality wool. So there’s a saving there.
But garments don’t always have to be made from 100% pure cashmere, either. With good blends, you can keep the benefits of cashmere but make the money go further. Our cashmere blends are barely distinguishable from pure cashmere and make for longer-lasting clothes that are easier to care for.
Another way to save is to check out our Last Chance section – it’s where we offer last season’s clothing at great discounts so we can make room for the new lines. As you might well get five years or more out of your cashmere sweater, what’s a couple of months? It’s a perfect place to look if you’re getting a gift for Christmas or a special birthday. And if you are looking for an inexpensive cashmere gift for someone in your life who needs a touch of luxury, have a look through our accessories section for cosy scarves and gloves.
Because we specialise in cashmere knitwear, we can almost guarantee that you are going to find the perfect top in our collection. We’ve got all the styles covered, so whether you’re looking for a traditional jumper, a tank top, a hoodie, loungewear or a batwing, you’re going to find one here among our magnificent range of vibrantly coloured knitwear.
A popular classic is the Fair Isle Jumper, with its repeating geometric pattern knitted into the chest and upper arms. Inspired by the Shetland knitwear that has kept many a sailor, herder and, yes, shopper snug and warm for years on end, you’re going to look fantastic when you pull it on with jeans, whether you’re out and about or pottering around the house.
A slightly more modern look is the zig-zag cashmere sweater, which we call Ziggy. It’s a striking top, and not only because it features a design resembling a lightning bolt on the front – the contrast between the main body and the design really makes it stand out, and so will you, whenever you wear it. It’s also available in ivory and black designs.
Luella’s clothes are famous for our star designs – you can often tell it’s one of ours the moment you see the celestial feature on the front. And our collection continues to grow. Now, you can get a supremely comfy cashmere hoodie featuring the star motif, and we think you’ll agree it’s the ultimate in laid back luxury. Or how about a magnificent multi-coloured star embedded into the front of your top? With the Nova Star Jumper, it’s yours to show off and let everyone know what a dazzling person you are. You can get it in blue with a pink-dominated star, too. The Harper Jumper has three stars balanced across the chest with motion features making them look like shooting stars – definitely one to wish for.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the collection. The good news is that if you find yourself on that iceberg in our cashmere knitwear, at least you’ll know you’re keeping warm – and unflappably stylish, of course!