The Best Winter Fabric You’ve Never Heard Of

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We all know moleskin … it’s those soft pink patches in the first aid kit. It has a sticky backside  and is used frequently to cushion blisters formed while breaking in new boots and athletic shoes. Yeah, that moleskin! Great stuff, right?
Did you know that moleskin is also an exceptional fabric from which to create all manner of cold-weather clothing? Don’t worry — it comes in colors other than pink. And it’s woven from … cotton. Just cotton. Whew.
What can moleskin do for me?
Warmth – moleskin is trimmed to a thick, luxurious pile on one side of the cloth (usually the side that faces the world), giving it its softness and thickness. Naturally, this makes it a much better insulator than standard worsted wool dress slacks on chilly winter days. Remarkably, moleskin is woven so tightly as to be wind-resistant — some executions of the cloth are virtually wind-proof. Not even the venerable Levi can top those credentials on a blustery day.
Durability – Well … the West German Army used moleskin for its fatigues from the 1960s through the 1990s. It was the Cold War after all. Groan. Moleskin trousers, coats, and vests can still be bought widely as workwear, especially in the UK and Germany where the cloth remains more well-known. In the USA, heritage outfitter brands like Filson, Orvis, and Woolrich still make all manner of moleskin garments for both town and country (mostly country). This fabric can take an old-school beating.
Unusual Provenance – Speaking of old-school, the best way to find moleskin in DC these days is beneath a blue blazer (or a tweed) in Georgetown — from the M Street to the Scottish Highlands moleskin has long had a place in the wardrobes of traditional, well-heeled gentry. But, surprisingly, it wasn’t always for bird hunters and businessmen. Moleskin’s historical popularity was among the British blue-collar workers of the late 1800s due to its durability and warmth. It makes a great classically-cut trouser which can be worn elegantly with a blazer, though many modern wearers will find moleskin more versatile as a five-pocket pant, of which many ready-wear examples may be discovered with a simple web search.
Visual softness and texture – Of course, there’s always the possibility that the man or woman displaying visual depth might be a person of actual depth as well. You know, maybe. It certainly never hurts to look comfortable.
Substantial fabric = Lux lines – From the perspective of sartorial elegance, nothing drapes as satisfyingly or holds a long crease as convincingly as thickly woven, heavy cloth. Nothing. Good moleskin slacks have the weight of corduroys, a long crease like your favorite suit pant (but deeper and lusher), and the welcoming visual appeal of thick flannels. As one might expect, this type of cloth only gets better as it wears. And wears. And wears.
Okay, I’m convinced already. Where do you recommend I start?
Start with something easy like a moleskin shirt or casual pant before committing to a more expensive item like dress slacks. As with any quality garment, consider visiting us at CLA after acquisition – no clothes get worn more often than the ones that fit and feel just right. Or, opt for full-custom and together we will design and make something that works well with your life and your wardrobe!
Cheryl A. Lofton & Associates
719 T St NW, Washington, DC 20001
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