Cashmere is an incredibly supple and elegant fabric. With a touchable softness, it never fails to instill a charm and warmth that’s impossible to match. Wet cashmere, on the other hand, can be tricky to care for, as it can shrink or lose its softness if not dried properly. Like all specialty fabrics, getting the most from cashmere requires learning how it responds to different conditions – and above all, moisture.
What Makes Cashmere Perfect for Winter
Caring for your cashmere sweater, blazer, split neck polo, or other luxury garment requires understanding a little about cashmere’s material properties. Cashmere is a highly specialized yarn, chosen for its exceptional insulation. A single cashmere sweater requires the down undercoats of two Kashmir goats, grown over an entire winter in freezing, rugged terrain.
That’s the level of insulation cashmere’s wool-like fibers provide. Naturally, it makes a cashmere winter wardrobe a wise and inspired choice. Yet the very luxury of cashmere can instill a mild anxiety over wearing it in inclement weather (just when youwantto).
Consider first, however, that moisture is not the enemy; the fibers are made for it. It’s how you treat wet cashmere that’s important. With a few simple guidelines, there’s no need to be overly cautious about wearing cashmere in the snow or a light rain.
Basic Cashmere Care
Protecting cashmere involves a few strict general guidelines during the wet and snowy seasons:
- Keep the soft, yielding fabric away from sharp edges, such as abrasive zippers and accessories.
- Prevent direct contact with lotions and other skincare products, including perfume.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.
Generally, those instructions entail either a cold, gentle wash cycle or handwashing for higher-quality materials (more on this later).
Another consideration is that having multiple cashmere items at your disposal can reduce overreliance on any single garment. A steady rotation will lower each item’s risk of damage, allowing you to wear cashmere to your heart’s content.
How to Safely Dry Cashmere
Since cashmere is perfectly safe from the water itself, you may not need to do anything. Unless treated roughly, simply wearing your cherished cashmere until dry won’t itself cause damage. If you’d prefer to dry the cashmere somewhere safe and out of the way, however, a few key pointers will help you retain your cashmere’s shape.
Whether caught in the rain or snow, drying cashmere is not as difficult as it might at first seem. Yet it does require diligence and patience until these habits become second nature. All it takes is a single careless oversight to permanently shrink or misshapen the centerpiece of your winter wardrobe.
Assuming your cashmere is only wetted with clean water, take the following steps as soon as you reasonably can:
- Do not twist or wring cashmere, even if very thick. Stretching it could cause irreparable damage.
- Also, refrain from hang-drying cashmere. Even the downward pull of gravity on wet cashmere is sometimes enough to pull it out of shape.
- Only squeeze cashmere gently until it’s no longer soaking wet
- Once free of excess water, air dry cashmere on a flat, horizontal surface.
To dry cashmere, lay it out smoothly on a towel. Shape the cashmere as you would any air-dried garment, minding where creases will form. Air drying increases the chance of wrinkles, so act quickly after removing damp cashmere.
Is “Tumble Dry Low” Acceptable?
It may seem well enough to simply “air fluff” cashmere in your dryer. However, the tumble dry cycle still runs the risk of twisting and stretching your prized garment. Dryers can also accumulate high levels of static electricity, even without heat. This can change the consistency of cashmere – its hallmark property.
If your cashmere’s tag or manufacturer instructions advise tumble drying on no or low heat, it may be safe enough (in which case, placing the cashmere in a sealed pillowcase can lend more protection). It all depends entirely on the quality of cashmere. Yet in our experience, it’s always best not to take unnecessary risks when cleaning or drying luxury fabrics. Unless sure otherwise, less is certainly more.
After your first time caring for sopping wet cashmere, you’ll know intuitively that it’s well worth preventing extra moisture in the first place. During colder weather, it doesn’t take more than occasionally brushing snow off your cashmere trench coat, sweater jacket, or other externally worn item.
Remember to do this when entering a car or other heated interior, especially if your cashmere is on under your winter outerwear. Then, you may want to open up the outer layers until any dampness is gone.
Caring for Wet Cashmere When Out
So what about particularly wet conditions while away from home? Then, pay extra caution to heed the principles discussed above for handling heavy, wet cashmere. If you must temporarily wear very wet cashmere, you can take two precautions to greatly reduce the potential for damage:
- Gently pull the material straight as needed, preventing bunched-up winter wear from causing stubborn wrinkles. Check for bunched fabric, pausing at any “pulling” sensation whenever sitting, standing, twisting, or otherwise quickly changing posture.
- Once you enter a dry and comfortable space, remove your cashmere and place it flat over a flat, clean (and horizontal) surface – possibly with a more water-resistant garment underneath. Do not hang wet cashmere over a chair.
Keeping cashmere safein the snow or rain doesn’t require a major time investment, although it does require consistency. At the end of winter, you might also consider sealing your cashmere for safekeeping. Master these tips, and enjoy many long years of warmth, comfort, and grace from your cashmere.
Family Britches: Where Comfort Meets Impeccable Style and Taste
Have you considered lately that there’s a veritable ROI to dressing well? At Family Britches, we consider how our bespoke inventory carries each customer through to their next fateful opportunity.
From youth and young adults to busy professionals and beyond, we invite you to experience the luxury and aesthetics of tailor-fit cashmere and other designer attire. If you’ve never experienced the value of made-to-measure clothing (never “made-to-order”), grant yourself the elevated fashion and comfort we all put off for too long.
Visit our Chappaqua and New Canaan locations, or contact us with inquiries about caring for your custom cashmere attire – because you simply won’t get this level of service from a big-box or subscription-box retailer.