2011 June 15

Most of us have a few pieces of wool or wool-mix clothing in our wardrobes: it might be as simple as a woolly hat, or a couple of cardigans, a pashmina or smart jacket or a wool-blend suit for interviews, but in recent weeks wool prices have double and this is pushing up the cost of many kinds of wool clothing, with the price of a man’s suit expected to rise by up to 15% in the next few months. Apparently this is being driven both by the cost of raising sheep and by a desire from wealthy Chinese people to own wool suits!

There are a number of ways to keep costs down: you can buy alternatives to wool such as the 100% synthetic fleeces that are as warm as wool, easier to wash and not itchy; change your look eg by wearing hoodies instead of cardies, and you can learn to take better care for the wool you do have.

Caring for Wool Clothing

1.    Give any wool item 24 hours between wearings to give the fibres a chance to expand back to their original shape, this stops them pilling and/or compressing to become flat.

2.    Buy padded hangers for wool or wool-mix suits and other items and hang them with buttons and zips fastened.

3.    Use a soft brush to take dust and dirt from wool clothing before putting it away.

4.    When cleaning, check the label. Most clothing manufacturers recommend dry-cleaning, but some garments can be hand-washed and a few can even be machine washed. All wet wool should be dried at room temperature away from direct heat.

2009 November 30

scarfThere was a time when it was unfashionable to wear hats. Through the 1970s and 1980s, for some reason, men thought hats were unmasculine. Fortunately this weird behaviour has now changed and men wear both summer and winter hats. A hat that keeps your head warm in winter is important to your health and there is a wide range to choose from, the baseball cap, the hood of a hoodie, a pull-on beanie etc. Any of them will help insulate you from the winter weather.

Gloves are important if you’re going to be outdoors because they help reduce heat loss from the body but also because chilled hands do not function well.  Canadian police estimate that a third of winter accidents while driving happen because the driver has cold hands and thus loses control of the wheel or over or underestimates their actions. Fleece gloves keep the hands extra warm in winter and come in a range of colours.

Scarves are not just a way of keeping your neck and chest warm, they make a fashion statement too. A winter scarf can be the easiest way to perk up a tired looking winter coat and having several in different colours allows you to match your mood to your outer clothing without having to invest in several coats or jackets.

2009 November 26

marlhoodieThis winter the weather has been weird: floods and gales, thunderstorms and torrential rain, and to look good in such extreme weather conditions can be difficult.  The most common problems are twofold – the amount of clothing you need to wear to keep warm makes you look like a tubby, even if you’re not, and the outer clothing that keeps you dry can look like a plastic sack.  Here’s how to dress for the weather and still look stylish.

1.    Begin by choosing good socks and underwear – if you have warm clothing on your feet and backside, you can cut out at least one outer layer, this keeps your silhouette slimmer.
2.    Sticking to the rule, light for height and low below means that you wear dark colours below the waist and lighter ones above – this suits both men and women as it makes you look slimmer from the waist down than from the waist up, which is the effect we all want to achieve! Do this by ensuring your trousers are a couple of shades darker than your jacket or hoodie. Bright white is a great colour for a jacket, sweatshirt or hoodie, especially when teamed with a contrasting scarf in something like green, grey or yellow to focus attention on the vertical line it creates against the pale background.
3.    Always choose a fleece jacket or a sleeveless fleece if you want to be warm without adding bulk to your appearance – core body temperature determines if you feel toasty or shivery, so having something that keeps the chest and back insulated means you’ll feel warm without looking chunky.
4.    Wear a hat – the 10% of body heat we lose through our heads can make us feel very cold, so a hat can mean you don’t need an extra layer on your upper body.