In the middle of Winter there is nothing better than staying warm with soft, luxurious cashmere. Whether you are working from home and wearing cashmere loungewear 24/7, or if you are heading into your socially-distanced office in a cashmere suit, Samuel Baron Clothiers wants to offer some guidance on how to take care of your favorite cold weather garments. We talked to Scabal and W. Cashmere to get tips on the best ways to keep your cashmere and wool pieces looking great year after year. However, we want to start by sharing a little bit about where cashmere comes from in order to better guide you in the care process.
The cashmere goat, Capra Hircus, is native to colder regions such as Tibet, Mongolia, and the Himalayas, thus adapting to the harsh climate to have the fine, long, soft hairs in their undercoats which are used to create cashmere wool. The fibers themselves contain air, and the natural crimp of wool traps additional air, both of which contribute to the great insulation properties of the fabric. Because the fibers are natural, they are also porous and allow for the passage of moisture, which in turn makes cashmere very amiable to steaming. The fibers simultaneously have a waxy surface which makes them water repellent overall, and therefore somewhat stain resistant. Still, this natural fiber is delicate and susceptible to damage caused by over-washing or being washed incorrectly. Now that we know a little more about the wool, we’ll discuss the specifics of care for cashmere suits and sweaters.
The cashmere suit is a classic, if not essential, part of the gentleman’s wardrobe. With such a particular fabric it is paramount that one takes care of it properly to ensure its longevity and the maintenance of its original shape. In order to give you the best advice, we spoke with a representative of Scabal about what to do (and what not to do) when tending to your custom suit. First, don’t dry clean it too much. Dry cleaning your cashmere suit is the last resort, and should only be done sparingly or when it is absolutely necessary. The most common reason that we take a suit to the dry cleaner is to get rid of wrinkles. As mentioned above, cashmere is made of a natural fiber and likes moisture. Thus, it reacts wonderfully to being steamed! Consider investing in a steamer to get rid of wrinkles between dry cleaner trips.
Second, try using a soft brush on your suit. Be sure to avoid going against the nap (the raised texture of the fabric which contributes to the soft feel and the trapping of heat) so that you don’t change the look or feel of the suit. Dry cleaners already often take this step when caring for cashmere, and if you are concerned about a particularly expensive/special piece, it is important that you take it to a dry cleaner that you trust. Don’t be afraid to talk to your dry cleaner about paying special attention to your suit! It may cost a little bit more to get it hand pressed or to give it individual attention, but it's worth it in the long run if you’re concerned about longevity. It may be less stressful to care for a more durable worsted cashmere, but a softer, looser cashmere requires careful treatment to last.
Lastly, when storing your suit, be sure to give it space to “breathe” in your closet. Hang it on a proper wide hanger and separate it from other clothing items. If moths are a concern (moths love cashmere), then consider investing in garment bags for your closet. You’ve already invested in this beautiful addition to your wardrobe, so taking little steps like these will save you time and headaches in the future.
Is there any piece of clothing more comforting than a soft cashmere sweater? With the addition of cashmere loungewear to our boutique, we’ve become obsessed with taking care of these comfy pieces. So naturally we reached out to W. Cashmere to get some tips on how best to clean and store these delicate knits.
Just like with suiting, it is important that you don’t over-clean it, as this contributes to wear and can change the look and feel of the fabric drastically over a short amount of time. So whether you choose to hand wash or dry clean them, you should try to do it sparingly. We prefer every 2-3 wears, depending on preference and need. If you decide to hand wash your cashmere pieces, do it in a sink or large bowl with slightly warm water (~80F). Do not - I repeat DO NOT - use hot water. This will shrink your garment and leave it looking like it's from the kids section. Next, add a cashmere shampoo (or a pH-neutral detergent without biological enzymes) to the water and gently wash the garment in the mixture. After a couple of minutes, transfer it to a towel and gently squeeze out excess water without tugging or stretching the fabric. Don’t hang it up to dry, but instead lay it flat to avoid misshaping.
If you’re averse to washing garments yourself, dry cleaning is always an option. Like we mentioned above, don’t be shy about asking for a little extra care to be taken with your favorite delicate pieces. Furthermore, proper storage extends to your casual cashmere clothing as well. A specific storage bag for your cashmere can keep it safe from moths, and while using hangers may be ideal for suits, it is actually not good to hang soft sweaters in your closet due to their tendency to stretch. Last but certainly not least, we know that pilling is always a concern. Personally, it’s the bane of my existence. There are many so-called tips and tricks to get rid of pilling, but not all of them work, and some of them actually make things worse.
Using a cashmere brush or comb while the garment is laid flat can be helpful in removing pilling, and investing in an electric fabric shaver can be helpful as well. Of course, be sure to test any sort of depilling device on a discreet area of your garment, in case it doesn’t react how you expected it to. On the other hand, if you want to get rid of wrinkles, you can gently steam your clothes between cleanings, just like you can with suits. Remember, gentler is always better, and it's ok to put a little extra time and effort into these pieces of clothing. It’s more sustainable for you and for the environment to take care of garments properly over time rather than having to frequently repair or replace them!