Sweaters are a hot buy this time of the year. They are practical and just make sense. Sweaters are a big fashion statement that keeps you warm and welcomes a storm to come for you. Not on their watch! Step back. Last week we covered sweaters where they came from, some of the most common styles and fabric types. This week we shall take a deeper look (don’t roll your eyes at The Club) at the style and fabric for men and women. We already mentioned the overwhelming world of tops let alone sweaters, but like always we are here to package everything in simple terms.
Sweater quality is really based on material, or fabric used. If you're shopping online it is so important you know what fabric types work for you and what you are purchasing. It's even more important when your scouring the vintage racks and the clothing tags are missing. If you have a little knowledge of what you're looking for then you’ll be better prepared for picking something out. Cheap sweaters that are not made to last and can itch all day. No matter how cute you think you look, comfortability always wins. So let's go over some common fabric types.
We see a lot of vintage 100% cotton items at The Club and we know they are going to probably last longer than us even though it is a common and oftentimes cheaper sweater option. Cotton is soft on the skin but it is not as stretchable as other fabrics.
Wool is the father and cotton is the mother in this most used fabric dynamic. Unlike cotton, wool can range in price (drastically) and is definitely more versatile when it comes to patterns and what you can do with the fabric. The fabric is measured in microns and the smaller in microns the softer and expensive it is. Wool is most often from sheep and although this fabric will last longer than most fabrics it can be itchy. In fact it's notoriously itchy and we can attest! Some of our favorite sweaters can only be worn for an hour or less! To preserve your vintage wool sweaters you might need a trip to the dry cleaners but many of them have the washer option. Wool is diverse and not all wools are the same so let's take a look at the most common.
If the name was any indicator this wool is made from the babies – cue in horror shriek – and when we say made we don’t mean eaten. It's shaved like all the other adult lambs that produce sweaters. This actually makes for a softer less irritable sweater. How weird to think you literally have a baby lamb covering you. Hmmmm…
- Merino Wool:
Talk about the cream of the crop. Lambswool is soft and fine yet Merino wool is really refined. It is made from Merino sheep and has a smaller diameter pattern making it incredibly thin. It is a luxury yarn for sure.
- Donegal Wool:
Donegal is made in Ireland and a great fabric choice because of the variety of colorways you can get in this type.
- Shetland Wool:
Shetland wool is thicker than Merino at about 23 microns yet it is still soft and silky. The fabric is not too different from the others yet its history is special. This breed of sheep was originally from the town Shetland in Scotland and is known for its toasty and warm wool.
We hardly have items roll through that are made of this holy fabric but when we do… Cashmere is wool from goats and it is the most luxurious and high quality wool among the ones we’ve mentioned above.
Acrylic is a synthetic fiber made from polymers and is made to emulate wool yarn but it's pretty crap. It is a dirt cheap option, not cost effective and will eventually lose its shape, color and knit.
Be aware of blends and synthetic materials, they may be cheap but they offer no long term wardrobe solutions. 100% wool or organic materials may cost more but the investment will actually save you money. That is what we love about vintage items. So many items have been through the ringer but they survived because they were built to last. How many of your items can you say have done that?
So we covered the basic materials that your knit sweater can be made from, here are a few examples of patterns and styles.
We love, love, love, love cable knit sweaters. This style of knitting, from cable needles, creates a raised texture on the surface. You get these types of patterns by creating cables that are arranged to create a beautiful finish. The fabric is soft, chunky and raised and depending on how tight the cables are knit these sweaters can have a snug fit or hang loose. This is a versatile sweater that you can pair with jeans for a casual look or wear a blazer and slacks for a business casual look.
The OG fisherman style has made a return to this blog! The intricate tight weave of this pattern makes it very insulated which is perfect for fisherman and sailors out at sea.
This style is pretty self explanatory. This of Chick-Fil-A fries but stitched smaller. The waffle knit is woven in square grids, its smaller and less bulky than a cable knit sweater but thicker and heavier than a merino knit.