Surely a Shearling

Faux fur 'toque'. That's Canadian (well, First Nations) for 'fur hat'.
Faux fur 'toque'. That's Canadian (well, First Nations) for 'fur hat'.

Well, it looks like we might get our first seriously wintery weather in DC tomorrow. And as you probably know, I don’t deal so well with the cold. I’m still searching for that marvelous locale where there are seasons (for my husband), but mild and not so variable temperatures for me . . .

I’ve done my best to prepare for the impending colder weather; I’ve invested in 'fur' lined leggings, added some more wool and heavier weight jackets, bumped up my layers to cashmere plus underlayers, and bought this fun fur hat that I think will work even for ‘fancy’ outfits!

But it won’t be enough.

So I thought I would investigate some out-of-the ordinary options for staying warm. None of which are in my budget range, mind you. (If you’ve lived somewhere truly cold recently, please share with me how stylish people remain stylish AND warm when they aren’t in the top income bracket!)

Shearling Makes a Showing

Featured on the runways at Fashion Week for Fall/Winter 2017, shearling has for me always been something more casual and country. Think beige coat with shearling collar and cuffs. However, shearling is now neither casual or country, unless you want it to be. And it has a price tag to match. All photos Harpers Bazaar Fashion Week 2017 - left to right: Prada, Proenza Schouler, Miu Miu, Hermes.

Genuine shearling is the tanned hide from a sheep with the wool left attached. It can be dyed, trimmed, worn as leather or suede and with the wooly part either inside or out. It’s remarkably warm (you don’t see sheep shivering on the hillside do you?), hard wearing, and probably super cozy. I don’t know, because genuine shearling is in the four-figure price range. (!). These marvelous coats from Blue Duck are entirely too yummy - left to right: reversible shearling, grooved multi-texture shearling, color block shearling, karacul (astrakhan) reversible shearling.

Or something a little more street style. Both genuine shearling and therefore expensive. L: Badgley Mischka. R: Trouve. Both at Nordstrom.

What most of us wear and what you see in the store is faux shearling. Which really has none of the properties of the real stuff and is just about a certain sort of look, generally not the one I’m going for. But this can be had for three figures, the low kind. I do kind of like this velvet one, but can't see how you would ever fasten the belt at your hip? Both at Nordstrom. L: Blank NYC. R: Kut from the Kloth 'Abigail'.

Since this post is about staying stylish and warm, I started thinking about some of the more expensive clothing items that we KNOW are warm, but are out of reach of most of us. Shearling, fur, silk and wool are all known for their insulating properties, but hmm, seem to be the exclusive reserve of the wealthier among us. Even Canada Goose parkas, known to be the warmest coats around, are in the four figure range.

What they all have in common is an animal source. Now I came of age in the time when fur was not the thing to be wearing. Never mind that my Canadian relatives all wore it (Yes it is warm! Yes, it feels amazing!), I wouldn’t wear fur on principle for a long time. But in researching this post, I thought “how is shearling any different than fur?” In both cases the animal must give its life. Same for the goose down coat. And come to think of it, same for the leather shoes and boots I prefer.

The reality is that we rely upon animals for our health and comfort. Most of us eat meat. Most of us purchase and wear leather footwear and bags. We may own a leather or suede jacket. And we may even have a fur or shearling coat. Maybe it’s time for me to ease up on my fur ban and stop feeling so miserably cold during the winter. But since it’s not the done thing where I live, maybe I just need a fur-lined coat. Or maybe a shearling coat. I think I may have to find somewhere to try one of these on . . .

And if you've been horribly offended by my statements on fur and shearling, have a look at this article by National Geographic on fur rearing done right.