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Fashion and Fun Facts about Your Long Shearling Coat

Here at Maximilian, we take fashion very seriously, and we are providers of some of the most classic garments, and exclusive natural furs, that you’ll find in the modern market. From sable fur to long mink coats and even patchwork jackets, we have a little bit of everything, to satisfy tastes ranging from regal and royal to sporty and trendy - and everything in between.

Our collection of beautiful, practical fur garments would not be complete without our shearling coats and jackets, and these deserve a special spot all of their own, because wool is an amazing material that has been used throughout history - and not just in clothing. Wool has, of course, been used in the manufacture of clothing, but it has also been used for everything from dye applicators to absorbent pads and even as a fencing material!

That long shearling coat that is the gem of your wardrobe is magnificent not only because it looks amazing, but because it is made from an equally amazing material - wool.

Not Just Classic Style

It’s no secret that a long shearling coat can be the finishing touch that makes an outfit really shine, but there’s a lot you may not have known about wool that makes it much more valuable than is readily apparent. The simplest merino wool socks and the most elegant shearling jackets share some of these features in common.

Take a look through some of these interesting facts about wool and think about them the next time you don your favorite shearling coat - that coat offers you a lot more to appreciate than just style!

  1. Wool is a natural insulator that has been used for thousands of years, since before recorded history.

Wool has been used for thousands of years, and its presence in a wide range of archeological artifacts illustrates better than an verbal argument that ancient peoples knew the value of wool, even if they didn’t understand its traits as well as modern scientists.

Wool garments have been used throughout recorded history as well (obviously) but many cultures from around the world have cherished it for its strength, comfort and insulative properties. Evidence of wool as a valued commodity, and one that was traded for, are evident from archaeological finds, such as those in Egypt, where woollen yarn over 3,000 years old have been unearthed.

  1. Wool and fur are similar, but not the same

Wool is a type of hair that grows on a hide, and so is fur, which makes them similar, but they are not the same. There are three types of hair that cover the bodies of mammals: whiskers (also known as vibrissae, which pick up sensory information from the environment) as well as guard hairs and an undercoat.

Fur can be categorized as the combination of the undercoat and the guard hairs that protect it, whereas for the most part, wool refers to the undercoat itself. This is the reason that some dense, soft furs can also be felted. This is a feature that lamb’s wool shares in common with some other mammals’ undercoats, which have been felted for the production of hats, for example.

  1. Shearling refers to a specific type of hide-on wool - not any wool

It is also important to note here that shearling is not the same as felted wool, and that not all grades of wool are the same. There are coarser grades of wool in addition to finer grades, like merino wool, which are cherished for the softness that is a trait of its very fine fibers.

Shearling, specifically, refers to the hide of a sheep on which some of the wool has been left. Actually, shearling refers to a hair-on-hide that is produced after the sheep has been shorn, leaving behind some of the wool.

  1. Wool can keep you warm when it’s wet!

There is a saying among hikers, campers and other outdoor enthusiasts that goes like this: “cotton kills.” It’s short, sweet, and to the point, but it does not refer to the murderous tendencies of cotton crops. Rather, what it means is that if you get wet in the cold, wearing a cotton garment, you will continuously lose heat, which has a potentially fatal end result.

Wool, by contrast, retains almost all of its thermal insulative properties, even when it is wet. Actually, through a process known as adsorption (not absorption) wool can actually accommodate water molecules and then generate heat as it dries.

  1. Wool actually keeps itself clean

Wool is made of a complex series of fibers that are in constant contact with each other. Some of the fibers are created of interlocking “scales” that are rubbing against each other, and naturally create more friction when a garment is worn.

This gives wool an ability, unique among fibers, that enables it to actively “scrub off” dirt and other impurities that come into contact with the fibers. Think of wool as having an abrasive cleaner built right into its structure, one that actively works to keep the wool clean.

  1. Wool fibers can be stressed and bent nearly 40,000 times before they break

Wool is also a miraculously tough material, and one that is naturally elastic. Wool fibers are not only stretchy but also resilient. In fact, it’s been said that wool fibers can be stressed up to 40,000 times (possibly even more) before they actually break. Compare this to a fiber like cotton, which is only about 10% as strong as wool. Even tough synthetic fibers usually pale in comparison to wool, especially when one considers all of the other virtues that wool offers.

  1. Wool is naturally antimicrobial - it has odor-fighting properties built right in

Wool doesn’t just keep itself clean. It also has the ability to naturally fight odor-causing bacteria. This effect is actually two-fold. First, because wool is able to hold a lot of moisture and keep it away from the wearer’s skin, it helps prevent bacteria from flourishing in the first place. In addition, the wool fibers themselves are able to absorb the odor molecules that the bacteria on your skin may produce, keeping your garments fresher for longer. This makes wool popular not only for the production of beautiful, long shearling coats, but also for athletic apparel.

  1. Wool can absorb 30% of its weight in water without feeling wet

Another amazing feature of wool is that it can absorb quite a large quantity of water, holding onto the moisture in its fibers, so that the wearer will not feel wet. This is a feature that greatly benefits wool’s natural abilities to keep water away from the surface of your skin.

Because of this, a wool garment can come into contact with water and absorb an appreciable amount of it and you’ll hardly even notice. In fact, wool garments that have absorbed substantial amounts of liquid water often feel dry to the touch, keeping you more comfortable!

  1. Felted wool can be made 100% waterproof

Somehow, wool is a material that paradoxically can absorb and repel water, but this has to do with how the wool is prepared. You see, the wool fibers themselves are able to absorb a fair amount of water, as has been explained elsewhere in this article. However, wool’s natural fibers also lend themselves to a process known as felting, wherein they are pressed together systemically until they form an interlocking matrix.

Felting wool can be dense enough that it is functionally waterproof, a trait it shares in common with some other naturally felted materials. Because wool fibers are so narrow, and the weave of felt is so dense, some garments made from felted wool, like capes and hats, are so waterproof that they can be used to carry water!

  1. Wool is renewable and biodegradable

Since wool is a natural fiber, it is both renewable and biodegradable, and can form a valuable aspect of a circular economic model. What’s also amazing about wool is that it is actually beneficial as an agricultural product. When wool breaks down into the soil, it releases a huge amount of nitrogen (critical for developing plants to generate foliage and tissues) and it is also a moisture regulator. Sometimes, wool is expressly added to compost because of its far-reaching benefits as a fertilizer! As it turns out, wool can not only be easily re-added to the environment, but is specifically beneficial.

  1. Wool is excellent at maintaining its shape

It has already been explained that wool is excellent at resisting stress, as it can both stretch and bend without breaking, many times more than most other materials. Because of this, wool is naturally able to retain its shape, even when it is worn frequently and in adverse conditions. Other garments, such as those made from cotton, may crease and wrinkle, but it takes a lot more than that to faze wool. This is one of the reasons (there are others) that wool is used in the production of premium textiles like fine suits.

  1. Wool is naturally stain resistant

Wool is naturally stain resistant, and does not readily cling to oils, dirt and dust, instead sloughing them off. In addition, since wool doesn’t generate a lot of static cling, it also won’t attract dirt or dust in the first place.

  1. Wool allergies are extremely rare, if not unknown!

While some people will wear a wool sweater and then develop a rash, claiming that they are sensitive or allergic to wool fibers, wool allergies are almost unheard of. Rather, what they’re experiencing is a sensitivity to lanolin (wool’s natural oil, which is typically removed during manufacturing) or to the itchier, coarser grades of wool that are sometimes used to make sweaters and outerwear.

Finer grades of wool, like merino wool are much softer (as is the young lamb’s wool present in a long shearling wool coat) and allergies to it are almost non-existent.

  1. Wool is naturally fire resistant

Synthetic materials will burn or melt when heat is applied to them, but wool hardly even smolders. This makes it a naturally safe material for creating clothing because it will not easily take a flame.

  1. Wool is UV resistant

Another feature that makes wool highly valuable as a material for the construction of outerwear is the fact that wool is naturally UV resistant. If you’re wearing a coat in the dead of winter, you probably wouldn’t give a second thought to UV light, but for athletes that wear woollen t-shirts or base layers, it can be a real concern - it’s good to know, then, that wool is nearly impervious to UV light.

  1. It’s also almost as good at keeping you cool as it is at keeping you warm!

While you’re probably not surprised that wool is an excellent insulator (it’s been used for thousands of years for this express purpose) wool is actually more rightly called a thermoregulator.

In the summer, when you are apt to sweat, wool captures perspiration, wicking it away from your skin and either holding onto it or releasing it into the environment. This makes wool nearly as effective as keeping you cool as it is at keeping you warm. Of course, sensibility reins - don’t suit up with the long shearling coat when the summer temperatures are climbing!

Wool is a truly amazing and versatile material that can make fabrics that are excellent at keeping you both cool and warm while they themselves stay clean and odor-free for longer. They’re also remarkably resilient - in the case of a long shearling coat, both the wool and the pelt are tough, and when cared for properly, will last for many years, developing a beautiful patina and a lot of individuality along the way.

Take a long through our collection of shearling coats and other fur garments and see if you can find something that speaks to your personal sense of style. You might just find something you love - and if you have any questions at all about our products, wool, fur or otherwise, please feel free to reach out to us at 1-800-TLC-FURS or by email at info@maximilian.com
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