Silk vs. Cashmere: Which Keeps You Warmer?


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Many people want to keep warm but also look good in the colder winter months. Looking fashionable and staying warm is not only possible, but if you wear silk or cashmere, it is achievable.

Both silk and cashmere are excellent for keeping you warm, but they both also have their advantages and disadvantages. Silk and cashmere are both expensive materials that are durable but are also challenging to take care of at times. And yet they are also natural fibers that are comfortable to wear.

In order to help you make your decision, this article will have an in-depth look at the pros and cons of wearing cashmere and silk as a means for keeping warm.

Silk vs. Cashmere: Which Keeps You Warmer?

Smooth as Silk

The most common silk is a natural fiber that is made from the cocoon of the silkworm while it becomes a moth. The thing that makes silk such a unique fiber is how long it is, which can be as long as 1 mile (1.6 kilometers). The entire cocoon of the silkworm is one long fiber, and because of this, these fibers can be very tightly weaved together into a very smooth cloth. 

Silk vs. Cashmere: Which Keeps You Warmer?

It’s because of this tight weave that silk is an excellent way to keep warm as it traps your body heat next to your skin. This makes silk the perfect material to wear as an undergarment during the cold weather.

Advantages

  • The feel of the fabric can feel luxurious and has a beautiful shine.
  • It drapes well and is very resistant to wrinkles.
  • Wicks away sweat or moisture and dries quickly.
  • Silk can be stain resistant.
  • The fiber is strong but very lightweight and comfortable.
  • Silk can additionally keep you cool in the summer as well as warm in the winter.

Disadvantages

  • Silk can be prone to tearing.
  • It can turn yellow if bleached and usually needs to be dry cleaned.
  • Silk can fade over time when exposed to sunlight.
  • It can be very expensive.
  • It yellows with age.

Silk has been around since c. 3600 BCE in ancient China, where archaeological records have highlighted the first sericulture. Sericulture is silk production which consists of tending the silkworms, the collecting of the cocoon threads and weaving the silk.

Soft as Cashmere

Cashmere fiber comes from the undercoat of the cashmere goat. The term cashmere refers to the soft Underdown that can come from any goat with the exception of the Angora goat. 

Silk vs. Cashmere: Which Keeps You Warmer?

Clothes made from cashmere wool are very soft, warm, and durable. It’s actually much softer on the skin than regular wool, and it’s longer lasting than wool but not as strong. Cashmere is known to be the fiber of kings or the Golden Fleece.

Advantages

  • Cashmere is soft, breathable, and lightweight.
  • It is very comfortable and can keep you warm and insulated.
  • The fiber is durable and resilient.
  • Cashmere can be wrinkle resistant.

Disadvantages

  • Cashmere can cause static electricity and can pill.
  • It must be hand-washed as it can shrink if washed incorrectly.
  • Moths are attracted to cashmere and can cause moth holes.
  • It is susceptible to mildew.
  • It can be very expensive.

Cashmere is hair rather than wool, which explains why it doesn’t feel itchy. The cashmere goats grow very thick coats to cope with temperatures in the Himalayas that go as low as -40°C (-40°F) and with winters that can last for at least six months. 

Silk vs. Cashmere

Now that we’ve looked at the pros and cons of silk and cashmere and we’ve learned that they are both good at keeping you warm, we’ll examine both fibers in a head-to-head battle.

Silk is a beautiful, soft, comfortable fabric that will definitely help you to keep warm; however, its best use is for wearing next to the skin. You can’t really show off a beautiful, silk coat in a snowstorm as it will lose its ability to keep you warm, and the moisture from the snow might damage an expensive coat.

Silk vs. Cashmere: Which Keeps You Warmer?

On the other hand, a cashmere coat will keep you toasty warm, but if it gets wet, you do need to use a variety of methods to dry it so as not to ruin it (this consists of laying it flat to dry. If you hang it up, you risk the coat or sweater stretching out of shape). 

Silk can be worn all year round and has the additional advantage of keeping you cool in the summer, unlike cashmere, which is too warm for the summer months. Silk is also a little less expensive and easier to care for than cashmere. And to top it all off, you can sleep in silk sheets with a silk pillowcase as silk sheets can keep you surprisingly warm, amongst other benefits (silk sheets are also good for your hair and skin and are cool in the summer).

Expense

As already mentioned, both silk and cashmere are known to be luxurious fibers that tend to lend to an expensive purchase, whether it’s for a scarf, coat, or a suit. 

While a variety of insects such as ants and spiders are able to produce the silk fiber, the silkworm is the most common insect whose cocoon is used in the production of silk. For the production of just one pound of raw silk, 2,500 silkworms are needed to spin the cocoons. Out of the 1 mile of silk that makes up each cocoon, 48 of these are needed for just one thread of silk. The process of producing and gathering the silk is part of the expense.

Silk vs. Cashmere: Which Keeps You Warmer?

The cashmere goats are usually found in the Himalayas, where the frigid winters cause the goats to grow incredibly thick and warm coats. However, they produce much fewer fibers than the average sheep (which can generate 3 kilograms or 6.6 pounds of wool per year), producing 200 grams or 0.4 pounds of hair.

Cashmere fibers are only collected once a year, and they barely make up 0.5% of wool production around the world. Processing the fibers takes a lot of time and effort and adds to the expense of this fiber.

Following on what you’ve learned here, a valuable lesson is if you find a silk or cashmere garment selling for a very low price, it is most likely not pure. The adage “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” applies here and is something to always look out for.

Conclusion

Keeping warm and wearing something beautiful and comfortable is easy when you wear silk and cashmere. Both fibers add a luxuriousness to your wardrobe that feels and looks good as long as you take care of them. 

Not one fiber is better than the other, as it all depends on what your own needs and desires are. Ultimately, both silk and cashmere have a variety of disadvantages and advantages that you need to take into consideration when making a purchase. Hopefully, this article has made that decision a little easier for you.

Vincent Steele

Vincent is a freelance writer based in Santa Ana, California. When he isn't writing articles for Temperature Master, he can be found biking or hanging out with his cat, Shelly.

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