Saturday, September 22, 2007

Cashmere in the Rain

Shameless Request: My daughter and I are finalists in the Rosetta Stone Go Places contest! You can vote once a day for our video until November 21st and be entered to win a Kindle Fire for each vote!! So check it out and help us win!!

My video entry!

And now for the article...

Well, since the weather has been a bit drizzly outside, I thought it might be nice to talk about wearing cashmere in the rain!!

Most important point: Cashmere is not harmed by water. It's what you do after it's wet that causes damage. For example, if you get completely soaked through, take off your sweater and hang it by the shoulders, it will stretch out of shape. If you wash your cashmere in cold water and rinse it in hot water, it will shrink. Just use your common sense and the tips I have for you and you should make it out OK.

Imagine a sweet little cashmere goat in the chilly climate of Inner Mongolia. Do you think that wonderful little miracle-material-making goat never saw a spot of rain? I doubt it. Obviously, they don't sit out in the rain if they have to- they'll go find shelter. Point being: if you wear your cashmere in the rain, it's not the first time it's been wet.

I think the main issue to think about here is whether or not you want to be wearing wet cashmere. You probably don't. Cashmere smells like wet dog (lol) and gets very heavy when wet. So, I wouldn't suggest letting yourself get soaked while only in a sweater. Just do your best to keep out of the rain! Use an umbrella if you have one. Or snuggle by a fire and drink some cocoa instead.

I have worn cashmere in the rain and have not had any problems. If you're worried about it shrinking, keep the sweater on until it dries. It can't get any smaller than you are while you're wearing it, right??

If you are soaked through, just wash your sweater as normal right away. Reshape it and let it dry away from direct sun or heat.

I hope this helps all of you in rainy climates. Please let me know if you have any questions! Enjoy the rain in your cashmere!!


K Billy said...

Hi, Very interresting article. I have bought an overcoat made of 80% wool, 10% cashmere and 10%polyamide. Am I taking a risk going singing in the rain wearing it ?
Even with an umbrella, it's a 3/4 overcoat, parts get wet.
It's look very good and his of a very stylish design that I won't be able to find later if I ruin it.
your advices on that are most welcome.

Cashmere Connoisseur said...

Hi k billy,
I apologize for not noticing your comment until tonight. But here's my answer in case you are still interested:

You are always taking a risk when getting wool wet. However, wool/cashmere coats are already a sort of "felted" feeling fabric if you know what I mean. They are woven, not knit. SO, they will keep their shape infinitely better than a sweater would. If you are talking about a thinner, suit-type fabric, don't do it.

If it's a downpour, I wouldn't do it. If it's a drizzle and you aren't actually planning on jumping through puddles and singing, you'll be fine.

I have a confession: I don't own a rain coat. I wear a 100% wool coat out with an umbrella, but that's because I don't spend a lot of time standing in the rain!

From my experience, you'll be just fine. I would suggest getting your coat drycleaned every season, though. DO NOT handwash woven fabrics, ever. Also, let it dry before putting it away!! This is important! You do not want a musty/moldy smell to take over... I would say that your biggest risk is it not drying thoroughly afterwards.

I hope this helps you and again, I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. Thank you for your post!

Randy Elzinga said...


I bought a cashmere sweater a while ago. It's the first one I've ever owned. I knew it had to be hand washed and dried flat, but beyond this I knew nothing.

I hand washed it once before I wore it. Then, on the first day that I wore it, I got splashed with mud, so I washed it again, also by hand.

The first time it took forever to dry, because I didn't want to wring it too hard and so it was still quite wet when I put it on the rack. I don't have a proper drying rack on which to dry it flat (and can't find one in stores either). I do have another drying rack which is suitable for drying all sorts of other clothes. I could place it somewhat flatly on this rack, but parts were still hanging, and I was worried about it getting deformed after hanging off the rack for such a long time.

The second time I washed it, I wrung it out more thoroughly, wanting it to dry faster and not knowing how sensitive cashmere is to wringing. Now I think the sleeves have been stretched, and possibly other parts have gone out of shape too.

Is there any way that this stretching can be undone?

Cashmere Connoisseur said...

Hi Randy,

Unfortunately, you're probably stuck with it the way it turned out. When you wring or twist wet cashmere, the fibers start to move around and "wiggle" away from each other. They don't actually stretch themselves, but the knitting will stretch out of shape instead. There's no real remedy for this... What you can try is get the sweater wet again, press out the water with a towel, and lay it to dry, doing your best to reshape it to its original size. If you didn't wring it too bad, it may turn out to be wearable. Cashmere will dry the way you lay it out, so there's some wiggle room.

As far as drying goes, what I do is lay a towel on our guest bed (or the floor!) and lay my sweaters out to dry flat that way. You can flip them over after a day if the sweater is really thick. Normally, a 2-ply sweater will dry overnight without needing to be flipped. Drying racks are rather small, as you discovered, so I don't use them.

I'm sorry about your luck with your first cashmere sweater! But don't lose hope. This is the main reason I started this blog- to help people not make the same mistakes I've made. Unfortunately, you just didn't find it in time! Keep on buying cashmere, and if you follow the washing directions I have on this blog, they will last you a long time!

sagginsuzie said...

I have a 1950's casmere coat that is full of mud from my dog. Any suggestions on how to clean it? Cleaners won't touch it. thanks

Cashmere Connoisseur said...

Hi sagginsuzie,
I'm shocked the the cleaners won't touch it! That's what I would have recommended. However, since we're stuck without them, here's my suggestion:
1) If there is no fur on the coat, you might try soaking it in the bath tub to loosen the mud up. Woven cashmere (like a coat) is still hand-washable, you just have to be very cautious with the agitation and drying. I don't normally suggest hand-washing them because of this, but it is doable.
2) Once you've loosened up all of the mud and got it as clean as you can without soap, I would then treat it with a stain remover for a couple of hours that's safe for wool, then rinse gently in the tub again. As long as you are really careful not to stretch the fabric out of place, this might work.
3) Once you've done all the washing and rinsing, Press out the excess water with a towel. DO NOT WRING IT or it will stretch and warp. Leave it to dry somewhere flat and away from sun, and iron if necessary.
4) You'll probably have to flip the coat over to dry thoroughly.
Maybe once you get it clean enough, they'll touch it? I hope that helps you somewhat!

Anonymous said...

I always wash my cashmere myself. Recently I bought a cashmere lounging set from Nordstrom Rack and OMG, when I wear it, my own body heat brings out that wet dog smell!!! (And I am not perspiring at all!) I have NEVER had that happen to ANY cashmere I have owned before and I do own (and wash myself) alot of it. Can you think of why this is happening to this set? The set has been washed twice now and still reaks of wet dog smell. I bought 2 of the sets and am thinking I'll take back the other 'unworn' one - this smell is foul. Any ideas?

Cashmere Connoisseur said...

Hi JAKnarr,
I haven't the slightest clue as to why your cashmere would be smelling of wet dog when it's not wet... I've NEVER had that happen. And I've worn over 200+ different cashmere pieces and probably close to every major brand out there- including stuff from Nordstrom Rack. Honestly, I would try to take back the worn set too! It's defective, in some way, in my opinion. You might try airing it outside in the shade (not the sun!!), or washing it with a different detergent than you're using, or give it a soak in some water and vinegar... But honestly, it seems very strange and I don't have any idea of how to fix it because I've never had it happen! I'm sorry I can't offer a solution, but please let me know if you come up with one so I can add it to my knowledge bank. Thank you for your question and I hope you get it resolved somehow!

cegat said...

A friend recently gave me a Magaschoni cashmere bath robe as a gift. Is this more for lounging or is it functional? I.e.: can I wear it as a bath robe when I come out of the shower? Do you think this kind of use will ruin it?

Cashmere Connoisseur said...

You won't hurt cashmere by getting it wet, but it's not the most absorbent thing in the world... If you're like me, you want your robe or towel to absorb water immediately on contact. Cashmere has a delay of absorbency for some reason that I don't understand. It will hold a lot of water but it doesn't absorb anything on contact. I'm guessing you'll end up with that "not fully dry" feeling when you first put it on. I use my robes for lounging and I don't really see a cashmere robe being practical for putting on immediately after a shower. What a nice gift, though!!

Anonymous said...

I have a zip-up cashmere sweater. When I bought it I was much heavier and since then I've lost a considerable amount of weight - now it looks enormous on me. Is there any way I can shrink it without ruining? It's an xxl now I wear a medium.

Tristram Coffin said...

I found this great sports blazer at a thrift store. Honestly, I'm not positive of the fabric but the cleaning instructions say to treat as cashmere. I'm assuming that means it is some blend.

I've never owned cashmere before and happened upon your article while trying to figure out the fabric. If it helps the tag says "Thos Stuart, tailored exclusively for Shevel's Richmond".

Does your experience include Thos Brothers, can you guess the fabric, and does your article apply to how I should care for this great find?

Cashmere Connoisseur said...

@Anonymous - lots of people have had good luck safely shrinking their cashmere following my instructions. Please see the blog post in December 2010 about that:

@Tristram - Blazers of any material, in my opinion, need to be dry cleaned. Woven fabrics just don't hold up the same way when they're wet as knit fabrics. They distort and get all wonky looking, lol. How odd, though, that it doesn't have a content label. I've never heard of the brand, unfortunately and cannot make any guesses as to the content. Dry clean is my suggestion!

Katie Freiberg said...

I had the crappiest Monday morning today. I live in the south bay and work in the city. I rode the train to work and then planned on biking to work. Unfortunately, it was raining and I didn't have a jacket (yes, I know - poor planning) and am wearing a brand new cashmere sweater. I was really upset about my sweater (even though I'm still wearing it) and someone sent me your article. It TOTALLY made my day and had me laughing (I literally was crying this morning when I got into work), so THANK YOU for this article and for making my day a little bit better!

Cashmere Connoisseur said...

@Katie I'm SO glad I could bring a little laugher and peace of mind to your awful Monday morning. Thank you for your comment! It made my day!! :o)

Anonymous said...

I have a camel coat which i think is a cashmere wool mix with something else. It is full length and i was wearing it in drizzle rain. it got splashed with some specks of puddle water at the very bottom. nothing too tragic but i would like to know how to clean them off. thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hey cashmere connoisseur! I have this trench coat from World War Two and I was wondering what I could put it through, weather wise. It’s made of wool, It has a few small holes in the back but overall it’s in very good condition for its age. I really want to wear it out in the rain but I don’t want to damage it. Do you think I could wear it in the rain?