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Shearling, Shearling Everywhere | Jackets, Coats and More

Updated on April 12, 2011
Burberry Shearling
Burberry Shearling

Shearling is all the rage in the fashion broadsheets and broadsites these days, but those of us without an intimate knowledge of fashion materials may not be aware of what shearling is, let alone how to wear it. To cut a long story short, to turn a curly worm straight, shearling is not a fabric, though it is made of wool.

This is beginning to sound a bit like a Sphinx's riddle, isn't it? What is made of wool, yet is not wool?

To put you out of your misery, shearling is the pelt of a yearling sheep that has been put out of its misery after being shorn just once so that its wool is of a short and uniform length. Essentially, it's a young sheep cut short in its prime after being given the best haircut of its life.

Shearling is popular because not only does it look highly fashionable and draw admiring glances from people who care about that sort of thing, it wicks away moisture and retains warmth in a way that synthetic fibers often just cant.

Shearling is one of those places where fashion morals break down. If it was the pelt of skinned chinchillas, people would be up in arms, hurling red paint everywhere like first graders who broke into the candy van and ate its entire contents. However as we wear the skins of domesticated livestock with great regularity (fur is murder, leather is just common sense) shearling probably isn't going to get you hunted down by PETA and the ALF.

So how is one supposed to wear shearling? It can be safely assumed that running around in the bloody pelt of a young sheep isn't going to win you any favors at work, fortunately there are a myriad of ways to wear shearling in a far more tasteful fashion.

In particular, shearling aviator jackets seem to be popular this season. The Guardian UK recommends wearing your shearling aviator jacket with high heels and skinny jeans. I advocate wearing it with a sense of pride and just a touch of nostalgia, but the ultimate decision is up to you of course.

Long coats, short coats, shoulder drapes (to stop the neighbors from peeking into your shoulders whilst you're getting changed), even satchels and book bags are a good excuse to use a bit of shearling. Don't forget boots and mittens as well! This season, if its not shearling, take it out the back and give it a good seeing to.

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