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E.J. Topper's Fabric Tips:

If wool brings to mind ugly sweater parties and gaudy knit catastrophes from your grandmother, you’d be wise to take a look at how modern wool has transformed. It’s actually a reliable and versatile fabric you can wear year-round.

Distinguished gentlemen like Topper know that wool’s utility depends on its thickness. Sure, a thick wool sweater is great for a hike up Mt. Hekla volcano in Iceland, but a fine merino wool shirt will make you a style kingpin in Miami August, if chosen wisely.

Weather is a key factor. This is obvious, and we often reach for our thicker wools when the weather gets cold, but because of this we forget that wool is really versatile. In thinner, finer weaves, wool can be a great option even on warmer days, because it breathes well.

“Second, consider the type of wool. I remember walking through the mountains of New Zealand location scouting for a certain series of fantasy films. Several times a day flocks of sheep would pass near us and the shepherds let us feel their wool. Merino sheep have incredibly fine, soft wool, which means merino garments can be finely woven for softness and luxury.” Topper notes, “Whenever possible, choose merino wool.”

When it comes to sheep’s wool, merino is your best bet because it relatively inexpensive, yet very soft. True wool connoisseurs know that lamb’s wool is even softer, given that it comes from a sheep’s first shearing, but it is rarer and therefore more expensive. Other luxury wools include camel’s hair, mohair, and angora. Each of these types will refine your wardrobe, but they will not prove as versatile as sheep’s wool -- both lamb’s wool and merino wool.

“Another aspect to consider is blends. Wool blends beyond 10% compromise the versatility of the wool, and are not often worth the investment. If you’re buying wool, buy wool! If you must, feel free to get a little bit of blending for stretching, but stick with wool. It’s natural, and it’s fantastic on its own.”