Our Top 9 Cosiest Fabrics and Materials to Look Out For When Shopping Vintage this Winter

Anyone else constantly bundled up in 32 layers and grasping a hot water bottle at the moment? I love the seasons and watching them change, but January has got me freezing this year - where possible I'm wearing 3 pairs of socks and sitting in a sleeping bag next to the fire... It's a total fire hazard but probably worth the risk?!

Anyway, when I'm not basically a cosy cocoon of a person hibernating and hiding from the outside world, I'm out shopping and sourcing second hand and vintage goodies for myself and my customers.

And let's be honest, it’s easy to walk into a vintage, thrift or secondhand store and instantly be overwhelmed with choice at the best of times. There's so much choice, and when shopping mindfully and sustainably it can be even harder, which is why I always go readied with:

🧡 A list of things we need - whether we’ve worn through them or they no longer fit, we look to replace staples!

✨ Our measurements (taken from out own flat clothing) just incase we can’t try things on

🌞 A mind on the seasons coming up and what materials we’re looking for.

And it’s this last point that we’re focusing on today!

During the colder months, we seek out the warmest, cosiest pieces to make our lives much more enjoyable - and whilst I am a big fan of thermals under everything, sometimes they alone aren’t enough so I cast my mind to focusing on materials and their seasonal benefits!

In recent years and the rise of being environmentally conscious, man made, plastic and petroleum based fabrics have been the subject of great debate, and aren’t as readily available as they once were - for good reason. However, these often make the warmest things to wear!

On the flip side, the rise in veganism has also made waves in our wardrobe - and often our historically most insulative materials such as wool, leather, fur and silk and suede are being shunned in place of plastic versions - or versions that are simply not as warm.

Because of this, we choose, where possible, to shop for our seasonal pieces secondhand. These materials are hardy, long-lasting and super warm, and so they’re easy to find in your local vintage shop - without having to choose in this moral dilemma!

So, fancy hearing about our top 9? Read on below for the lowdown on the best things to keep an eye out for when you shop vintage and pre-loved for your winter wardrobe...

Our Top 9 Cosiest Fabrics and Materials to Look Out For When Shopping Vintage this Winter

1. Wool - and why it's a winter winner!

I can't remember a vintage shop I ever went in that didn't have an epic rail of amazing woolly jumpers, and rarely is there one without a handful of wool flannel shirts or woollen winter coats. Wool is not only super easy to find in your local thrift, vintage and charity shops - it’s also one of the warmest things you can wear. 

It’s combination of keratin fibres and thermo-insulative fibres hold heat without stealing it from the body. Because of this, it'll even hold warmth when it's soaked wet through, much like a wetsuit would. This is why sheep, even during the most miserable of days, manage to carry on about their business without freezing half to death.

Plus, it’s totally natural, long lasting, breathable, fire retardant AND moisture wicking, yep, you heard me right - this humble natural fibre has all these incredible qualities!

2. Leather & Suede - not just style over substance...

Suede and leather (and their faux counterparts) are year round staples - from our favourite suede tassel jackets to the best of biker jackets, they've made up the lion's share of our vintage collections for years.

But did you know they also have some cold weather benefits - as well as lasting years and being seriously chic?

 The thick outer shell of a leather jacket traps heat and stops it escaping, whilst also blocking wind and stopping a chill. Plus, the lining is almost always either polyester or silk - read on to find out why these are great winter investments. We love using our suede and leather jackets to create unique and stylish layered looks - from stacking them over cosy jumpers to wearing with hoodies and under big winter coats, they work double time in your wardrobe year round.

You can always find great vintage leather because it’s such a hardy, long lasting material, and with a little love, tenderness and care, it can last a lifetime or more.

3. Fur - the real vs faux debate never ends, but it's cosiness is a sure thing...

In the vintage community, fur is a hot topic. Of course, the fur trade is a barbaric industry - but does this mean that old furs should be destroyed, or saved from waste and reworn? Or is it something that should be destroyed along with the traditions surrounding it?

Equally, faux fur is the subject of heated debate. It's cruelty free, but with each piece being made of millions of tiny plastic fibres, it's an environmental nightmare.

Whichever side of the debate your morals rest, one thing is unarguable, and that is the ultimate cosiness and warmth that both fur and faux provide it's wearer - which is why it had to be included in this debate.

Whilst the real deal might arguably be the warmest material man can wear, it’s cruelty free counterpart is not only a great bargain in vintage stores but is often just as warm.

Each of it's tiny polyester fibres hold and trap heat in the body, are wind resistant and look super chic - plus inexpensive and will last forever. When it comes to real fur, the layers of different weight and texture hairs create a heatproof insulative barrier and are super cosy. 

Whichever you choose, these materials, whilst often readily available in vintage shops and online, do require special care, so to keep them lasting and looking gorgeous, make sure you read any care labels and treat them delicately.

4. Denim - ok, not the warmest in itself, but hear us out...

Denim might not be the first thing you think of when you shop for the colder months - anyone else who's made the mistake of wearing just a denim jacket over a party dress at a Christmas party will be able to attest to this!

Denim is made from tightly woven cotton, which in "stretch" styles is often blended with super warm polyester, and this tightly woven cotton creates a barrier against cold air, and studies have shown that it’s much warmer than linen or leather in similar thicknesses.

Plus, let's not forget that it’s readily available, long lasting, and hard wearing - which is why it's one of our favourite vintage investments. Plus, it's perfect for layering with super insulative thermals or cosy jumpers for ultra cold days.

5. Fleece - funky, cosy and quick drying

Over the last few years, funky retro fleeces in bright and bold colours have become so sought after that many of the original manufacturers and brands have started making their old styles all over again (Patagonia, we're looking at you...)

However, you don't have to spend big bucks on a brand new fleece to get the look or the warmth. These polyester based pieces are almost indestructible, and so many of the OG 1980s and 1990s versions are still in circulation in vintage store, charity shops and on ebay. 

Now, just to decide on how bright and colourful to go...

6. Cotton - not just for breathable summer fits

 Cotton is usually heralded as the perfect summer fabric - light, breathable and floaty. But cotton is a really diverse fibre, and depending on how it's used and the thickness of the fabric it's woven into, it can actually be a super warm option for layering.

Thicker, heavier cottons such as twill and thicker jersey cottons can be cosy and warm in cooler winter months when worn under and over other materials to create insulative layers that are still light, comfier and breathable.

Plus, it's another fabric which can withstand one hell of a lot of abuse - whilst it's always important to follow each garments individual care instructions, generally cotton can be hot washed, tumble dried and ironed without any worry. This means it lasts years and is easily found in vintage stores and secondhand shops with a lot of wear left!

7. Wool/Acrylic Blend - cheap, cheerful and easy to look after

Wool is a great insulative material as we've already discussed, but anyone who's accidentally turned their favourite jumper into dolly clothes by washing it too hot or accidentally throwing it in the dryer will know that it's not always the easiest to care for.

This is why one of the biggest gifts from the 1950s was wool/acrylic blends being invented and mass produced. By blending cosy wool with hardy, long lasting acrylic, they not only created a super long lasting, easy care alternative to wool, but they actually made something that can genuinely be warmer than wool in similar thicknesses. 

Combining different fibres is something modern textiles manufacturers do all the time, but this is a blend that's been on the market for years - and so it's easily and readily available both new and vintage, and still in it's original, unshrunk size!

8. Silk - no, I'm not joking

Honestly. I know this one seems ridiculous. I bet you're thinking, this gal is just listing a million bleddy fabrics now. But genuinely in studies, for it's weight silk has been rated one of the warmer fabrics!

Now, of course, you don't typically find super thick silk fabrics, and it's not something you're going to use to layer under your winter woollies. We know this. But it is a fabric which has been used for hundreds of years and will continue to be used, because of it's softness and it's luxurious finish. 

Despite it's thin, slippy texture, silk acts as a great insulator and traps heat in whilst still allowing air to transfer through - this is why it's an amazing lining in delicately beaded and embellished party pieces, from dresses to jackets, soft on skin and a great extra layer to keep you warm.

9. Nylon - plastic fantastic and here for 200 years!

I wish that was a joke but in all seriousness, even in the right conditions, nylon can take up to 200 years to decompose - a total biological, environmental nightmare, littering our planet and far outstaying it's welcome...

But thanks to this, it's also one of the most easily available materials in vintage stores. Heavily used through the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, this synthetic fabric lasts incredibly well through washing, meaning you can easily get a cool, retro look in true vintage pieces - without having to hunt high and low nor battling awkward washing instructions.

This isn't why we love it during winter though - infact, the real reason is that it's possibly one of the warmest items known to man. Sure, it's not breathable (anyone who's worn a nylon 1960s mini dress to the club knows it can get, shall we say, a little...glowy...in one of these vintage numbers) but that also means its impenetrable to cool air, and it holds in heat like a wearabler thermos. Perfect for those chilly nights out in the dead of winter!


So there we have it. Our top picks on what to pick up on your next shopping trip. It's always worth reading labels and feeling for the thickness and weight of any items you pick up, especially if you plan on wearing them seasonally - it can mean the difference between shivering through your walk in the park, or stopping to enjoy a coffee in your cosy, chic outfit!

Our Top 9 Cosiest Fabrics and Materials to Look Out For When Shopping Vintage this Winter
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