4 ways to keep your sweaters in shape
This’ll warm you up.
The hunt for the fabric shaver is as much a part of fall as the changing of the leaves. And while we can’t make those little balls on your sweaters disappear from your life — you’ll still have to de-pill your sweaters at least once a season, says personal stylist and founder of Harrison Style, Nicola Harrison-Ruiz — you can cut your fabric shaver use dramatically.
Opt for sweaters made from these materials. Merino wool is a sheep’s wool that is soft, elastic, and breathable; and because its fibers are long, it doesn’t pill as easily. Look for the Woolmark logo, which is a sign of higher quality, says Andrea Robredo Ruiz, a women’s designer with Oscar de la Renta and Ralph Lauren. You’ll pay roughly $50 to $200.
Merino wool blend sweaters can also be a good option. Ruiz says you should look for a low percentage (up to about 10%) of viscose mixed with the merino wool. Tavia Sharp, previously a senior designer in menswear at Calvin Klein and Macy’s and now founder of Styled Sharp, recommends an acrylic blend (no more than 40% acrylic).
If you have a larger budget, opt for a sweater made from thick cashmere, which will rival merino wool in how little it pills, says designer Heidi Wynne. Some brands list the yarn’s ply, which indicates the number of strands twisted together; a four-ply sweater would be thicker and stronger than a two-ply. For quality cashmere that’s heavy and soft, expect a price-tag of between $300 and $600.
A newer alternative is sweaters made from recycled yarns composed of salvaged jersey scraps, t-shirts, or jeans. A sweater made of these “will last forever with almost no pilling,” says Jade Harwood, co-founder of clothing company Wool and the Gang.
Avoid these materials. Sharp says to steer clear of a wool-and-polyester blend as it can be especially difficult to de-pill, causing snagging and damage. She also says you should avoid sweaters that have three or more different fibers in them (they will be listed on the label).
Test the sweater in the store. Regardless of the materials used, look for a tightly spun yarn and tight weave to help prevent pilling and snagging. If you pull the sweater gently and it bounces back into shape quickly, that’s a good sign. Review the sweater for any pills that have already begun; immediate pilling can indicate lower quality fibers.
Take care of your sweater. Avoid cross-body bags and jackets with stiff or abrasive linings, which can exacerbate pilling, says Bree Chambers, founder of Nesh NYC. If pills do form, Harrison-Ruiz says a fabric comb or stone will work well; the Evercare Lint Small Fabric Shaver is her favorite. Before starting, ensure the item is completely flat and tight as even a slight ripple can cut a hole, says Harrison-Ruiz. The dry cleaner will also typically provide a de-pilling service.
When washing, turn the item inside out and use cold water. Ruiz suggests washing in a gentle shampoo, such as a Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo, and avoiding a lanolin or other conditioning mixture as it can change the feel and luster. Dry and store flat and never hang.
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