It’s the super sports car of overcoats. You don’t need a cashmere coat. You want one. You crave its sleek lines, its racy performance and the way it purrs when you touch it. And like an aspirational Aston Martin DB11 that you never use as a station car, this is not your everyday coat—even while it’s built for both comfort and speed.
Of course, what makes this pricey coat go is the cashmere, the original luxury fiber, named for the Kashmir region of India. Its mountainous terrain spawned the double-fleeced goat that gives up its hair for our comfort. The animal has an outer coat of rough hair that protects the downy fur below. The latter wool (it’s almost an insult to its fineness to use that term) is what makes up the fabric we call cashmere. While this goat fiber has been used for centuries, it’s easily kept pace with modern developments in sheep wool. Cashmere already matches the thinness—and therefore softness—of Super 220 wool.
That same quality also translates into a cloth that delivers warmth at a weight that is markedly light. The sacrifice is that cashmere coats are not as hard wearing as garments like pea coats. But that’s not why you buy one. Martin Nicholls, managing director at Norton & Sons of Savile Row, reveals that its delicateness makes it more difficult to tailor, adding to the expense (often upwards of $5,000). He adds that cashmere has a one-way ply that lets rain sheet off easily, but that also means more fabric is needed to make sure the grain is always directed downward.
Given the expense, these garments should be bought for longevity and not the whims of fashion. You’ll quickly regret shelling out for one with an odd pattern or that is hemmed at the thigh. Knee-length coats, either in sleek single-breasted or more commodious double-breasted cuts, have staying power. Similarly, a safe color palette includes navy, black, gray and the fabric’s natural color: camel. To trick it out, consider Norton’s feature of pocket liners made from Selvyt, the cloth that jewelry is polished with. Your hands will thank you, too.