What is Boiled Wool and How Can I Wear It?

A light layering piece that provides exceptional warmth, this Capture Boiled Wool Jacket comes in black, blue and pink.
A light layering piece that provides exceptional warmth, this Capture Boiled Wool Jacket comes in black, blue and pink.

Wool garments are winter wardrobe staples. A snug jumper made of wool is our go-to when temperatures drop thanks to the material’s warmth giving properties. Merino in particular is a well-known favourite, but how about boiled wool?

If you’re scratching your head wondering what the heck ‘boiled wool’ is, then read on – and no doubt you’ll be seeking out some boiled wool garments to add to your winter wardrobe this year.

What is boiled wool?
Boiled wool is as simple as the name suggests. It is made by boiling wool to shrink and compress the fibres, which shrink to around 20% to 50% in size, so it has the appearance of a tighter, felt-like material. (If you’ve ever made the mistake of putting your woollens in a hot wash, you’ll know the effect that the heat has on your wool!).

It is used in a wide range of winter garments, including coats, jackets, vests and cardigans. You might also recognise the material as it’s often used for items such as berets, boots, slippers, hats and bags. The warmth and durability of the fabric also makes it ideal for blankets, rugs and throws.

What’s it like to wear?
It’s super warm and windproof, so it’s no wonder it’s used for so many winter garments. When wool is boiled, tiny air bubbles are trapped in the material. This forms a natural buffer against cold temperatures and allows the wearer to maintain a constant temperature. It also means that it’s a fabric that allows your skin to breathe, so it’s highly comfortable while still being snug. It’s lightweight and soft to the touch, so feels great against your skin and doesn’t have the scratch of some other wool clothing. Because of the density of the fabric, it’s also more resistant than other wool to water, as drops of water roll off the surface.

Boiled wool looks smart and tidy, so it’s a great way to include the warmth of wool in your wardrobe, without having to go for bulky knits. A boiled wool piece is always going to be very versatile, so you can make it work for any occasion – from casual wear, to office wear to even just nipping out to the supermarket.

Investing in a wool garment will always be a smart move. The fabric is durable enough to last you over several winters without ever losing its shape or diminishing in appearance. It’s a timeless look that won’t go out of date in a hurry, and will pair nicely with a variety of staple pieces that you’ll likely already have in your wardrobe.

If you’re wondering how to include it in your wardrobe this winter, here’s some places you could start:

A boiled wool coat is a sound choice for a super snug water-resistant and wind-proof outer layer. A long-line coat in boiled wool will maintain a nice shape and hang beautifully.

A boiled wool jacket is a great choice for staying warm while looking smart this winter. It’s warm enough to be suitable to wear while you’re out and about, but also comfortable enough for all-day wear, for example, at home or in the office.

A hot piece this cold season is the coatigan – a garment that is somewhere between a long cardigan and a coat. The extra density of boiled wool means that it is the ideal fabric for a coatigan. Something new for you to add to your wardrobe this year, perhaps?

If you’d like to add an accent of texture to your outfit, consider going for a boiled wool bag. Boiled wool bags are increasing in popularity – it’s likely that you’ve admired one recently yourself. Something like a grey or charcoal boiled wool handbag is very on-trend and perfect for weekend shopping trips.

So, there you have it! The name might make it sound a little odd, but this fabric is nothing but fabulous. In fact, you’ve probably admired plenty of boiled wool pieces without even realising.

Are you going to add a boiled wool garment to your winter outfits this year? How will you wear it?

Shop the Capture Boiled Wool Jacket