There’s a debate among historians about when humans started wearing wool. Broadly, we know it’s been a at least a couple thousand years. Back then, and still today, we’ve loved how warm it keeps us on adventurous trips (Sir Edmund Hillary wore a wool “jumper suit” to the top of Everest), and we’ve also been enamored with how dapper wool looks when made into a button-down shirt. There are thousands of wool garments to choose from nowadays, but here are seven of our current favorites that are not only beautifully designed but also reliably made.
Taylor Stitch the Maritime Shirt ($188)
“Shirt” is in the name, but think about the Maritime more like your use-it-every-day shacket. At 19 ounces (think: medium-thick build, and significantly thicker than a normal shirt), the boiled lambswool blend (78-percent wool, 22-percent nylon) is as warm as an insulated midlayer and also fights off light rain or snow. I’ve worn it several days a week during this past winter, both as an overshirt on warmer days and as a layer when it was brutally cold.
Patagonia Brodeo Beanie ($23)
Made from recycled wool and nylon, the Brodeo keeps your life simple. In black it’s classic and understated, and the sailor-style design looks as good with ski kit as it does with sweatpants for Sunday brunch. I pull it down over my ears on cold winter days then wear it higher on my head when I’m out camping on spring nights.
Shetland Woolen Company Shaggy Sweater ($96)
An article about wool wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a classic wool sweater. Made from 100 percent Scottish wool from the Shetland Islands, it gets its shaggy look from a special kind of brushing, which also creates a much softer hand feel. The ribbed neck, sleeves, and hem give the Shaggy a svelte fit, and I wear mine to the office with a pair of jeans and on the ski lift as a breathable midlayer. Like most wool garments, it fights stink, so I’ve never had to wash it.
Faribault Woolen Mill Co. Foot Soldier Defender Plaid Blanket ($150)
Faribault started making these blankets for American troops around the turn of the 20th century. This version is a little prettier—thanks to the plaid styling—but just as durable. I use mine over a down comforter in the winter to add a little warmth. It also makes a great camping blanket (lay it over your sleeping bag), or an emergency blanket you keep in the car.
Voormi Diversion Hoodie ($250)
This will not be the last hoodie you ever buy, but it could be the last one you buy for at least the next ten years. Made from thick 21.5-micron wool (about 1.5 times thicker than a wool shirt) that’s been reinforced with outer-facing nylon fibers, the Diversion put up with chopping wood, carrying skis on a backcountry bootpack, and still looked good while working in a coffee shop. It also has a DWR finish, so it won’t wet out when it’s dumping snow.
Hestra Deerskin Wool Tricot Gloves ($81)
These gloves live in my car or my backpack at all times. The leather palm is tough enough for putting on chains or sawing wood but supple enough for riding a bike. Wool on the back lets your hands breathe, and a wool lining inside keeps your digits warm, even when it’s below freezing. The elastic cuff is also nice because it helps keep out snow, as well as wood chips, sawdust, and dirt.
Filson Mackinaw Wool Cruiser Jacket ($395)
Like the Faribault blanket, this jacket has been around since the early 1900s and survived pretty much unchanged. You can credit its longevity to a 24-ounce Mackinaw wool build (this feels like wearing a wool blanket that’s been cut into a coat) that will put up with a lifetime of abuse, fight off a downpour, and look good doing it. Broad in the shoulders and chest, the Mackinaw is designed as an outer layer and fits well over a midlayer like the Maritime shirt.