Why Cashmere is Perfect For Summer
Ming Liu describes why cashmere's heat regulating and layering properties make it an essential part of any summer wardrobe
Summer is well upon us and the packing list - even if just imagined for coronavirus times - can be breezily ticked off: swimming costume, check. Sandals, check. Wide-brim hat, check. Cashmere knit: wait, what?
Cashmere may be synonymous with winter but the material is earning a reputation as a summer essential too - and it's easy to see why. Cashmere's best qualities - fine, soft texture, beautiful lightness, unerring insulation - work wonders all year round.
Firstly, consider insulation. The allure of cashmere has always been that it's steadfastly warm but never hot - reliably taking one from skiing in sub-degree climes to cosying up by the fire mit schnapps. The material, by nature, is temperature regulating born from the ultra-fine undercoat hairs of cashmere goats that live mainly Inner Mongolia, where seasonal temperatures fluctuate widely. These insulating undercoats, sitting below an outer layer that keeps the goats dry, have been naturally developed so that the animals stay warm in winter but keep cool in summer. N.Peal uses the finest and longest cashmere fibres combed from goats' coats as they are naturally shed as the weather warms in spring. Breathable and lightweight, cashmere is ideal for layering - a dressing must for long summer days and balmy nights. N.Peal's superfine and fine-gauge cashmere sweaters and colourful, patterned pashminas are fabulous transition pieces as restrictions ease and we re-enter the world. Draping and effortless, they're versatile travel companions, chicly taking one from an over air-conditioned hotel lobby to outdoor market shopping. They'll also look great on deck - working as a nonchalant cover-up by day, stylish, stargazing warmer by night.
To be fair, most of us will be homebound this summer, but cashmere is still excellent for city living and daily life. Cue N.Peal's cashmere blazers and gilets for men that have a throw-on-and-go vibe - suitable for pounding the pavement running errands and then immediately looking smart for that afternoon Zoom call. The design is casual and sporty but, thanks to cashmere's finely woven threads, the blazers retain a structured silhouette, which keeps shape wonderfully to deliver that unique sense of relaxed tailoring.
There's something spontaneous and indulgent about wearing cashmere off-season, like having a fire going during the summer months. So wear your cashmere, unapologetically, all year round. For men, a good place to start building your summer cashmere collection is with N.Peal's chic, classic staples - the polo or crew neck T, or a fine gauge mock turtle neck or v-neck sweater - perfect for dinner alfresco. For women, opt for the sleeveless roll neck top, ultra-feminine wrap or a luxuriant cashmere maxi dress. All will have you feeling spoilt, pampered and - in the most welcome way - wishing for winter to come ASAP so you can layer up even more.
Ming Liu writes about luxury and style for How To Spend It, New York Times and CNN Style