Does cotton keep us warm or cold

ByTerence Tan

From here on out, it’s definitely bundle-up-or-freeze-like-a-Popsicle weather. But layering isn’t just a matter of smothering yourself in multiple sweaters like a bacon-wrapped loaded Crif Dog — there’s an art and science to it. I’d say there are two aspects to layering — aesthetic and functional — and balance between the two is necessary to navigate the freezing winter. NYU students are pretty good at the former, but how about choosing the right layers? Ten thin cotton sweaters aren’t going to keep you as warm as a cable-knit wool turtleneck. NYU Local brings you the low down on what’ll keep you toasty and what’ll leave you shivering.

#1 — Cotton
A holdover from the good ol’ days of Fall, this works best under other heavier layers, if at all. You might want to gently set aside your cotton sweater, and together with it your irrepressible nostalgia for warmer climes. It ain’t coming back.
Layer-bility: 7/10 (but it’s like eating a burger at McDonalds — it’s easy to, but why would you when there’s better out there?)
Looks: 3/10 (No one’s going to see it underneath everything else you’re wearing.)
Warmth: 1/10

#2 — Merino wool
My personal favorite, although not the warmest. The Merino breed produces some of the finest and softest wool of any sheep. Because of its fineness, merino sweaters can be worn next to the skin, although it makes a good layering piece on top of a button-down. Merino sweaters strike a good balance between warmth, comfort and price.
Layer-bility: 7/10
Looks: 4/10 (Those monochromes can look boring after a while.)
Warmth: 6/10

#3 — Cable-knit wool
Thick, chunky cable-knit sweaters can keep you warm, but look at the label and make sure it’s actually made out of wool and not a synthetic blend — those can look toasty but are as useful against the cold as a re-purposed garbage bag. Not so good for layering — the only piece of clothing that looks good over this is your overcoat. Shawl cable-knits are especially popular these days, and have the obvious benefit of protecting your neck too.
Layer-bility: 2/10 (That cable-knit texture deserves to be seen in its entirety)
Look: 8/10
Warmth: 6/10

#4 — Cashmere
Obtained from the fine hairs of the cashmere goat, cashmere sweaters are the Cadillac of the sweater world (and almost as hard to upkeep — it’s a remarkably easy fabric to damage). Warm, painfully expensive, and ridiculously comfortable. And I mean comfortable. I’ve basically spent the last two years waiting for someone to start selling pillow covers and bed sheets made out of cashmere. (Hint: for cheaper cashmere options, try Uniqlo.)
Layer-bility: 5/10 (A bit thicker than merino and the wool bunches sometimes, but still looks good as a layer.)
Look: 4/10 (Like merino sweaters, cashmere sweaters come mostly in monochromes)
Warmth: 8/10

So that’s it — the next time you buy layering pieces, be sure to check the label to find out how much warmth you’re getting for that price. Some item of clothing have mixed fabrics — wool and cotton is common, as is cashmere and cotton — so look out for that too. And synthetic fabrics seldom afford you the same amount of warmth than natural ones, so I recommend you stick to the latter. Happy layering!

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