For the last few years my girlfriend and I have been spending a lot of time in Mongolia (what with her being from Ulaanbaatar and all), and in that time we’ve developed something of a love for cashmere. Around a third of the world’s cashmere is produced in Mongolia, and the prices are so low here that you can grab scarves, sweaters, gloves, leggings and everything else that can conceivably be made from cashmere for just a few dollars.
In recent weeks, as the deathly cold Mongolian winter draws in, my girlfriend has taken to wearing cashmere leggings under her trousers for a little additional warmth. When I say ‘a little’ warmth, I mean that she can walk across the city in -35 Celsius cold (for fans of Fahrenheit that’s ball freezingly chilly) wearing nothing but her leggings, trousers and a sweater. Meanwhile I’m kitted out in several layers of cold weather gear and I’m still shivering.
What I’m trying to say is that cashmere leggings are unbelievably good at insulation. As a rule of thumb, 1 ounce of cashmere will provide the same insulation as 25 ounces of wool. Yes, you read that right.
Today, then, in honor of this miracle material, we’re gonna talk a little about cashmere leggings: where to buy them, what to look for and how much to pay…
As far as cashmere is concerned I’d usually never recommend any product that wasn’t 100% cashmere. Blends are usually pretty poor alternatives to pure cashmere in a sweater or scarf. In the case of leggings, though, it makes perfect sense to buy a blended material. Pure cashmere is strong, but you’d be asking a lot of it to deal with the stresses you put your leggings through every day. Adding Nylon and acrylic means that your leggings will last much, much longer than they would if they we pure cashmere.
My girlfriend betrays her Mongolian heritage whenever we visit Beijing by buying these Anna Klein cashmere leggings. They’re made with Chinese cashmere which, while high quality, is a little cheaper than the Mongolian variety. She picks hers up at Yashow Market for about $10 a pair (God, I love the cost of living in Asia), but for those of you who don’t have access to East Asian textile markets you can pick up a pair for a very reasonable $38 at Amazon.
The Anne Klein leggings are a 10% cashmere blend, with the rest made up of Nylon, acrylic and Spandex for strength and flexibility. These cashmere leggings are warm enough for the coldest winter’s day, but they’re breathable enough not to overheat you when you get in out of the cold.
While we’re on the subject of Anne Klein I’d also like to recommend these cashmere boot socks. Last time we were down in China Otgo picked up a few pairs with her leggings, and I can’t recommend them more highly. From a woman’s point of view they’re comfortable, stylish and, at just $14 a pair, inexpensive. From a man’s point of view (not that it particularly matters when it comes to your choice of socks, of course), they’re more than a little sexy.
These cashmere boot socks are available in either black or steel heather (or gray, as most humans choose to call it). Otgo wears hers indoors when it’s a little too warm for cashmere leggings.
While I don’t consider myself an expert on leggings I have a few decades experience wearing socks (that makes me an expert, surely?) After a couple of months of wear there is absolutely no pilling of the fabric, and the boot socks look as good as they did on the first wear. Can’t say fairer than that.