My first experience with double-face wool was in the late 90s when I was still a fashion designer. For most of my design career, I worked in what was known as the bridge market of the industry. Starting in the early 80’s, bridge fashion was a price point that was considered right below luxury and above the better price point. As mentioned in this WWD article, “the designer customer is an S500 and the bridge customer is a C-Class, but they’re both a Mercedes.” These days, the term is all but a memory, but back then, it was a pretty cool sweet spot that gave me the opportunity to work with some pretty amazing fabrics, mainly out of Biella Italy.
In addition to being able to vividly recall using a 100% cashmere fabric that wholesaled for around $70 per yard (am I’m talking late 90s $70 a yard) to make a blazer, I also learned about fabric called double-face that became incredibly popular around that time and continues to be to this day. What makes double-face wool so interesting is it’s a fabric with one layer but two right sides. It’s created by weaving together two layers of fabric with a special loom. The wrong sides of the two pieces of fabric are loosely woven together facing each other and as a result, you don’t need to line the fabric and it can be reversible. When finishing the edges and seams, the two layers are split apart and stitched folded in on themselves. This video shows a home sewer splitting double-face wool and finishing the edges by hand. It’s a painstaking process.
While hand-finished double-face garments continue, thankfully, there are machines that split and finish the edges of the fabric which cuts down on insane labor costs.
This is a machine that splits the double-face fabric.
And this is a machine that will blind stitch the fabric together.
My design director and I became obsessed with trying to get a double-faced wool coat on the line one season yet were faced with the reality that we didn’t have access to the machines that could split and finish the seams and edges. Determined, we set out to have a 100% cashmere double-face fabric sampled in a coat that would be finished by hand instead of by machine and, unfortunately, when we priced it out, it wound up being cost prohibitive, despite being reversible, and eventually got dropped from the line. I, however, got to keep the sample and owned it for over a decade until it wound up giving out.
DOUBLE-FACE WOOL COATS: LIGHTWEIGHT LUXURY FOR TRANSITIONAL MONTHS
What made my double-face cashmere coat so great, aside from the beauty of it, was its weight. Autumn weather in the northeast is incredibly changeable and unless we get a freak cold snap, it’s not really until the end of November, and that’s not always the case. A few years ago, we had some lingering leaves on the trees in December. My unlined, double-face coat was always perfect when I needed a warm-ish lightweight layer that wasn’t too bulky.
I also find double-face coats to be the perfect coat weight for clients who live in warmer climates. They’re the ones who get the most use from double-face coats because they can practically become their year-round coat styles. If you live in a temperate climate or are looking for a good transitional style, a double-face wool coat is definitely a piece to consider. I have put some looks together below using a few styles.
I styled this stunning colored wool-cashmere double-face coat from Theory with these grey flannel pull-on pants, also from Theory, an ivory and black piped blouse from Reiss, black stud earrings from Kate Spade, charcoal booties from Aquatalia, and plaid scarf from Banana Republic.
This stunning cashmere coat from Neiman Marcus is a definite budget buster but it is stunning and perfect for transitional weather. I styled this coat with a black alpaca wool sweater from Anine Bing, slim black pants from MM. Lafleur, and deep cognac boots from Duo. The look is finished with twisted hoop earrings from Mango.
This black double-faced wool coat from Cos is a much more affordable option. I styled it with a fun leopard sweater from Rails, faux leather pants from Veronica Beard, black booties from Margaux, and these gold pyramid earrings and featherweight cashmere cognac scarf from Quince.
This soft, light blue double-face coat from The White Company is a stunning departure from the deep, rich coats you often see for winter. I styled it with a pair of ivory velvet pants from J.Crew, a navy silk eyelet blouse from Kobi Halperin, navy pumps, blue Swarovski drop earrings, and an ivory cashmere scarf from Uniqlo.
This last style from La Ligne is a classic style to get you through the transitional season or all winter if you live in a temperate climate. I styled it with a striped sweater from J.Crew, burgundy Veronica Beard pants, navy loafers from The fold, and large hoop earrings from Nordstrom.
SHOP FOR DOUBLE-FACE WOOL COATS
Still searching for double-face wool coats? Check out these additional styles.