Wool vs Cashmere: 8 Differences Between Wool and Cashmere

It's all in the source. Fine fabrics usually come from unique sources especially if they are made from natural materials. For example, real silk is taken from the silkworm while wool can come from a variety of animals. Each hair on those animals produces different texture and fineness of wool materials.

Most regular wool products come from sheep, llamas, and similar animals. The outer hair is taken off and made into the many different wool items you enjoy and wear. Cashmere is taken from the fine under hair of the actual cashmere goat.

To learn more differences between these two fabrics, just continue to read our article. While wool and cashmere are technically the same, there are differences between the two that make one a better product than the other.

The Difference Between Wool And Cashmere

If you are like the majority of non-fashion people in the world today, you would not know any differences between the two fabrics. Even though they are both technically under the wool category, they are similar but not the same.

Here is a quick comparison chart to show you the differences between these two fashion fabrics:

Wool Cashmere
1. Comes from the outer hair of sheep Comes from fine underneath hair from cashmere goats
2. Can be very warm 8 times warmer than regular wool
3. May be lightweight Lighter in weight than regular wool
4. 100% wool labels means it comes from sheep Has to say cashmere to be cashmere wool
5. Fibers are coarser than cashmere Fibers are very fine
6. May not pill that much Will pill more than regular wool
7. This is more durable than cashmere Its fine fibers do not make it very durable
8. Expensive but not as expensive as cashmere Very expensive and hard on the clothing budget

While both fabrics are very good materials to wear, you can call cashmere the Cadillac of wools as it is a cut above many of the many different kinds of wool fabrics available today.

Comparison Between Wool And Cashmere


If you are going to make a comparison between these two fabrics, you need to start with their similarities. Both materials are warm, soft, and come in a variety of styles that keep you fashionable every time you wear them.

That is about where the similarities end as the materials are taken from different animals. 100% wool is taken from sheep and unless it does not specify a particular brand of wool, then all you are paying for is this very common wool fabric.

That means if the price is too high, you are not getting anything unique in terms of wool material. The material has to say cashmere, merino, angora, alpaca, llama, and so on if you are going to get a higher quality of wool products.

The good news about cashmere is that it is many times warmer than regular sheep’s wool. If you live in a cold climate, cashmere may be the way to go.

Is Wool or Cashmere Warmer?

It is said that cashmere is about 8 times warmer than regular sheep’s wool as well as merino wool. That is one reason this style of wool fabric costs so much. It provides you with a lot of protection from the cold weather.

The only drawback is that you run the risk of overheating when wearing cashmere over sheep’s wool or merino wool. The hair from the angora rabbit is hollow but is supposed to keep you nice and warm when you wear it. The hollow nature of angora fibers makes it very fragile.

Other wool styles that are supposed to be nice and warm like cashmere are alpaca, yak, and qivuit. Alpaca wool is also 8 times warmer than regular wool while qivuit wool is about 30% finer than cashmere.

If you want real warmth you are going to have to pay for it as these wools are not cheap.

Merino Wool vs Cashmere Warmth


Merino wool comes from the merino sheep making it about the same quality as regular sheep’s wool or just a notch or two higher. But that is not enough of a difference to have it compete with cashmere when being warm is a priority.

Like regular sheep’s wool, cashmere is still about 8 times warmer than merino wool. It is just the nature of the source that makes all the difference. While the coarser fibers of merino wool do not match up against cashmere’s fine hairs, it should not pill as much as cashmere and be a little bit more durable.

The source animal of the wool makes all the difference and cashmere does have its competitors in warmth and cost. Merino wool just isn’t one of those competitors. While merino wool is a fine product, cashmere just tops it

How To Tell The Difference Between Wool And Cashmere

One of the main ways to tell the difference between the two styles of wool is by feel. Regular wool should feel rougher and scratchier than cashmere and may cause many people to itch when wearing it. Cashmere is a smoother fiber and does not create a lot of itchiness when worn.

Another way to tell the difference is in the level of softness. Regular wool is not normally as soft as cashmere. That doesn’t mean that all cashmere products are nice and soft. The quality of the material will play a role in how soft the material will be.

Regular wool may be more elastic or stretchy than cashmere. The shorter cashmere fibers cut the stretch down somewhat and make regular wool a better fit for those people who like to do different activities that require them to stretch out a lot.

Difference Between Merino Wool And Cashmere


One of the main differences is the same as the last one mentioned in the previous section. Merino wool should be stretchier than cashmere merely because that wool style uses longer fibers than cashmere clothing does.

This makes merino wool better for activewear and makes it more durable than cashmere. But you can’t beat the softness of cashmere. Even coming from the Merino sheep, this style of wool may be soft but it is not on the same high level as cashmere.

No comparison would be complete without a price comparison. Merino wool is cheaper than cashmere. The price difference is because there are more merino sheep around than cashmere goats.

Both materials are very breathable and moisture-wicking but cashmere has that luxurious feel and look that Merino wool lacks. If you want to appear sophisticated and classy, you go with the cashmere clothing and leave the Merino clothing for another occasion.

Also, cashmere is much warmer than merino wool and better for those regions of the world that have extremely cold temperatures.

Wool vs Cashmere Sweater

In terms of cost, you want to go with the regular wool if you are on a budget. Cashmere is not as common as regular wool thus it is going to cost you a lot of money just to have one sweater.

You may be able to buy 2 or 3 regular wool sweaters for the price of one cashmere. Unless the quality of the latter sweater is so low that it can’t justify a high price. But, if you can afford the cashmere you should experience luxury like you never felt before.

Also, you should not feel itchy or have a rough texture next to your skin. Cashmere is very smooth and comes with a great look. You will turn heads when wearing this type of sweater over a regular wool one.

The only drawback that cashmere really has is that it is not as durable as regular wool sweaters. If you want the sweater to last, buy regular wool ones. To have cashmere last you may have to keep it in the closet or drawer more often than you wear it.

Wool vs Cashmere Gloves


If we look at the production side of things, it takes 2 goats to make 1 cashmere sweater. That means one goat should be able to make several cashmere gloves. But it takes only 1 Merino sheep to make 4 or 5 wool sweaters.

That one sheep can make many times more wool gloves than a cashmere goat. The difference is reflected in the cost of the gloves. As will the warmth factor. Cashmere is just warmer than regular wool so the gloves made with that fabric will be a lot warmer than regular warm gloves.

For durability, you will want to go with the regular wool gloves as those fibers handle rougher treatment than their cashmere counterpart. The latter set of gloves would be for more formal attire and events or special occasions where warmth and looks are more of a priority than durability and strength.

Which one you choose here will be up to your budget and preference. Cashmere gloves should be softer and smoother while regular wool ones should be rougher and itchier. Depending on the quality of the material of course.

Wool vs Cashmere Socks

A lot of the same comparisons made in the previous two sections will apply to this comparison. If you want to stay alert and awake, then wear the regular wool socks. The itch factor will not let you sleep any time soon unless you are immune to that scratchy feel.

Then if you like being in the mountains a lot, cashmere socks should be the preferred items to wear. They will have that 8 times warmer factor that keeps your feet nice and warm while you are out in the woods or hiking up a mountainside in the winter.

But when you go for the warmth you sacrifice durability and the cashmere socks may not last you more than a season or two whereas the wool ones will last you a lot longer. You could wear both and get the warmth you want without having to scratch your feet all day.

The cost will play a role in which you buy as well as your purpose for wearing wool socks. You certainly do not want to wear regular wool when the event calls for class and sophistication

Is Wool or Cashmere Better?


Durability wise regular wool is better than cashmere. It just lasts longer because it is made from longer fibers than cashmere is. Cost-wise, regular wool would be deemed by some as the better product as cashmere is just too expensive for a majority of the people.

But when it comes to softness, style, comfort, looks, and warmth, then cashmere is the better fabric. Regular wool just does not compete in those categories unless the quality of the cashmere is so low it can’t meet its own high standards.

Sometimes the quality of regular wool is very superior and can compete with cashmere but this is a rare situation. Price-wise, you are paying for what you get. Cashmere is listed as rare which is why the price goes up.

There are a lot more wool sheep around than cashmere goats so the price of wool is not going to be that high.

Some Final Words

Comparing two similar fabrics can be difficult to do. They have so many of the same qualities that it is hard to find any real differences. It is not like you are comparing polyester to wool here.

The best way to describe cashmere over wool is that it is simply a higher quality of the same material that comes from a limited number of animals. Wearing regular or merino wool is not going to set you back fashion-wise as those items come in a variety of designs, colors, and patterns.

They are just made different from cashmere.

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