What is moleskin?

No moles are harmed in the making of this fabric

No moles are harmed in the making of this fabric
Image: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.5

If you’re an animal lover, you’ll be happy to know that no moles are harmed in the making of your moleskin pants or jacket. But if it’s not made from animal hide, where does moleskin come from?

How is moleskin made?

Moleskin is simple, heavy cotton cloth, but the genius of its silky smooth texture lies in the way the surface, or nap of the fabric, is cut to a uniform height during its manufacture. The process is called shearing, and it’s this that makes your pants feel soft as a mole, hence the name moleskin.

A glorious fabric, moleskin is also hard-wearing, and as you shall see, offers the modern gentleman a combination of stylishness and comfort that’s hard to beat.

The history of moleskin

Moleskin pants were quickly adopted by the wealthy land-owning classes

Moleskin pants were quickly adopted by the wealthy land-owning classes
Image: Samuel Windsor

Britain in the reign of Queen Victoria was the workshop of the world, and it was here in the mid 1800s, that the story of moleskin begins. At that time – the height of the British industrial revolution – the mills of the northern county of Lancashire produced half the world’s cotton.

By the turn of the 20th century the British produced a colossal 8 billion yards of cloth each year, including the rugged corduroy and moleskin fabrics that were used to make clothes for farmers, laborers, and the outdoor working classes.

Tough moleskin pants, vests, and jackets protected the Brits from the worst their damp, bitterly cold winters could throw at them, earning a reputation for warmth and comfort that soon attracted the attention of the land-owning classes.

Moleskin pants, vests and jackets were the perfect attire for British aristocrats and soon became a firm favorite during the hunting, shooting, and fishing seasons. What was once the preserve of the British working classes quickly became associated with the most wealthy.

How do you wear moleskin?

Chocolate moleskin pants and a corduroy jacket are effortlessly stylish

Chocolate moleskin pants and a corduroy jacket are effortlessly stylish
Image: Samuel Windsor

While it’s fantastic to have moleskin pants, vests, and jackets in your wardrobe, you wouldn’t want to wear them together. If you’re wearing moleskin, there’s just one simple rule to apply, and that’s to wear one item at a time.

A dapper moleskin jacket with a pair of jeans or chinos instantly raises you to the next level. Similarly, a pair of moleskin pants is the perfect accompaniment for a tattersall shirt and a country sweater.

In fact, moleskin pants are incredibly versatile, working just as well with chunky knits for casual days out, or with a collared shirt and tweed jacket for smarter events.

Remember, because moleskin is a comparatively heavy fabric, it looks great when you pair it with other tactile fabrics of a similar weight – like corduroy or tweed. Perfect for Fall and Winter outfits, a pair of sturdy country boots completes the look.

Why should you wear moleskin?

Aubergine moleskin pants are a great option in the Fall.

Eggplant-colored moleskin pants are a great option in the Fall.
Image: Samuel Windsor

Perfect for warmth when the temperature drops, moleskin pants are made from breathable cotton making them a surprisingly good choice for warmer months too.

Exquisitely soft and comfortable, when you want to make a good impression in a casual setting, your moleskins are smarter than jeans but give your ensemble a relaxed, approachable feel.

Available in a variety of colors, you can buy a pair of moleskin pants for every day of the week. But beware, once you’ve tried them, we think you’ll find it hard to wear anything else!

Do you wear moleskin pants as an alternative to jeans or khakis? Leave us a comment below or visit our Facebook page.

Posted in Men's Style Guides.

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