Silk Underlayers

I’m an easily chilled person who hates feeling cold; I live in a place where winter lasts at least 4 months; I commute by bus, which means standing around outdoors for a while each day; I have a desk job, so I sit mostly still all day, and my office isn’t always as warm as I’d like; we conserve energy by keeping our home thermostat as low as we can stand it.  I have many strategies for staying warm, but the one I’m writing about for the “best gift tip” edition of Works-for-Me Wednesday is one that makes a great gift!

Lightweight silk clothing makes an excellent layer in between underwear and outer clothing.  For example, today I’m wearing a silk T-shirt under my sweater and silk leggings under my jeans.  I also have silk turtlenecks and a silk slip. Silk underlayers are

  • thin and flexible.  They “disappear” under other clothing, instead of wadding up.  You can wear them with outfits that seem not to have room for an extra layer.  In fact, they make tight clothes slide on more easily and feel less squeezy!
  • warm.  Just as warm as other fabrics 2-3 times as thick!  But silk won’t make you sweat like synthetic fabrics do.  It reaches skin temperature very quickly after you put it on.
  • comfortable.  Silk feels nice and doesn’t itch.  Only in a very warm setting will it make you too warm.  I won’t say static cling never happens, but it isn’t nearly as bad as with most other types of fabric.
  • surprisingly durable.  I usually don’t bother with hand-washing but put my silk things in a zippered mesh bag in the washing machine (cold water) and then line-dry.  They get a rougher texture after about 2 years of regular wear, but they don’t start to wear out for another 2 years after that.  (Silk with a texture involving thinner spots is less durable, though, in my experience.)
  • naturally antibacterial.  This means that at the end of the day, you can hang your silk things over a chair, and by morning they’ll be fresh enough to wear a second time or even more.  It’s only after you’ve gotten really sweaty in them, or spilled something on them, or worn them several times, that they need washing.
  • great for traveling.  I added this bullet point after my mom responded to this article, noting that “when handwashed and blotted with hotel towels, they dry overnight.”  That reminds me that silk underlayers also fold up very small for easy packing–and compact storage at home.
  • sexy!  Not only is silk a very sensuous fabric for the wearer, but it’s a pleasing texture to find under your partner’s clothes, it transmits the warmth of the skin excitingly, and when worn by itself it’s clingy and semi-transparent.

Silk underlayers for men and women are sold by L.L. Bean, Lands’ End, and various other catalogs, but the most affordable source I’ve found is Dharma Trading Company–here are their 5 women’s styles and men’s shirts and men’s leggings.  They’re a basic off-white color, but if that’s too boring for you they say they’re great for dyeing!


For a bonus gift, consider my free card game, which enables people to turn any horizontal surface into a charming suburban area where Martians can sell pizzas to humans!  Or give a practical gift of one of these 7 products I recommend (not paid endorsements!!).

For the story-lovers in your family, consider a CD of my mom, storyteller and singer Fran Stallings!  Her latest is Stories and Songs for a Green Earth, appropriate for both adults and children.  My almost-5-year-old son loves her Traveling Tales Volume 1 and Volume 2–the story “Shingebiss and the North Wind”, known for its mesmerizing effect on people of all ages, is on Volume 1.  Cat-lovers will enjoy Cat o’ Nine Tales.

4 thoughts on “Silk Underlayers

  1. Pingback: Favorite Fall Recipes « The Earthling's Handbook

  2. Pingback: Practical Stocking Stuffers « The Earthling's Handbook

  3. Pingback: Zippered Mesh Bags for Laundering | The Earthling's Handbook

  4. Pingback: A Person Who Deserves to Wear This Dress | The Earthling's Handbook

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