Ever since testing and confirming the durability of the Klattermusen Eir t-shirt which is made of a mix of Merino wool and silk, I have been keen on trying more apparel made of this natural blend. It was thus hard to contain my excitement when the legendary German brand Falke agreed to let me test a t-shirt and underwear from their Silk-Wool line. The women’s collection also includes a sleeveless top and a long-sleeved shirt, while the men’s line includes boxers as well as a short-sleeved and a long-sleeved shirt. I have tested the Falke Silk-Wool underwear on hikes and walks in the Dolomites as well as for everyday life, and here is what I found out:
The Falke Silk-Wool underwear is suitable for:
- Everyday use
The Falke Silk-Wool panties are made of the same ratio of Merino wool and silk as the Klattermusen Eir, i.e. 70% Merino and 30% silk but the feel of the fabrics is quite different, nevertheless. The Falke Silk-Wool fabric is softer, lighter and more porous. The porosity also makes it more breathable and thus comfortable for warmer temperatures. Indeed, the Silk-Wool line is made for warm to cold outdoor temperatures as both materials (silk and Merino wool) are excellent for regulating your body’s temperature depending on the conditions – the blend cools when it’s warm and warms when it’s cold.
For cold to very cold weather conditions Falke instead recommends its Wool-Tech line which also features Merino wool. While testing the Silk-Wool underwear I did indeed experience that it kept me comfortably warm (but not hot) and dry through various temperatures and activity levels. I would also not hesitate to wear it in summer – except, perhaps, if the thermometer shows well over 30C⁰ and I’m planning some vigorous exercise (which is an unlikely combination for me ;-). For hiking in the Dolomites, the Silk-Wool underwear was perfect. My only problem with the material – and indeed the entire product – is that it has started piling after not that many times of use and washing (following the instructions).
People have different attitudes to piling on apparel, but I’m one of those who hates the sight of it, even if it is on something out of public view like underwear. To be clear, piling is the tendency of fibers to come loose from a fabric surface and form balled particles of fiber (see image to the right). Piling is more common in synthetic materials than natural fibers such as silk and wool, but on the other hand appears more frequently in blends where one fiber type is stronger than the other. The weaker fiber type will thus loosen and become a pill, held by the stronger fiber to the fabric. All apparel will pill eventually due to wear and tear, but I’m disappointed that the Silk-Wool underwear has begun so early. Luckily I have an electric pill shaver (yes, they exist!) which can shave away the pills without damaging the fabric by making actual holes in it etc.
Comfort, fit, sizing and functionality
Falke offers sizes XS-XL, which cover hip circumferences from approximately 90 cm to 110 cm (35’’ – 43’’). As I was six months pregnant at the time of receiving the panties, I made the clever choice of asking for a size L – which also fit me now being 8 months pregnant. Falke describes the fit as “comfort fit” and I couldn’t agree more. They fit snugly, but not too tight and have accommodated my pregnancy weight gain without ever feeling uncomfortable. This is of course also due to the relatively low cut of the panties, e.g. that they sit quite low on the hips – had they been cut higher, my ever protruding belly would have felt more and more restricted.
That’s also why you should choose your size according to the circumference of your hips rather than your waist, whether your hips are wider (like me, non-pregnant) or narrower than your waist. Style-wise I’d describe the Falke underwear as something in between hipsters and a classical brief/slip. At the sideseams, the ‘height’ of the fabric is 14 cm (5.5’’) and there is good, if not full cheek coverage, which I’m personally in big favor of. The underwear is kept firmly in place by the elastic waistband which is woven loosely to create a decorative but functional mesh band that reduces the drying time of the underwear.
Washing and drying
The Falke Silk-Wool underwear should be washed at the wool setting (extra gentle cycle, cold/30C⁰) of your machine or by hand, preferably with an appropriate wool detergent, and air-dry naturally. Before using them for the first time, I washed the panties by hand without wringing them very much for excess water, and I noticed that they dried pretty fast due to the thin fabric and the mesh waistband. Tumble-drying the panties will, on the other hand, decrease the life-span significantly (as with most apparel), and using bleach or softeners will affect the natural antimicrobial properties of the fabric.
While I love the luxurious soft feel and fit of the Falke Silk-Wool underwear, I’m less happy with the early piling of the fabric. I could perhaps mitigate it by washing them by hand, but exactly with underwear I feel that they should go in the washing machine unless I’m literally on a multi-day hiking trip, away from civilization. Instead, I will rather use my pill shaver on the panties from time to time to keep the piling down and the surface smooth. The Silk-Wool underwear feels too good to use, that one should be held back by piling!
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.