How to Identify Types of Fur Coats

Know the type of fur to take the best care of your coat.

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Whether fox, mink or faux, fur can add a totally hot touch to any outfit, while keeping you toasty. If you've found an unidentified fur, investigate with your hands -- a pleasure, with a nice, soft fur -- to find out what kind it is. Knowing the kind of fur you have can help you determine how to take care of it and whether -- depending on how you feel about the whole fur thing -- you want to wear it at all.


Look at the material that supports the fur. If it's a real fur, it'll be leather. Test for leather by taking a pin and pressing it gently into the material of the coat. If it's leather, it shouldn't go through easily. A synthetic fabric will yield for the pin. You'll know in less than a minute whether your fur is faux.


Check the label. Sure, some vintage coats may have lost the label over time, but it's worth a shot. A label should have the type of fur written right on it.


Rub the fur with your hands to feel how soft it is. Chinchilla, a fairly rare fur, is the softest fur you can get. It should feel absolutely unbelievable under your fingers. Fox fur is stiffer on top, but has a very soft underfur. Ermine has a silky feel on your hands and a very dense layer of underfur. Sable, on the other hand, is silky but extremely light. Opposum and lamb furs are short and woolly.


Check the color -- this is probably the best identifier for fur. They say you can tell a leopard by its spots; the same is true for lynx fur. It has a white undertone with darker doppled patterns on top. Fox furs, on the other hand, can come in a variety of colors, from red to blue to white or silver. Marten has a blue-brown or dark-brown hue. Mink and squirrel are usually dyed one of many colors.


Grab a book with pictures of animals. Fur comes from animals, obviously -- and you can get a clue to the mystery of your fur by looking at real photographs of the animals. Look at the length and color of the fur. Sure, a lot of furs are dyed before they're sold, but plenty are put on the market naturally.


Look at pictures of fur coats with similar colors and lengths. If you can find something that looks exact, you'll have a more educated guess about the kind of fur you're rocking.


Visit a furrier. If you're not well-versed in fur, the best thing you can do is take your coat to someone who is. Best case scenario, he's super cute and can help you know the best way to care for your coat.

Tips & Tricks


Common types of fur include beaver, chinchilla, coyote, ermine, fox, lamb, lynx, marten, mink, muskrat, otter, raccoon, sable, squirrel, tanuki and weasel.


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