Uros Petrovic/iStock/Getty Images

Your favorite new boots are warm and cuddly. But for the price you paid, they couldn't possibly be real suede and fur, could they? The label says they are faux shearling, which in some ways means it's better than the real thing.

Shearling—the Real Deal

Close-up of Sheep
Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

British in origin, a shearling is a yearling sheep that has only been shorn once. Shearling can also mean the skin from the yearling sheep or lamb that has been tanned with the soft wool still upon it. This tanned skin/wool combination is popular for boots and winter outerwear.

Faux Furs

White faux fur
Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images

However faux furs, also called synthetic or imitation, are also becoming popular even with the most stylish fashionistas. Whether it is a moral or ethical repulsion to wearing animal skins or the fact that faux furs usually come with a smaller price tag than the real thing, a growing segment of the population is turning to faux furs, says fashion expert and author, Ben Kingery, in his article on, "The Meaning of Faux."

Faux Shearling

Orange ugg boot
MaleWitch/iStock/Getty Images

Thus, faux shearling is a synthetic version of the tanned sheepskin, and is still mostly used for winter outerwear, boots and shoes. Good-quality faux shearling retains much of the softness and warmth of real fur. One major advantage of faux over its natural counterpart is that as a man-made product, faux shearling can be made thicker, warmer and softer or designed specifically to fulfill the needs of the clothing designer.

What Is Faux Shearling?

Two Chairs
Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Faux shearling fur is made from soft synthetic material that looks and feels like real sheepskin, but without the steep price tag and need for costly upkeep, i.e. dry cleaning. Most faux shearling is 100 percent acrylic, which means it has the added convenience of being hand- or machine-washable.

Where to Find It

Open sign hanging on store door
Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

You can purchase faux shearling by the yard at your local crafts or cloth retailer. Typically measuring 58 to 60 inches in width, the fabric is an excellent size for crafts and accessories. In addition, you can pick it up in a variety of colors that aren't necessarily found in nature. Faux shearling, both colored and naturally hued, has been used by such clothing retailers as Calvin Klein, Land's End, Victoria's Secret, Columbia Sportswear, Ralph Lauren, Liz Claiborne, and many others, including real leather and suede retailer Wilson's Leather. Throw blankets and pillows are also often made with the fabric and are available seasonally at stores such as Sears and Wal-Mart.