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What is a Mink Stole?

By Greer Hed
Updated May 21, 2024
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A mink stole is an item of women's clothing that is similar to a shawl or evening wrap. It is usually smaller and narrower than a shawl, but wider than a scarf. Mink stoles are often long and rectangular in shape, although some stoles may be triangular instead. Typically, it is made from the fur of the American mink and is often lined with silk or other fabric. A stole is worn wrapped around the shoulders, usually over a gown or other formal wear.

The fur used in mink stoles is that of the American mink — a small, carnivorous mammal found primarily in North America. It is a relative of the European mink, whose fur is also used to make garments. American mink are also related to otters, weasels, and wolverines. As a result of their fur's natural shine and softness, mink are often raised on fur farms so that their pelts may be harvested for clothing.

Domestic mink raised on farms are usually larger than their wild counterparts, thus yielding more fur. They may be bred to be white, black, or any color in between, whereas most wild mink are dark brown in color. The United States is one of the top producers of mink pelts, behind Denmark, China, and the Netherlands. Farming mink for their fur is a subject of controversy and debate.

To make a mink stole, the pelts of mink are first processed with chemicals and oils. This processing cleans the pelts and makes them softer and more flexible. The processed skins are then matched according to color and quality. Usually the heads, paws, and tails will be trimmed off, although some types of stoles leave these parts of the body intact.

The pelts are then sewn together, stretched, and shaped to the desired dimensions during a process called blocking. After blocking, the fur is sewn into a garment and cleaned once again. As a final step, a mink stole will usually be lined with fabric so that the leathery underside of the fur does not directly touch the wearer's skin.

A mink stole is most often worn at formal occasions over a dress or gown, providing warmth while keeping the arms free. Due to the high cost and quality of mink fur, many consider mink stoles to be a symbol of wealth or status. Mink stoles are also sometimes associated with a vintage or retro look.

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Discussion Comments
By anon289133 — On Sep 02, 2012

I am a guy and I am considering buying a mink stole to wear and I could not care less what anyone else thinks, I think they are gorgeous and I know they are very warm. I don't care that an animal had to die. So what! I eat meat, animals die for that too. I wear leather shoes and carry a leather wallet and bag at times, and animals died for those too.

I am so sick of all this political correctness, I could just puke.

By Sierra02 — On Aug 04, 2011

@aviva - I agree with you that there's no need to kill anything for their fur when faux fur looks so much like the real thing anyway.

I admit that I used to wear a mink trimmed coat back in the seventies when it was the cool thing to do. But shortly after the media aired that coverage on the clubbing of baby seals and seeing Brigitte Bardot hugging the little guy, I knew I would never wear that coat again.

By aviva — On Aug 04, 2011

I can't imagine why anyone would own a mink stole let alone prance around town in one. What makes people think they look better in that fur than the poor innocent little animal that had to die for it?

I read an article somewhere once where the author stated that real fur is cheaper and accessible nowadays because of the internet and that it's available to everyone, not just the rich and famous.

I was appalled by her words! There is cheap, warm synthetic materials available today in a variety of fabrics, styles and colors including imitation fur. There's no need to kill an animal just to make a fashion statement.

By babylove — On Aug 03, 2011

I can remember when I was wrong seeing my mother all dressed up in her black evening gown with a gorgeous black mink stole wrapped around her shoulders. I was never allowed to play with her stole but I know that I really wanted to.

I don't know whatever happened to her mink stole. I suppose she sold it or gave it away to some charity after all the controversy over wearing fur rose up. She lives in a warm climate now though so she really doesn't have a need for it anyway.

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