Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
Pretty good -- some positives, some negatives
on November 2, 2014
Update as of November 2015:
It seems that Ibex has recently redesigned their Woolies Bottoms for Women (in all the different wool weights they offer).
For example, the 150 wool weight Bottoms are now named "Woolies 1 Base Layer Bottom". Here is the current Amazon listing for the new design of those: http://www.amazon.com/Ibex-Outdoor-Clothing-Womens-Woolies/dp/B00YSGTVL6
From the photos I've seen of the new design, and the written description on the Ibex website, the waistband is now over 2 inches wide and the pants appear to fit lower on the waist than the original "Woolies Bottoms", at least as compared to the Woolies 150 Bottoms that I praise in the review below (and which I have several pairs of now!) for their high waist.
I have a feeling that I would not like the new waist design and waist height, so I've returned to Amazon tonight to buy up a couple more pairs of the old style!
I expect that the company has mainly already depleted their stocks of the old style, since the manufacturer does not even offer the old style on their website anymore.
If you are purchasing these in the next month or two (late 2015), be on the lookout for the two different designs of the Woollies Bottoms (in the same wool weights of 150 gsm, 220 gsm, etc.), and make sure you buy the leggings style that you think you'd prefer.
Also, it appears that they have redesigned and renamed the various Woolies Tops, also.
Recently I tried out the Ibex Woolies Bottoms and Crew Tops, in both the 150 gsm (grams-per-square-meter) and 220 gsm merino wool knits, in several sizes. This was my experience --
Before last month, I had not heard of the Ibex brand of merino wool long underwear and clothing. I found out about Ibex Woolies when I was searching on Amazon for merino wool items similar to those of Icebreaker.
I have been a long-time customer of Icebreaker's wool clothing. [My extensive review of Icebreaker items can be found on Amazon listings such as that for "Icebreaker Women's Sprite Leggings" at http://www.amazon.com/Icebreaker-Womens-Sprite-Leggings-Black/dp/B00AFTRUS6.] Unfortunately, in recent years, Icebreaker's evolving leggings pattern has become much too low-rise in the waist area for me. I have some Icebreaker leggings from 6 and 8 years ago which come up to my natural waist (bellybutton area) and feel warm, sturdy, and comfortable, but unfortunately all the pairs of Icebreaker leggings that I have purchased in the last few years I've had to return for a refund because of the poor fit.
Those old leggings are at the end of their lives now, so I will need some new leggings this winter. Last month I began looking beyond Icebreaker to other brands of merino wool long underwear.
A. Woolies Bottoms, 150 gsm:
When I learned that Ibex's women's leggings (Woolies Bottoms) are made of 100% merino wool and are reported to come up the natural waist, I ordered some with high hopes.
Based on the size chart, I ordered one small and one medium in the lower-priced 150 gsm Woolies Bottoms. I expected that the medium-sized Woolies Bottoms might fit me better than the small-sized, but with Amazon's free returns on clothing and shoes, I usually try out a couple of sizes to get the best fit.
[For comparison's sake -- generally I am a women's size 4 or 6 in US sizing, a women's size 8 or 10 in UK sizing, and a small when it comes to small/medium/large sizing. I am about 5' 4" tall.]
The mediums were too big from the start, and I decided to return them.
When I first put the smalls on, they fit well and comfortably, neither tight nor loose. They were one or two inches too long for me in the legs, so there was about an extra inch and a half of fabric bunching at my ankles, but it was not so much that it would be a problem. However, after wearing them for a couple of hours, the smalls got bigger and bigger, becoming loose everywhere, especially in the thighs. I could grab a handful of excess material on the side of my thigh. It was clear that I'd have to return the smalls, too.
Because I loved the relatively-high waistline and the 100% merino fabric of the Ibex Woolies, I decided to exchange the smalls for some extra-smalls. The extra-smalls fit me perfectly -- they came right to the bottom of the ankle without any bunched-up fabric, they fit my thighs, they fit my waist (at the moment my waist is perhaps 28 inches, which in a lot of brands would require a medium size, certainly not an extra-small!). They fit sleekly without being too tight, and this is the fit I want for wool leggings, so I can wear them under jeans or hiking pants, or to sleep in during cold weather.
Oddly enough, unlike the smalls, the extra-smalls do *not* stretch out after I wear them for a couple of hours (or even all day).
150 gsm wool material is on the thin side. The particular knit of the Woolies is fluffier and stretchier than my 150 gsm Icebreakers. It also seems more delicate than the material of my Icebreakers, and I've read several reviews here and elsewhere that said some customers had noticed runs or holes developing in their Woolies pretty quickly, so I have decided to wash my Woolies in a mesh laundry bag, to be safe. (I have never felt the need to do that with my Icebreaker items.)
B. Woolies Crew Top, 150 gsm:
I also ordered a Woolies 150 gsm Crew Top in size small and medium. The medium was too big and I decided to return it. The small top appeared to fit okay, but it arrived from Amazon with a noticeable puckered spot on one shoulder which I could not smooth down, so I returned it too.
I wanted to exchange the defective small for another small, but that particular size was out of stock on Amazon at that time. However, the Woolies Bottoms and Crew Top in the thicker 220 grams-per-square-meter weight were in stock, so I ordered those to give them a try.
C. Woolies Crew Top, 220 gsm:
The 220 gsm Crew Top in size small fit me okay at the beginning, but over a couple of hours it stretched out (even in the arms) and the loose folds of fabric, especially on my stomach area, began to bother me, so I returned it. At that time, Amazon didn't have the extra-small 220 gsm Crew Top in stock, so I couldn't do an exchange to see if an extra-small would fit me better than a small, as with the Woolies Bottoms.
D. Woolies Bottoms, 220 gsm:
Unexpectedly, the 220 gsm Woolies Bottoms in size extra-small fit me differently than the 150 gsm ones. The 220 gsm were less stretchy, felt smaller all over, and came quite a bit lower on the waist than the 150 gsm ones. When ordering them, I had anticipated that they would fit me with no problem since the extra-small 150 gsm ones did, so I had ordered 2 pairs of the extra-small 220 gsm Woolies Bottoms... but when I received them, I was surprised to discover that one of the 220 gsm pairs was about 1.5 inches lower on my waist than the other pair, while both were well below my belly-button, which is what I'm trying to avoid in leggings. I returned both pairs. It is likely that the small size 220 gsm Bottoms would fit me better (come up higher on the waist) than the extra-small 220 gsm Bottoms, but I was concerned that they might stretch quite a bit like the smalls of the 150 gsm items, so I didn't do an exchange (and it is possible that they also were not in stock from Amazon at that time).
Since I was happy with the extra-small 150 gsm Bottoms, I decided to order a second pair of those. Fortunately, the second pair fits me as well as the first pair does.
Partially made in North America.
It's great that Ibex sources its marino wool from New Zealand and constructs its clothing in the US and Canada.
Waistband is near bellybutton.
I hope they continue to make leggings that come up to a woman's natural waist, like their 150 gsm Bottoms do on me (their 220 gsm Bottoms do not come up to my waist).
Proportions seem good, flattering fit.
The proportions of the extra-small leggings fit my body exactly. They look nice on.
Knit is stretchy.
The Woolies merino wool knit seems to be stretchier than the several Icebreaker knit types that I own garments made out of. My Icebreaker tops and bottoms do not loosen up much over time, while the "small" Woolies items did after just a couple of hours of light wear (and I was pretty much being stationary, working on my computer).
Knit is delicate, less resilient.
After about 5 washings, the two pairs of leggings that I kept seem to be fuzzing up a little on the inner thigh, almost as if they are about to develop some little friction-balls on the surface (I hope not!)
I put these in mesh wash bags to protect them in the laundry.
I am worried that these leggings might not hold up as long as my ancient Icebreaker leggings did. The Woolies Bottoms look to me as if they might have 2 years of wear in them, instead of 6 or 8 years.
The sizing was not as I expected (all sizes being larger than expected), and the waist area of the leggings was not uniform across the 150 and 220 gsm wool weights of the extra-small and small leggings.
The extra-smalls that I ended up keeping would surely be baggy on a *genuinely* extra-small-sized woman, although I guess people could wash them in warm water and dry them in the dryer to try to shrink them down if they are too big.
At seventy dollars for the 150 gsm Bottoms and eighty for the 220 gsm Bottoms (and that's with a great Amazon discount!), I think these are overpriced. As nice as they are, if these leggings were not the only option for me to have a high/natural waist in a merino wool legging, I wouldn't pay more than forty-five for them.
150 gsm Crew Top: 3 out of 5
220 gsm Crew Top: 3 out of 5
150 gsm Bottoms: 4 out of 5 (I'm giving them an extra point because both pairs of the extra-smalls that I tried on - and kept - have the rare higher-waisted style that I am looking for)
220 gsm Bottoms: 2 out of 5 (I'm taking away a point because both pairs of extra-smalls that I tried on were lower-waisted than I am looking for, and the waistband of one was quite a bit lower than the waistband of the other, even though they were supposed to be the same size.)