You can’t believe everything you read. Unfortunately, this is now also true for clothing labels. With more and more Americans claiming they feel it is morally unacceptable to wear fur, stores are feeling the pressure to stop using it. Having the look of fur trim and lining, however, is still popular, even among those who don’t believe in the use of real fur. So, synthetic fur is the obvious alternative. This gives the look of real fur without the brutality and horror associated with using animal skin for clothing. And, it’s cheaper than real fur … or so we thought.

As it turns out, higher-end synthetic fur is actually more expensive for companies to use than some real fur. So … they lie. Unsuspecting customers purchase items from such retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Michael Kors, Jacadi, and Nordstrom Rack under the false belief that they contain “faux” fur. Wrong. NBC’s Today Show just ran a segment where reporter, Jeff Rossen, took five “faux fur” items to be examined in a laboratory. The fur on these items was anything but fake. Rabbit, coyote and raccoon dog fur was found in the items.

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But who is to blame for this terrible lie? The stores blame the brands, and the brands claim the fault is their supplier’s. Neiman Marcus isn’t a first time offender, however. They settled a very similar case last year.

If you must have that fur-look on your winter clothing this season, here are some tips from StyleCaster for avoiding the real thing.

1. Don’t go by softness alone. Softness doesn’t equal real fur, some fake fur is actually softer than the real thing.

2. If the tip of the fur’s hair tapers to a fine point (like a cat’s whisker), it’s animal fur, not faux.

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3. Want to do the ultimate test? Burn a few sample hairs. If it smells like human hair, its real animal fur, but if it smells like chemicals, its faux.

Image source: Sean Ganaan/Flickr