Neither is better than the other. However, there are some differences to be kept in mind in order to better understand when and where one works better than the other. Let’s see them all here below:
THE FIBERS USED
Worsted textiles are always made with long-staple wool fibers, while woolen textiles are generally made with short-staple fibers (even though the woolen processing can be – and in some cases is – made also with long-staple fibers). This first, important difference influences all the rest, as – obviously - raw materials are the starting point of textiles.
HANDFEEL AND LOOK
Due to the difference of fibers used and the different spinning processes, woolen yarns are bulky and uneven (with lots of short fibers and more pokey-out bits), while worsted yarns are fine and smooth. Therefore, worsted wool fabrics are finer and more even than woolens, which tend to be fluffier, thicker, and less even. This should not be considered as something that is set in stone, as depending on the spinning, weaving, and finishing, sometimes woolens’ handfeel and look can really resemble those of worsteds, or vice versa.
Thanks to the shorter fibers they’re made of and the spinning process they undergo, woolen textiles are extremely insulating and softer; while worsted textiles are less insulating, but they hold creases and shape better. Some say that worsteds are more durable than woolen, but even here, it is not something set in stone. This is because the general durability features, such as pilling and abrasion resistance and tear strength, strongly depend also on the twisting-rate of yarns, the weaving (tighter or looser) and the finishing applied to the fabric, which could alter the fabric.
Being heavier, thicker, and fluffier, woolen textiles are usually considered as ideal for warm winter coats, overshirts, jackets, sweaters, skirts, and blankets. On the other hand, worsted fabrics are most likely to be seen in formal suiting, and in trench coats and other fine outerwear garments.
Considering the initial quality difference of the wool fibers that are used, and the differences in the manufacturing process, worsteds will definitely be more expensive than woolens.