What to Look For in a Cashmere Sweater

Cashmere Sweater

What to Look For in a Cashmere Sweater

Cashmere is one of the softest, best-insulated materials around. It’s also natural, sustainable and — when taken care of properly — gets even softer with wear.

To spot quality, look for fully fashioned seams (little upraised bumps along the shoulders and other seams) and a fine-gauge knit. Avoid sweaters that are made from single-ply yarn, which can easily pill.


Cashmere is expensive, so you want to know you’re getting what you paid for. One easy indicator of quality is the sweater’s ply, or strand thickness. A higher ply indicates the fibers are finer, says knitwear designer Michelle Diamond. Another is its texture, which should feel soft and resilient, not scratchy. She suggests stroking the garment to see how it feels on your skin and noticing friction points (such as under arms and elbows) to see if it will hold up over time.

Two experts recommend Leret Leret sweaters, which use yarn combed from hardy Capra hircus goats that thrive in the harsh landscape of Mongolia. The sweaters are expensive, but they feel like a luxurious splurge and come in a wide range of colors and sizes.

This sweater is a great value and is knitted with fine Mongolian cashmere. The neck is high enough to roll up to the chin for extra warmth and the cuffs have generous ribbing to create a seal where cold air often sneaks in. Its construction is also durable—it has held up well in our tests, even after being washed in hot water and dried in a dryer with a wool-safe setting. It also comes in a wide variety of colors and inclusive sizing to suit almost any body. At $98 for a crew neck, it’s a no-fuss classic.


A cashmere sweater should be neutral, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Jenni Kayne’s Fisherman Sweater has gained a cult following for its classic fit and textured knit, and the label offers it in a wide range of neutral earthy hues. It’s also sustainably made: the brand partners with Johnstons of Elgin and uses only the highest-quality, long-fiber yarn spun in Italy by Cariaggi.

Look for ply information, which can help you predict how well the sweater will hold up over time. Single-ply yarns tend to pill more than two-ply, which involves twisting two single fibers together, explains Silberman.

Then, “sense the weight and feel of a cashmere garment to see how it’s constructed,” says Diamond. A poor-quality piece may feel mushy and slippery to the touch—a giveaway that the makers overwashed or used chemicals to soften it, she notes. Tightly woven, high-quality cashmere, on the other hand, resists stretching and springs back into shape immediately.

When shopping, consider how often you’ll wear your sweaters to determine if the material is worth the price tag, especially since washing and drying can shrink them considerably. Generally speaking, your cashmere should be washed after every four wears to keep it looking good and smelling fresh. And no matter what the care instructions Cashmere Sweater say, never tumble dry a cashmere sweater (even on a wool-safe setting). Instead, stow yours in a clean pillowcase or reshape it on a towel and let it air dry.


The right cashmere sweater can elevate your look to the next level. Consider a waffle stitch crewneck from Club Monaco, which can easily be worn with slim blue jeans and tan wingtip boots for a classic yet modern ensemble. Or try a recycled cashmere option from Tricot, which is made from other unwanted cashmere garments and respun with virgin fibers in Italy.

A cashmere sweater can also elevate an outfit with subtle but important details, such as a change in texture or a special rib trim that provides more durability. Other details, like a flat seam, indicate that more time and attention went into the garment’s construction.

Choosing a sustainable and ethical cashmere sweater is also an important factor to consider, especially with direct-to-consumer brands that focus on transparency throughout the supply chain. Everlane offers a wide range of styles from oversized turtlenecks to asymmetrical cardigans, with sizes ranging from XS to XXL. Look for the label’s GOTS certification, which ensures that the garment is certified organic and free of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

In addition to sustainability, some direct-to-consumer brands emphasize fair wages for workers and environmental protection. For example, White + Warren sources its yarns from factories that work with the Sustainable Fibre Alliance, which is focused on low environmental impact and herder well-being. The brand’s sweaters, which come in a variety of colors and lengths, are also machine washable. Despite its ease of use, it’s important to avoid rubbing your cashmere against rough items to prevent pilling and snagging.


Cashmere comes from the fluffy undercoat of goats and has been used to make yarn, textiles, and garments for centuries. Unlike sheep’s wool, cashmere is lighter and more supple—which makes it the ideal material for sweaters, which need to be soft but not too heavy.

Since the process of harvesting cashmere is so labor intensive and time consuming, it’s understandable why this luxe fabric has always been expensive. But today, competitive prices allow more brands to offer a broader selection of high-quality sweaters than ever before.

When shopping for a mens cashmere sweater, look for the words “100% cashmere” on the tag to ensure that the garment is made from pure, premium fibers. Also, make sure the label indicates the size of the knitted garment (small to large) and its yarn weight (light to chunky).

The higher the quality of the cashmere, the more expensive the Cashmere Sweater garment will be. However, there are some budget-friendly options. For example, this waffle-stitch crew neck from Club Monaco is made from premium cashmere and would pair nicely with slim blue jeans, a white Oxford shirt, and brown wingtip boots.

Alternatively, this striped merino wool sweater from Quince, a new knitwear-focused brand started by two former Vogue editors and a Rag & Bone alum, is 30% cashmere and 70% wool. To determine the sweater’s quality, check for “fully fashioned” marks, which appear as small, upraised lines on the shoulders and where the sleeves meet the body of the sweater (areas that tend to need extra reinforcement). Also, be on the lookout for a seam that opens up a little when you press on it to make sure that the stitches are secure.

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