How to Evaluate a Cashmere Sweater
The ribbed cuffs and hem seal out cold air, while the sweater’s cut adds a casual cool to your style. The direct-order brand says it’s a “take-with-you-everywhere” piece that’s as good with beat-up jeans and sneakers as it is with a skirt and heels.
Gauge and ply count say nothing about the quality of cashmere, so look for details like fully-fashioned seams that reinforce stitching along shoulders and necklines (places that are prone to stretching). Also, consider hand washing rather than sending it out to dry cleaners.
The eye-popping price tag for cashmere may be enough to push some shoppers away, but a quality knit can last years and is worth the investment. When evaluating sweaters, I look at several key factors: where the fabric was sourced, what grade of cashmere it uses, and its sustainability commitment.
For the latter, I sought out GOTS-certified and Sustainable Fibre Alliance-certified options (SFA is a multi-stakeholder initiative that evaluates the life cycle of a textile from seed to shelf). I also consider whether a sweater was produced locally or imported, since that can impact labor conditions. I also like to see if the label includes ply and gauge information, which can help consumers understand how much density and thickness a piece has.
Ply refers to how many strings of yarn are twisted together to create a fabric; higher ply numbers indicate denser, thinner fabrics, while lower ply number indicates thicker, lighter fibers. Gauge tells you how tightly the fabric was knitted, which can impact the warmth and fit.
With these guidelines in mind, I found a variety of sweaters that Cashmere Sweater will keep their shape season after season, from soft and cozy oversized turtlenecks from Tory Burch and Lafayette 148 to crewnecks from J.Crew and Loulou Studio, to perfect polo-style cardigans from Khaite and Another Tomorrow. I was particularly impressed with a $75 cashmere option from Nadaam, which combines high-quality fibers with ethical production practices, including a focus on employee satisfaction and the environment. The result is a timeless, versatile staple that’ll likely be in my closet for decades to come.
A sweater that’s made with high-quality cashmere will feel soft and smooth against the skin, without the clingy, slippery feeling that can be associated with cheap cashmere. The fibers are also breathable, so they won’t trap moisture against your body like synthetic fabrics can.
Cashmere is a rare and limited material, so you want to buy it only from brands that prioritize sustainability and transparency. Look for a brand that discloses important information, including its location, the reputation of the mill that spun the yarn and the gauge and ply count. The latter describes the number of times a single thread of fiber has been twisted into a knit; higher ply counts mean thicker, more resistant yarns.
The best sweaters will be made from high-quality cashmere that’s sustainable and won’t pill or wear out Cashmere Sweater easily. This is because longer fibers are more durable and resist snags and tears better than shorter ones, says designer Amy Mullin. You’ll also find that quality is indicated by small details, such as flat seams and a tighter weave.
Our top pick, Everlane’s Classic Fit Crew Neck Sweater, features a timeless style that can be worn for years to come and only gets softer with time. The sweater uses Inner-Mongolian cashmere, which is softer than other varieties and less likely to pill or shed. It’s also made with traceable, 100% recycled cashmere and is ISO 14001 certified for environmental sustainability. Its ribbed hem and cuffs help the sleeves seal in cold air.
Cashmere is one of the most luxurious fabrics in the world and it is also incredibly durable. It is a lightweight material that provides plenty of insulation, and it looks great with just about everything in your wardrobe. However, it can be expensive, so you need to spend wisely when shopping for a cashmere sweater.
While a high price tag might deter some shoppers from buying a cashmere sweater, it is possible to find quality pieces at an affordable price point. In fact, some of the best cashmere sweaters are available for under $100. These options are made with ethically-sourced cashmere and can be worn at a wide range of occasions.
A good place to start when shopping for a cashmere sweater is to look at the number of ply used in the garment. It is important to look for two-ply or more, as single-ply cashmere is less resistant and might develop holes more easily.
Other important factors when shopping for a cashmere sweater include the fabric’s weight and the length of the sleeves. Longer sleeved sweaters can be more versatile and are perfect for layering. In addition, it is important to check the label for any specific care instructions that may apply. For example, some brands recommend that you keep your cashmere sweaters in a cedar box to prevent moth damage, while others recommend using wool preservatives when washing.
As a special fabric, cashmere should be washed properly to maintain its softness. To do so, fill a sink or basin with cool water (not ice cold) and add a squirt of a cleanser that’s formulated for wool and cashmere. “Avoid using regular shampoo or detergent,” Whiting says, as these can damage the fibers. “Alternatively, you can use a little bit of hair shampoo or a baby shampoo that’s formulated for sensitive skin.”
Once you’ve added your cashmere to the water, gently agitate it and let it soak for 30 minutes before draining and rinsing thoroughly. Before you do so, though, pretreat any stains with a dab of a spot remover or stain eliminator. Then blot the area to absorb excess liquid and rinse it again, being careful not to saturate.
After you’ve rinsed and wrung out your sweater, lay it flat to dry on a towel or wooden block. Then press it with a steamer—it’s an effective and gentle way to release wrinkles and deodorize in between washings.
As with any clothing, a long-handled boar-bristle brush can also help you keep your cashmere looking good in between washes by removing lint, fuzz, and dust from the surface. Finally, a sweater box helps to keep your garments organized while protecting them from moths and other pests. And, as Derek Guy of the fashion site Put This On reminds us, always wash a sweater before storing it away for the summer—dirty cashmere is like catnip for moths.