With winter weather nipping at our heels, it is the perfect time to stock up on cold weather staples like a cashmere sweater. Unfortunately, not all cashmere is created equal. With the wide variety of styles, colors, and prices ranges it can be confusing to find the perfect sweater. There tends to be two schools of thought when it comes to buying a cashmere sweater: investment pieces in perennial colors and styles or more seasonal sweaters that don’t break the bank.
When looking for your perfect sweater, be sure to look for 100% cashmere since many sweaters are blended with wool. If you are looking for a lightweight layering piece, silk and cashmere blends retain their softness without adding bulk. The best cashmere yarns come from Italy or Scotland, and are usually two-ply since single-ply sweaters tend to pill easier. If you can see your hand through a layer of cashmere, it is most likely one-ply.
Either way you decide to invest, be sure to care properly for your cashmere by gentle cleaning and moth-proof storage. Dry cleaning or hand washing in tepid water with Laundress Cashmere Shampoo and laying flat on a towel to dry, is usually suggested. Cashmere sales associates suggest washing your low cost cashmere with baby shampoo. Aveeno baby wash is a favorite.
If you're looking to invest in cashmere that will last a life time there is no better place to start than Madison Avenue. Loro Piana sweater, which retails anywhere from $1000 to $2000, is a favorite of many high-end consumers. To get the best price it's best to wait for Soiffer Haskin's sample sale where discounts run to about 50% off.
If you need your luxury cashmere now, we suggest heading to Malo (Joanna: 212-396-4721), which specializes in Italian cashmere clothing. With a variety of styles, blends, and colors you will certainly find the perfect investment sweater. Basic V-necks in various ply range from $580 to $490 and cardigans are mostly in the $600 range. . If you are looking for a good holiday gift, Malo does mark down their cashmere sweaters 30% to 40% in December.
It’s of some shoppers opinions that Brunello Cucinelli (Phillipe 212-813-0900) is the gold standard in cashmere and with prices ranging from $1500 to $3000 the statement may be literal. There is no sale currently but once December rolls around the discount can go up to 50% off.
A bit further uptown, specialist Manrico (Brigitte: 212-794-4200) has a great selection of lightweight cashmere sweaters for men and women. They are currently having a 30% markdown on their lightweight summer styles and colors. While the sale selection is not great, they will make for good layering pieces for fall and winter. Prices usually range from $540 to $700, so even with the discount you may still pay a hefty price.
For the best selection of colors and styles on Madison at non-investment prices that won’t cause heart palpitations, head over to the J. Crew Collection (Andrea: 212-824-2475). An entire wall is replete with various styles of V-necks, crewnecks, and cardigans in a dozen color choices. Despite ranging in price from $158 to $168, the cashmere is thick and baby soft without any bulk. The only downside was the perfect camel color from a couple seasons ago won’t be back until (supposedly) next season.
Venturing off Madison, the department store cashmere collections are also a good bet for quality sweaters at a fraction of designer prices. For the best deals, head to Bloomingdales where their entire collection is marked an additional 25% off retail. Crewneck shells start at $108, boyfriend V-neck cardigans are $165, and turtlenecks are $145. Interestingly, we didn’t spot at any regular V-neck options. However, there were plenty of plain crewnecks and V-necks available at Saks Fifth Avenue, albeit slightly more expensive at $208. Cashmere cardigans in a variety of fall and winter colors will set you back $248.
For even more budget cashmere buys, definitely check out the new Uniqlo flagship on Fifth Avenue. They have marked their $89.90 cashmere sweaters down to $49.90 until the end of the month. Hands-down, this is the best color selection anywhere in the city, with a rainbow of color options available. The only downside is the quality of the mass-produced cashmere is subpar, with the softness of a wool blend despite being 100% cashmere. For that pricing you can find softer quality cashmere in a multitude of colors and styles at Daffy’s for $39.99 to $139.99.
You can't really go wrong decideing on any of these cashmeres, especially if you find the expensive brands on sale. But, that's what we're here for. Right?