This is a great question that every serious shopper must consider at some point. A cashmere women’s sweater might cost double or triple the price of a good wool sweater, and you have to wonder if it’s worth it to buy cashmere. We say: Yes! Definitely! Cashmere makes for the softest sweater you could ever imagine and keeps you cozily warm while being so lightweight you won’t overheat, and that’s just the beginning of its value. Let’s talk about why buying cashmere clothing is worth the extra investment.
Cashmere is technically a wool, but it comes from specific breeds of goats rather than sheep and its fibers are much finer and lighter than even the highest-quality sheep’s wool, as well as up to eight times more insulating. Cashmere is scarce relative to wool; over two million tons of sheep wool is produced each year, while a little less than seven tons of cashmere is produced in the same period. There are beautiful folkloric stories of women gleaning the chin-hairs of grazing goats to spin cashmere yarn, but nowadays the goats are simply shorn. It takes about two goats-worth of fiber to make a ladies’ sweater. If you want a garment that is soft to the touch, warmer than wool, lightweight and breathable, then it’s absolutely worth it to buy cashmere.
Imagine that you are getting dressed on a cold winter’s morn. You will be in your slightly overheated office all morning, having lunch with a prospective client, and then picking up your child from an outdoor skating lesson. You need to wear something lightweight for your office, elegant for your client lunch, and toasty warm for waiting at the outdoor ice rink. Cashmere has you covered—literally. Cashmere has amazing insulating properties, and can be warmer than wool, but it is also lightweight and breathable. You will be comfortable at the office and warm at the rink. For the luncheon, cashmere will help you look and feel your best because it is dreamily luxurious to wear and always looks elegant with its beautiful drape and expensive aura. A piece of clothing that versatile is already a luxury, but when we’re talking about cashmere you get that versatility in a garment that is unsurpassably soft and beautiful. That’s tremendously luxurious, and luxury is worth the price.
Good quality cashmere, when taken care of properly, can last for decades. Cashmere is admittedly spendy, but this is definitely a you-get-what-you-pay-for proposition. If the idea of buying sweaters that will last indefinitely appeals to you, choose cashmere. If you are the type of person who hopes to pass along luxury clothing to your daughter or niece, cashmere is the way to go. If you want clothing that can be re-worked or made-over as your needs or tastes change, cashmere is ideal.
Taking proper care of cashmere clothing means having it dry cleaned in the middle and at the end of every season. In the interim, roll your cashmere garment up in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer overnight after each wearing; this kills bacteria and odors. When you remove your clothing from the freezer, put it on a hanger, give it a spritz of cashmere spray—a clothing refresher that contains a little cedar oil—and hang it in the bathroom during your shower to steam out. Cashmere, even the very highest quality cashmere, pills. This is partly because of how soft it is and is not a sign of shoddily-spun yarns. Shave your cashmere turtleneck sweaters once or twice a season to keep them looking new. You can purchase a little gadget for this, or simply use a regular razor from your own toiletries cupboard. If you opt to use a razor, go with the grain of the knit and use a light touch; it’s perfectly safe for the fabric.
Another facet of longevity is tailoring or re-working. Good cashmere knit can be worked by a tailor or seamstress fairly easily, so you have more options than you would with wool that often must be re-woven or knit rather than sewn. Personally, I have had cashmere sweaters cut from full-length to 3/4 length sleeves, had crew necks cut to V-necks, and once had a cashmere sweater dress cut into a sweater and scarf. I wear jeans more than I wear dresses, and that sweater dress I wore a few times a season became a sweater I wear once a week; it’s my very favorite sweater! You can change your mind more than once with a high-quality cashmere, too. A pullover can be made into a cardigan, a man’s sweater tailored into a ladies’ fit, something with a stain cut into a women’s winter hat and mittens. . . the possibilities go on and on. That’s real value for our money and very much worth the price.
Cashmere clothing is a luxury. It’s not a necessity, comes at a premium and feels really, really good. There is no getting around the fact that it’s an indulgence. However, it’s a luxury with real value over time. If you think of your clothing as a cost-per-wear investment, cashmere may turn out to be the “cheapest” pieces in your closet. Stepping up from wool into cashmere elevates your whole wardrobe, making your simplest pencil skirt or oldest jeans feel fresh and stylish again. When you’re shopping for women’s sweaters and other knitwear, cashmere is definitely worth it!