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Cashmere's soft and warm appeal

Cashmere goods, usually pricey, are being marketed to the masses. But not all cashmere is created equal.

December 20, 2009|By Sabrina Azadi >>>

Banana Republic is a good source for wardrobe staples and the simple V-neck, two-ply cashmere sweaters they're carrying this season in a spectrum of colors feel OK, look trendy and are well-priced at $139.

J. Crew also has jumped on the mid-priced cashmere bandwagon and is carrying a wide selection of designs, as are major department stores such as Macy's. Nordstrom has a large assortment of sweaters and coats ranging from less than $100 to more than $1,500.

To get the most for your money, Spilhaus suggests that bargain-minded consumers go first to higher-priced stores and spend some time examining the cashmere. Then go to the less expensive stores and compare. Just remember that at prices lower than around $100, you're mostly buying into the cashmere name and the connotation of luxury without getting any of its real benefits.

For those with the money and desire for only the best, there are companies whose offerings are luxurious and exclusive. Loro Piana, the 200-year-old Italian company whose name is synonymous with the finest cashmere, has a mill outside Milan and a herd of white capra hircus goats in Inner Mongolia. They've recently introduced a collection of ultra luxurious, baby cashmere, which is obtained from the harmless process of combing the under fleece of the youngest kids. The result is the softest, finest possible cashmere that feels like you're wearing clouds. It's also very expensive. A baby cashmere classic V-neck style sweater runs around $995.

The Chicago-based Queen of Cashmere company, another high-end purveyor, offers custom monogramming on cashmere products of the highest quality. Each Queen of Cashmere cardigan is created specifically for the person who wears it, making it distinctly personal. These garments are made in Scotland so meticulously that it takes 40 steps to finish a sweater by hand. A slightly oversized boyfriend cardigan is $750 and available at

Whether your cashmere is monogrammed, an heirloom, pricey or inexpensive, take every opportunity to wear it. Just as a Persian rug improves with age, cashmere's soft feel improves with wear.

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