Choosing Cashmere: The Beginner’s Guide
Cashmere is one of the great classic materials. It’s a marker for quality, for luxury and for fashion, and it attracts the best designers. Unfortunately, this means there are a lot of inferior garments trying to piggyback on the plush textile’s reputation for luxury. You need to make shrewd choices when you’re picking clothes whether you’re going for a classic cashmere sweater or joining the athleisure trend with a cashmere track pant.
Today we’re presenting a guide to picking the best cashmere pieces, to make sure you don’t end up paying too much for inferior quality, and ensure you end up enjoying the softness, warmth and sheer luxury of good cashmere.
Unless you’re desperate for a piece that’s only available from a boutique designer online, try to do your cashmere shopping in person. One of the main reasons you’re buying cashmere is for the feel so make sure you’re actually assessing that before you put down your hard-earned money!
The first test is the most important. Simply touch the cashmere piece you’re interested in. Assess it for softness. If it doesn’t have that signature cashmere feel, it could be indication of low-quality fibres, over milling or other corners cut in the process, so steer clear.
Another vital touch test is to give the material a gentle pull. Good quality cashmere lasts a long time if it’s well cared for because it’s quite elastic – it stands up to repeated wearing without deforming, and returns to it’s original shape. If the material springs back when you test it like this you know the manufactures didn’t skimp and your cashmere will still be a wardrobe standard years into the future.
One thing you need to check for on the label is the ply-count. The best cashmere is two ply and up. Single ply fabric won’t have that iconic softness nor will it be hard wearing.
Two-ply means that two threads of cashmere yarn have been woven together to create a stronger, more textured knit. Two or more means a garment that’s strong, and quite simply packs in more cashmere, meaning it’s softer and warmer.
If you’ve noticed a well loved garment developing little woollen balls, then you’re a victim of pilling! These are little snags and tags of fabric that develop where the garment encounters friction – under the arms for example. As well as not looking as neat as you’d like, pilling also gradually erodes the fabric, leaving it prone to holes.
Interestingly, the quality of a cashmere garment has nothing to do with it’s propensity to pilling. It’s simply an inherent property of wool under stress. Fortunately there are things you can do to help.
Removing the pills, either by hand or with a clothes brush keeps the garment looking good. On top of that, don’t wear cashmere every day, especially if you start noticing pilling. It needs time to ‘breathe’ between each wear or it will start to deteriorate, so try and rotate between sweaters and give your most stylish ones the rest they deserve!