How to Select, Care and Store your Sweaters
Fall is officially here and Winter is on its way. This means cooler days ahead. With so many of us dressing “business casual”, sweaters and cardigans are a great substitute for the structured jacket. Or, they are a great layering piece underneath a jacket. A cashmere sweater is a great investment. Not only are they stylish and beautiful, but they are temperature adaptable. This means they keep you warm in the Fall and Winter and can keep you cool when the temperature gets a bit warmer. For those of us allergic to fibrous wools, cashmere typically does not produce the same reaction. Cashmere is considered one of the finest of all natural fabrics. Since a cashmere sweater can be expensive, it is important to understand how to select cashmere of the best quality for your money and how to care and store your pieces.
Why is Cashmere so Expensive? Cashmere material comes from long-haired goats and it takes three to eight goats to produce enough material to make a single sweater. Then, there is a time consuming process by which cashmere is manufactured from the goat’s wool. This makes it more expensive than other types of wool.
- Make Sure You are Getting The Real Thing! First, verify that the label says 100% cashmere – many sweaters are often blended with other fabrics. Second, to verify the label, gently rub the fabric with your hand. It should feel soft to your touch. If the fibers feel coarse, don’t buy it. After feeling a variety of cashmere sweaters, you will be able to detect an inferior quality.
- Put it to the “Pull Test”: Before buying, hold each side of the sweater and pull the sides in opposite directions. When you let go the sweater should return to its original shape. A sweater that doesn’t snap back has a looser weave, making it an inferior quality.
- How to Avoid Pilling: Choose cashmere fabric with a longer fiber length. This will prevent excessive fabric pilling. A two-ply yarn creates a sweater that is stronger and more durable. Two-ply will be slightly more expensive and well worth the dollars. Pilling is caused by rubbing during wearing such as by a belt, handbag, computer bag or even a seat belt. When this occurs, remove the pills by manually picking them off. Do not brush or shave the garment.
- How to Clean: Check your label, but generally cashmere can be hand washed with a very mild soap and laid flat to dry or you can send it to the dry cleaner. The less cleaning, the better. Try to get at least six to seven wearings before you clean.
- How to Store: Pack them in tissue paper and then place them in a plastic bag or box where they will be stored away from light, dust, and dampness. Storing them in a dry place is critical. Cleaning is recommended, as new stains that may not be visible will oxidize and become permanent during storage. They are also great food for moths! Moths have a discerning palate – they prey only on natural fabrics. Mothballs (naphthalene) and cedar chips are standard protection from moths. Or, you can spray perfume on a piece of paper and put the paper next to your sweater inside the box.
A carefully chosen cashmere sweater can be an affordable luxury that will pay for itself by providing years of enjoyment.
J Crew offers a good selection of sweaters for both men and women at an affordable price.