Quality cashmere know-how

Published On: Dec 11 2012 06:16:37 AM EST   Updated On: Dec 11 2012 06:20:00 AM EST

Looking for a special gift? Cashmere sweaters are heavily marketed around the holidays. But how can you find good quality?

If you’re picking up a $59.99 cashmere sweater from the bargain bin, Consumer ReportsShopSmart says you’d better believe it’s not 100 percent cashmere, even though the label may say so.

A couple of quick checks in the store can tell you a lot. Run your hand over the sweater. If little balls start forming, that’s called pilling. That’s a sign it’s a cheaper sweater, and it’s probably not going to hold up. Another check: whether the sweater holds its shape. Stretch it side to side. High-quality cashmere won’t stretch out of shape. 

ShopSmart found that the cheapest you can go in cashmere is about $100. That’s how much some Lands’ End cashmere costs. It’s a good choice with its simple design and basic color.

With more styling and richer colors, ShopSmart says expect to pay much more, such as a Magaschoni sweater for $320. It’s a big splurge, but in the long run it can pay off. You’re going to have that sweater for years and years and years.

ShopSmart says a cashmere sweater needs some TLC. Always follow the care instructions and be sure to clean your sweater before storing it. That’s because dirt attracts moths. And be sure to store it flat, not on a hanger, which can stretch it out. 


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