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Oprah Daily's Guide to the Best Cashmere Sweaters for Women of 2023

Mar 19, 2024

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We put knits at every price point (yes, below $100!) to the test.

When temperatures drop, nothing feels more luxurious than wrapping up in a cloudlike cashmere sweater. Cashmere is a premier knit of choice in colder months, given that it is incredibly soft and has powerful insulating properties. While it’s easy to feel intimidated when looking through the sea of brands and retailers, we’ll walk you through insider tips and tricks as well as some of our favorite cashmere sweaters on the market right now.

Why is cashmere so expensive?

Cashmere is often more expensive than other wools and high-end insulating fibers because of its unique sourcing and production process. The fine, silky-soft yarn comes exclusively from cashmere goats, who produce a rough outer coat and a soft undercoat that keeps them warm during colder periods. When the goats shed their coats during warmer months, the undercoat fibers are spun into cashmere yarn that is ultimately woven into the fabric we know and love.

There are three grades of cashmere: A as the highest, then B, and C. While it may seem counterintuitive, the thinner the cashmere, the higher the construction quality.

When it really comes down to it, your favorite cashmere doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, some of our most cherished cashmere sweaters come from brands on the affordable end. Our editors swear by this under Uniqlo $100 cashmere crewneck that is well-designed, durable quality, and lasts for years.

If you’re looking to consciously invest a little more, thoughtful brands like Aritzia, Naadam, Guest in Residence, and Unsubscribed integrate sustainable practices like using recycled or standard-certified yarns. The Aid by Trade Foundationz’s The Good Cashmere Standard and the Sustainable Fiber Alliance’s Cashmere Standard are both respected signifiers of brands doing the work to safeguard shepherding practices, animal welfare, and biodiversity.

Ultimately, cashmere is a special resource, and these sweaters should be considered investment pieces that, with proper care and storage, will last for years to come. What are the best brands and styles for cashmere sweaters? How do you take care of cashmere knits? Keep reading for our foolproof guide to the best cashmere sweaters for women.

Uniqlo consistently tops our list of editor-favorite cashmere sweaters. How can the quality be so high while the price stays under $100? Uniqlo oversees every step of the sourcing and production processes, avoiding the middleman and markups that come with them. Thanks to their premium lightweight materials, thoughtful design, and durable construction, Uniqlo's cashmere knits last for years. Trust us on this one!

When college friends Matt Scanlan and Diederik Rijsemus traveled to Mongolia in 2012, they had no idea that they would end up starting a cashmere brand together. The two saw firsthand that traders were driving up the prices, then taking profits for themselves, and so Naadam was born. "Direct sourcing allowed us to not only give back to Mongolian herders but also sell premium cashmere for less," says Scanlan, now Naadam’s CEO. “It was a win-win for everyone.” Case in point: Naadam’s bestselling signature Essential $75 crewneck is pretty much the ideal cashmere sweater.

All these years later, we’re falling in love with Naadam’s sweaters straight out of the shipping box. Naadam makes some of our favorite cashmere designs, like a striped hoodie and perfect quarter-zip pullover. While some pieces are a little on the pricier side, everything from the design and construction to sizing (up to 3X) is impressively thoughtful. “We believe that cashmere is for everyone, and that high-quality knitwear can be accessible, sustainable, and fashionable all at the same time," says Sarah Sathaye, Naadam’s CRO. In addition to seriously stylish knits, Naadam specializes in cashmere for just about every category, from leggings, skirts, puffers, and peacoats to robes, slippers, and eye masks.

Quince’s affordable $50 cashmere crew is a favorite among Oprah Daily editors. It’s made from silky-soft grade-A Mongolian cashmere, comes in 16 different solid colors, and has delicate ribbed detailing at the cuffs and hem. “Our cashmere garments are lightweight, luxuriously soft, and long-lasting,” says Veronica Tan, senior director of apparel and accessories at Quince.

We’re kind of in love with the idea of casual cashmere, like the brand’s cashmere T-shirts and zip-up hoodies, that add something special to our everyday wardrobes for under $100. For a take on quiet luxury lifestyle, Quince also offers cashmere baseball hats, ribbed beanies, gloves, socks, throws, and pillows.

No one does timeless cashmere like J.Crew. If you’re in the market for a beautiful cream or camel mock-neck shell with a matching relaxed cardigan, J.Crew specializes in classics like V-necks, crewnecks, turtlenecks, and cable-knit sets. It also found a way to modernize the collections with bright colors and fresh silhouettes like cropped-sweater tanks and zip hoodies, as well as vest and cropped-sweater styles. J. Crew was also the first American member of the the Aid by Trade Foundation, which introduced and currently implements The Good Cashmere Standard for responsible cashmere production.

We’re constantly recommending Aritzia for elevated everyday pieces and find its cashmere to be particularly impressive. These three sweaters from in-house brands Babaton and Wilfred are made from cloudlike 100 percent grade-A, The Good Cashmere Standard–certified cashmere.

Aritzia's cashmere knits offer modern silhouettes that are artfully relaxed while flattering all different body types, including longer torsos. We can’t help obsessing over thoughtful details like a perfectly draped turtleneck, an elegant boatneck cut, and wide-ribbed cuffs.

Guest in Residence is a luxury knitwear brand founded by Gigi Hadid. The brand releases gorgeous cashmere knits made with SFA’s Cashmere Standard–certified yarn, one of the industry’s benchmarks for sustainable cashmere production. Guest in Residence offers cashmere pieces in unique silhouettes, bright colors, and striking patterns that you won’t find elsewhere, from cashmere color-block rugby pullovers to chic button-down shirts.

Oprah Daily market director Rae Ann Herman is admired for many things—one of which is her fabulous taste in cashmere. She recommends Unsubscribed, a brand that releases small but quality collections of everything from cool cashmere hooded cardigans to pretty puff-sleeve knits and classic V-neck pullover sweaters. “Unsubscribed is all about consciously made slow fashion, and the brand’s cashmere reflects our timeless product,” says Andrea Jagaric, chief design officer for Unsubscribed, Aerie, and Offline. “Our luxuriously soft cashmere is crafted from ultra-fine, heirloom-quality cashmere yarns designed to outlive seasons that stand the tests of time.” While each cashmere sweater is thoughtfully and beautifully constructed, some of the pieces are even more sustainably crafted using recycled fibers.

Nakedcashmere has been specializing in stylish knits since in 2016. It makes everything from dreamy lightweight cashmere tanks and bodysuits to cashmere puffer coats. If you're looking for quality styles and are able to invest a little more, Nakedcashmere makes timeless, high-quality sweaters as well as other unique pieces.

Outdoors brand L.L. Bean offers cashmere sweaters in nostalgic patterns and styles like intarsia, fair isle, and fisherman knits. Described as perfectly easygoing, this is versatile cashmere that you can curl up by the fire in without worrying about being too precious.

We know we can rely on Everlane for stylish and quality pieces—including its classic cashmere knits. What we were surprised to learn is that these three staple sweaters are all made with recycled cashmere and recycled wool, meaning less raw material carbon emissions.

If your first thought is to to head straight to the dry cleaner, you may want to reconsider. “Cashmere is such an incredible fiber because it’s naturally hydrophobic, meaning it will repel things like water, sweat, and even an accidental spill—so you can get a lot of wear out of your cashmere in between washes,” says Andrea Lucchese, SVP design and product at Naadam.

Oprah Daily creative director Adam Glassman and Quince senior director of apparel and accessories Veronica Tan recommend cleaning your cashmere by hand-washing with cold water and a gentle detergent, and laying flat to dry afterward. Lucchese says you can also place your cashmere in a lingerie bag in the washing machine (“Yes, in the washing machine!”) using mild detergent on a cold, delicate cycle. Try this intimates wash from bio-detergent brand Dirty Labs that uses naturally derived bioenzymes to carefully clean and refresh your knits. A little goes a long way (thanks to a concentrated formula), and the small bottle will last you months.

Pilling is a natural occurrence that can be easily managed with the proper care. Lucchese, Tan, and experts from several brands agree on gently brushing with a cashmere comb to remove fuzz and pilling from everyday wear and tear. Pro tip: Leave your fabric shavers for more durable fibers.

When it comes to dreaded moth holes, the best prevention starts with keeping your clothes and your space as clean as possible. While it may seem obvious, always make sure your knits are fresh when storing them between uses. You can also try hanging red cedar wood in your closet and using lavender sachets in your drawers to protect your finest wools. We like these cedar rings from Naadam that slide right onto hangers and are small enough to be discreet.

Sara Klausing covers all things fashion and style for Oprah Daily.

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Why is cashmere so expensive?