These frosty mornings and colder nights have us reaching for anything we think might give us a little extra warmth. And, when it comes to crafting the perfect winter wardrobe, a gentleman cannot consider himself prepared for the elements without a staple cashmere jumper.
Thanks to their classic style and premium quality, these pieces never lose their appeal, and promise to stand the test of time (quality cashmere can easily last 10 years and over 200 wears) just as long as you look after them. With this in mind, we spoke with fashion designer and connoisseur of all things cashmere, Luca Faloni, to discover how best to care for these luxurious layers — and how to invest wisely.
Not all cashmere jumpers are made equal. What many brands call ‘cashmere’ is really just a poor blend between cashmere and wool, which can make the product much cheaper, but they are inevitably inferior in terms of quality and feel.
If you’re a first time buyer in the market for a cashmere cable knit this winter, there are a few key credentials you should be keeping an eye out for. According to Luca, great cashmere should provide you with each of these things: Warmth – Its insulation capacity is three times higher than wool (up to eight times for the very best cashmere), making it perfect for maintaining your body temperature. The result is a yarn that keeps you warm but not hot. Softness – The diameter of cashmere fibres is very small, creating a very fine texture, the softest of all yarns. No itchiness – For the same reason, the density of fibres are much higher than wool, and therefore the texture is not scratchy. This gives a great feeling when wearing cashmere directly on the skin or when touching a jumper.
Lightness – Given its insulating qualities, cashmere jumpers can be lighter than those made of wool and still keep perfect body temperature. Shape resilience – Quality cashmere does not shrink when washed correctly, and will retain shape better than wool over the years. Durability – The best cashmere jumpers can last 10 years when the right care is given to the garment. It is not uncommon to hear of people wearing cashmere jumpers from their grandparents.
As with all luxury materials, there are precautions to take in order to ensure that you are getting the best out of your cashmere, and a healthy return on your investment. But the happy news is that, unlike wool, cashmere improves with wears and hand-washes, by becoming softer and developing a slightly fluffy layer, and keeps its shape much better over the years.
“Unfortunately, pilling (when short fibres twist around themselves in areas of the jumper where there is more friction to create small bobbles) is inevitable due to the presence of shorter fibres” says Luca. However, the great news is that this should stop after the first few washes.” Investing in higher quality cashmere will make this phenomenon far less likely, but should your jumper start to show signs of pilling, Luca advises you not to worry, “these bobbles are easy to remove with a cashmere comb, shaving machines or even simply by hand.”
When it comes to washing cashmere, it’s normally safest to use the hand wash cycle on your machine, then lay it out to dry flat on a towel. Don’t wring or twist the garment as it comes out the wash, squeeze it gently instead, to ensure it won’t lose its shape.
Now that you’re well equipped to take good care of your cashmere, here are our top picks of the jumpers to invest in this season…
Emma Willis Natural Cashmere Polo
Luca Faloni Camel Beige Pure Cashmere Roll Neck
Luca Faloni Chunky Cashmere Sweater in Navy
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