10 best cashmere jumpers for women
Could a humble high-street sweater beat a £1,300 designer brand?
A cashmere jumper is a winter weather essential. The ultra-soft yarn is eight times warmer than sheep’s wool, and more lightweight too. But with options ranging from around £60 to over £2,000, it’s hard to know where to begin.
The first thing to understand is that decent cashmere is an investment. Cashmere comes from the winter undercoat of the cashmere goat and a single animal typically produces just 200g per year. The longest, finest fibres make for the softest, longest-lasting garments.
While mass-market brands benefit from economies of scale, some blend different grades of yarns. Some pilling is inevitable with all knitwear, but jumpers made with shorter, more coarse fibres will bobble more easily and lose their shape.
We tried cashmere jumpers at both ends of the market and everything in-between, from cashmere specialists to more fashion-oriented brands. We judged each knit on the quality of the cashmere, as well as fit and style. Each sample was tried by three different women aged between 28 and 65, all with different body shapes.
Cos Round-Neck Cashmere Jumper: £125, Cosstores.com
This boyish crew-neck was both one of the cheapest we tried and among the best. The slightly cropped shape was flattering, the charcoal hue was understated and the chunky ribbed cuffs and collar lent just enough interesting detail. This is one you’ll want to buy in every colour.
Chinti & Parker roll-neck sweater: £250, Chintiandparker.com
Chinti & Parker is better known for star motifs and slogans, but its new Essentials collection is much more understated. This toasty, relaxed-fit roll neck is plain, aside from a stitched ‘cp’ on the back – that confused us slightly as initially we thought it was the front – once on, it all made sense though.
Raey V-neck fine-knit sweater: £225, Matchesfashion.com
This fine-knit jumper from Matchesfashion’s in-house brand practically slithered out of the bag – it was somehow very lightweight without being too fragile. It’s designed to be a loose fit, with a V-neck that hits at just the right point. We love that the brand also sells silk camisoles that match the knits perfectly.
Lingua Franca ‘Who Run the World?’ Jumper: £350, Selfridges
New York-based Lingua Franca has raised more than $500,000 for charity thanks to empowering hand-stitched slogans that put it firmly at the heart of the Zeitgeist. Cultural credentials aside, the cashmere felt soft yet hardy, and is lightweight enough to wear under a leather jacket. The only problem you’ll have is choosing a phrase.
Bella Freud 1970 Jumper: £395, Bellafreud.com
The fashion crowd love Bella Freud’s knits, and her 1970 sweater – a design she came up with by blowing up the corner of a page of a book on a photocopier – is a modern classic. The fitted crew-neck has just the right amount of stretch, and the midweight knit feels delightful to wear. It’s on the expensive side but won’t date or bobble easily.
Gabriela Hearst Luiz Round-Neck Cashmere Sweater: £1,300, Matchesfashion.com
Before you baulk at the cost, this jumper is truly something special. Uruguay-born Gabriela Hearst owns and operates a ranch that has been in her family for six generations, and her cashmere is sourced from her very own goats. Perhaps that’s why the chunky pale pink knit felt like a cloud, and the fact that it didn’t make us look like a marshmallow is testament to her design talent.
Boden Striped Cashmere Crew-Neck: £130, Boden.co.uk
A striped knit is a classic, and we love the cheery hues in this rainbow version. The cashmere is a decent quality, sourced from Inner Mongolia, and it’s even machine washable. The shape is easy to wear – there are flattering slits at the side, though we liked it best tucked into a skirt or jeans.
Vyayama Seed Stitch Sweater: £225, Reve-en-vert.com
An under-the-radar yogawear brand with flawless eco, ethical and sustainable credentials, Vyayama uses hand-spun Mongolian cashmere and non-toxic dyes for its post-workout cover-ups – though there’s nothing to stop you wearing it to work or anywhere else. Our youngest tester loved its nonchalant, oversized fit.
The Elder Statesman Odyssey Sweater: £750, Net-a-porter.com
We love the school uniform vibe of this oversized ribbed turtleneck by cashmere specialist The Elder Statesman. It’s expensive, yes, but the cashmere is of impeccable quality and hand-spun by an exacting team in very limited quantities. It feels glorious to wear and will last you a lifetime.
Uniqlo Cashmere Crew Neck Sweater: £69.90, Uniqlo.com
Uniqlo sits apart from many other high street brands in the high quality of its cashmere – it can keep the price low thanks to the scale of its operation, and because it has its own farms and factories there are no middlemen taking a cut. For a wardrobe basic at a fair price, it can’t be beaten.
The Verdict: Best cashmere jumpers for women
All testers agreed that their fantasy wardrobe would be full of Gabriela Hearst.
Back in the real world, Cos proved the favourite for its cosiness, hardiness, versatility and style at a very affordable price.
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