I pretty much live in cashmere sweaters (and jeans) in the fall/winter seasons, so I’ve tried A LOT of them. Today I’m rounding up the best cashmere sweaters I’ve tried and why I recommend them.
This is also a really good time to snag an investment sweater or two because there will be a lot of sales as the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend approaches.
I often get asked about the difference between various brands and price points, so I’m doing this post a little differently this year and comparing some of the best cashmere in similar styles and colors at different price points.
If you’re looking to update your cashmere this fall, I hope this post helps you decide which is best for you. But first . . .
What is Cashmere, and why is it so expensive?
Cashmere is a type of wool made from cashmere goats and pashmina goats that is characterized by its very fine, silky fibers. It’s expensive because of the complicated production and manufacturing process, where the fibers are separated by hand from the molted coats of goats.
The reason the cost of cashmere varies so much across different brands is largely due to the two different ways the wool is gathered — by combing or by shearing. Combing the goats’ coats with a comb yields less coarse hair, and thus a higher quality cashmere. Shearing results in more of a rough overcoat and shorter fibers, and this yields lower quality cashmere that is not as soft as the combed wool. It’s also more prone to more pilling due to the shorter fibers.
In light of all of that, and taking into consideration the quality of workmanship as well as the location and working conditions of the factory where the garments are manufactured, the cost of a cashmere sweater can run the gamut from as low as $50 to upwards of $500.
Jenni Kayne vs. Quince: Cashmere Fisherman Sweater
In case you aren’t familiar with these brands, Quince is a company with a mission to provide high quality essentials at radically low prices by using a factory-direct model that cuts out the supply-chain middlemen. Jenni Kayne is a luxury California lifestyle brand known for timeless basics in luxe fabrics with a focus on simplicity and attention to detail. Both brands are transparent about where they source their textiles and strive to support sustainable and ethical business practices.
I have the Jenni Kayne Cashmere Fisherman Sweater in the ivory from last year, and I like it so much that I just ordered the grey when they were having an early Black Friday Sale. The quality, fit, and attention to detail is on point; but it also wields a hefty price tag at $395.
Since Quince also has a Cashmere Fisherman Sweater at the bargain basement price of $89, I decided to order it in both colors to compare to the Jenni Kayne.
At first, the similarities in these two sweaters are striking. As far as the knit goes, both are very soft and about the same density, but the Quince feels a tiny bit nubbier when you feel it with your hand. You would only really notice this if you put them side by side.
The Quince also has a thicker, chunkier “collar” whereas the Jenni Kayne’s is a little more minimalistic and refined. These are minor details, but they do make a difference. I much prefer the neckline of the Jenni Kayne.
The color differences are interesting, though. The difference in the grey sweaters is nominal, but the difference in the ivory sweaters is much more noticeable. The Jenni Kayne is a much prettier winter white, whereas the Quince has a yellow cast to it, as you can see here.
The biggest difference, however, is in the fit. The Jenni Kayne in the small fits me perfectly, but the Quince in small is a tad shorter and feels a bit skimpy. It still fits well in arms and shoulders and body, though.
Knowing from experience that Quince can run a bit small, I ordered the grey Quince in the medium. The grey Jenni Kayne is a small.
The Quince in the medium is quite a bit longer than the Jenni Kayne in the small — almost too long for me. The sleeves are too long as well, so I think the Quince medium is too big for me overall, but I feel like the small looks skimpy. The Jenni Kayne in the small is just right.
For the difference in price, the Quince seems to be a better value overall, although the concept of value really is a very personal thing.
When it comes to the ivory sweaters, I definitely prefer the Jenni Kayne, both for the fit and the color. But when it comes to the grey, it’s a tougher decision. I could exchange the Quince medium for the small and overlook the minor differences in fit, but I also don’t care for that thicker collar, so I’m leaning towards keeping the Jenni Kayne. I know I will wear it a ton, and the cost per wear will work itself out.
That said, I have no reservations whatsoever recommending the Quince. It is a solid choice overall, and an excellent value for the price point.
Vince vs. Nordstrom: Cashmere V-Neck Sweater
Vince is a brand known for elevated essentials, and it’s one of my favorite brands for luxury label cashmere sweaters, among other things!
The Vince Weekend V-Neck is one of the regulars in their lineup, and it’s been around for years. I grabbed my grey one for something like 60% off during those huge sales in the spring of 2020, and I added the black one to my closet during an end-of-season sale last spring.
The Nordstrom Cashmere Essential V-Neck used to be under the Halogen label, and from anything I can tell, it’s the same sweater. They also do a classic crewneck and a turtleneck, and I’ve had several of each of these in various colors over the years.
The difference in quality and fit between these two sweaters is pretty obvious, I think even from the pictures below. Both are soft enough, but the Vince is thicker and a denser knit, and the cut is more generous overall. It has a much more luxe look and feel. And keep in mind, mine is in its third year and still going strong. I wear it often, and there isn’t even really any pilling to speak of.
The Nordstrom Essential V-Neck, on the other hand, is so thin it’s practically see-through. I’ve had a few of them over the years for blog features, and I usually end up passing them on at the end of the season because they start to look tired and they pill easily.
That said, both sweaters feel good on and have a classic fit and come in a wide array of colors. It’s just a matter of how much you value the higher quality and the more relaxed fit of the Vince, and whether or not you’re bothered by the see-through aspect of the Nordstrom sweater.
If you want longevity and durability, the cost per wear for the Vince (especially if you can snag one on sale, which is how I’ve purchased both of mine) is well worth the wait. But if you want something right away to enjoy for the season, the Nordstrom version is on sale for $109.90. That’s hard to beat!
Actually, the Quince cashmere v-neck may have it beat. It’s $50, and if it’s anything like the cashmere fisherman sweater, it’s a major contender in this category. I wish I’d ordered one to try for this post, but I did try their cashmere crewneck for last year’s cashmere sweater reviews.
This is what I had to say about it:
The knit isn’t as plush and soft as some, but it has a classic fit and comes in a good variety of colors. There isn’t a lot of extra room through the body or in the length, so if you want a more relaxed fit, I recommend sizing up.
And in this category, another solid option is the Naadam The Essential $75 Cashmere Sweater. I’ve had quite a few pieces of Naadam cashmere over the years, and I’m always very pleased. They do a mix of lower end and higher end pieces, and even their lower priced pieces are nicer than most in the same price range, but their higher end cashmere is in a class of its own. So thick and luxe and soft. I wish my favorites were still in stock.
This essential $75 crewneck is a really nice basic and probably the best bang for your buck in the under $100 cashmere lineup.
This is what I had to say about this one:
This sweater is much more plush and soft than the Quince, and it also has a little more wiggle room in the body and sleeves, but it’s still a classic cut. I also like this shade of oatmeal better than the Quince. It also comes in tons of colors. For $75, it’s an excellent value.
Sorry, I got derailed a bit there! I should have probably put these two sweaters in their own comparison category, but let’s move on . . .
Vince vs. Nordstrom Signature: V-Neck Cashmere Sweater
Nordstrom Signature is Nordstrom’s in-house luxury brand that’s generally comparable in quality to Vince, but the full retail price is usually quite a bit lower because you aren’t paying for the brand name.
I often say Nordstrom Signature gives you the best bang for your buck in the luxury cashmere category. The knits are typically very thick and luxe, but the styles are usually longer and more relaxed than what I prefer. This sweater is case in point.
Both of these sweaters are high quality knits, and if anything, the Nordstrom Signature is a little softer and thicker than the Vince, but I don’t care for the drop shoulder and the oversized styling. It also has a narrower v-neck, and given a choice, I prefer the shape of the Vince Weekend neckline.
Since I already have the Vince, I won’t be keeping the Nordstrom Signature, but it’s a gorgeous sweater, and I highly recommend it if you like the styling. These sweaters do go on sale occasionally, too, so keep an eye out for that!
Equipment vs. Banana Republic Factory: V-Neck Sweater
Finally, I want to mention the Equipment Madalene Cashmere V-Neck Sweater. I can’t compare it to anything, because I haven’t found anything at a lower price point that exactly resembles it, but it’s one of my all-time favorite cashmere sweaters.
Equipment is a French brand with a focus on classic minimalism, chic nonchalance, sophistication, etc. I discovered them when I splurged on a grey cashmere turtleneck when I found it on sale three or four years ago. I still own it and wear often.
Then late last winter, I found their Madalene cashmere v-neck. I love it for the subtle details that make it a little more special than your classic v-neck, and the raglan sleeves are a huge plus! I also love the 24″ length — a little shorter than the Vince Weekend V-Neck, so easier to wear untucked when I want to.
I purchased the camel last year, and I just picked up this grey one on sale at Bloomingdale’s a few weeks ago, and they are currently on sale again for 30% off, which is a GREAT deal.
The Equipment v-neck isn’t quite as soft as the Vince and Nordstrom Signature v-necks, and I notice it pills more easily, but I can easily keep up with it with my fabric shaver.
Equipment vs. Quince: Cashmere Turtleneck
I don’t have the same nifty side-by-side flat lay picture for this combo because I found these pictures in an old post, but it’s another really good example of a luxury brand vs. a more cost-conscious brand.
I’d say the The Quince cashmere turtleneck is comparable to the department store brands in level of quality. It’s definitely not as nice as the luxury brands, but it’s comfortable and well made with a classic fit. If I’m being picky, they’re a little stingy with materials, but you can easily size up for a bit more length in the arms and body. For the price point, this is an excellent value for cashmere.
Mine is the Equipment Oscar Turtleneck, which has been discontinued and replaced with the Delafine. This Equipment turtleneck is one of my all-time favorite sweaters. The fabric isn’t overly thick, but you can feel and see the densely woven knit, and the softness is to die for. There is absolutely zero itch factor.
And I love how generous they are with materials — it has some extra length in the arms, but nothing too crazy. It’s also longer and more relaxed through body than most. It layers beautifully under jackets and vests, but it also stands alone nicely when you just want a simple, classic cashmere turtleneck.
I’m wearing it here, in one of my favorite photos of all time!
And that’s where I’m going to end this post! I have tried other brands over the years, but these are the major players in my wardrobe right now that are still available, and I think it gives you a nice assortment of styles and price points to choose from.
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photos: Alison Cornell