How to buy bargain cashmere

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Can you get a good bargain when buying cashmere? Yep. High-quality cashmere doesn't have to be high-priced. Fashion expert Sharon Haver, founder and style director of FocusOnStyle.com, provides a buying guide to bargain cashmere.

How to buy bargain cashmere
  • Not all cashmere is born equal. Get the most for your money by selecting good quality, knowing the right price, and making sure that the cashmere garment you buy is a flattering fit. How it looks on you is far more important than the price you pay.
  • Great bargains can be found not only at off-price stores and outlets, but even in department stores if you are looking for a classic design — a turtleneck, cardigan or V-neck. These designs are always in style and you can find great deals if you are willing to buy off-season.
  • Online cashmere options are increasingly a good choice as they are moving away from the not-so-sexy boxy look towards a more fitted, contoured silhouette. Because you cannot “feel” the merchandise before buying, use established brands that you are familiar with to ensure quality.
  • Thrift shops can yield unexpected treasures. Good quality cashmere can last many years, and finding a “gently used” garment can be a great deal. However, CHECK THE ARMPITS: Both to make sure that years of wear have not hardened them, and that there is no residual odor that turns a great deal into a deal-breaker.
  • Don't overlook bargains in men's sizes when you are shopping, as men's garments are usually a little less money than women's high-end designer choices. However, make sure that the shoulders and sleeves fit correctly, and that there's no dangle in them. The “boyfriend” look of combining an oversize cardigan with a beautiful designer belt creates a contemporary, chic look.
  • Still can't afford enough cashmere garments? Consider organic cotton or merino wool as alternatives. Select fabrics that are 100% wool or cotton — except for the addition of 2% Lycra for fit — and shop for gorgeous colors that accent any outfit.

Transcript

LISA:  I'm Lisa Birnbach from howdini.com.
Not all cashmere is born equal. Sometimes the price is great but the quality isn't. So, how do you get the most for your money? With us for cashmere shopping tips is Sharon Haver, fashion reporter and founder of focusonstyle.com
Hi Sharon.

SHARON:  Hi Lisa, how are you?

LISA: Fine thanks. How are you?

SHARON:  Great.

LISA:  Where do you get a good bargain on cashmere?

SHARON:  You can get cashmere on sale in all sorts of places. One of the things is, if you're looking for something like a cashmere turtle neck, or a cardigan or a v-neck or a sort of classic kind of sweater you don’t necessarily need to buy it in season and you don't necessarily need to buy it in a major department store all the time. You can get them, like these, this is an amazing sweater, which is Italian, and probably sells for around a thousand dollars and I got this at an off price store for under two hundred.

LISA:  Did you know that, was the label in it?

SHARON:  Yeah, the label is in it. Even if it wasn’t, and something of this kind of quality, you don’t necessarily need to know how much it cost. I mean it has its original price in Euros on it. You can just feel it and know that this is a sweater that does not sell for two hundred or less.

LISA:  Are you better off buying from a specialty cashmere store or a department store?

SHARON:  It depends. What you want to make sure is that the cashmere sweater has a great cut and that it’s beautiful and that it works on you and it’s flattering to your figure. How it looks on you is ultimately the most important thing as opposed to “I've got this fabulous $2,000 sweater – I paid $50,” and you put it on and it looks like a sack or it’s too tight. Better get the cheaper one.

LISA:  You sometimes recommend menswear.

SHARON:  Yeah.

LISA:  Are men’s sweaters cheaper than women’s sweaters?

SHARON:  Well, for the most part, men’s clothing is usually a little bit less expensive than women’s clothing and if you’re looking for an oversized sweater or if your not the tiniest woman, you can probably get into a men’s small. You want to make sure the sleeves fit you correctly, they don't dangle, and the shoulders fit nicely.

LISA:  The under arms are awfully big in a men’s sweater, right?

SHARON:  But, if you’re getting a cardigan, it’s actually really chic if you have like the boyfriend’s kind of look, the big grey men’s cardigan. And then I would belt it with a mock croc belt or just a beautiful luxurious belt and wear it over skinny bottoms so you have that loose feeling of a men’s sweater.

LISA:  That's very chic.

SHARON:  Yeah it’s very chic and it’s probably cheaper than buying the women’s high-end designer version that's that style.

LISA:  Sharon, can you find decent cashmere online? Of course the problem is you can't touch it.

SHARON: Well, many of – some of – the major catalogue retailers now are online and you can go with the established brands. In the past, most of them were not the most sexiest fit – a little bit boxy, a little bit frumpy, but now they have what they call fitted cashmere which has a nicer, more contoured silhouette. But if you’re familiar with the brand and familiar with their style and you want to make something with a little more chic, I usually recommend going a size down. So if you’re a medium, and let’s say in a designer sweater, and maybe you’re going online to a place with the canvas tote bags, I buy their sweater in a small.

LISA:  Thrift shops?

SHARON:  Classic cashmere can last for years and years and years and I’ve got some amazing sweaters from thrift shops over the years and you just kind of fall upon them and they're cheap. But what you want to look for in used sweaters is mostly you want to check the armpits. You want to make sure of two things – that they don’t have the kind of hardness they get under here after much wear, and that's usually from the old-time lack of antiperspirants, and you know you’re going back too long on that, and you want to give it a quick sniff too to make sure you’re not getting into something you don't want to take home.

LISA:  Now, if ultimately cashmere is just not in your budget, even discount off-price cashmere, what wools and what materials do you like?

SHARON:  I like anything that is 100 percent, unless there's a reason to put a little 2 percent Lycra in there for fit. I love organic cotton – so many of the fast fashion places now have these fantastic organic cotton T-shirts, which I buy, and they’re about $20 there, and they're beautiful. I also like really nice high-quality 100 percent merino wool, and you can get some gorgeous colors. You don't always have to have cashmere, you know, part of the way of having style is having a diverse wardrobe and there's no reason you should have one thing or another. But I would always stick with something that's 100 percent natural and it just looks better.

LISA:  Sharon, thanks so much.

SHARON: Thank you.

LISA:  For howdini.com I’m Lisa Birnbach.

meet theexpert
  • Sharon Haver

    Sharon Haver Fashion Industry Expert Sharon Haver has been a fashion industry reporter, stylist, editor and columnist for nearly 20 years. She knows the business of being beautiful inside and out. more about this expert »

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