Truly luxurious gifts have to be super-special. This season we’re focusing our sights on Lands End Cashmere. This wool, which comes only from a special breed of goat, used to be woven into fabric reserved for Tibetan Monks (it’s cold in the Himalayas) and Royalty. Not every goat is a cashmere goat. The most valuable cashmere is still obtained from goats who live in pastures swept by icy wind, the most primitive and wild environments of China, Kashmir and Mongolia. However, The word cashmere is an old spelling of the Kashmir region in northern India. The cashmere goat is cute, but the goat’s hair is extremely is fine in texture, and it is strong, light, and very soft.
In case you’re wondering why cashmere costs so much more than sheep wool, it’s because it takes more than two goats (fur only: the goats stay very much alive) to make a single two-ply sweater. The fibers of the warming undercoat must be separated from a coarser protective top coat during the spring molting season and this generally has to be combed and sorted by hand. According to one source on Slate.com, only 6,500 metric tons of pure cashmere is created annually (wool from sheep is about 2 million metric tons). ,
You can see why cashmere is a prized possession and a fabulous, luxurious gift idea, but it also has a practical side. It is not just much softer (and less itchy) than clothing made from regular sheep wool and cashmere also provides superior insulation ( triple that of sheep wool).
There are lots of places where you can buy cashmere, but The Advice Sisters suggest a reputable retailer like Lands End. They really stand behind their products. If you are dissatisfied with your order they will make it right. Their customer service people are friendly, efficient and knowledgeable (a huge plus when you’re buying online and I can’t see the product in person). Lands End cares about their customers. I tell this story every year, because I can prove what I just said. My husband was at the World Trade Center on September 11th, when the planes hit the twin towers. Although he escaped, his computer ended up in the debris, along with his Lands End briefcase. Although Lands End briefcases are guaranteed against certain types of damage, I didn’t think they’d replace is under these circumstances, but Lands End immediately replaced his briefcase, no questions asked. When the strap on this briefcase broke after nearly eight years, they replaced that for free without a hassle as well. I can’t think of another company that would do this!
Lands End products are good quality, but while the the cashmere sweaters looked nice in the photos, I wanted to see if they were a nice “in person.” I tried two: a classic cardigan and a modern tunic. Read on to see if these are going to be on your wish list and your gift list this holiday season!
Every woman needs at least one classic cardigan sweater, Why not make it coveted cashmere to wear over everything? This Lands End Cashmere Argyle Cardigan #Item #463988A7X ($209.00) is a bit of an investment, but it’s a sweater that will never go out of style and can last literally a lifetime. The 100% Inner Mongolian cashmere is kitten-soft, available in sizes XS to XL (regular, petite and plus) and in scarlet/grey/beige or (the one we wear-tested) in Classic Grey Heather and cream with turquoise accent lines. We normally wear a medium, but selected the large for a roomier, jacket-style fit. This sweater fits just about to the hip, (Mid-hip length, approximately 25 1/8” long in size regular medium) . *Lands End has a helpful size calculator.
The details make this sweater special: it has long sleeves with ribbed cuffs and hem. Two other luxurious details include genuine shell buttons (no plastic for a fabulous, high end sweater this this one) and a grossgrain-trimmed placket to help the sweater button flat and stay in shape.Lands End says that this sweater will become even softer over time, but while it’s not so thin you can see through it, the fine gauge yarn makes it perfect for layering, and also dressier if you want to wear this for an evening out. This kind of sweater takes on your personality depending upon how you wear it. I’ve worn mine with everything from jeans and a tee to a black dinner dress casually draped around my shoulder for color and warmth. Add accessories to make it ladylike or trendy.
For a more modern take on a sweater, try a tunic! I love this Women’s Cashmere Boatneck Tunic Sweater Item #463985A73 ( $189.00) that comes in sizes regular, petite and plus and in colors purple, black, heather, fuchsia, and Celestial (essentially, navy) blue. You can get this is regular or petite in sizes XS-XL. It’s made of the same 100% Inner Mongolian cashmere as the argyle cardigan, but but the thickeness/weight is slightly heavier so it drapes nicely on your body but still isn’t too thick to layer if you wish. The cashmere without washing it first seems a bit less silky than that of the argyle sweater, but I wore it without layers directly on my skin (which is sensitive) and it was perfectly soft and lovely. Keep in mind that Lands End says the fabric will get even softer over time.
I really like the style of this sweatier. Most cashmere sweaters seem to have the same, boring crew neck, but this one has a more open, more feminine boat neck which makes it dressier and more interesting. Particularly terrific is the hip length with side vents (to allow drape without cling) and a little extra length in the back to cover where you want it. The sweater also has nicely finished ribbed hem and cuffs. Lands End sizing can sometimes be tricky, mostly they have generously sized items, so I would recommend consulting the *Lands End size chart. if you’re wondering how this tunic might fit you or a lucky gift recipient, the Front length is approximately 27 1/4” in size regular medium. I opted for a large and it fit true to size.
Make it Personal: Lands End is famous for offering monogramming at reasonable cost. This tunic can be personalized with one initial or a full monogram. And there are tons of colors to choose from, and you even can choose the placement of the Monogram. How much does it cost for this? It’s a mere $6.00!