Consumer Reports: Cashmere Know-How

12:34 PM, Dec 11, 2012   |    comments
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Looking for a special gift?  Cashmere sweaters are heavily marketed around the holidays. But do you have to spend hundreds to get good quality? Consumer Reports ShopSmart says not necessarily.

Consumer Reports ShopSmart's Sue Perry checked out dozens of cashmere sweaters at a variety of price points.

"If you're picking up a $59.99 cashmere sweater from the bargain bin, you better believe that it's probably not one hundred percent cashmere even though the label may say so," Perry said.

A couple of quick checks in the store can tell you a lot.

"Run your hand over the sweater and if little balls start forming, that's called pilling. That's a sign that this is a cheaper sweater and probably is not going to hold up, and I would put it back."

Another check - whether the sweater holds its shape. Stretch it side to side. High-quality cashmere won't stretch out of shape.

"We found that the cheapest you can go in cashmere is about the 100-dollar mark," Perry said.

That's how much a Lands End cashmere costs. It's a good choice with its simple design and basic color.

With more styling and richer colors, ShopSmart says expect to pay much more, like a Magaschoni sweater for 320 dollars. It's a big splurge, but in the long run it can pay off.

"You're going to have that sweater for years and years and years," Perry said.

So when buying a cashmere sweater, take the time to size up the quality.

Consumer Reports ShopSmart says a cashmere sweater needs some T-L-C. Always follow the care instructions and be sure to clean your sweater before storing it. That's because dirt attracts moths. And be sure to store it flat, not on a hanger, which can stretch it out.

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