Cashmere: Replacements and enticements

I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. The elbows of my black cashmere v-neck, bought ca. 2005, are nearly worn through. I'd order another from Land's End, but they discontinued their "deep v" model years ago.

I'll coax it though maybe another winter by patching the elbows with pink washable ultrasuede from Etsy seller 3crafties.

Don't you feel a pang when your trusty basic wears out? And a well-made cashmere piece means considerable expense. February sales to the rescue!

I will replace the black with navy, for the slightest whiff of change. But really, a sweater even I will have trouble remembering is new is about as exciting as ordering a case of dental floss.

The front-runner is Brora's classic v-neck: right neckline, slightly shaped body (a boxy v-neck can look rather masculine) and yarn that doesn't pill. Black and navy are not usually on sale, but this year, they are. It's still a pretty penny, but (confession, not my first of this model) I'm hooked on the quality. 

Tish Jett of A femme d'Un certain age sagely observes that sales are the time to check off your list of replacements, but also to update your wardrobe with a captivating, unusual item.
One such treat might be a luxurious corseted knit jacket by Eric Bompard (reduced by 30%; sale price €483). I'm showing the white so we can admire the assortment of ribs, cables and ripples. I would certainly dribble tea on that pristine swath, so feel relieved that it comes in in back and navy, too.
A two-tone pink dotted cardi, (50% off; sale price €165) would court spring sweetly:


If you are a UK size 8 or 10 and feel adventurous, Brora have reduced the price on an audacious Michael Van Der Ham intarsia cardi from £485 to £289.  

The sales need not involve a huge outlay. A chic accessory tarts up neutrals: I love the colours in Brora's camouflage wrist warmers. (Regular price £45; sale price £29).

Another relatively affordable treat: a pair of cashmere gloves, on sale at both Brora and Bompard. They fit over rings, are easily packed and make a fine gift, especially in a piquant colour like Butterfly Blue. (Price for Eric Bompard's, €31 plus shipping.) 

If snow covers the ground while you're reading this, there is ample time left to enjoy your delicious discount, especially in colours that whisper encouragement to a spring still many weeks away.

*Note: Prices do not include shipping or applicable duties and taxes.


barbara said…
Bought a fitted V-Neck in Navy from Bompards HUG Collection.
Brora's quality is superb, even better than Bompards, but if I compare the Fit of both V-Necks I own, Bompard is the Winner.
LauraH said…
Love your cashmere posts. I'm assuming you're happy with the fit of the Brora v neck? Do you find you have to trade a little extra fabric up top for enough room at the hips?

I tried both Brora and EBompard for the first time this year. Had to send this cardigan back to Brora, too tght across the hips altho I ordered a 14 (I generally take a 12 up top and 14 below)....sigh.

And I returned these pullovers to EBomaprd, XL, had the same issue

BTW if anyone is interested, the disco pink is really more an orange sherbet colour.

Still trying, I have ordered this pullover in XXL instead, hoping for a better fit.

I'm not complaining, this is all part of learning what works and what doesn't, just wish Canada Post return charges weren't so high!

Apologies for all the links, I thought others might find the fit info useful.
Susan B said…
I love those wrist warmers!

I could just kick myself for not getting another Lands' End v-neck (in petite) when they were available. I figured it was a timeless style, they'd offered for years...I do hope they bring back for next year.
Duchesse said…
barbara: I have a number of Bompard v's and like them too! The Fitted Vee in the Hug Collection is 100% cashmere but in each size, is smaller in the bust than the correppnding non-Hug Fitted Vee. (I wish they could name these differently!) Both of those are beautiful cuts, very feminine. The Bompard Classic V is a sportier style.

LauraH: The best way to handle fit is to measure sweater you currently have that fits, and compare with their size guides online. Both companies will supply hip measurement or arm length if you call or e-mail customer service dept. to ask. (EB customer service speaks English). Still I have had the occasional surprise, like a too-tight sleeve.

Know it can be dispiriting to order a bigger size than you ever thought you'd need, but both Brora and Bompard run considerably smaller than North American sizing. Have neighbour who would not order EB b/c she could not bear wearing an XL, finally got over that, and is thrilled.
Duchesse said…
une femme: I've given them feedback but seems to be a matter of what sells. It was the "deep vee", not the "vee"model, and I guess women thought that implied you'd be falling out of it ;)
Kristien62 said…
I just purchased my first Land's End cashmere in a grey crew neck. Not my usual style, but since I have slimmed down, I thought I would try it. I am loving the sweater and a wearing it way too often. I may get another, but would like to try a different style.
LauraH said…
Thanks for the advice and reassurance about size. It was a bit deflating to have to order an XXL! I'm going to get hip measurements from both companies on the basics I love so I'll be ready for future sales.
barbara said…
Duchesse - right, the Hug runs smaller at the bust, just right for me. I'm 5.5 and 120 lbs. and ordered Size L! So, you really have to get over it with wearing big sizes.
The Fitted Turtleneck I've ordered with the V-Neck strangled my neck, so I sent it back and choosed the Fitted Crew Neck from HUG. Although it was the same Size, the Sleeves are way longer.
And yes, Shipping is € 17,-- to France.

The thrift shops have been full of cashmere offerings this winter. I bought a navy deep V Lands End cardigan, a Burberry men's grey V neck, a long V neck grey cardigan by Lord and Taylor and have avoided buying more. I am puzzled why these lovely sweaters in such pristine condition were donated in the first place.
Have fun shopping!
Beth said…
Must be a cashmere-on-the-mind day. I wore my old lavendar v-neck to the studio today and will leave it here for days when I need its warmth without weight. Originally thrifted, it now has holes in the elbows and stains on the front, and the cuffs are faded to a yellowish-violet, but it will be a perfect painting sweater and probably last another twenty years! My other warm studio "smock" is a grey wool plaid shirt that was my paternal grandfather's - it's probably at least fifty years old by now. Both of these garments have something extra about them that a new piece couldn't offer, though I won't be wearing either out in public!
LPC said…
I have become a huge Brora fan as a result of you, Mater, and Dani. Their cashmere is the best I've tried. And I expect to be wearing out a few v-necks myself in the next year or so. I've taken everyone's advice and am washing them in the washing machine.
LPC said…
And Beth, I love the sound of your painting sweater. Someone should knit one like that on purpose, since we're distressing everything else:).
Duchesse said…
Kristien62: LE are dependable and good for neutral colours in classic styles, despite reviewers always grousing that it was "better in the past". I find it so weird that they do not make a v-neck anymore.

hostess: I too have fund some good cashmere at thrifts, but not lately. I guess people change sizes or move to Mexico.

Beth: Those old pieces, so broken in and sentimental, have their very particular charm.

LauraH: The measurements are not consistent across the line, either, so you may need L in one model and XL in another.

barbara: When EB brought out the Hug Collection, I noted how narrow the cut is. They have moved into the Chinese market, with boutiques in Hong Kong and Beijing. I thought that might be why- to serve more petite women. EB offer free shipping a couple of times per year, not such a savings if you are buying a sweater but helps a lot if only ordering gloves.

LPC: Very happy to hear that's working for you; we have converted a few women to that method- Rubi is another.

Duchesse said…
Beth: Since I moved here. I call cashmere "the life support system".
Eleanorjane said…
I'm wearing my only cashmere today - a cardigan I got on special from Marks and Spencers. It's from the 'old lady' line - Classic but I think it looks okay on me with a belt to pull it in. It hasn't pulled yet, but it hasn't had hard wear.

I find fine merino wool much more affordable. I got two lovely merino cardigans in fuschia pink and forest green for 25 pounds each on sale recently.
Duchesse said…
Eleanorjane: I like merino very much and it is especially useful here in the transitional seasons, or worn under a jacket.
Nancy K said…
My favorite cashmere cardigan has thin elbows too. It's in my sewing room right now awaiting the addition of leather elbows.
materfamilias said…
What I'm finding is that owning and wearing a few cashmere sweaters is cost-effective beyond simply the CPW. For me, the satisfaction I get from them on a daily comfort-tactile level ensures that I feel little deprivation at keeping my credit card in my wallet during these darker colder months, waiting for spring. I might otherwise be tempted by spring colours and prints that are not going to be practical to wear for quite a few more weeks but that would be calling me were my senses not otherwise satisfied by the soft plushness of cashmere. Yummy!
Duchesse said…
Nancy K: Is that leather washable?

materfamilias: Cashmere as deterrent- will its practicality never cease?
I'm still a bit mystified and intimidated as to how to get warm, comfy and good-fitting pullovers and other things online. I'm wearing a very warm and cuddly merino v-neck that I bought at a local charity shop for $2 - yes, the weather was boiling hot. I read these posts faithfully.

I don't find the overly adorned pullovers and cardigans can replace the "ubiquity" of the simple, but perfect, styles.

Looking at lands' end (not much left) and then LLBean, I saw what looks like a gorgeous lambswool duffel coat Item #:TA284397 in a plum I adore, but oh dear, how to know if the damned thing will fit, even if one has one's measurements...

Guess I'm not made for the modern world, though I do love that coat.
Duchesse said…
lagatta: What do you think of calling customer service and talking to them?
They can supply further measurements.
Yes, I was certainly going to do that.
LauraH said…
Duchesse, just following up to let you know that I emailed both Brora and EBompard. Brora supplied hip measurements of the sweaters I was interested in, EBompard did not. Said they could only supply chest and length. Given the prices and shipping, that is ....disappointing.
Anonymous said…
Duchesse, I LOVE those elbow patches you found! They appeal both to my practical Yankee side and my "Pink Princess" alter ego.

Right now I would just about kill for a black v-neck cashmere cardigan. I have a black vee pullover, but I find cardigans more versatile.

BTW, when I wash my cashmere (and wool) sweaters in the machine, I use Eucalan or Soak wool wash. They don't need to be rinsed, and leave things super-soft and smelling lovely. Like Brylcream, a dab will do you. I use just a capful to wash two or three sweaters.

Don't forget to wash or dry clean all your cashmere and wool sweaters and accessories before you store them for the summer. When moths attack (cue horror film music) they're after the sweat and dirt in the fiber, not the fiber itself.
Duchesse said…
LauraH: Strange b/c I've gotten them... maybe it depends on the person responding to you.

Rubi: I use baby shampoo and put them in mesh laundry bags, one per.

Yes, body dirt is caviar to moths and the things do not even have to look or smell dirty to attract them. I wash everything even if I have not worn it.
Anonymous said…
Duchesse, I've converted to machine-washing my cashmere also. I'm wondering about merino wool? I have a few merino sweaters but have been reluctant to try washing those. Anybody have experience with that?

---Jill Ann
Duchesse said…
JillAnn: My merinos all have a washable/cool care label and I was them exactly like cashmere (IMO the mesh bag is essential) and dry flat.
Susan said…
Would you review exactly how you wash your sweaters? Temperature? Detergent use? I understand the mesh bag and drying flat.
Duchesse said…
Method is for single-colour sweaters without trims or embellishments.
1. Select "wool", "hand wash" or "gentle" cycle; cold water
2. Place sweater inside out into a mesh bag; one sweater per bag. Wash similar colours together.
3. Use 1 to 1 1/2 capful Johnson's baby shampoo per item. Other people who use the machine like Eucalan, Laundress Cashmere Wash or other products, but I've always used baby shampoo.
4. When cycle is completed, remove and either roll in towel (if there is a lot of moisture, some machines leave more in) or take as is, lay on a large towel, shape and leave to air-dry. Flip piece over when front is dry to dry the back.

LauraH said…
Just as a follow up, I contacted EBompard again to ask about the hip measurements, explaining the cost of returning incorrect fits and was turned down again. To quote
"Dear Madam Hawthorn,

We refer to you rmessage that we duly received, with thanks.

We are sorry to insist but we do not get the hips measurement. The only information available is the chest measurement and the lenght of the sweaters.

Usually, those information are sufficient to order items as there are the main details to know if the items would fit or not. Then, for your better reference, please note that items with cashmere/silk and ones made "offgauge" fit small than the other ones."

What a shame. I guess I'll just have to wait and see if the XXL I ordered fits and try to figure out other styles from that. Or focus on Brora instead. Sometimes I ask myself, why is shopping so difficult! Thanks for listening.
Duchesse said…
LauraH; Very poor service. (Le Duc reminds me he called, in French, and it was some time ago.) I hope the XXL fits! The ribbed-bottom styles like have a fair amount of give. Fingers crossed.
Duchesse said…
LauraH: Returned the Brora v-neck as it was at least 3 inches wider in bust and also wider in arm than the two previous ones I had bought •in the same size•. (It looked like a man's sweater- was it mislabeled?) Of course the smaller size was s/o. Still, am devoted to online ordering as simply can't get the colours and styles in the quality I like otherwise, except to travel there.
I'm sorry that pullover didn't fit, when we still need such warm things - physically and psychologically, like a hug. Perhaps it was mislabelled?

I went to two La Baie branches yesterday, hoping to find their (discounted) deep-v merino pullover, but no luck: not my size in a colour I like. I did go too late: it was so cold until recently that I didn't want to go anywhere except for work outside and daily shopping. The cashmere sweaters they had were obviously flimsy and I've mourned one of those before (dead far too young).

At least your lovely deep v did have a "good long run".
Duchesse said…
lagatta: Really think it was mislabled, as it was huge everywhere. Will patch the vee!
LauraH said…
Too bad about the Brora v neck, so disappointing. After looking around quite a bit, I agree that it's difficult to find styles and especially colours I like locally so will keep trying mail order. Hate those postal charges on the returns though, they feel like such a mother would be horrified!

Maybe ca va de soi will have something you like....but no sales unfortunately, as far as I know.
Duchesse, perhaps you've seen that LLBean has just brought out a cotton-cashmere pullover with a deep v, though there is only 5% cashmere - guess that just makes it a bit cuddly: Item #:TA286477

Obviously not seasonal yet in Freeport, Maine, or Montréal.

LauraH, I hate those postal charges too.
Duchesse said…
lagatta: Nope, 5% is •• cashmere sweater, it performs like cotton. My son has one of those Bean sweaters. Easy to wash, though.
Duchesse said…
lagatta: Oops, the "not" vanished!

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