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Cheap V's Chic

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Not quite warm enough for a t-shirt, not quite cold enough for a full on wooly jumper- cashmere is perfect for spring. But with many of us still holding the purse strings tight we look at whether we should splash the cash on an investment piece or maybe get the look/feel for less with a high street version.

AnnMarie O'Connor-Stylist & Fashion Blogger:

According to her website -

"I've been a style writer for more years than is fashionable to mention. Suffice to say I have worked with the likes of The Irish Examiner, RTE, Dazed and Confused, Elle, Trace, Image, IF, The Dubliner, The Irish Independent, Prudence, and interviewing designers, chasing trends, styling, profiling and lying about my spiralling shoe habit. My mantra-burn the tracksuit honey and learn to walk in a pair of damn heels. Life's too short not to look tall and fabulous. Mwah! Lovin' your work. Xxx"

Annmarie is a freelance fashion writer, blogger and personal stylist. Her credits include The Irish Examiner, Elle, Dazed and Confused, Image, Trace, IF, The Irish Independent, and

Over the past 8 years she has interviewed the likes of Terry de Havilland, Zandra Rhodes and Ben de Lisi, and has gained a cult following with her blog: I Blog Fashion which is being made into a book. She is also the organiser of the monthly Fashion Bloggers' Brunch events in Dublin


"Cashmere is luxuriant wool that many a fashion-conscious woman has dreamed of wearing against her skin. Its silken feel, feather-light weight, and appreciable status make it highly desirable.

Despite the glamour associated with cashmere, it hails from humble beginnings. Cashmere is the wool or fur of the Kashmir goat. Kashmir goats are primarily raised in Mongolia, but many are bred in Iran, Tibet, India and China. American herders have also joined the international cashmere production market in recent years.

Cashmere is harvested from the goats during their annual molting season through the shedding or the shearing of their down. In the frigid high desert climates where most of the goats are raised, the dense inner coat guards against harsh winter weather, but once seasons change, goats begin to lose the protective layer of down.

The finest cashmere comes from the underbelly and throat of the goats, but a lesser grade is also taken from the goats' legs and backs. Longer fibers from the belly and throat area make the wool especially soft and cause less "pilling" when the fibers are woven into garments such as sweaters, shawls, capes, dresses, and coats for both men and women. The shorter fibers from the backs and legs are heavier and less expensive, making it easier to afford a luxury garment. Cashmere comes naturally in white, gray and brown, but the wool is easily dyed.

Garments made of cashmere were once only available to royalty because the rarity of the wool increased its value. Napoleon is said to have popularized the use of cashmere as shawls or wraps when he gave his second wife, Empress Eugenie, seventeen of them.

In more recent years, Old-Hollywood glamour girls graced the silver screen, bringing cashmere to the hearts of people everywhere. The "original sweater girl," Lana Turner, created a phenomenon when she wore a tight cashmere sweater in a 1937 film called, They Won't Forget. Cashmere sweaters of all description soon became haute coutre; evening sweaters with heavily encrusted jewels and embroidery became popular during the 1940s, and the famed sweater set of best-dressed college coeds ruled the 50s. Avid collectors are now frantic to snatch up those fine examples of vintage cashmere sweaters.

Woven garments made of cashmere must be dry cleaned, but knitted articles may be hand washed. Home weavers and knitters cherish cashmere for its soft hand and practical warmth; cashmere wool is available for home projects at yarn shops or online via Internet craft and knitting sites.

The quality and feel of cashmere will leave you longing for more. Owning a garment made of cashmere is a fashion treat to be truly treasured--after all, it takes one little goat four years to produce enough wool to make just one cashmere sweater."

Prices/Stockists/Relevant Information:

Outfit 1:-

Necklace, €20, M&S
Cashmere Cardigan, €195, Brown Thomas
Jesire dress, €159, Brown Thomas
Clutch, €5, Penneys
Kurt Geiger shoes, €200, Brown Thomas

Outfit 2:-

Necklace, €16, M&S
Cashmere Cardigan €150, Hobbs
Linen dress, €35, M&S
Bag, €27, M&S
Shoes, €9, Penneys

Outfit 3:-

Cashmere Cardigan, €80 M & S
French Connection dress, €105, Arnotts
Belt, €1.50, Penneys
Bag, €30, M&S
Shoes, €9, Penneys



. It's a soft material made from the hairs of the Kashmiri goat.


. It's ideal spring wear - as it is light but warm and made of natural breathable fibres.


. The best way to assess the grade of cashmere is to feel it - the softer the better.

. Test the feel of the same garment in different colours. Lower grades of cashmere don't dye well, so manufacturers tend to use a darker colours.

. Check the label - some garments are a mix of cashmere and wool or silk.

. Check 'the loft' - good cashmere has a spring in the fabric. If a garment doesn't bounce back to shape after pulling it and letting it go, it will stretch out of shape.

. Handknitted garments are pricier but of better quality.

How much?

. It can be quite expensive as the soft hairs come from the chin and belly of the Kashmiri goat which are harvested once a year.
. Looking for a cheaper version? Try a cashmere / merino wool mix.