Celebrities Style it Up in Cashmere

With designers showcasing their new collections on the Autumn/Winter 2014 catwalks, the paparazzi have been busy snapping photographs of celebrities wearing all the latest items and trends. One trend that has consistently graced catwalks and street style for the new season is cashmere.

Kashmir, the region where the wool production originated, is how the wool cashmere obtained its name. Cashmere has been around possibly as early as the Mongolian empire in the 13th century. It is said that cashmere has a history that is way grander than just that in the fashion industry. From 1500-1900’s, cashmere shawls were often part of political and religious ceremonies. They were often given as political gifts that announced a hierarchy between the giver and the receiver.

So what exactly is cashmere?  Cashmere is a textile that is made from the soft undercoat of goats.  Since cashmere is specifically from the undercoat alone, it requires the wool of more than two goats to make a just one two-ply sweater.  The process of obtaining this luxury wool is quite labour intensive. The undercoat fibres must be separated from a top wool layer which is much coarser.  This is done by combing and sorting the hair by hand. High-quality cashmere is many times warmer than sheep’s wool despite being light weight.


But not all cashmere is created equal. There can be differences in the colour, length and texture of the fibres. Some garments made from cashmere may hold up better than others. Items that require less dye will actually be softer than cashmere items that are dyed for colouring.  The temperatures and rainfall in the region in which the cashmere is obtained may also make a difference. The health and nutrition of the goat also plays a part in the quality. However, with poor handling, spinning and weaving, even the finest cashmere can be compromised as these practices can change the look and feel of the final product.

So why is cashmere so popular?  Other than the obvious softness and comfort of wearing cashmere, some may say that cashmere can also indicate status due to the high cost of cashmere products. In 1999, 15 years ago, The New Yorker magazine reported cashmere sweaters selling for up to $1000.  In 2013, an Italian cashmere-wool blend sweater sold for an astonishing $4,490. This astronomical cost was said to be due to the superior materials from which is was made as well as the 90 hours in labour that it took to create.

Don’t be alarmed.  Not all cashmere items come with such a hefty price tag.  Cashmere has come down in cost enough that many now consider it a high-street staple item. With cashmere proving more affordable for the average buyer, it’s no surprise that sales of cashmere are on the rise and that designers are making the most of this delightfully soft fabric in their latest collections.  Of course, items made from 100% cashmere will cost more and item’s made in Italy or Scotland tend to also bring a higher price tag.

If cashmere can be associated with status to some degree, then it is no surprise that your favourite celebrities may be seen donning a spectacular cashmere article or accessory. Here are just a few:

Pippa Middleton has been featured in Waitrose magazine wearing the gorgeous Pure Collection Cashmere Boyfriend Sweater in stunning Sunset Orange. This casual look and relaxed fit sweater really complements Pippa’s build and skin-tone. It comes in a variety of colours and is a great wardrobe staple.


Super stylish film star Ginnifer Goodwin was recently spotted leaving Dallas Airport in a cashmere travel wrap. The powder peach heather colour adds a touch of spring to her outfit, making it a great way to transition between the seasons. This 100% cashmere travel wrap is a high demand piece year after year. It is perfect for travel and can be worn as a scarf, shawl or shrug; it can even be used as a travel blanket. Think you have seen this item before? It is very possible since many celebrities have worn it at red carpet events.

Cashmere is the perfect fabric for those awkward days where the weather hasn’t quite decided what it’s doing. Its breathable natural fibres give you the best of both worlds, it will keep you warm when it’s chilly and keep you cool when it’s warm. The Daily Mail’s Sandra Howard describes cashmere as ‘an investment piece’. It never goes out of style and it is definitely worth spending a bit more on than your average jumper or scarf as over time you will get the wear out of it.

While your cashmere investment may not wear out or go out of style, it can be damaged in the laundering process.  Most cashmere items come with a dry clean only label. Ignoring that recommendation, many people choose to home launder there cashmere clothing. If you choose this method, it is highly recommended that you wash the item by hand.  Machine washing, would be a last resort although it can be done.  Simply, turn the item inside out, place it in a mesh laundry bag and use a very gentle cleaning agent such as Woolite or even a touch of baby shampoo.  Keep in mind that cashmere can never be machine dried.  Items must have all moisture pressed out, not wrung, and then the item laid flat on a towel.  Be warned, drying cashmere in this fashion could actually take days for it to be completely dry and ready for the closet.  When storing, never hang your cashmere.  The best method is to fold and store flat in a breathable Ziploc bag on a closet shelf.  If you are concerned about moths or other insects possibly damaging your item then you may want to place a few cedar balls in the bag to deter bugs.

When taking inventory of your closet, be sure to consider cashmere.  It is a stunning addition to any wardrobe and is certain to last longer than most any other clothing item or accessory that you will purchase this season.