“What is the most worn garment in your collection?” After giving this some thought, I award that prize to my ash gray cashmere sweater. I purchased it from Everlane in 2018 and have worn it countless times. When you find a piece that is the perfect building block, you will likely use it often and in many ways.
I wear a gray sweater at least once per week in cooler weather and sometimes over my shoulders in warmer weather as a buffer against overzealous air conditioning. A simple gray sweater looks great with scarves, vests, or jackets. Shades of gray look best on my cool skin tone and with my other clothes. Camel, ivory, or olive might be better choices if you have a warm skin tone. I gravitate to fine knits since they do not add bulk like a cable knit cotton sweater.
The classic-fit cashmere sweater shown above is here. Everlane now has a similar sweater here, with a broader neckband, and it fits a bit differently than my earlier version.
When I started building outfits from basic elements, I realized I didn’t need a lot of clothes. So, after identifying the pieces that looked best on my shape and proportions and in my flattering colors, I looked for the best quality I could afford. Since those items are very basic and plain, I can mix, match, layer, and accessorize in unlimited ways. Another advantage of owning such pieces is that I can dress them up and down in endless combinations.
I often wear this rather plain sweater while working from home with a vest, pair of jeans, and loafers.
I also have a merino wool sweater in almost the same color. It also gets a lot of use, so to be fair, my answer is a crew neck sweater. However, a crewneck top makes a full bust look larger and a round face more so. Therefore, you will notice that I almost always cut the expanse with a scarf, a vest, or a jacket left open.
I often drape sweaters over my shoulders and tie them at the neck over a white shirt and jeans on warmer days.
A cashmere or Merino wool simple sweater is the perfect cozy warm, and simple backdrop for the scarves and jackets I enjoy wearing.
Because of past experiences with wool in my younger days, I avoided cashmere and merino wool for years. So, I was delighted to learn that both fabrics are soft, cozy, and easy to style and care for.
I hang my lightweight sweaters inside out on felted hangers and leave them on a hook or rail to air out for a couple of days after I wear them. I gently hand wash them as needed, reshape them, and lay them flat to dry. Here is where I learned to care for cashmere.
I wore this look out to lunch with friends last week. I’ve shared links to anything from the recent photo above that is still available. Jeans – Scarf – Bag – Shoes
Black cashmere sweaters offer the bonus of looking great with faded jeans or dressed up for the holidays over a silk slip dress. The options are unlimited!
I hope that sharing how I put together different looks using a few essentials helps you use your wardrobe more efficiently and with joy. In addition, shopping links on this site may allow me to earn a small commission at no cost to you.
Thank you, Susan! Great info. Since gray is not one of my best colors, the alternate colors helped me reframe this for me! Much appreciated!
So much good information in this post! Thank you so much for all your hard work. I’ve learned so much from you over the years but the best is to get completely dressed every day even if you are staying home. That has saved me from many embarrassing situations — unexpected visitors, unexpected errands, and just my overall outlook!
I’ve been reluctant to try cashmere due to cost and care, but your post inspires me to try it. It would seem the cost per wear of this item may be reasonable considering its versatility.
You outfits prove that a basic wardrobe is a lady’s best friend.
This was a good post! Helpful flashbacks!
What a great addition to a slip dress!
Love all these looks! I love gray sweaters, so versatile. Thanks so much for your wealth of information, I enjoy and look forward to your email! You are so appreciated!
Hi Susan— Great article especially the video on sweater care. Have you found a good cashmere or merino wood v-neck sweater and possibly includes petite sizing that you personally have experience with? Regular missy size could work if the overall length is shorter. Thank you
I found a classic-fit cashmere sweater here. I bought my first cashmere sweater at Ann Taylor. There is also a V-neck petite sweater here, but it has dropped shoulders. Cashmere v-neck sweaters are also here and here.
So many great looks this week. WoW!
Susan: Thank you so much for the You Tube suggestion on washing cashmere. I have been avoiding purchasing any cashmere because I always dry cleaned it in the past and the cost was getting too high. After watching this video, I may have the courage to go back to purchasing some basic cashmere sweaters. I do follow her suggestions on merino wool which I wear and love.
Great post! I love sweater basics.
The link to the post that includes the picture of you by the fountain seems to be for a different post.
Thank you, Cheryl. I’ve corrected the mistake.
A little sideline. When you featured the vest shown here, I ordered one from Chicos. I mistakenly ordered the orchid color instead of navy. I had just purchased a Chicos v-neck sweater in orchid. The duo has become one of my favorite fall items. I like it with loden jeans. I never pay as much attention to what I try on as you do. I was attracted to this vest because of your comments on details – like the ribbed fabric on the side and the pleather details. Thank you for expanding my attention to detail!
Your post has me recalling a question I’ve always had about sweaters. When you, or the manufacturers say “reshape,” what exactly does that mean and how do you do it? I have a flat rack that I lay over the bathtub with a towel over it and I put my sweaters flat on that, but the reshaping part baffles me.
As usual, you look so glamorous and put together in these photos. Gray is your color! It looks lovely with your hair color.
Love all your looks! Appreciate your posts!
Reshape means lay the sweater out flat in the same size as it was before it was washed and then smooth out wrinkles. Don’t fold the arms in on the body.
The cashmere looks beautiful. The questions I have are – Do you find you get too hot in the sweater and do you wear anything between the sweater and your skin (except for your shapeeze)? Thanks!
Cashmere is warmer than wool and helps to maintain your natural body temperature, meaning it keeps you warm but not hot. It is also naturally absorbent, letting your body breathe, so I don’t get too warm in cashmere or Merino wool sweaters.
I am horribly allergic to wool. I wonder if there are cotton versions of any of your sweaters!
I found a 100% cotton sweater here, and there is no wool in the sweater here.
Thanks for the great suggestions and information. I struggle with being VERY shortwiasted yet I am 5’6″. Petite sweaters work better on my body, but not on my arm length. How do you balance finding the right size for something like this?
I found petite size cashmere sweaters in several colors here. Some sweater sleeves seem extra long this year, so maybe you will have some luck.
You have such great style, Susan! Your skill in utilizing basic pieces and dressing them up or down, accessorizing, and wearing each look with elegance – yet never frumpy or dowdy – is impressive. I am so happy to have such a great reference/resource to help me build looks for all occasions. Thank you!
Thank you for the lovely comment, Maggie. You made my day!
Thank you for this post and the recommended video on sweater care. I have purchased cashmere sweaters in the past but find that some are just too itchy to wear comfortably. Yet I hear many women love the softness of cashmere. What should I look for when shopping for cashmere that could help me avoid this?
Also could you explain the difference between merino wool and cashmere?
Wool comes from sheep. Merino wool comes from Merino sheep. Cashmere comes from goats.
Cashmere can be seven to eight times warmer than merino wool and has a higher loft, making it softer. On the other hand, Merino wool is sturdier and resists pilling more effectively, and generally requires less care in washing.
Cashmere is a more luxurious fabric with an elegant drape. Cashmere is warmer and softer than merino but less durable, making cashmere the preferred textile for casual wear, while merino is the preferred wool for activewear.
Look for 100% cashmere.
Love the idea of wearing a sweater over the slip dress. Makes the slip dress work in the fall and winter.
Thank you! Again you’ve demonstrated how to put an outfit together several different ways and have each one a stand-alone look. I look forward to each email from you. I’ve learned that one “gets what you paid for!” and a few extra dollars makes all the difference in looking ‘classy’. I’m so glad I’ve discovered your site!
I copied your fruitcake recipe with the intent to make it this year. Can you tell me what size applesauce you use? It looks really good! Thanks for your help.
I used a 15-ounce can, but they don’t seem to make those anymore. About two cups should do the trick.
Hello Susan, Last year I took the plunge and bought a few cashmere sweaters. I stayed away from them in the past because I thought I would roast in them, but to my chagrin, I’m comfortably warm but not too hot. This said, I want to protect my investment from those pesky moths. So far so good, but can you shed some light on how to care and protect them? There’s so much information on line, it’s confusing.
I recently purchased this sweater kit to store and protect my sweaters during the summer. I have kept my sweaters with cedar planks and lavender sachets for about five years. Thus far, I’ve had no moth holes.
Susan and Mickey, I wanted to thank both of you and your part in keeping our citizens safe and protecting our wonderful country and all that it stands for: a democracy, elective government and ALL the freedoms we enjoy. I don’t know if you enjoyed your service or not, but a really big thanks to you if you saw horrible things and brought some of that pain back with you. I know it’s taken a long time to process all that and I honor you for that, if you did.
Happy Veteran’s Day, Connie Briggs
Thank you, Connie. We have always been very proud of our service and grateful for the valuable lessons we learned during those years.
I regularly follow you, but rarely reach out. Because you always seek the best and it shows, I have a question.: My over the counter deodorant can leave white stains on my clothing in the underarm area. Please suggest a method to remove them,. Please recommend some name brands of deodorant. Thank you!
I use Tom’s of Maine deodorant here. I have never noticed any staining on my clothes.
Make a paste out of three parts bicarbonate of soda to one-part water, rub onto the stain, and allow to sit for a couple of hours, then wash in a hot water cycle. This method is ideal for dried, yellowish deodorant stains.
Hi Susan I’m a new reader from the UK. Can I say your look is very “classy”. I admire how you put your outfits together. Can I be very personal and ask how tall you are please? You look incredibly slim and perfectly proportioned in your photos and so I wonder if I can ever aspire to your look at 5’5”? Many thanks. Glyn
I am 5 feet 6 inches tall, and I weigh 140 pounds. You, too, can reach your goals!
I’m your Sweater Love post, can you tell me where to purchase the blue, black, and white scarf?
Thank you, and I so enjoy your posts!
The scarf is here.
Thank you for your service on this Veterans Day weekend.
I believe you look so great in this light gray cashmere sweater is because it matches your hair color.
If readers will match their tops closely with their hair color, it will always be flattering.
Thank you, Sharon. It is also true that if you match a handbag to your hair color, you will reach for it often.