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Shit I Bought and Liked: The Basic Cashmere Crew Hunt
Hi everyone. There’s a catchy subject line to this email, but before we get to its contents, I have a note.
Over the past two and a half weeks, this newsletter has really been the last thing on my mind. At the risk of stating the obvious, it’s been an incredibly painful time.
It’s painful to watch what’s happened in Israel and in Gaza—the horrific terror, the indiscriminate airstrikes, the incomprehensible scale of agony and death. It’s painful to see hate spread, renewing fear for basic safety and claiming more innocent lives. It’s painful to watch people speak and act from their worst impulses. It’s painful to see people you love in pain because of it. And it’s painful to know that this could all get even worse in the coming days and weeks. I hope desperately that that doesn’t happen.
The carnage is overwhelming, the feelings run incredibly deep, and the days seem darker than they have in a long time. To all of you who have been hurting, I see you. I’m sending you love.
If you did not come here looking for A Statement™, I get it—that’s not the point of this newsletter or what we normally do here. But it would be wrong to skip straight to shopping as if all is well in the world when it is so clearly not.
There are many groups doing their best to help, despite the danger and difficulty of doing so at this time. If you’re looking for one to support, World Central Kitchen is one I trust immensely—they are working with a local org (Anera) in Gaza and on the ground directly in Israel to feed people who have been affected. Doctors Without Borders does heroic work as well. If you can spare money for one of the sweaters in this newsletter, please also spare some for people who can only dream of enjoying such simple pleasures right now.
This newsletter may have not been top of my mind for a bit, but the legwork for today’s issue did provide a bright spot for me over the past few days, and for that I am grateful. I hope what follows can do a little of the same for you.
In the past few years, it seems like every brand has started offering “affordable cashmere,” but it’s tough to know what’s worth buying. What feels soft and substantial, what fits well and flatters, what has the makings of a go-to piece for years to come?
To me, a black cashmere crew is the ultimate staple—I wear mine during the daytime with denim or casual pants, and dress it up with leather or trousers for dinners out. It’s the fall/winter version of a white t-shirt. My previous go-to was a now-discontinued style from Everlane, but I wanted to make sure I was pointing you all in the best direction for current offerings, hence this little investigation!
At the start of the month, I placed an order for four cashmere crewneck sweaters from some of the better-known, reasonably-priced brands: J. Crew (a classic), Everlane (the brand behind my old faithful), Reformation (a newer comer that gets lots of props for their cashmere and their sustainability), and Quince (the most affordably priced basics that so many of you rave about). Here’s what I found (pictures included, though they really don’t photograph all that differently…):
My Overall Pick: J. Crew ($128) Color me IMPRESSED. This sweater is extremely comfortable and soft to the touch—of all the ones I tried, it’s the one I wanted to stay in all day long. It’s lightweight and lays well, but it doesn’t feel too thin or insubstantial. Of all the cashmere I’ve seen at this price-point, this one feels the highest quality. I typically size down in J. Crew so I did here too and it’s still a bit roomy and relaxed. It comes in plenty of colors and a wide assortment of sizes, which are other huge pluses. The only potential downside is the length. It’s a very classic fit/cut, which means it’s a little long. It tucks and folds very easily, so that might not be an issue for most people, but if you prefer a shorter length, you may want to try their shrunken version. I’m wearing a size XS.
Runner Up: Quince ($50) This is very similar to J. Crew’s AND the least expensive of all of these options by a long shot. If you’re looking for a great option at the best price, this is your sweater. It’s soft to the touch—slightly less so than J. Crew’s, but considerably softer than the other two. It fits similarly to J. Crew’s classic version as well. I didn’t like the collar and cuff length as much personally, but those are small details—if you’re less picky, there’s no reason not to give this a shot. This was the first piece I’ve tried from Quince and certainly will not be the last! I’m wearing a size S.
Best Fit: Reformation ($168) This was my favorite fit of all the options. To me, it’s the most contemporary. The body is slightly relaxed, but it’s less boxy and fits a little more closely than the others. It’s not cropped, but it’s shorter than most classic options, which means it works really easily with most pants/skirts, and there’s less finagling with tucks and folds. Not that anyone asked, but the collar and cuffs are also perfection. But in comparison, the cashmere is less soft and feels less substantial than J. Crew’s, which made me less enthusiastic. This is a different iteration than in years past, so they may have made updates, but I bought a lighter color from Ref last year, and it’s a bit more sheer than I had hoped for. I’m wearing a size S.
Skip: Everlane ($158) Don’t ask me why I bought this sweater in grey instead of black—I still do not know. My hopes for this sweater were high, but honestly, this is a skip from me. It’s not a bad option (though slightly itchy), but J. Crew’s is much softer, more comfortable, and considerably less expensive. I wouldn’t go for this knowing that that’s also available. I’m wearing a size S.
If all of this has left you hoping that one day Reformation will make a sweater with J. Crew’s cashmere and price it like Quince… I’m right there with you. But until then, hopefully this has helped you narrow down the options and find your new go-to!
Other things I’ve been loving lately: I made a Tom Kha soup using this base and the recipe it came with and it’s one of the easiest, tastiest dinners I’ve ever made—will be repeating all fall/winter. My NuFace has been working overtime lately, tysm for your service. I ate up every single episode of the Indian drama series Made in Heaven (while eating a lot of Siggi’s vanilla yogurt mixed with this delicious jam). This shower storage bar has done a lot to make my bathroom feel less cluttered. I can’t find it online, but Jenni Kayne’s candle in the scent “West” has quickly become a favorite—thank you to my sweet friend Nikki for the gift!
I’m not gonna lie—finagling a sign off after this one is tough... I hope you all are taking care of yourselves, modeling (as Barack Obama says) the kind of world you want to see, and finding some spots of light where you can.