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In search of a cashmere cardigan that doesn’t pill.

I love the standard cashmere cardigan as a versatile travel wardrobe staple. I live in Texas so I don’t wear wool sweaters very often so when I was packing in Oct I was disappointed to see my light gray, goes-with-everything, cardigan was borderline. I hadn’t looked at it for possibly a year. It had pills that I didn’t remember. It was from Garnet Hill if anyone is familiar with that brand. Not the most expensive but definitely not bargain basement either.

Cashmere is so light but warm and cozy to wear, great for layering etc. Everything that works for travel but I hate the fact it invariably pills! Does anyone have a brand they recommend?

Posted by
7025 posts

Have you tried using a cashmere comb to remove the pills? Check them out on Amazon if you haven't already tried one.

Posted by
5581 posts

I try to travel with less expensive pieces because they potentially get bunched up, dirty or thrown in a day pack or even lost. I'm always on the "prowl" for pieces at Nordstrom Rack or TJMaxx. If something gets pilled or ratty or lost, I'm not that distressed because I didn't pay much for it. I agree, cashmere is nice for travel, but I won't travel with anything expensive. I have a cashmere blend I got at TJMaxx. I know LLBean and Landsend sell cashmere that is less expensive. Lately what I'm looking for is a hooded cardigan that is cashmere or blend. A hood is often super handy.

Posted by
991 posts

Uniqlo do cashmere at a good price. I have an electric bobble shaver that removes pilling. It works really well.

Posted by
1821 posts

Not exactly the answer you are looking for. However, I have found a Pashmina wool shawl/wrap is a great travel accessory. Maybe because it is so fine, mine have never pilled. And a shawl/wrap can be used as a pillow or even a light blanket in an emergency. I have two I choose between when I travel. One is black and the other is a light blue grey. Then are handy even in the warmer months and when I lived in TX I used them, too.

Posted by
7272 posts

I am not laying a guilt trip on anyone, but a NY Times opinion-column reported recently that demand for low-priced Cashmere has had bad effects on agriculture and terrain. I only mention it because we're sort of a whale-hugging newsboard here!

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/16/opinion/holidays-environment-cashmere.html?unlocked_article_code=1.ME0.F702.DyQ4u3yiF9MU&smid=url-share

This link is a "gift", with no paywall.

This Holiday, Consider the True Cost of Cheap Cashmere
Dec. 16, 2023
By Ginger Allington

Dr. Allington, a landscape ecologist, is an assistant professor in the department of natural resources and the environment at Cornell. Her research has focused on the arid rangelands of the Mongolian plateau

Posted by
118 posts

I know this isn’t what you asked, but have you considered merino wool instead of cashmere? It’s durable, soft and easily cleaned. You can find merino base layers or heavier top layers. I, too, love cashmere, but merino is my go-to for traveling.

Posted by
381 posts

I have this sweater "razor". https://a.co/d/jekh1oZ Works with a small battery. Has given new life to many of my pieces. I was also turned on to the "SOAK" for washing. It has worked well in the delicates cycle of my washer. A little bit of shaping and smoothing and then drying flat. https://a.co/d/bbUruVh Saves a fortune in dry cleaning.

Posted by
13919 posts

I'll be interested if you find a brand that does not pill.

I've tried Land's End and while their cardies of 10-12 years or so ago were a much thicker weight, the more recent ones (6 years??) were very thin and pilled badly especially under the area where my cross-body purse rested. I have also had pilling cashmere from Nordstrom for an inexpensive v-neck as well as a cardie from LLBean. ALL were purchased before Covid...so at least 6-7 years ago.

I can wear cashmere but I cannot wear Merino. I know the ads for Merino say it is not itchy, but it is to me so I don't see a comparison between the 2. Plus the cashmere colors are often just gorgeous and I don't often see as many shades in the merino. I did get some lovely color Tee shirts a few years ago when IceBreaker was doing a joint venture with Cabelas and had some lovely merino tees in teal.

Posted by
593 posts

Even high-end cashmere can pill, so I second the recommendation of a cashmere comb (gentler than other de-pilling devices). I bought a cashmere cardigan and a comb at Brora in London several years ago. And the good news is that fine cashmere gets even softer with regular light combing. As described here:
https://www.broraonline.com/us/cashmere-care

Posted by
406 posts

Thanks for the responses and advice. I now have a cashmere comb in my Amazon cart and hope to rehabilitate my sweater. Thanks Accidental Southerner.
Tim, I missed the article in the Times in December so thanks for that. I do take that sort of issue seriously.
Perhaps because of more and cheaper cashmere sweaters maybe the quality has plummeted and it’s time to switch to merino. I do have a merino crew neck from Uniqlo that is holding up quite nicely. There’s a British brand I stumbled on doing a computer search. Woolovers dot com. They do sweaters that are 80% merino 20% cashmere that look pretty tempting.

I’m a loooong time Land’s End shopper too, Pam. Being almost 5’10” they are wonderful for access to tall sizes. But I’ve given up on ordering cashmere from them due to wide swings in quality. Still love their cotton and modal lightweight t shirts and turtlenecks though. And I have cotton cardigans that range from 5 to 15 years old that are still going strong.

Posted by
733 posts

I have had three Macys Charter Club cashmere cardigans for a number of years and they haven’t pilled. All 3 picked up on sale over the years. For travel in cooler climates, they’re great as they’re lightweight and warm.

Posted by
376 posts

If you have any good consignment/thrift shops near you, you might try them for older cashmere cardigans. I use a cashmere comb on my cashmere sweaters to remove the pills, but I noticed that my second-hand Charter Club cashmere sweater not only seems the "thickest", it also has the least pills. I think in some cases the older sweaters were better made. Ironically, I also paid the least for it since I wanted to see whether I could wear cashmere without having to invest a lot in a sweater. Like Pam, I eventually find Merino wool sweaters to be itchy. I can wear the Merino wool socks though, so go figure!

Posted by
2602 posts

I'm a big fan of Garnet Hill's cashmere sweaters, especially the V neck with a dolman sleeve--and I finally bought one of their little wooden combs that removes pills easily and was about $10. I don't know that pill-less cashmere exists

Posted by
4676 posts

Margie, I also have old Macy's Charter Club cashmere twin sets ( three). Just wore them yesterday to golf in cold ( CA cold) weather. They do offer the most warmth for the least bulk. There are going to the Netherlands with me in April. Overall, they have aged quite well, and they are priceless to me! Safe travels!

Posted by
733 posts

I have a black set, a red set and just the cardigan in light green. They were wonderful for work. We moved to Oregon twenty years ago and I brought these with me. And believe me, if they had pilled, they would have been given to Goodwill by now. Saying that, I can’t comment on the quality of present day Charter Club. The reviews are still very good so one would hope they’ve kept up their standards. And I might add, as some others mentioned Merino also makes me itch but not the socks.

Posted by
206 posts

I wear merino, regular wool and cashmere (when I’m lucky enough to catch a sale). My “go to” for travel, though, is “sink-wash friendly” polyester fleece.

But I wanted a cashmere hoodie, full zip, and found one half price on a Bloomingdale’s Black Friday sale. It cost about $99, not bad for cashmere. We keep our heat turned low so the cashmere is feeling nice this winter.

I had gotten a cheap cashmere pullover round neck sweater at Marshall’s a few years ago, and if I combed that sucker it would probably look see-through.

Having the nicer quality one is refreshing. I’m not sure if I’d want to mess it up bringing it on our upcoming trip next April and May, and it could be too warm.

For our upcoming trip, I will probably stick with my black full zip fleece, because it has two large interior pockets and two exterior pockets that zip, and it has a nice high collar for those cold breezes. My phone and passport fit inside it. I think cashmere would be too stretchy to pocket the phone.

I’m glad to know those pill removers work. I had always wondered.

Posted by
406 posts

So a thumbs up for old school Macy’s cashmere seems to be the verdict. Garnet Hill has a sustainability guarantee I notice on their website, for those that are interested.

It’s a cold day in north Texas, I mean it’s 37 out there this morning y’all!! So I am layered up with my somewhat pilly cardigan and turtleneck. I’ll be hoping to rehab it when my comb arrives. Thanks for all the feedback. I still hope to continue traveling with it and my merino sweaters. I normally layer under a rain or all-weather jacket instead of fleece. And I don’t suffer the itchies from wool, thank goodness because I run cold most of the time.

Posted by
321 posts

Just a quick thought…do go with very gentle, isolated “combing”. I’m also a fan of the Garnet Hill cashmere, and have their sweater comb as well. You can easily end up with a fuzzy sweater or wrap if you get carried away lol.

Posted by
206 posts

Cathy-thanks for the tip to be gentle with the cashmere comb. I bet there are YouTube videos on how to correctly comb your cashmere—but I haven’t checked yet.
I looked at the comb on Garnet Hill’s website. So far I haven’t needed it for the sweater I got at Bloomies.