The Best Cashmere Sweaters And Button-Front Shirts Around


As fall approaches, we just might be thinking about cashmere sweaters and button-front shirts. Just about a year ago I took a new job, and needed a work uniform. I bought a raft of sweaters and shirts and have worn them often enough to feel as though I’ve been participating in some sort of midlife demi-luxe wardrobe research. Here are the results.

The Highest Quality

Cashmere sweaters

Executive summary: Brora wins because their cashmere doesn’t pill, marrying soft with just enough tough. Bompard is softer yet, but pills too much for us Sturdies to fall head over heels. Land’s End is the best of the mid-tier.

  1. Brora
  2. Bompard
  3. Land’s End (their cashmere isn’t up yet, I’m assuming they’ll have it available in a few weeks)

Button-fronts

Executive summary: Ann Mashburn’s cloth and attention to detail is best bar none. Even the buttons warrant a none-too-furtive fondle.

  1. Ann Mashburn
  2. NaraCamicieSF (for their stretch button-fronts, the only subdued and elegant version I’ve ever found)

A Most Pleasing Style

Cashmere sweaters

Executive summary: Cashmere v-necks, my favorite sort, can increase the d’un certain age quotient more than we might like. Madewell’s “boyfriend” styling was classic but not stodgy. Unfortunately, they do not seem be to offering cashmere this season, at least not yet. Bompard comes in a close second, to my way of thinking, and their colors are the best. I’d expect no less from the French cashmere flagship. Note that Brora now offers a tunic, which might win Ultimate Grand Supreme and take home the three-foot tall sparkly tiara.

I’ll always miss my old TSE, but one must move on. For some reason, this year their designers are advocating we move to monasteries. I’ve only now discovered color, so I think not.

  1. Madewell (posthumous honor)
  2. Bompard
  3. TSE (Ultimate Grand Supreme posthumous honor)

Button-fronts

Executive summary: I’m going to have to go with J. Crew as our top performer, on average. Great fit, multiple colors and patterns, and a partnership with Liberty of London. Just wish they cared about durability as much as cool.

  1. J. Crew Perfect Shirt
  2. Ann Mashburn  (My original purchase was too preppy for my current style, but the new Liberty of London shirts above appeal mightily)
  3. Charles Tyrwhitt  (be sure to size up. But the silhouette is very nice.)

Non-starter, BTW, Pure Cashmere. Happy warm clothes shopping, everyone. And in case you need a cashmere primer, here’s a link to an interview I did with the Queen of Cashmere. Complicated topic, goat hair. I have to confess, when I was young, I did not expect this particular knowledge to contribute so markedly to the wisdom of my fifth decade.

 

26 Comments

  • 09/25/12
    7:15 am

    Reply

    Stephanie @ La Dolce Vita said...

    Some great advice here. I’m starting my fall shopping tomorrow.

  • 09/25/12
    7:20 am

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    Jan's Sushi Bar said...

    Fall has arrived here in northeast Ohio. Brrrr!!

    I wish I looked decent in a sweater. *sigh*

  • 09/25/12
    7:36 am

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    Tabitha said...

    You should try Johnsons of Elgin, their mill makes Brora but they are cheaper as they are old school and not as trendy as Brora.

  • 09/25/12
    7:52 am

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    hostessofthehumblebungalow said...

    I’m with Tabitha…
    My Johnson’s sweater is still in fine form and going on 10 years of service.
    I am in my second season of the black Land’s End Cashmere cardigan and I am pleased…it has a few pills which I carefully removed.
    I am considering another colour from Land’s End this fall, I just need to narrow down my choices!

    We are so lucky that there are so many lovely sweaters to choose from…
    love to see you in that sumptuous Liberty shirt!

  • 09/25/12
    8:02 am

    Reply

    kathy said...

    I agree, love Brora. Worth every penny. Zero pilling. As for shirts, I know you wear yours under a v-neck sweater, but I find that uncomfortable – they move in different directions and I’m always adjusting them both. I wear a thinner, fitted tee shirt under a v-neck sweater, which is a sleeker look I think.
    That new Brora tunic is great – looks so cozy!

  • 09/25/12
    8:03 am

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    Alex in DC said...

    Lands End does have their fall cashmere out already – I ordered two cardigans on Labor Day. My work staple is definitely a white cotton shirt and a cardigan – couldn’t get dressed most mornings without them.

    The fall collection at Lands End does not include a v-neck pullover. No idea why the would decide to omit it. (sometimes I wonder what they’re up to)
    The new cardigans I ordered are lovely in color and are nice in shape but the fabric seems lighter than sweaters I’ve previously ordered from them. This might actually be an improvement as I’ve often felt their cashmere to be a bit too warm for me – the jury is still out on that. I am keeping them but for someone looking for the same sweater they are ‘known’ for, it isn’t quite the same. I

  • 09/25/12
    8:08 am

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    Patsy said...

    Love my Johnson’s black watch cashmere scarf! I’ll have to take a gander at their sweater offerings.

    It appears Lands’ End has discontinued their cashmere tee shirt. They do have the cardigan and sleeveless shell on the website.

  • 09/25/12
    8:34 am

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    kathy said...

    I just ordered my first shirt from Ann Mashburn – the boyfriend fit in navy blue.
    Will report soon.

    09/25/12
    9:02 am
    Flo said...

    You bad bad bad influence you! I just keyed in all my information for this gem. I can HARDLY wait!

    http://www.annmashburn.com/popover-shirt-153.html

    09/25/12
    3:15 pm
    kathy said...

    Flo, I love the shirt you ordered! But Lisa is the true culprit here, not me. I’m using a lot of control not to order the Brora tunic!

  • 09/25/12
    9:12 am

    Reply

    déjà pseu said...

    Oh, I do love that Ann Mashburn Liberty peacock shirt…very tempting! I’m saving up my cashmere budget for our visit to Scotland next year, will try and perhaps purchase some Brora in situ.

  • 09/25/12
    10:07 am

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    jane in sf said...

    I receive emails from Pure Collection almost every day and am about to unsubscribe. I’m interested to know why you don’t rate them.

  • 09/25/12
    10:56 am

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    Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

    Thanks for the tip on Land’s End cashmere. What a pleasant surprise.
    Sam

  • 09/25/12
    11:47 am

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    StacyfrPgh said...

    Looked at Johnson’s of Elgin site. They have a collaboration with Jaggy Nettle. Who can’t resist that name? I did, though, out of my budget. I like LE sweaters, but some will pill slightly. Still, a great sweater for the price.

  • 09/25/12
    1:47 pm

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    That's Not My Age said...

    I’ve got a lovely green Land’s End cashmere cardi that I’ve had for over 10 years and it’s still going strong. How do you find J Crew cashmere?

  • 09/25/12
    2:28 pm

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    Gretchen said...

    LOVE the Ann Mashburn shirts and want the new shantung one. I’ve had great success with longevity in the Lands End cashmere, although their cut is larger than I like. Pilling, ugh, so I may try the Brora ones. Thanks for the information!

  • 09/25/12
    3:26 pm

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    Sarah S (Neutral Territory) said...

    Oooh the new Brora catalogue is lovely.. but seems the prices have gone up a little too… ouch.. However I do agree with you and this is the make I (and the damn moths) go for over others..X

  • 09/25/12
    3:26 pm

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    Lily Bart said...

    I can recommend Ann Mashburn. I just bought the dark blue silk shantug classic shirt and it’s lovely and not at all dowdy. I finally broke down And ordered the Organdy classic Shirt in white and it’s more beautiful than I expected. Don’t know what took me so long. Ok, maybe the $225 price tag. Love it so much, I’m thinking a out the black one too.

    09/25/12
    3:28 pm
    Lily Bart said...

    Oy,It’s hard to type on an iPhone. Sorry about the typos.

  • 09/25/12
    3:42 pm

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    Patricia said...

    Tell me, are the Brora sleeves too long? I hate a sleeve that needs to be doubled over or scrunched up. I wish they did a 3/4 sleeve – that would be perfect. My picky opinion – J. Crew has great fit and styling, but the quality of the sewing and the fabric is not great…in fact, it’s crappy. So sad! They should charge a bit more and up the quality. What goes on in that boardroom?

    09/25/12
    3:49 pm
    Lily Bart said...

    So right. J crew has good style but heart-breakingly bad quality. I’d rather pay a bit more for better quality. I’m forever re-sewing buttons . And the cashmere sweaters are trashed after about one season. B

  • 09/25/12
    5:29 pm

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    Sheryl said...

    Button fronts don’t really suit me, but I must say I LOVE your recommendation on cashmere. I’m a big sweater fan in the winter and am only begining to explore the higher quality and more expensive options (what, you mean there’s a reason to spend more than twenty dollars on a shirt? and it’s a good one?) so it’s very awesome to have such sage advice on some good brands.

  • 09/25/12
    7:28 pm

    Reply

    Marilyn said...

    Humorous and educational. So you! :)

  • 09/25/12
    10:13 pm

    Reply

    mette said...

    Brora is unknown to me, but Ida recommends it too, so must do some researching.
    Actually I am not in need of a cashmere knit now, as I like to keep my clothes too to the minimum.
    No shirts for me, that´s sure.

  • 09/26/12
    6:09 am

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    Dawn said...

    Alas, Brora taste, Lands’ End budget…

    09/29/12
    9:36 am
    Teresa Kerr! said...

    Well put, Dawn! However, much appreciative of the education provided here, in case something unexpected were ever to occur…!

  • 09/26/12
    6:52 am

    Reply

    ELS said...

    I WANT that peacock shirt. Brora top of the cashmere pops, Pure also wonderful. Dawn (above) Brora sales can be Land’s End good…

  • 09/26/12
    1:23 pm

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    Duchesse said...

    I used to buy Johnson’s cashmere; when I was in my 20s and 30s, it looked kind of mod/cool. Now I’m, past 60 and it looks stodgy on me. I buy some Brora and lots of Bompard. Re Bompard: many styles are a 70 cashmere/30 silk blend- ideal for people who find all cashmere too heavy, but it pills more. Like kathy I wear thin tees or just a cami under v-necks, I can’t stand the squashing and don’t need the added bulk.

    And a Bompard “voile” scarf is the dreamiest accessory ever.

  • 09/26/12
    1:46 pm

    Reply

    Mardel said...

    Love Bompard and Brora and my old TSEs but haven’t found anything from them in years. Lands end is often too boxy and looks aging on me. Probably don’t need cashmere anyway this year, maybe cashmere/silk. I don’t think my sweater collection saw any fresh air last winter.

    I love J Crew’s style and fit, but the shirts don’t hold up and they break my heart. Anne Mashburn is much better, but until this recent crop of shirts they didn’t make my heart sing.

  • 09/29/12
    4:18 am

    Reply

    Highland Fashionista said...

    Neiman Marcus and Lord and Taylor don’t do too bad a job at the cashmere either, although mine are from a few years back, so who knows what has changed in the years in-between. That peacock-print button down is divine!

  • 09/29/12
    9:30 am

    Reply

    Whitney Worthington said...

    “Just wish they cared about durability as much as cool” Yes yes yes a thousands times in agreement. It is why I am so “afeared” to spend thousands at J.Crew like I used to… as well as their rising hemlines!

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