Closet 101 Style

Closet Care – Cashmere

I’ve written a few times before about my love of cashmere – each season, I can’t resist adding at least a few new items to my closet. Over time, I’ve learned quite a bit through trial and error about selecting the best pieces, and taking care of them. I thought I’d share them with you, as part of my Closet Care series.

Shawls

Some favorite cashmere shawls

Purchasing: I generally recommend that one buy the best quality of cashmere that one can afford. There’s seriously nothing like a high quality, thick ply, super soft cashmere sweater. In my experience, ones manufactured in the UK/Scotland are the best.

That being said, some cashmere prices can be seriously scary, and there’s also the supreme rage that may overcome you when your brand new filmy Cucinelli ends up serving as a delicious snack for an enterprising band of moths. And, expensive doesn’t always equal better (though the best items do usually end up pricier). Make sure to feel each piece that you consider buying – does it feel thick? Is it already pilling? Some luxury brands aren’t known for their knits and I have found myself less than impressed with some quite expensive brands. I wouldn’t necessarily buy cashmere from say, Cavalli.

Some of my favorite brands include Chanel, N. Peal, 360 Sweater, and Uniqlo for cashmere. You can read more about my favorite (and least favorite) labels in this post.

Wear: I generally wear my cashmere with whatever, and whenever I want. However, I do take some basic precautions – if I’m wearing any kind of spiky jewelry that might snag, I’ll be more careful dressing and undressing. Also, if you happen to own any kind of studded handbags that you might carry on your shoulder – be careful! Studs, spikes, can easily grab at delicate knits and either snag them, or cause rubbing/pilling.

By the way – I would recommend trying to cycle through or at least unfold/refold all of your cashmere at least a few times during the fall/winter season. Doing so helps prevent moths and will also shake out any moth babies (aka larvae, ugh) which may have already made their home in your sweater.

Also – I’m sure this is common sense, but if you get your items dirty, especially with food – you have to clean them right away, or dry clean. Otherwise, you run a high risk of a pizza sauce shaped hole in your prized shawl (I’m speaking from experience). Which brings me to the next point…

Cleaning: I almost never wear my cashmere against bare skin – I’ll typically have a layer in between, so I don’t wash my knits every wear, or even every other wear. I will usually wash my cashmere items thoroughly between once to three times per season. I almost exclusively hand wash/dry, but will dry clean if I’m feeling lazy. And for you germaphobes/clean freaks out there – I’m one of you, and I’ve never felt that I needed to clean my cashmere more.

At the end of each cold season, when I’m putting away my cashmere for the year, every single item gets washed if they haven’t already been. That way, I know that they’ll run a lower risk of attracting moths, and plus when I pull them out a year later – I know they’re fresh, clean and ready to go!

Storage: I store the majority of my cashmere either hung in my closet (I use velvet flocked ones), or folded vertically in a dresser (via the KonMari method). I use cedar balls and blocks liberally throughout my closet and drawers. However (and here’s where I’ll demonstrate my cashmere induced lunacy), for especially precious items like Hermes shawls in my favorite discontinued patterns, I go one step further, and store them in secure transparent container boxes.

Cashmere Storage

I love these boxes – they keep me organized, and plus they’re easy to stack and I can view everything that’s inside as long as I don’t overstuff them (which I don’t). I have a few for my shawls, and another for some favorite and more expensive cashmere pieces. Moths are generally lazy and even if you have a severe infestation, they likely won’t be able to make their way into these containers, as long as you keep them sealed.

Of course, that’s assuming that everything in these boxes are clean and don’t have moths on them….otherwise, everything in the box may end up as moth supper. So remember – keep everything clean, clean, clean! Never store an item that has had food spilled on it without cleaning it first.

Wow! Who knew I could write that much about cashmere? I hope this was helpful for my fellow cashmere lovers out there – and please, also share your favorite cashmere brands, and tips and tricks for making sure your items last.

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  • Whitney Farris
    October 19, 2015 at 7:37 am

    I keep mine in a cedar chest and always hand wash. I dry clean other items, but feel like dry cleaning strips them of their natural oils. I also use a cashmere spray on them to repel moths etc. I keep all of my silk and cashmere scarves in a box on my closet shelf. I had problems in my old house with moths trying to eat fur. I learned the hard way. I vacuum my closet out religiously and store all precious items in garment bags.

    • Katherine
      October 19, 2015 at 9:58 pm

      Agreed on dry cleaning…I try not to do it that much. I just found out recently that moths eat fur…how scary for those with very nice collections!

  • Lindsay
    October 19, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Hi Katherine! I’m a newcomer to your blog and I love your highly useful posts 😀 I’m wondering if you could enlighten us with how you hand wash & dry your cashmere? What laundry cleaner do you use? Thank you!

    • Katherine
      October 19, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks Lindsay! I’ll do a more detailed post hopefully soon about how I hand wash and dry. Thanks for the reminder to get on it!

  • Lindy
    October 19, 2015 at 9:19 am

    For those really precious items, I have actually gotten the holes rewoven. The Knitwear Doctor does amazing work at repairing those moth holes. They are not cheap, min $25.00/hole, but well worth it for my favorite garments! http://www.knitweardoctor.com/services.php

    • Katherine
      October 19, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      Thank you for the recommendation….way cheaper than buying a new item and less wasteful too 🙂

  • Yumi
    October 19, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Katherine, you crack me up with your stories of moths. I also have a strange obsession with moths (I’m terrified of them) and making sure they don’t eat my clothes.

    A thing to note is that not all holes are made by moths – carpet beetles do a lot of damage too (as I’ve unfortunately found out the hard way). Another thing I learned is that dry cleaning doesn’t prevent moths from eating your lovely woolies – the chemicals only last for a little while and really the best thing you can do for your woolens is to wear them often and not leave them somewhere dark and undisturbed!

    • Katherine
      October 19, 2015 at 10:02 pm

      Carpet beetles! I had no idea about these..I’ll have to remember, thank you for the (scary) tip!

  • J
    October 19, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Great post! I share your obsession for cashmere and moth repellant! I do have a couple of questions – do you hand wash your H shawls? I hate dry cleaning but have been reluctant to try hand washing my shawls.. Also, I am super picky about my dry cleaners – do you have a dry cleaner rec in the Bay Area (besides Peninou?!)? Where do you take your Chanel jackets?

    • Katherine
      October 19, 2015 at 10:05 pm

      I do hand wash my H shawls or even machine wash them in a delicates bag..I’ll try to do another post on how I hand wash. Is there a reason you don’t like Peninou? I actually did use them for my Chanel jacket last year and they were fine but so pricey. I’ve also tried Nature’s Best on advice from a friend and they were good, but I didn’t use them for anything too difficult or expensive.

      • Claire D
        October 21, 2015 at 11:08 am

        Do you have any dry cleaner recommendations for trench coats? Peninou was also recommended to me by Burberry, but I am looking for alternatives. Thank you!

        • Katherine
          October 22, 2015 at 3:59 pm

          Unfortunately I don’t…I’ve always just done Peninou as well, but I understand it gets expensive, and its far!

  • Claire D
    October 23, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Ah okay. Thank you!

  • Iris
    October 26, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Love your closet care series. Thanks for adding this one! I’m curious whether you have any recommendations for over-sized cashmere sweaters?

    • Katherine
      October 27, 2015 at 7:08 am

      I usually just buy a size up…my favorite is from 360 sweater actually, and for their boyfriend styles I’d buy true to size, they are already made to be looser!