When winter rears its frozen head, you'd better be well-prepped with some warm layers. For that, a good wool sweater needs to be a part of your defense. There's a handful of different types of wools on the market, each one with its own characteristics. Some are itchy. Others are hypoallergenic. Most wools come from sheep, but others come from goats or even muskoxen. Cashmere is, or was, the king of wool for its incredulous softness and warmth, once requiring a weighty credit card if you wanted a cashmere jumper of your very own. Today you can find cashmere sweaters well-under $100 easily. What you'll likely find most often is a sweater made of merino wool.
Whether it's a wintry gift for a loved one or yourself (hopefully you count yourself as a loved one, too), the bales of wool to comb through is, as far as we can tell, endless. But along the woolen way, our search has led us to some fine and superfine wool options you can and should consider.
Everlane's offering of cashmere sweaters may be the best thing they make. Each one is made using 100 percent Mongolian cashmere which sits at the upper echelons of both fineness and length. I.e., they're really soft and really durable.
J. Press' has become synonymous with its shaggy wool sweaters, aka Shaggy Dogs, and for good reason. They're made in Scotland from 100-percent hand-brushed shetland wool in a handful of gnarled color ways.
You can always rely on the 'Qlo to deliver the goods at a suspiciously low price. Its range of merino wool sweaters is endearingly soft, comes in plenty of colors beyond the usual navy and grey (although good still), and cost just a pittance, which is about $40.
With colder weather at the front door, you might be thinking about wool garments. But not all wool is the same.
NN07 makes simple essentials with an emphasis on the fabrics they're cut from. Hence this Edward Sweater. It's made from ultra-soft Italian wool and likens itself to something James Bond would wear...get it? NN07...007?
Alex Mill's Reverse Seam Sweater uses superfine merino wool in a 9-gauge knit. What that means is that it's softer than Uniqlo's lambswool sweaters and while some sweaters are borderline T-shirt thin and others have got the chonk, Alex Mill's sits nicely in the middle.
It wouldn't be a proper roundup of wool sweaters without a Scottish brand in the mix. This one, from Shetland Woolen Co., uses 100-percent Shetland wool fibers which are lightweight, but toasty. It's given a good brushing to up the insulation while also softening the hand. One of the best buys for the price.
You shouldn't expect the upmost quality — at least when compared alongside others on this list — from J. Crew, but I can guarantee you won't be let down by this sweater. Especially since it's made from the brand's newly upgraded imported cashmere.
Fresh off its 10th anniversary, Todd Snyder's eponymous brand continues it streak of sartorial successes with this all-new, olive-colored Cashmere Crewneck. It's mid-weight so you won't melt in it, but it's heavy enough to trap plenty of heat.
This medium-weight, seven gauge Ventana Sweater from Taylor Stitch is knit from moisture-wicking, odor-resistant merino wool. There's a slight mock neck for classic flair, too.
Ooooh! Tie dye on a traditional cashmere sweater? Massimo Alba certainly isn't the first to do it, but this iteration is quite nice. Think: a combination of the softest sweater you've ever felt and that tie dye T-shirt you can't part ways with.
Outerknown makes this Eastbank Crew from a blend of fine merino wool and organic cotton, meaning the sweater's not only ultra durable but kinder to the environment.
The Norwegian descriptor isn't just marketing. L.L. Bean's classic sweater has been in the catalogue for decades and its still being made in Norway in small villages by family-run businesses. Using 100 percent wool, the iconic sweater is substantial and will serve you well once temps dip real low.
Trust new prep brand Rowing Blazers to perfect the pink sweater. This one's lightweight, cable-knit and finished with a tiny skull emblem. Scary!
Refined basics brand Buck Mason sells a felted wool sweater that's the epitome of no fuss, no frills knitwear. Plus, since it's been felted (aka dipped in boiling water after being knit) the sweater boasts the softness of something super thin and the durability of something far heftier.
Now we're getting serious. This sweater gets its deep and varied brown tones from Loro Piana's Pecora Nera wool. This super rare wool comes from black merino sheep raised in New Zealand which produce rich dark shearling. The wool is left undyed, underscoring its natural colors before being knit into a bouclé fabric.
Florals? In winter? Well, not groundbreaking, but it's certainly refreshing. This cheery number from NYC-based brand Corridor sprouts its flowers using 89 percent boucle alpaca and 11 percent recycled poly for a teddy-soft and responsible crew.
It would've been easy to pick one of The Elder Statesman's insane designs: sweaters with trippy tie dye patterns, knit mushrooms or puzzle pieces. However, here's the brand's take on the classic Cashmere Sweater. It's simple yet so, so good. After all, you get what you pay for. And with this one you get plenty.