Quality Cashmere Know-How

Looking for a special gift? Cashmere sweaters are heavily marketed around the holidays. But do you have to spend hundreds of dollars to get good quality?

Consumer Reports ShopSmart says not necessarily.

When it comes to shopping for a sweater, one type stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Consumer Reports ShopSmar's Sue Perry checked out dozens of cashmere sweaters at a variety of price points.

Perry says, "If you're picking up at $59.99 cashmere sweater from the bargain bin, you better believe that it's probably not one hundred percent cashmere even though the label may say so."

A couple of quick checks in the store can tell you a lot.

Perry says, "Run your hand over the sweater and if little balls start forming, that's called pilling. That's a sign that this is a cheaper sweater and probably is not going to hold up, and I would put it back."

Another check-whether the sweater holds its shape. Stretch it side to side. High-quality cashmere won't stretch out of shape.

Perry says, " we found that the cheapest you can go in cashmere is about the 100-dollar mark."

That's how much this Lands End cashmere costs. It's a good choice with its simple design and basic color.

With more styling and richer colors, ShopSmart says expect to pay much more, like this Magaschoni sweater for 320 dollars. It's a big splurge, but in the long run it can pay off.

Perry says, "You're going to have that sweater for years and years and years."

So when buying a cashmere sweater, take the time to size up the quality.

Consumer Reports ShopSmart says a cashmere sweater needs some TLC.

Always follow the care instructions and be sure to clean your sweater before storing it.

That's because dirt attracts moths. And be sure to store it flat, not on a hanger, which can stretch out.

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