Just as with silk, there’s cashmere and there’s cashmere, but all of it feels softer than any fabric made from chemicals and most made from plants. It’s lovely stuff to wear on a very bad day. Or a very good one.
And so finding this Salvation Army Ann Taylor cashmere sweater was indeed a happy moment. At 10.99 with a no-halfies tag, it exceeded our typical per-item thrifting budget by more than twofold, but The Style Sisters were in full and instant agreement: We whisked it off the rack instantly, and now we can’t wait until it’s cool enough to wear it.
Besides, if we’d bought it brand-new, the price tag would have been at least 14 times higher. (That’s a stunning amount to us, but one that places our treasure only in the “poor relations” branch of the cashmere family. No matter—-we love it despite its humble origins!)
Now, forgive us if we appear didactic, but Paris Gray-Brown, the most imperious of our style subpersonalities, insists it is our duty to inform, not simply to present—and certainly not to gloat, since you are perfectly capable of doing exactly what we are doing, and just as well, too. At any rate, to prevent her from hectoring the rest of us, we must tell you just a little about the why’s and the wherefore’s of this lovely material.
Actually, the facts are pretty interesting. Probably you know that cashmere comes from the Cashmere, or Kashmir, goat, yes? Cute little rascals, with that same forthright, inquisitive intelligence that seems to be the province of all goat family members.
But did you know that cashmere is not really wool or fur? It’s actually fine hair (finer than the finest wool) that forms the goat’s undercoat and grows longer and finer as the cold increases. You see, these rugged little goats live in the coldest parts of China (from whence comes some 60% of modern cashmere), Inner Mongolia (which is sort of part of China)Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Australia, New Zealand, and of course, Kashmir, a region in the Himalaya and Karakorum mountains that is claimed by India, China, and Pakistan. (And you thought your life was complicated!)
Cashmere sheep don’t care about anybody’s politics, though; they thrive in rough circumstances, where your average human gets frustrated and your average sheep or cow, even the cold-weather variety, starves (or freezes), and they grow their best undercoats in China and Mongolia (ours is from China, which just goes to show you that one’s place of origin never tells the whole story).
Curious about why this “‘fibre diamond’ or ‘soft gold'” is so very prized and so very expensive? The Chicago Trib has a brief little article that explains all that nicely.
And now the lesson is done and we can show you our other cashmere find, also from China and discovered at a tag sale.
Not nearly the quality of the Ann Taylor, and we do not wear pastels, but we think one of the consignment shops will earn us two or three times what we paid for it: one small little green dollar. Keep your eyes open, my friends. They’re out there.