Yes, You Need to Hand Wash Your Cashmere (Don’t Dry Clean!)

contrary to popular belief, dry cleaning cashmere can actually be bad for the life of your sweater. the toxic chemicals used in dry cleaning can break down the fibers, and deodorant may cause discoloration. turns out, you should really be hand washing cashmere (it’ll be much softer too), so we asked Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd from The Laundress for their advice. here, they break it down for us…
De-pill delicate knits using the The Laundress New York® for J.Crew sweater comb by stroking firmly in one direction.
Use The Laundress New York for J.Crew collars & cuffs stain bar to tackle any stains or areas that trap odor.
Fill a washbasin or sink with cool water and add two capfuls of The Laundress New York for J.Crew cashmere wash. Submerge the sweater and make sure it is evenly soaped all over.
Soak for 30 minutes (don’t worry if the water becomes colored; this is normal and won’t mean any loss of color post-wash).
Rinse well by running cool water through the item until the water is no longer soapy. Press the water out gently without wringing.
Lay your sweater flat on a towel in its natural shape. Roll up the sweater in the towel (like a sleeping bag) to remove excess water. Lay the item flat in its natural shape on a drying rack or a clean towel.
Remove lint, fuzz and hair with the cashmere brush. Spray all over with The Laundress New York for J.Crew cashmere spray to add a fresh scent and repel moths.
Fold to prevent stretching and place in a bag with a zip closure. Be sure to stay away from storage bags that are made of polyester or plastic—you want to store your cashmere in bags that are made of breathable cotton or linen.

Photography by Eric Helgas.

To shop our entire assortment of cashmere, including featherweight cashmere, click here. To shop all The Laundress New York for J.Crew products, click here.

The first cashmere sweater I owned was dusty sugar pink, and I wore it so a boy I liked would want to put his arms around me. I imagined us at the pub, his hand resting with ownership on my soft shoulder. I was 15 and had yet to understand boys or see “ownership” as a rather sinister concept; all I knew was that the sweater could draw touch. It had been a Christmas present, and hidden within its gossamer folds was, I knew, the key to sweater-girl-sophisticate heaven. Lana Turner, Jane Russell, eat your hearts out.

I paired mine with drainpipe jeans, jeans so tight that I had to lie down on the floor and pull the fly up with the aid of a coat hanger amid much anguish and breathlessness. When they were finally, mercifully, painted on, I found myself like a cow that had been tipped, unable to actually rise off the floor. Such was the level of my denim constriction. My younger brother and sister were summoned with a bellow, and shrieking with laughter, they pulled me stationary. I hobbled from the house, an afghan coat from Kensington Market over my cashmere, into a London night filled with frost and promise.

However, the boy in question was not interested in my high-ply allure. He had recently discovered The Doors and disappeared with a snaky-hipped brunette in leather. I went home and cried and rubbed aloe on the livid welts that the jeans had carved into my hips. The cashmere sweater lay abandoned on the floor, its sheen belonging to another girl.

And then some years on, I was a grown-up (or mostly). And I fell in love, quite by accident, in a similarly frosty London landscape, at Christmastime. I didn’t live in London anymore; I lived in New York, and so those first rare flushes felt as confusing and exciting as a foreign language experienced on streets that were familiar but somehow totally different—Technicolor. He sent flowers to my hotel and a stream of books, rare books, and we chatted low on the phone, long into the night. It was, as my favorite Mitford heroine called a romance similar, “a penny-novelish seduction.” I fell hook, line and sinker.

I was leaving to go home to New York. He was spending Christmas in England. We were still teetering on that dizzying precipice of courtship, where the eyes say it but the lips don’t, and no one dares name it yet because saying things out loud makes them echo forever, and there is purity in silence.

I agonized. Should I buy him a Christmas present? What was the bloody etiquette of this weird, timeless in-between phase? Would I be mortified if on receipt of a present he said, “Uh, thanks” and looked at me like my name should be Annie Wilkes? And what did you buy a man in a circumstance such as ours that wasn’t too familiar, suggestive or dull? I walked down Marylebone High Street, feeling like I’d had too much coffee, jittery and wide-eyed. The first throes of love can do that to a person, along with causing dreadful insomnia.

And then in front of me, a shop. A serendipitous, classy, old-fashioned shop that sold cashmere and wool. I went in and bought him a cashmere sweater, and they wrapped it in a beautiful box with a velvet ribbon. It was the dark green of an English wood, and it was perfect. When I went outside it was snowing, all the Christmas lights on the High Street blazing. He came to pick me up that night. It was dark enough in the car that he couldn’t see me blush. “I bought you a present,” I said. I was clumsy, 15 again.

He was equally shy and goofy back. “Really?!” he said. “I got you one too.”

He wore the sweater a lot, and for a year or two there were others back and forth, delivered along with that out-loud declaration of love. Sweaters of his that wandered their way into my closet, others that, down the line, after our break-up, were probably relegated to the charity pile by new girlfriends.

In a gift that was possibly the territory of grandmothers—a sweater—there was a message that, to me, was so inherent. “I want you to be warm,” it said.

Sophie Dahl is a UK-based model, writer and contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar UK. She is the author of Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights, a book about her misadventures with food. She lives outside of London with her two young daughters and her husband.

Photograph courtesy of Linda Nylind/ The Guardian

To explore our Cashmere Shop, click here.

Hello, London: Our Pop-Up Has Arrived

last night, Jenna hosted a party to celebrate the opening of our first pop-up store at London’s Central Saint Martins and the announcement of our partnership with the design school. we flew in our favorite looks from our women’s, men’s and crewcuts fall 2013 collections and stocked the shelves with cashmere and custom-made jeweled collars for our London guests to take home.
Photography by Bryan Derballa.

If you’re local, come visit our pop-up shop at The Stables (4 Stable St.) at Central Saint Martins, which is open to the public on Friday, May 24th (10am-8pm) and Saturday, May 25th (10am-5pm). Follow all the #hellolondon action on Instagram and Twitter.

Cashmere by the Numbers

our Italian cashmere comes in 25 custom colors and 28 standout styles,
making it awfully hard to choose just one. (So why should you?)
Read more about our supersoft cashmere here.

© 2014 by J.Crew. All Images and materials are copyrighted by J.Crew unless otherwise noted.

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