Mom’s Mythical Cashmere: Black Quail Maglione Sweater

I did not grow up poor, but my family certainly wasn’t wealthy. We got by without luxury items. As a child, I always remember my mother wanting a cashmere sweater and talking about it in a mythical way that left an impression on me. She never got that sweater, and until last week, I never owned one either.

The Maglione by Black Quail became my first cashmere sweater. Because of the sentimentality and cost, I chose to learn more about what it is that made cashmere so “mythical” to my mom. However, before I share a review on the latest edition of my wardrobe, join me on my cashmere journey…..

Cashmere is incredibly soft and feels wonderful on the skin, but it comes with a hefty price tag as a result of being precious and arduous to produce. Essentially, cashmere is the wool from the undercoat of a goat (the area closest to the skin). BUT, not just any goat…the “cashmere goat” whose breeding stock prefers below freezing temperatures and the high altitudes of the Himalayas.

The fleece of a cashmere goat is extremely rare, and cashmere wool is a finite resource. It takes the combed hair of five goats and a year of growing to produce one quality cashmere sweater. (Rest assured, no harm comes to goats through the collection of cashmere. Cashmere goats shed their undercoat naturally once a year, and ethical cashmere goat owners only collect the fleece when they start to shed).

Cashmere became on-trend in Western Europe right around the same time golf was invented in Scotland. Coincidence? Well, yes, however, the benefit of investing in a cashmere sweater for your (golf) wardrobe are numerous. You can wear it year-round without getting too hot or too cold. In winter there is no better protection against the cold; cashmere is up to eight times warmer than regular wool. Cashmere is also pleasant to wear in spring since it is hygroscopic, which means it is inherently breathable as humidity fluctuates. Best of all? It improves with age! Well-made cashmere sweaters get softer the more they are washed and worn (and rarely pill).

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My research led me to the following criteria for choosing The Maglione:

  • It is 100% cashmere (if that is not the case, move along).
  • Black Quail is a brand I trust.
  • Classic colors are key. Since cashmere has stood the test of time, stick with colors that will not be subject to fashion volatility.
  • The accented hem and sleeves gave it a pop that I found appealing.
  • It passed the eye AND touch test. The clarity of stitch and softness matter.
  • Black Quail makes a commitment to only using responsibly sourced cashmere.

Sheepishly, I admit that this is more than I would normally spend ($265) on an apparel item for myself (chalk it up to my frugal New England upbringing). However, as far as owning a luxury item, this is as soft and beautiful as anything in my closet. It feels like heaven. This one’s for you Mom! Peace.

*Note, I did sizing up for this sweater. I am typically a Large and opted for an XL based on Black Quail’s recommendation.

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