It’s On Sale: Scottish Cashmere Sweaters

Two sales going on at the moment for Scottish cashmere sweaters. The first is at East Dane, where v-necks from Scott & Charters can be had for $135. Sadly, these are final sale, and I don’t have any experience with their v-necks, so I can’t give any advice on sizing. I do have one of their lambswool cardigans, however, and it’s very nicely made. The deep necklines on these sweaters would make them nice to wear with sport coats and ties. 

The second sale is at Sierra Trading Post, where crewnecks and v-necks from Johnstons of Elgin can be found on discount. As usual, you’ll want to apply one of Sierra Trading Post’s 30-45% off coupons to knock the price down further. You can get them by signing up for their DealFlyer newsletter (a new coupon is released every day through there), or by checking their Facebook page (where coupons are sometimes announced). Even with the coupon, these aren’t as affordable as the Scott & Charters, but at least they’re returnable if things don’t work out. 

Shawl Collar Cardigans

As legend has it, the original cardigan was invented for Lieutenant General James Brudenell, the Seventh Earl of Cardigan. He wanted a sweater that he could put on without ruining his perfectly coiffed hair. So, the front was cut open, buttons put in, and voilà – we have the cardigan sweater. How the shawl collar – a detail originally designed for the Victorian smoking jacket – got mixed in is unclear. Perhaps it’s because both were considered at-home pieces for lounge and leisure. Who knows.

In any case, shawl collar cardigans make for great autumnal sweaters. The elongated line of the collar nicely frames the face while the body of the knit keeps the wearer comfortable and warm. Today, you can get these from a number of companies, and they range from the stratospherically priced to the reasonably affordable.

I’ll start with the stratospherically priced. Even if we’re not able to afford them, they’re fun to look at (and talk about). These tend to be knitted in Scotland and made from multi-ply wool, cashmere, lambswool, or camelhair yarns. Multi-ply means that multiple plies are twisted together to form a thicker, stronger yarn. This gives the sweater more warmth and durability. The yarns are also usually made from longer animal fibers, which means there are fewer weak points that can break and result in pilling. Finally, the weaves tend to be denser and tighter, which helps ensure that the sweater will keep its shape for years to come. The result, while expensive, is something that’s incredibly chunky, plush, and warm. Wear one of these on a chilly morning and you’ll be immediately be impressed with the quality. 

You can find such cardigans at a number of traditional American clothiers. Ben Silver, O’Connell’s, Kabbaz-Kelly, and Paul Stuart have exceptionally nice ones. From Europe, there’s Drake’s, Berk, Johnstons of Elgin, and Peter Johnston. Ovadia & Sons also makes a nice, thick lambswool one that’s suitable for someone wanting a slimmer fit. All of these tend to be expensive, but some will go on sale at the end of the season. In fact, Ben Silver has some at 50% off now.

For something more affordable, check out J Crew, Rugby, Brooks Brothers, Gant, Land’s End, Orvis, and Save Khaki (one of which is on Gilt). These tend to be thinner than the ones mentioned above, and will likely have cheap, plastic buttons instead of animal horn. You can swap out the buttons yourself, however, for about $30-50. Finally, you may want to consider the options at Northern Watters, White of Hawick, and Black Sheep. I have no personal experience with their products, but nice things have been said about them across the various menswear forums. And although their websites aren’t terribly appealing, it’s important to separate out marketing hype from quality of clothing. They may just be the right middle point between the over-priced, under-delivered “fashion brands,” and the superlative, but incredibly expensive, Scottish knits. 

Your Fall/ Winter Scarf

As the temperatures begin to dip, it will be important for you to have a few scarves on hand. If it’s cold enough, you’ll obviously wear yours with an overcoat or some kind of heavy winter outerwear. If it’s not, however, a scarf can be even more important, as it may be your only source of warmth. 

When buying one, it’s important to pay attention to a few key things:

  • Material: Generally speaking, cashmere will be softer and warmer than wool or lambswool, but it really depends on the quality. A lambswool/ angora blend by Alex Begg, for example, will be nicer than any cheap cashmere. You can also get scarves in either silk or cotton, but those tend to not be as warm. Whichever you choose, I recommend staying away from acrylic. There are too many affordable, good scarves, made from natural materials, to justify buying an acrylic scarf. 
  • Nap and size: Pay attention to the size and nap. I personally prefer scarves to be around 70” long, and never go below 63”. As Will from A Suitable Wardrobe shows, if your scarf is too short, you won’t be able to tie it. You’ll also want to pay attention to the width. If your scarf is too thin, it will hang like a silly noodle around your neck. Lastly, note that rougher materials, such as some lambswools, will be more difficult to tie into knots.
  • Color and patterns: As I’ve written before, I think scarves are worn best when they complement, but not match, the rest of your ensemble. That means picking one with complementary colors or a secondary color that matches your jacket or coat. I personally find solid colored scarves, or those with plaids, windowpanes, and stripes, to be the easiest to wear, but you can also get scarves in Fair Isle, dip dye, or houndstooth designs. 

So with that, what are some of your best options? 

Of course, there are hundreds of good scarves to be had, so the above list isn’t meant to be exhaustive. If you’re on the market to buy one, however, the above can be a good place to start. 

Sierra Trading Post
There are some really good sales right now at Sierra Trading Post. Once you sign up for their DealFlyer newsletter, you’ll be notified of their daily coupons. Lately, they’ve been offering 35% off your whole order, as well as free shipping if you spend more than $100. That gives the following deals:
Derek Rose pajamas: Excellent pajamas available in multiple designs and colors. Starting price is $78. A bit expensive, to be sure, but Derek Rose is one of the better makers out there. 
Falke and Pantherella socks: Two top-tier hosiery manufacturers, though Pantherella’s quality has taken a dive in recent years. Still, you can get over-the-calf wool socks for about $5 right now, which makes this one of the best deals I’ve seen on socks. 
Johnstons of Elgin scarves and throws: Johnstons of Elgin is a 200+ year old manufacturer of woolen and cashmere goods. They’re not as nice as Colombo or Begg, but they’re very good and much more affordable. Johnstons’ cashmere scarves can be had right now for $39, while their lambswool scarves are $13. At those prices, these are a real steal. 
Tretorn sneakers: These aren’t the Nylites that the menswear bloggerotti have been wearing, but I could see this model still working very well for fall. For $45, it’s not bad. They also have other styles for as little as $26. 
Smartwool baselayers: Smartwool makes some of the best garments for cold weather. If you live in a cold climate, it may be wise to get a few of their baselayers and socks before winter arrives. They’re not the most stylish, but since they’re worn under your garments, they’re also not seen. I even recommend wearing them at home to save money on your heating bill. 
Trickers shoes: Trickers are a bit too rounded for my taste, but they’re quite popular among men’s style enthusiasts. Of the ones available at Sierra Trading Post right now, I like this boot the most, and the extra discount brings it down to $316. 
Bill’s Khakis M3 pants: Bill’s Khakis look a bit frumpy online, but I assure you they’re excellent. The M3 is their slimmest model, but it may need some tapering once you get them. That job should run you about $20, but when the chinos themselves cost $52, these are still a great deal.

Sierra Trading Post

There are some really good sales right now at Sierra Trading Post. Once you sign up for their DealFlyer newsletter, you’ll be notified of their daily coupons. Lately, they’ve been offering 35% off your whole order, as well as free shipping if you spend more than $100. That gives the following deals:

  • Derek Rose pajamas: Excellent pajamas available in multiple designs and colors. Starting price is $78. A bit expensive, to be sure, but Derek Rose is one of the better makers out there.
  • Falke and Pantherella socks: Two top-tier hosiery manufacturers, though Pantherella’s quality has taken a dive in recent years. Still, you can get over-the-calf wool socks for about $5 right now, which makes this one of the best deals I’ve seen on socks.
  • Johnstons of Elgin scarves and throws: Johnstons of Elgin is a 200+ year old manufacturer of woolen and cashmere goods. They’re not as nice as Colombo or Begg, but they’re very good and much more affordable. Johnstons’ cashmere scarves can be had right now for $39, while their lambswool scarves are $13. At those prices, these are a real steal.
  • Tretorn sneakers: These aren’t the Nylites that the menswear bloggerotti have been wearing, but I could see this model still working very well for fall. For $45, it’s not bad. They also have other styles for as little as $26.
  • Smartwool baselayers: Smartwool makes some of the best garments for cold weather. If you live in a cold climate, it may be wise to get a few of their baselayers and socks before winter arrives. They’re not the most stylish, but since they’re worn under your garments, they’re also not seen. I even recommend wearing them at home to save money on your heating bill.
  • Trickers shoes: Trickers are a bit too rounded for my taste, but they’re quite popular among men’s style enthusiasts. Of the ones available at Sierra Trading Post right now, I like this boot the most, and the extra discount brings it down to $316. 
  • Bill’s Khakis M3 pants: Bill’s Khakis look a bit frumpy online, but I assure you they’re excellent. The M3 is their slimmest model, but it may need some tapering once you get them. That job should run you about $20, but when the chinos themselves cost $52, these are still a great deal.