When winter rears its frozen head, you’d better be well-prepped with some warm layers. For that, a good wool sweater needs to be a part of your defense. There’s a handful of different types of wools on the market, each one with its own characteristics. Some are itchy. Others are hypoallergenic. Most wools come from sheep, but others come from goats or even muskoxen. Cashmere is, or was, the king of wool for its incredulous softness and warmth, once requiring a weighty credit card if you wanted a cashmere jumper of your very own. Today you can find cashmere sweaters well-under $100 easily. What you’ll likely find most often is a sweater made of merino wool.
Whether it’s a wintry gift for a loved one or yourself (hopefully you count yourself as a loved one, too), the bales of wool to comb through is, as far as we can tell, endless. But along the woolen way, our search has led us to some fine and superfine wool options you can and should consider.
Everlane Grade-A Cashmere Crew
Best Overall Wool Sweater
Everlane’s offering of cashmere sweaters may be the best thing they make. Each one is made using 100 percent Mongolian cashmere which sits at the upper echelons of both fineness and length. I.e., they’re really soft and really durable.
Todd Snyder Italian Brushed Mohair Wool Sweater
Best Ugrade Wool Sweater
Like the grunge-inspired olive sweaters that other designers are doing, but before they’ve ripped it to shreds, these sweaters are made from supremely soft mohair. It’s brushed for a loft and warmth, plus comes with comfortable saddle sleeves and is fully-fashioned, meaning the sweater is knit to spec, without any waste or stitched seams.
Uniqlo Premium Lambswool Crew Neck Sweater
Best Affordable Wool Sweater
You can always rely on the ‘Qlo to deliver the goods at a suspiciously low price. Its range of lambswool sweaters is endearingly soft (it’s the wool of a lamb’s first shearing, after all), comes in plenty of colors beyond the usual navy and grey, and cost just a pittance, which is about $40.
J.Crew Rugged Merino Wool Heather Crewneck
J.Crew’s an obvious choice to nab a classic wool sweater while swerving away from financial ruin. Its Rugged Merino Wool lineup has been around season after season thanks to its balanced proportions and solid materials which balance warmth, softness and durability.
L.L. Bean Norwegian Heritage Sweater
The Norwegian descriptor isn’t just marketing. L.L. Bean’s classic sweater has been in the catalogue for decades and its still being made in Norway in small villages by family-run businesses. Using 100 percent wool, the iconic sweater is substantial and will serve you well once temps dip real low.
Alex Mill Reverse Seam Sweater
Alex Mill’s Reverse Seam Sweater uses superfine merino wool in a 9-gauge knit. What that means is that it’s softer than Uniqlo’s lambswool sweaters and While some sweaters are borderline t-shirt thin and others have got the chonk, Alex Mill’s sits nicely in the middle.
Corridor Floral Alpaca Crewneck
Florals? In winter? Well, not groundbreaking, but it’s certainly refreshing. This cheery number from NYC-based brand Corridor sprouts its flowers using 89 percent boucle alpaca and 11 percent recycled poly for a teddy-soft and responsible crew.
Shetland Woollen Co. Shaggy Crew Knit
It wouldn’t be a proper roundup of wool sweaters without a Scottish brand in the mix. This one, from Shetland Woolen Co., uses 100 percent Shetland wool fibers which are lightweight, but toasty. It’s given a good brushing to up the insulation while also softening the hand. One of the best buys for the price.
De Bonne Facture Pecora Nera Wool Sweater
Now we’re getting serious. This sweater gets its deep and varied brown tones from Loro Piana’s Pecora Nera wool. This super rare wool comes from black merino sheep raised in New Zealand which produce rich dark shearling. The wool is left undyed, underscoring its natural colors before being knit into a peachy boucle fabric.
Gabriela Hearst Lawrence Cashmere Sweater
You’ve reached the end. The end-all, ultimate, final boss of wool sweaters. Gabriela Hearst’s private family ranch is where she gets the wool and cashmere for her high-end sweaters. This one is hand-knit by Uruguayan artisans through the Manos del Uruguay nonprofit organization which employees women. The super thick cashmere yarns come together in a unique knit full of character that you won’t find anywhere else. Even at the riche pricepoint, the Lawrence sweater remains a constant in the Hearst collection.