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No undershirt with cashmere shirts & sweaters

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Since cashmere is all about softness, I don't like wearing shirts/undershirts under any of my cashmere sweaters. I have no interest in changing this habit, just wondering if I'm in the majority or the minority. Thoughts?
post #2 of 26
I would never wear an undershirt with anything.

Cue all the defenders of the undershirts with sweaty armpits etc.
post #3 of 26
I'd say you're in the minority. I think most wear undershirts as much to protect the sweater/shirt as anything.

Would rather not get armpit sweat and deodorant on my sweaters.
post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 
I generally wear them when I don't expect to be in a scenario where I'll sweat. Cool and calm. I'm not a profuse perspirer, so I have no problem as far as the sweaters are concerned.

Actually, my go-to pajama or "at home" outfit in the winter includes a thick (I don't know what ply, but it's up there) cable-knit paul stuart cashmere sweater to keep me warm, which I probably wear ~75 times between light washes (once or twice a year) over the last 3 years.

It never develops any smell or dirtyness, I just wash it as part of good care. That said, I do take the precaution of making sure I'm clean when I put it on. But I couldn't possibly find a more comfortable solution for a chilly apartment.



What it boils down to, for me, is that it would pain me too much to feel cotton on my skin, when there's nice cashmere one layer above.

The extra-thin cruciani's (etc) make it less weird to do this, but I do it with my thick sweaters too, mostly.
post #5 of 26
The softness of cashmere is incredibly subjective and dependent on a number of factors. In fact, generally the "super soft" cashmere is of inferior quality, as a great deal of softness comes as a bi-product of spinning shorter fibers and/or combining them with synthetic fibers. Think of your favorite t-shirt and how soft it is. That softness comes from cheap materials wearing down into a type of fluff.

In good cashmere the softness is generally derived from how the fibers are washed before they are spun. Many of the Scottish makers differentiate their cashmere by the local water pH levels and sources. That is to say that the hand of their product cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. Most of the "luxury" Italian makers produce a softer product. This is for a number of reasons, but generally it boils down to spinning technique or washing technique.

Generally I prefer a scratchier, more substantial cashmere. This is generally found in the older Scottish makers. Their cashmere was meant to be worn into softness and not sold that way. This makes it ideal for layering over a button-front shirt or even t-shirt. So it really boils down to the maker and how the cashmere is being worn. To simply say "cashmere is too soft to need a base layer" you are creating a great deal of assumptions about what kind of cashmere you're wearing... and not all of them are positive.
post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 
^ Some of what you're saying is true, but it is also mostly beside the point. I think you got excited about a chance to regurgitate SF knowledge or something. But anyway, the only material issue here is that cashmere of most grades tends to be softer than cotton (etc) of most grades, and thus the discussion of undershirt vs. no undershirt.

I normally wouldn't take issue, but your post comes off as an attempt to assert superiority given the quotes below, and I'm not sure why.

*1 "In fact, generally the "super soft" cashmere is of inferior quality..." OK... Good quality cashmere can be and is often very soft - that's one of the principal selling points. There is super soft good cashmere, and super soft bad cashmere.

*2 "To simply say "cashmere is too soft to need a base layer" you are creating a great deal of assumptions about what kind of cashmere you're wearing... and not all of them are positive." No one said your quote. I said an undershirt would deprive you of feeling the softness. But if your cashmere isn't any softer than most materials, then you've done a great job of rationalizing its superiority it to yourself.

I'm aware of the old Scottish love on here, no need to beat people over the head with it though. I've tried (top) Scottish & Italian, have always ended up with Italian due to fit. I don't buy used stuff, so old-stock Scottish isn't gonna be a thing for me.
post #7 of 26
I wear an undershirt all the time.....
post #8 of 26
Sorry, man, didn't mean to come off douche-y, though I can certainly see how I sounded. I think it's one of those things that my experiences and preferences are different from yours. That coupled with the fact that there is A LOT of bad cashmere out there (some people would even say to not bother and go with a higher quality Merino since the "great" makers are all either gone or dying). I was simply stating that "softness" isn't really a great indicator when the "softness" hype of cashmere is what has allowed so many crap brands to make it cheaper and cheaper.

I've never handled Cruciani (though I'm sure it's good stuff) so I suppose I shouldn't make assumptions, but even my Italian stuff is still a little too scratchy to just wear as is. I have Loro Piana, Avon Celli and Cucinelli and, while soft, they'd all become at least a little itchy to wear alone. The only cashmere item I own that I'd even consider wearing without a shirt underneath is an old PRL cable knit I have, but the cashmere is pretty crappy (oily to the touch and quick to bag). I'd imagine you'd need a very airy single ply or something with a jersey finish to make it good as stand-alone.

In any event, it's pretty funny how few people (here and elsewhere) can objectively discern quality on cashmere knitwear. I drove myself crazy trying to figure out what made for good cashmere when most of the time you're left relying on the manufacturer to tell you whether it's good or not. And even then I still find it's no easy task to know if what you're getting is (much) better than the $25 disposable H&M stuff. I think it's this inability to discern what's good and what's not, combined with the fact that so many of the old houses have shut down, that leads so many to issue the blanket "The best days of cashmere are behind us."

Sorry if I crapped up the thread.
post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
No worries, and thanks for the gracious reply.
post #10 of 26
I generally am not a big fan of undershirts and do not wear them with my dress shirts, but I'll wear them with sweaters, even cashmere. I don't think there's anything wrong with not wearing an undershirt in this context, but I find that cotton dress shirts are a lot easier to wash and maintain and that wearing an undershirt helps prevent otherwise unneeded cleanings and maintenance on what can be quite luxurious sweaters. Cashmere has a nice feel to it of course but a quality undershirt can too. Ultimately, as long as your sweater fits and you don't sweat too much, you'll be perfectly fine.
post #11 of 26

definitly undershirt, but I might try it out no undershirt to see what you mean.

post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by bourbonbasted View Post

The softness of cashmere is incredibly subjective and dependent on a number of factors. In fact, generally the "super soft" cashmere is of inferior quality, as a great deal of softness comes as a bi-product of spinning shorter fibers and/or combining them with synthetic fibers. Think of your favorite t-shirt and how soft it is. That softness comes from cheap materials wearing down into a type of fluff.

In good cashmere the softness is generally derived from how the fibers are washed before they are spun. Many of the Scottish makers differentiate their cashmere by the local water pH levels and sources. That is to say that the hand of their product cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. Most of the "luxury" Italian makers produce a softer product. This is for a number of reasons, but generally it boils down to spinning technique or washing technique.

Generally I prefer a scratchier, more substantial cashmere. This is generally found in the older Scottish makers. Their cashmere was meant to be worn into softness and not sold that way. This makes it ideal for layering over a button-front shirt or even t-shirt. So it really boils down to the maker and how the cashmere is being worn. To simply say "cashmere is too soft to need a base layer" you are creating a great deal of assumptions about what kind of cashmere you're wearing... and not all of them are positive.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bourbonbasted View Post

Sorry, man, didn't mean to come off douche-y, though I can certainly see how I sounded. I think it's one of those things that my experiences and preferences are different from yours. That coupled with the fact that there is A LOT of bad cashmere out there (some people would even say to not bother and go with a higher quality Merino since the "great" makers are all either gone or dying). I was simply stating that "softness" isn't really a great indicator when the "softness" hype of cashmere is what has allowed so many crap brands to make it cheaper and cheaper.

I've never handled Cruciani (though I'm sure it's good stuff) so I suppose I shouldn't make assumptions, but even my Italian stuff is still a little too scratchy to just wear as is. I have Loro Piana, Avon Celli and Cucinelli and, while soft, they'd all become at least a little itchy to wear alone. The only cashmere item I own that I'd even consider wearing without a shirt underneath is an old PRL cable knit I have, but the cashmere is pretty crappy (oily to the touch and quick to bag). I'd imagine you'd need a very airy single ply or something with a jersey finish to make it good as stand-alone.

In any event, it's pretty funny how few people (here and elsewhere) can objectively discern quality on cashmere knitwear. I drove myself crazy trying to figure out what made for good cashmere when most of the time you're left relying on the manufacturer to tell you whether it's good or not. And even then I still find it's no easy task to know if what you're getting is (much) better than the $25 disposable H&M stuff. I think it's this inability to discern what's good and what's not, combined with the fact that so many of the old houses have shut down, that leads so many to issue the blanket "The best days of cashmere are behind us."

Sorry if I crapped up the thread.

wonderful reply!

im really interested in cashmere and wool.

but pity that i miss the older Scottish maker era, so i cant easily touch great knitwear to exactly get the right sense of high quality cashmere.

can you share some experience here?

Thanks!

post #13 of 26

FWIW, I never wear an undershirt with shirts, but always do if wearing a jumper without a shirt underneath, regardless of maker/material.

 

I don't really have a logic to explain this difference; it's what I've always done... laugh.gif

post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Holdfast View Post

FWIW, I never wear an undershirt with shirts, but always do if wearing a jumper without a shirt underneath, regardless of maker/material.

I don't really have a logic to explain this difference; it's what I've always done... laugh.gif

Much easier to launder a cotton dress shirt than a knit sweater... Also cheaper to replace.

Also, I think many knits can be a bit itchy, no matter how soft they are.
post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by coloRLOw View Post

wonderful reply!
im really interested in cashmere and wool.
but pity that i miss the older Scottish maker era, so i cant easily touch great knitwear to exactly get the right sense of high quality cashmere.
can you share some experience here?
Thanks!

Not to totally derail the thread, but cashmere is a very interesting and difficult thing to nail down. You can start here for the basics of what cashmere actually is. You can also see a video here that breaks down the spinning process in more general terms.

Derek wrote a great article on the best Scottish makers to look for here. And you can use this resource for some good Italian makers.

As alluded to above, almost everyone these days has a house cashmere that they offer. My best practices are to stick to the original manufacturers and not overpay based on brand. I'd also stay away from fashion brands for cashmere or anyone that relies on marketing to boost sales. The majority of those makers are riding the wave of cashmere without actually supporting it.

Hope that helps get you started.
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