Stylish spring sweaters
Better sweater materials are a smart investment.
Spring just doesn't seem official until we can finally shove our heavy coats into the back of the closet until next year. We shake off the grays and browns of winter and bring color back into our lives with lightweight, stylish spring sweaters in cheerful yellows, cool blues, lavenders and greens. Sweaters are integral to our wardrobes; they're a fashion mainstay that gets reinvented every season.
Thankfully, most everything goes this year on the fashion front. Designers are combining a plethora of styles and fabrics to create diverse looks. Many different sweater styles are in right now, from belted or open to long or chunky. Both neutrals and bright colors are dressed up or down with an eclectic 'mix-it-up' approach.
Natural materials create the most luxuriant and longest-lasting sweaters. These garments usually have a classic look and style to them as well, making them immune to ever-changing fashion whims. The natural fibers of alpaca, cashmere and pima cotton are higher quality and much more comfortable than synthetic blends. They tend to be more expensive because of their higher quality and the hand processing that goes into creating them. And, in the case of alpaca and cashmere, the supply is limited.
What's Alpaca Anyway?
Alpaca is a silky-soft luxury fiber that comes from Alpaca herds mostly in Peru. An alpaca looks like a small llama but with longer, softer fur. Raised primarily for its soft fleece, the alpaca produces fibers that are comfortably lightweight but extremely strong.
High-quality alpaca should feel buttery-soft and sleek and have sheen to it, without being fuzzy or fluffy. Softer than cashmere, it was once reserved exclusively for Incan royalty dating back thousands of years. The hypoallergenic fleece occurs naturally in 22 different hues but can be dyed any color.
The Elegance of Cashmere
A sought-after luxury fabric, cashmere is the fine downy fur shorn from the underbelly of the Kashmir goat. The soft, lightweight wool provides superior insulation without being bulky. Grown mostly in Asia, cashmere is valued for its rarity. High-quality cashmere should feel incredibly soft and smooth when you touch it. It should not be loosely-knit and should snap back to shape if you stretch it apart.
The highest quality cashmere is always hand brushed from the Kashmir goats bred in the Gobi desert. It takes four years for one of these goats to shed enough fur for one sweater. The fleece is hand-collected and also hand-processed, hence the cost.
The Feel of Cotton
Not exactly a luxury material, pima cotton nonetheless has a luxurious feel to it. It's a blend of Egyptian and other cottons grown in the southwest United States. The fibers are dense and very soft, making it a popular choice for higher-quality cardigans and other clothing for men and women. Cotton transcends seasons, making it always okay to wear a cotton sweater to work, for play or anything in between.
One major advantage to pima cotton is that it's thicker and stronger than other cottons so it lasts longer. It's very lightweight but provides superior insulation and is ideal for spring sweaters. One hundred percent pima cotton is said to last 50 percent longer than other cottons, making it a good - as well as stylish - investment.
A Feminine Touch
Regardless of the material you choose, thin-knit cardigans and layered sweater tunics are feminine and can camouflage a number of figure imperfections. Florals are big this season and can be worn as a pattern or as an embellishment. A solid color cardigan over a floral dress is a classic and elegant look.
Layering a tunic sweater with leggings and boots or a cardigan with a long, thin sweater dress is another popular look for the season. Add a belt to give yourself a waist. A flattering style for every woman is the long sweater coat. Worn open or belted, these long sweaters are sophisticated and snuggly at the same time. Wear yours loosely belted over jeans and add swagger with your favorite heeled boots.
Stylish Spring Sweaters for Men
Fitted cardigans are in style for both women and men. For the guys, a form-fitting pullover sweater paired with a dress shirt and tie is a very flattering look for most men of all heights and shapes. Cuff your shirt over your sweater sleeves and wear with jeans and canvas shoes.
Go from chic to casual sexy with a button-up cardigan over a white, v-neck tee or better yet, a distressed rock tee. Or take that dress shirt without the tie, add a zip-up black cardigan and wear with casual trousers or dark jeans. A cardigan can look classic or hip depending on how you wear it and what you pair it with.
Sweaters made from natural fibers don't thin, pill, or stretch out like synthetic materials. If you take care of them properly, they should last many years. These garments keep their shape much better, making them a smarter investment than cheaper materials and sweaters you'll find yourself frequently replacing.