Should I invest in a cashmere sweater?

After searching all the thrift stores in the land for a vintage cardigan, and not finding the one, I’m seriously considering breaking the rules of my fashion challenge to acquire a quality cashmere sweater. There’s just one problem. I don’t know how to assess the quality of cashmere or what a reasonable price is. Enter this post, where I’ve rounded up some tips for judging the quality of cashmere, then give you the low-down on what I learned from talking with three popular brands about the cashmere their sweaters are made of this season.

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The cutest organic cotton and hemp bralettes on Etsy

I’ve churned through Etsy to find the cutest bralettes on Etsy and elsewhere online made of quality blended hemp or organic cotton fabric made on a smaller scale, some of which offer custom sizing. I have found natural fibers like organic cotton and hemp, besides any environmental and social benefits, are more breathable than even high quality synthetics. The styles discussed below are unpadded unless stated otherwise.

Under 40 USD

Harmonic Threads based in Ferndale, Michigan makes bralettes and leggings with side phone pockets out of organic cotton and hemp. They have a wide color selection, but don’t do custom sizing. If you are fairly close to their size chart measurements, the forgiving knit fabric may still work for you.

If you are petite, the Decent Exposures Original Un-Bra(R) may fall in this price point. Price varies depending on sizing, fabric, and other options. Decent Exposures is a wonderful company based in Seattle, Washington that makes knitwear and swimwear from high quality organic cotton fabric. Their Original Un-Bra(R) can be customized at additional cost with features that no one else provides: nursing flaps, front closure, pockets (to add your own padding or prosthetic), front closure with pockets, ribbing instead of elastic, and choose your fabric and color. Some items come in established sizes according to a size chart, and others are customized to your measurements. Fabrics are very good quality. They have a great return policy, excellent customer service, and high quality product. The easiest thing to do is probably to call and talk to them because it can be hard to follow the catalog and understand all the options you have and measurements you need to provide. Highly recommended.

Under 60 USD

This sporty bralette (lead photo) by Circle Creations based in Eugene, Oregon is like the more comfortable hemp version of Patagonia’s popular W’s Barely Bra. I’ve become more interested in hemp lately as a cotton alternative because it supposedly requires less water and chemical inputs to produce. It may fit more like a longline bra if you are petite but the size chart is pretty accurate. Reviewers comment on the beautiful colors, which they dye themselves in small batches. At the time I visited their listing, there were four colors available, although you can tell from the reviews that other colors were available in the past so I am watching for new colors. I really like the knubby texture of the fabric, which I don’t find scratchy at all and is of a good weight. Very well made, as pictured, no padding, similar price point as the Barely Bra.

Another crop top/sports bra at a mid-tier price point comes from Yana Dee in Traverse City, Michigan. Comfort driven, she uses hemp and organic cotton fabric, has a good color selection, and will make items to your measurements. She designs garments for women who prioritize comfort and want to dress for themselves. She also makes leggings and other knitwear.

70 USD and up

I love the custom, hand dyed colors that FlowerPotHandmade based in Ventura, California comes up with. Like Circle Creations and Harmonic Threads, they also use a hemp blend fabric. They are happy to make the item to your measurements. The design looks really comfortable while still being cute. I haven’t tried their product because of the higher price point, but look forward to giving it a whirl in the future. They also make coordinating biker shorts and leggings with pockets.

DamselflyOrgClothing is a newer shop in San Francisco, California that makes a super cute and trendy crop top/sports bra/bralette top with a peek-a-boo back and matching leggings out of organic cotton. Not too sure how customizable sizing is, but I haven’t been able to find a style like this in organic cotton anywhere else.

Have you tried any of these shops? Have you tried hemp fabric?

Shout out to Janet, who I tried to email back and it bounced back. Feel free to use as requested.

Photo credits: Mandy Bradley, FlowerPotHandmade (links above).

A buyer’s guide for memory foam mattress toppers

A good mattress topper can transform a terrible bed into a hotel worthy sleep system, although choosing the right mattress topper can be a challenge, especially online. The review below by itmchris on Overstock.com from 2009 was so helpful in laying out the essential things to know when looking to invest in a memory foam mattress topper. It’s worth saving in case you need it later and Overstock removes the product (and thus the review)–it has been ten years since it was first posted! I have edited the review for readability, and I’ve added my thoughts after the review based on my experience following this advice and using a memory foam mattress topper for several years.

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