Holiday Buying Guide: How to Shop for Cashmere on a Budget

High-quality cashmere can be found at affordable prices.

— -- Cashmere used to be exorbitantly expensive, but not anymore.

Good Morning America” found V-neck cashmere sweaters on sale for $79 at Bloomingdale's, $59 at Macy’s and $49 at Uniqlo.

Despite these relatively low prices, you can also buy cashmere for $300, $400 -- even $1,000 online. So why the discrepancy?

We headed to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York to interview Sean Cormier, an assistant professor at the school.

I offered him a challenge: we would send a producer to buy three sweaters at three different price points: $79, $140 and $795. Cormier and I would try to match the sweater with the right price tag. As we rubbed the knit between our fingers and stretched and pinched the material, we both realized that these are incredibly similar garments. One was a little rougher, but the other two were almost indistinguishable.

Our rankings of price were COMPLETELY wrong. We picked the $140 sweater as the cheapest, the most expensive as the middle price, and we both thought the cheapest sweater felt the most luxurious.

Cormier wasn’t surprised. He explained that the nicer stitching and embellishments were behind the cost of the $795 sweater.

To get the best cashmere on a budget, he gave us some tips.

Use the feel test.

Cashmere may be one of the hardest things to buy online. I recently purchased a $100 sweater online and when I received it, it felt thin and scratchy.

Weight is important.

The more fibers, the sturdier the sweater. Ironically the sweater that felt the heaviest to us was the cheapest.

Read the label.

Industry standards mandate that products labeled as cashmere meet certain requirements but the mandate does not reveal if the clothing item is made from grade A cashmere (the best) or from Mongolia cashmere (thought to be less superior to other Chinese cashmere).

Invest now.

The price of raw cashmere is down 12 percent this year because supply is up, but the winter was unusually warm in Mongolia and the yield is predicted to be bad, so that will cause prices to rise. Also, the Mongolian government is considering a 10 percent tax on cashmere for next year, so investing in a nice piece for you or a gift recipient may be a smart move.

Look for deals, including percentage off coupons.

Many stores let you use coupons on cashmere, but I have seen instances where cashmere is excluded. Read the fine print.