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Sure, we all know what wardrobe essentials for work professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.
I often prefer merino wool sweaters compared to other women’s sweaters like cashmere, cotton, or blends.
Merino has a bunch of advantages — it’s very warm but also lightweight (often light enough to wear beyond fall and winter), and it holds its shape much better than cotton. It’s not quite as luxuriously soft as cashmere, but it’s also less hot and tends to be more durable, and it’s often machine washable.
(Here are some tips on washing merino wool.)
If you’re on the hunt for merino wool sweaters for work outfits, now is a good time — there are a lot great options out there!
Readers, which are your favorite merino wool sweaters for women? Which are your favorite merino sweaters for work outfits?
Our Latest Favorite Merino Wool Sweaters for Work Outfits
Our all-time favorite 100% merino sweaters for work include Uniqlo, Everlane, Banana Republic, and APC. Eileen Fisher has high quality merino, also, although the clothes tend to be on the more casual side.
Why Merino Wool Sweaters are Great
Merino wool tends to be thinner and less fuzzy than cashmere or other knits, and it helps regulate your temperature throughout the day, while being generally really warm on cold days (much more so than cotton sweaters!).
You can find a lot of wool blends, but a 100% wool sweater is fully biodegradable, and naturally renewable in that it grows back every year. When Harper’s Bazaar spoke to Alex Crane of his eponymous New York brand, he noted that merino wool is “supremely soft and warm, lightweight, naturally breathable, and it dries super fast. … It’s basically the linen of the fall.”
Another huge plus to merino wool: It’s almost always machine washable.
What Is Merino Wool and How Does It Compare to Other Kinds of Wool?
According to Wikipedia,
The Merino is a breed or group of breeds of domestic sheep, characterized by very fine soft wool. It was established in Spain near the end of the Middle Ages, and was for several centuries kept as a strict Spanish monopoly; exports of the breed were not allowed, and those who tried risked capital punishment.
Merino wool is often chosen for base layers because it’s very good at wicking moisture naturally so you don’t feel clammy in, say, sweaty socks, sweaty leggings, or the like.
What About Merino Wool Blends?
Merino wool is often blended with cashmere, silk, and cotton (as well as a lot of synthetic blends)!.
If you’re hunting for wool-cashmere sweaters in 2024, check out this lovely one from Kule, and Vince also has some. This Jenni Kayne cardigan/sweater jacket is fabulous. On the more casual side, Summersalt has a bunch!
Hunting for cotton-merino blends? Everlane has a bunch as of Feb. 2024.
Silk-wool sweaters are hard to find, but Tory Burch’s bestselling cardigan fits the bill.
The Best Merino Wool Sweaters for Work Outfits
Uniqlo has been a longtime reader favorite for super affordable merino wool. This extra fine merino ribbed turtleneck long-sleeve sweater comes in 10 colors, in sizes XXS-XXL. They almost always have a bunch of basics like crew necks and V-necks; this year they also have a short-sleeved mock neck sweater in a variety of colors.
Another good bargain option: J.Crew Factory has a sale on machine washable turtlenecks.
I really like the V-neck and ribbed details on this bestselling merino sweater from Banana Republic. It’s available in regular and petite sizes XXS-XXL and is full price at $80. They have a lot of nice merino sweaters in other shapes, too — turtlenecks, a few nice polos, and more.
Everlane’s merino wool has been a reader favorite for years — and it meets the Responsible Wool Standard. Every year they have a ton of different trendy styles, this year including a polo sweater, a cocoon cardigan, a cotton-merino turtleneck dress, a cotton-merino bomber, and an ultrafine merino shell tank.
Boden has a BUNCH of really cute merino sweaters right now, a lot of them with interesting border details like this polo sweater. A lot of polo sweaters are down to lucky sizes right now, but at least two colors of this one are still available in all sizes XS-XL.
Another splurge-worthy brand to check out: APC, with great basics in merino wool for $300-$450 or so.
On the off chance you want a merino wool bodysuit, WoolX does have some (although they’re down to lucky sizes at the moment because they’re on sale!). The brand notes that the bodysuit is “moisture-wicking and quick-drying, warmth without bulk,” and “the perfect layering item.” It has a thong-style bottom so there won’t be any underwear lines. At full price, the bodysuit is $130. (They also offer a tank-style bodysuit.)
Wolford has short-sleeved merino wool bodysuits (but know your office with this style).
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