Is a $35 Merino Sweater Too Good to Be True?

Is a $35 merino sweater too good to be true? Last week, Amazon gave me a code to try out one of their in-house fashion pieces from a specific list. I saw this sweater, and thought this was the kind of thing that I would be interested in and thought you may be as well. A 100% merino sweater for less than $35? And it has 515 ratings with an average of 4 stars? This sweater from Amazon in-house brand MERAKI is available up to size 18 in six neutral colors. Let's see how it fares for quality and fit.

Sweater: c/o Amazon (size 12-14) | Jeans: c/o Talbots (14 petite) | Belt: c/o cabi (old; similar) | Boots: Sorel | Bag: c/o Maxwell Scott | Earrings: Jenny Bird (old; similar) | Necklace: Baublebar | Bracelet: Metal Marvels | Ring: c/o REALM

I got this sweater in 12/14 and I think it fits true to size for a tailored sweater, but I think those who are taller than I will find the sleeves too short and possibly the torso as well. Since it's so thin I preferred it tucked in because it showed the outline of all my buttons, zippers, and belt loops. Untucked it hit middle of my zipper, about an inch from the lower curve of my stomach. This is the kind of sweater I wore like crazy in an office because it looked nice tucked in or untucked with trousers or a skirt and it was lightweight enough to slip under a blazer or soft jacket. It's an easy way to look polished while also being comfortable.

Here's the thing… it's a $35 merino sweater. It will never be equivalent in quality and weight to a sweater three or four times its price, no matter the kind of practices used to manufacture it. I've owned merinos I got for $19.99 at TJ Maxx, and I've owned $300 merinos from department store brands. They are made from the same fiber, they both are easier to care for than cashmere, are less likely to pill, and are a way to be warm without bulk. But this $35 merino wool is so thin in the right light you can see my blue bra through it. My $19.99 TJ Maxx scores were thicker. It's no miracle sweater, but if you are looking for merino wool and this is your pricepoint, it is a better choice than purchasing a synthetic blend at the same price and classic enough that if it holds up, it will still be stylish a year from now.

The jeans are from Talbots and other than my Athleta jeans they are the only ones I wear these days. Jeans are durable and versatile… but most are not very comfortable. These are stretchy but not tight and the high waist keeps it from binding when I sit. I like the effect of a high waist like these; my husband doesn't get them but I'm not wearing them for him, LOL! I got a 14 petite and didn't do any alterations; it's nice to have jeans that will work with my flat and low-heel shoes.

Speaking of shoes, these are the same Sorel boots I showed on the blog a year ago. They're cute and comfortable and I love that they're waterproof. They sort of have a combat boot effect and I've worn them with dresses and tights as well as jeans and because they have a bit of lift and a grippy sole, they're good commuter shoes. 

I bought this bracelet a few years ago, and bought a matching one for two of my friends. It was a time when all three of us were going through some sh*t and I felt like this bracelet was a way to remind us that we just need to push through and it will get better. And these days this bracelet feels even more relevant. Metal Marvels has a variety of bangles in three metal tones with dozens of messages, and they also carry graphic tees (most up to 2XL with others up to 4XL), mugs, pillows, keychains, and even face masks. It's a small woman-owned USA-based company and a great destination for gifts (I recommend shopping for the holidays sooner rather than later with all that is going on right now). 10% of the product cost from all Metal Marvels products are donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Three Square, Center for Reproductive Rights, Equal Justice Initiative, Los Angeles LGBT Center, Girls Inc., Be The Match Foundation, Austin Pets Alive, Transgender Law Center, and Ocean Foundation with no caps or end dates.

And the bag is the same one I carried last week. I really like having a bag that offers organization, easy one-hand open, and a strap that looks nice on my shoulder or across my body. While I don't have any brown shoes outside of my riding boots, I don't think it matters.  I liked how the leopard belt sort of tied together with the black boots and the brown bag! I saw a few purchased this bag last week; let me know if the promo link worked for you

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18 Comments

  1. Eleanorjane
    October 4, 2020 / 4:03 am

    Just some research (I’d never heard of mulesing either and I grew up on a farm in New Zealand!). Evidently Australia still does it but it’s been banned in New Zealand since 2018. So buy New Zealand merino!

  2. Corinne Baines
    October 2, 2020 / 10:01 pm

    I too love the jeans, but I have a hard time paying $8 for shipping when all the other retailers I shop with ship for free.

    • Corinne Baines
      October 3, 2020 / 1:56 pm

      As luck would have it, I received a catalog today with a free shipping promotion! Buying jeans now!

  3. L H Carter
    October 1, 2020 / 12:11 pm

    You look fabulous in these clothes and accessories.
    I adore these jeans. They were the first thing I noticed in the photo. They totally flatter you.
    I am a uber fan of wider legs. I caved to capris, tapered, and ankle length pants and jeans.
    But I’ll be damned if I wear skinnies.

    • Michelle
      October 2, 2020 / 7:55 pm

      I’m with you. I love wide legs. Loathe skinnies.

  4. RoseAg
    September 30, 2020 / 3:53 pm

    I have some merino sweaters from The Gap that I like, they’re warm and lightweight, in cool weather they beat cotton for warmth without bulk; the key to keeping the sweaters wearable is laundry practices. They may say they’re washable, but don’t put them in your machine, even on gentle. Hand wash and lay flat. They also need to be protected from moths and snags any little infraction on the yarn will leave a hole.

  5. Nebraskim
    September 30, 2020 / 10:52 am

    I love those jeans and that they have a 32-inch inseam. They look great on you, especially with the boots. I am SICK of ankle length jeans and pants, which look like flood pants on me. I finally broke down recently and bought my first new jeans in years, from Talbots, but they are the ankle length. So I am not totally in love with them but the color I wanted did not come in talls. I also like the wider leg on these jeans. Very tempting to me to try them. Thanks for the report.

    • September 30, 2020 / 10:56 am

      My pleasure! I too am desiring a change from ankle jeans and pants. Sure it’s versatile, and sure it looks nice, but this year? I want my ankles warm. I want to be able to wear boots that aren’t just cool looking but comfortable and practical. I’m thrilled to see so many wider leg openings this season at a variety of retailers! And I’ve washed and dried these several times and they’ve done great.

      • Michelle
        October 2, 2020 / 7:57 pm

        Everytime wide leg pants come back I get so excited. I’m even shorter than you….so they may not be flattering but I love them anyway. I buy them for me.

  6. Bette
    September 30, 2020 / 9:12 am

    Beautiful photos, Alison! Love the play of light and shadow.

    Given the side notes on wool, I’d love to learn more (I think). I had to look up “mulesing” and was pretty horrified. My image of cute little sheep being lovingly shorn by hand went out the window.

    • September 30, 2020 / 10:54 am

      Mulesing happens at all pricepoints with all sorts of retailers, even high-end designers. One benefit to this horrible year is the time to be able to do our research before we shop, and retailers that are so concerned about sales that they are responding and reacting to social media call-outs and queries.

  7. Rachel
    September 30, 2020 / 6:50 am

    Totally with you on the versatility, practicality, and style of merino tops such as this.

    As you say, farming practices are important and amazon don’t make it easy to find out where the merino comes from so it’s difficult to know whether this one comes from non-mulesing farms. I did find a company operating as Meraki in a separate online store, but don’t know if its the same (stock is completely different). That one comes from non-mulesing farms, so maybe the amazon one does too?
    https://www.merakiwool.com/faq.html

    • September 30, 2020 / 7:17 am

      That’s really interesting, thanks for investigating this, Rachel! You had me go on a dive to see if I could learn more about Meraki and if it was one and the same. I found this article from Fashion United about Amazon’s Meraki: https://fashionunited.uk/news/fashion/amazon-fashion-presents-new-basics-brand-meraki/2018053129945

      “Online giant Amazon announced in a press release on Tuesday that it has launched a new European private brand via Amazon Fashion: Meraki is all about clean lines, timeless shapes and quality fabric construction – easy-to-wear premium wardrobe essentials for men and women at a moderate price.”

      And this article from Fashion Network makes me think they chose this brand/bought it/transformed it/created it for basics and one by chance is merino wool: https://us.fashionnetwork.com/news/Amazon-launches-modern-essentials-fashion-line-meraki,982740.html

      “Meraki was created to offer everyone who comes to Amazon his or her favourite wardrobe essential; that go-to piece you rely on time and time again,” said Frances Russell, Amazon Fashion Europe’s Private Brands Vice President. “We aim to deliver the best for our customers whether it’s a modern blazer, a simple cotton shirt, T-shirt or chino,” added Russel.

      This article about the line from The Guardian shares how popular the name Meraki is: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2018/may/28/meraki-will-the-new-hygge-make-you-happier-and-save-time-getting-dressed

      The whole line of Meraki at Amazon along with the logo/branding: https://amzn.to/34fPbAW

      I know this is a novel but I’m thinking anyone who is considering this sweater should know the information that you and I gathered up. And from what I pulled I don’t think the Meraki Wool company you found and Amazon’s one is the same which makes how they farm the wool unknown (and with such a pricepoint, I’d say pretty suspect). Thank you for starting this important discussion. As we are in a time when we need fewer clothes and want to get the best quality we can afford so it lasts, this sort of research is important. I can only hope this time in history will have us shift our shopping habits to become more thoughful, better researched, and slower!

      • Rachel
        September 30, 2020 / 9:38 am

        Love that you took my comment and ran with it Alison, you’re a class act! Mulesing is horrific, I hate that bringing it to people’s attention is so traumatic but also feel it’s important to raise awareness. Thank you for doing that with grace (and sorry Bette!)

        • Jane
          September 30, 2020 / 10:20 am

          It is important though. I didn’t read but I am guessing it’s pretty brutal. At this price point it is likely to include this practice.

          • September 30, 2020 / 10:52 am

            It really is, and what’s awful is that many brands of all pricepoints, even designer brands, perform Mulesing. Goes to show price doesn’t equal quality, or ethics. 🙁 We just need to be better consumers and do our research.

      • a former reader
        September 30, 2020 / 2:53 pm

        I am so glad I came to your site to actually read this article and the comments. I used to read but have dropped reading blogs in the past year. You were mentioned on a certain website for promoting Amazon but this doesn’t read like a promotion and from what I gather Amazon didn’t pay you? I never heard of mulesing before and am now utterly horrified and questioning all my wool purchases.

        • October 1, 2020 / 9:59 am

          I received the code to pick an item for free, but I was not paid by Amazon to write this post. Mulesing is pretty horrific, and common across all designers, unfortunately.

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