The 10 Best Women's Wool Sweaters in 2023

Your warmest winter essential just got that much more essential.

A woman wearing a heavy wool sweater. Overlaid text reads, "The Essentials"
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Welcome to The Essentials (opens in new tab), our weekly series highlighting a must-have classic, key to building a timeless, pulled-together closet.

'Tis the season...for temperatures to plummet. When all of the parks, sidewalks, and rooftops have been covered in a blanket of snow, all we want is to throw on a winter sweater and curl up with a (spiked) hot beverage to take in the full beauty of our winter wonderland. The key to all of it? The perfect wool sweater. Whether you're looking for a gift for a loved one or another to add to your own cozy collection, scroll down for our picks for the best wool sweaters. From classic Fair Isle sweaters (opens in new tab) to thick and durable cable knits that keep you bundled up, these sweaters will be the next best thing you've ever bought. You can thank me later.

What to Look For in a Wool Sweater

"I recommend checking the label to see the fiber content [of a wool sweater]," shares Jodi Everding (opens in new tab), the Vice President of Sustainability for minimalist ready-to-wear brand Filippa K (opens in new tab), saying you should hope to find a piece that's made of 100 percent wool, even if it's a combination of different types of types. "Sometimes brands need to add some synthetic fiber, such as polyamide, to a sweater to give it a certain lightness or loft, but a 100 percent wool sweater is as premium as it gets! Authentic wool fibers regulate temperature, so they naturally keep you both warm and cool in a way that synthetic fibers try to emulate."

"Another benefit," the sustainability expert shouts out, "is that pure wool sweaters don't contribute to microplastic shedding in the wash. And lastly, mechanical recycling of wool garments is quite commercialized and accessible, so even though you can keep your wool sweater for multiple lifetimes, it can be recycled into new yarns when it is truly worn out."

Types of Wool

  • Merino Wool

"Merino wool comes from the merino sheep and is one of the most prevalent types of wool on the market," explains Everding. "This is due to it being thinner and softer than coarser types of wool, which makes it comfortable to wear and suitable for many types of uses."

  • Cashmere

"Cashmere wool comes from cashmere (and certain other breeds of) goats. It is super soft and fine, making it among the most luxurious of the wool fibers. Due to its characteristics, it can be prone to pilling, but this is normal and does not indicate poor quality," shares Filippa K's VP of Sustainability.

  • Mohair

"Mohair comes from angora goats," says Everding. "It is a long and lustrous fiber, which is also very fine. It can be used in very light and fluffy knitwear or in woven pieces to create a bit of a hairy texture on the surface."

  • Swedish Wool

"And then there are all of the wonderful variations of Swedish wool. There are over 250,000 sheep in Sweden, and many breeds with different characteristics of wool; There are the coarser types that behave more like Shetland wool, finer types that are similar to merino wool, some long and lustrous types that look and behave like mohair, and many others in between!"

The Best Wool Sweaters for Women

How to Wash a Wool Sweater

"If you treat your wool sweater well, it will last you a lifetime—or more," says Everding. "Wool sweaters don’t need to be washed very often, which is great! You can use a garment freshening spray, or hang your wool sweater in the bathroom while you take a hot shower to give it a bit of steam that freshens it up and prolongs the time between washes," she explains.

"Many wool sweaters can be put on the 'wool setting' in the washing machine, just check the care label to confirm. Otherwise, it is always best to handwash your wool sweater at no more than 30 degrees Celsius/86 degrees Fahrenheit with a gentle detergent. Then lay it flat, gently re-shape it, and let it dry. The important thing when washing wool," says Everding, "is to avoid high temperatures and too much movement—lest you end up with a child’s sized shrunken and felted garment!"

Meet the Expert

Jodi Everding Filippa K
Jodi Everding

With over 20 years of fabric research and development experience within large US and global retail brands, Jodi brought her expertise to Filippa K in 2016. She has since established the fabric and sustainability teams at the fashion house, emphasizing sustainable and lower-impact materials and building new partnerships with academia, start-ups, and peer brands. Jodi's extensive background acts as a foundation for her passion to find innovative fibers, materials, and processes that can bring about positive industry change. Some of her most impactful initiatives include working directly with Swedish sheep farmers to scale local wool, partnering with Swedish researchers to pilot chemical recycling of fiber mixes, and collaborating with local tech and repair partners to keep pre-owned Filippa K garments in circulation. 

Emma Childs
Style Editor

Emma Childs is the Style Editor at Marie Claire, where she researches up-and-coming trends, curates shopping guides, and gushes about the must-buy items she can't stop thinking about. She previously wrote for TZR, Editorialist, Elite Daily, and Mission Magazine and studied Fashion Studies and New Media at Fordham University. When she's not writing up fashion deep-dives or finding the season's best pieces, you'll find her fiddling around in Photoshop and perusing HBO Max for the next show to base her personality on (currently, it's "Succession").