A beautiful, pure cashmere sweater does not come cheap. But it is worth spending so much money on, with so many other alternatives in the market?

I remember buying my first pure cashmere sweater as a teenager. I had to save up my money, and wait until the winter sales before I could afford it – but it was worth every penny. I wore that sweater every winter for 8 years, before, sadly, a hole in the arm made it beyond saving.

With so many alternatives to cashmere on the market, such as Cashmillion, and cashmere/wool blends, you may wonder if it's worth the extra expense of buying pure cashmere. I've tried the real thing and I've tried the imitators. My answer: Pure cashmere wins every time.

Pure cashmere lasts and wears in a way unlike any other alternatives. It's available in one, two and three-ply densities – one being the finest, and three the heaviest (and them most expensive). I tend to buy two-ply for real winter warmth and lasting quality. With the right care, pure cashmere will last far longer than it's imitators, and, so long as you choose a classic style, rather than a high-fashion piece, it's luxury and fit will endure through the years.

If you are in the market for a pure cashmere sweater or jacket, look out for end of season sales, online offers and factory outlets, which can all be great places to find high quality at bargain prices. Some high-street retailers also offer great, key pure cashmere pieces at low prices.

And, if you can't stretch to the expense of a pure cashmere sweater or cardigan, there is no reason not to treat yourself to something smaller. Pure cashmere socks are the last word in luxury (I have a dozen pairs which keep my toes toasty through the winter). Gloves and scarves are also a great bet, and add a classy finishing touch to winter outfits.

Choose pure cashmere in neutral tones that will endure fashion trends, such as black, grey, navy, cream and beige. You can always dress this up or down with careful accessorising to bring your look up to date.

Taking good care of your pure cashmere is the key to making it last. Be sure to hand wash pure cashmere with care and a good quality washing detergent, designed for wools and silks. Dry flat and reshape while damp. If bobbling or pilling occurs, trim carefully with nail scissors, or invest in a specialist wool piling removal tool (available in many homeware stores for a few dollars).

Choose carefully, and take good care of your investment, and pure cashmere can be a fantastic, luxury addition to any winter wardrobe.