Let me guess – one of these things happened to you at least once.
(A.) Your new t-shirt looks like it has suddenly aged two years with one wash.
(B.) A hole has opened in the crotch of the jeans you’ve only had for six months.
(C.) A thread is hanging from your shirt after just a few wears, threatening a much greater unraveling.
If I guessed, welcome to the club.
Two years ago, I came to the point where I was really tired of clothes that pulled, faded and fell apart after only a few weeks, or after just one season.
So I thought that it was the time to start investing in some high-quality stuff. The results?
I am still using some of the clothes I bought back then!
And… I even ended up saving money!
Because I was spending an insane amount of money on replacing ruined cheap pieces with other cheap items that would have faded away just like the ones I had just replaced!
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend my money on books and Netflix – or whatever else – than in replacing ruined clothes.
If you’re considering to buy high-quality clothes too, here are 6 foolproof ways to recognize them and start saving money.
1. CHECK THE CARE INSTRUCTIONS LABEL
A garment’s fabric content matters.
High-quality clothing is often made of fibers extracted from plants and animals such as cotton, wool, linen, or silk, but synthetics make up a growing share of our wardrobes in the form of polyester, acrylic, spandex, rayon, and other manmade fibers spun from plastics and petrochemicals.
Technology is improving their texture, luster, and drape, and some of these synthetic fabrics offer qualities such as stretch – plus they’re also often blended with natural materials to create fabrics that feel a lot like natural fibers. But these blended fabrics don’t improve with repeated laundering the way natural fibers can.
Also consider that even a garment labeled 100% cotton can be low-quality because fabrics can be made cheaply if they use low-grade fibers, which typically aren’t very strong, or if there isn’t a lot of fiber in the cloth. And that’s when touching comes into play.
To recap, keep these few things in mind:
- High-quality clothing is often made of wool, cotton, cashmere, and silk.
But a high content of natural fiber does not necessarily mean a piece of clothing is high quality. That’s why you’ll have to look at the construction of the clothing, too. Touch it to make sure it is soft, and that thread work is secure.
- Be careful of polyester fabrics. They’re exceptionally cheap and are probably poorly manufactured. And watch out for acrylic – sweaters that are more than 50% acrylic won’t last long.
2. LOOK AT THE BUTTONS
Usually, when an outfit comes with spare buttons, it’s a sign that the designer expects it to be around long enough to require a few minor repairs and an assurance that you’ll have everything that you need to make those repairs. If you happen to come across a garment that also includes spare thread, take that as a very good sign that you’ve found a quality item.
Also, you could quickly test the buttons. If any of the buttonholes prove to be too small or difficult to button, leave it alone and continue your hunt.
Also, you can touch the button to make sure it’s tightly sewn on — and there aren’t a lot of threads sticking out.
3. LOOK AT THE SEAMS, INSIDE AND OUTSIDE
Fabric, of course, isn’t the only element that matters. It’s important to check the seams holding the garment together. The stitches should be even, closely spaced, and lying flat on the fabric.
Don’t just look at them on the outside of the garment. Have also a look inside. Check out the hem of a shirt, for instance, or the inside of the crotch on a pair of pants. If the seams look sloppy, or if there are spots where they appear loose or stitched over multiple times, those are warning signs.
Generally, French seams, flat-felled seams, and bound seams are the best mark of quality.
4. WATCH OUT FOR CUT CORNERS
To cut labor costs, manufacturers may cut corners to produce clothing more quickly — resulting in a poorly made clothing.
Cheaper brands try to save money by using as little fabric as possible to produce a garment. That often translates into too-short shirt sleeves and pant legs, less room through the shoulders of a garment, uncomfortably short inseams and clothes that just don’t drape and fit like they should.
Try clothes on at the store to make sure they look – and feel – as good on you as they do on the hanger.
5. AVOID EXPOSED ZIPPERS
Unless is a design element, zippers should lie flat and be covered with a placket – like in the following picture:
And – again – unless it’s part of the design, the stitching holding the zipper in place should match the fabric.
6. TRUST YOUR HANDS
In the end, the best – and most reliable – way to judge a fabric is to touch it. Does it feel thin, brittle, and rough? Or does it feel smooth, soft, and substantial?
A fabric doesn’t necessarily need to be heavy to be good. If the yarns are tightly packed but thin, the cloth can still be lightweight. What you need to be paying attention to is density.
A look at what’s in your closet can also be instructive. Which items have held up well for you, and which haven’t? Feel and examine your own clothes, to take note of the qualities you’ll be looking for during your next shopping hunt!
“The scrunch test”
Ball part of the garment up in your fist, hold it for a few seconds, and then let it go. Does the fabric stay wrinkled or do the wrinkles come out quickly? If it can’t stand being wrinkled for a few seconds in your hand, it’s probably not going to withstand the test of time.
“The pull test”
Gently tug on the fabric – this works especially well with a skirt or the bottom part of a dress – and then release it. Does the fabric retain its shape? Or does the material look altered?
“The light test”
Hold your clothes against a strong light, then look at the material – the thicker it is, the higher the quality.
SOME MORE TIPS
These tips I’m about to show you are used when trying the clothes on.
For pants – sit down, squat like reaching something from the back of a low grocery shelf, and kneel down – then check if they return to the proper location (hips, waist, no wedgies, etc)
For tops and dresses – stretch and reach – then check if the shirt rides up too high, causes button gaps, or fails to sit properly on your body.
For skirts and dresses – bend over at the waist – then check that the back doesn’t ride up too high displaying more than you are comfortable with the world seeing and that it falls back into proper place when you do stand up.
NOW you’re officially ready to get out there and shop like a pro!