With the popularization of fast fashion and our society embracing throw away mentality, I sometimes feel we have lost an understanding of the benefits of quality and why it really is worth the extra money to get it. I don’t know how you are, but before my husband purchase just about anything, we research the product and read reviews. We are big fans of consumer reports because we believe that while you don’t have to buy the most expensive thing on the market, you do get what you pay for.
My experience with all kinds of appliances, electronics, and clothing is that there is usually a reason why an item is more expensive. Whether it is longer battery life, better quality circuitry, the reputation of the manufacturer, or the actual features of a product, a good sales person should be able to explain to you why two items are different prices.
I think we all have a choice to make. Do we want to buy it cheaply and know that it will have a shorter life or do we want to spend more up front and expect, with care and attention, it will last a much longer time? The fast fashion world like H&M and Sheen peddle cheaply made clothing with cheap fabrics. The price tag is very affordable, but don’t expect it to wash and wear well or for a long time.
As the owner of a boutique that is focused on quality as well as an Outlet that is focused on budget and price, I have a lot of experience at both ends of the spectrum. I have shopped the same manufacturers that supply H&M, and I have shopped high end clothing companies. I believe quality if always worth the extra money, but I also recognize that the general shopper doesn’t always understand what makes a clothing item high quality.
The purpose of this month’s Wednesday Wardrobing Series, then, will be to explore this topic. I have named it Love Your Laundry because of the delight that comes when you wash something for the first time and are elated at how it performs instead of frustrated at the mis-shapen mess that comes out of your dryer.
So how do you spot quality in clothing? Here are my top tips:
- Fabric matters: I spend a lot of time in last month’s Wednesday Wardrobing series talking about how when you are trying to dress your body type, you always want to choose heavier fabrics to wear over your trouble areas. This is because heavier fabrics will have a better drape, whereas lighter fabrics tend to cling. Additionally heavier fabrics are less likely to show cellulite.
- Every fabric comes on a scale from the cheapest to the most expensive version of itself. Cotton, for example, can be light weight and not much better than Rayon or it can be beefy and weighty. The truth is, you can feel quality. Take a garment in your hand and rub the fabric. Is it soft or scatchy? Is it heavy or light? Does it resist wrinkles or does it wrinkle easily? Does it have stretch or is it stiff? Is it already showing signs of pilling just from being handled in the store? Are the sleeves too long indicating the fabric may be stretching out as it is hanging? Is the fabric see through? Has the manufacturer provided a lining or are you going to have to layer it? These are all questions that will help you identify classic areas that reveal poor quality vs. better quality fabrics.
- Construction matters: Beware of puckering hems and linings. Items that are sewn quickly and without care will often have puckers where the seams meet. Examine all the seams. Similarly, hastily sewn linings will reveal similar problems. If you see lots of stray strings or even massive amounts of thread, it is a very good indication the item is poor quality.
- Similarly, buttons that are half on and not secure; button holes that are too small; and zippers that are sewn in crooked are further indications of poorly constructed items.
- If the garment is printed, look at how the print comes together at the seams. Does it make sense or is the stripe on the front two inches lower on the back? Matching fabrics up at the seams is always a sign of good quality.
- Look at the pockets. Do they lay flat or stick out?
- When you try the item on, do all the style details lay in the right place. For example, does the shoulder cut out show your bra strap?
- Details Matter: If you are comparing apples to apples in the sense that two tops are made with a similar level of construction and fabric quality, what separates one price level from another are the details. Better quality brands take the time to pay attention to the small features that help a product sell.
- Many manufactures are including shapers in their clothing, whether it is a mesh panel or a wide waist band with extra smoothing qualities, these additions are going to help the garment flatter your body better.
- Consider also things like tabbed sleeves, reversible neck lines, and reversible prints, or multifunction pieces as all of these features will give you multiple ways to wear the item or an option that looks better on you.
- Also, look for embellishments like extra layers, fringed hems, bra friendly straps, seaming details, embroidery, etc. Things like buttons can also be a good indicator of quality.
- Does the clothing item have unusual buttons like wooden or brushed metal? I happen to love buttons and have seen how they can really add style to an item when they are unusual or of a higher quality material.
Hopefully, this list will help you to begin to notice small differences in clothing items. Believe me, small differences add up. And when how you look really matters, quality matters! It is worth your money to get the best quality you can afford. You will be happier with the item and it will last longer than its less expensive option.
You can watch me cover this topic live in my Wednesday Wardrobing Series in our VIP Facebook group. These videos air each Wednesday at 6ish.