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When you want to build a long-lasting, attractive wardrobe, quality matters. Well-made clothes are designed to last, so you can wear them for a long time. High-quality items usually come with a higher price tag than their lower-cost “fast fashion” counterparts — which means that you may need to do some research before making the investment. By learning to check clothing for quality, you can spend wisely and enjoy a wardrobe that looks great for years to come.
When you’re buying patterned clothing, check out the seams. Does the pattern on one side of the seam match the pattern on the other side of the seam? If so, it’s a good sign that you’re looking at a high-quality item. After all, it takes extra time, effort, and material to match patterns. Mismatched prints, on the other hand, indicate that the piece was made quickly and cheaply.
When you’re buying clothing made from stretchy fabric, a stretch test can help you gauge the quality. To test this, take a part of the item and pull it to stretch the material. When you release the fabric, does it snap back to its original shape, or does it seem looser? If the fabric doesn’t recover well, it might be a sign that it’s poorly made — and when you wear the garment, it’s probably going to get baggy quickly. This is especially true for necklines on dresses and t-shirts.
Style and Design
When you want to buy a piece of clothing that will stand the test of time, the style and design are important considerations. A trendy item might look great today, but it’s likely to go out of style in a matter of months or weeks. As you’re checking out a piece of clothing, ask yourself if you’ll want to wear it in 5 or 10 years.
This is particularly important if you’re shopping for men’s casual clothing, such as t-shirts. While women have no trouble finding classic basics that stand the test of time, men might have to look harder. As Adam White from Jasper Holland explains in the article entitled Meet Jasper Holland Co – Premium Mens T-shirt Brand with Tight Necks, most of the men’s t-shirt industry is dominated by surf and skate brands but with very few other options. By going the extra mile to find attractive, high-quality closet staples, you can build a wardrobe that lasts.
Manufacturers of high-end clothing often use fabrics that are high in natural fibers such as cotton or wool. These fibers tend to last longer than synthetic fibers. In many cases, they also look better. Natural fibers are often less prone to unsightly signs of wear, such as pilling. To check a garment for quality, take a look at the tag; items with higher percentages of natural fibers are better. This might include:
- Stitch Quality
One of the biggest indicators of a well-made garment is high-quality stitching. Why? Tight seams last longer, so you don’t have to worry about popped stitches or loose threads. As you’re considering a piece of clothing, examine the seams carefully. The stitches should be tight, evenly placed, and straight. If you see any dangling pieces of string or holes in the seam, it’s an indication that the piece isn’t made well. This also holds true for the stitching around buttonholes, snaps, and other fasteners. While you’re checking the seams, take a look at the thread quality. If you see loose fibers along the surface, it means that the thread is cheap and won’t last long.
Check the Drape and Fit
Have you ever tried on an expensive designer item? If so, you’ve probably noticed that the clothing seems to drape beautifully and fit well. This isn’t an accident — it means that the designer used high-quality fabric and took the time to craft an item that fits the human body. It also means that the individual pattern pieces were cut with care. If you’re not sure, try on the item. It should fall neatly, without puckers or tight spots.
The way a designer finishes clothing has a big impact on how long it lasts. Items with neatly finished seams are less likely to fray, which means that they’re less prone to holes or loose threads. To check, flip the garment inside out. At a minimum, the edges of the seams and fabric should be serged — these edges are encased in rows of stitches that prevent the fabric fibers from fraying. On truly high-end clothing, you won’t see any fabric edges at all. Instead, the edges will be encased, either by fabric or bias tape. This protects the fabric, and helps the piece last for a long time.
Buttons and Zippers
A quick way to check the quality of a piece of clothing is to check out the buttons and the zippers. Are they made from quality materials? Are they stitched in tightly? If so, it’s a positive sign. In general, metal zippers are better than plastic zippers. When it comes to buttons, check to see if there’s a spare included with the garment; this is usually a good sign. Why? It means that the manufacturer expects the piece to hold up well over time, even through accidental button removal.
Examine the Lining
When a manufacturer is trying to cut costs on a piece of clothing, they often start with the lining. A great-quality might seem inconsequential, but it’s an important item. It helps the piece drape well, makes it warmer, and reinforces the garment. This is especially important on warm, high-cost items such as blazers and jackets. If there’s a lining, check the fabric. It should feel soft and smooth instead of scratchy and cheap — that way, it’s more likely to slide along your skin. There should be no puckering or pulling where the lining meets the garment fabric. Other red flags include exposed stitching, lining that extends below the hem of the item, and loose threads. You can also check the fiber content; in general, linings made from natural fibers are better than those made from polyester or other synthetic fibers.
Look for Imperfections
The final step in checking for quality is looking for imperfections. Examine every surface of the garment, and look for areas that don’t look quite right. You might notice that the fibers seem different in one area, or that one edge of the garment has puffy areas. Other things to look out for include stains, rips, and discolorations.
As you learn to spot quality clothing, you might notice that poorly-made items are surprisingly common. It takes time to find beautifully made pieces — but if you make the effort, you can end up with a closet full of items that have been designed to last.