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5 Tips to Spot Quality Clothing

Posted by Janice Hopkins on

We are going to discuss five tips on how to spot high quality clothing to invest in for your wardrobe. Now discerning what is high quality and what is not is a skill that will serve you for the rest of your life. If you are sick and tired of clothing that just falls apart in the wash and doesn’t live up to its price tag, then you’re in for a treat. Before we begin talking about what high quality is and what high quality isn’t, we need to first understand what quality itself is.

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Quality, as defined, is the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind or the degree of excellency of something. If it is our goal to purchase pieces that are high quality as opposed to low quality, then we need to determine what some of the factors are to look for in a piece that make it better quality than its counterparts.

Some of the specific things that I look for when determining if a piece is high quality or not are:

1. Check the fiber content of the piece.

The first tip on how to spot if a wardrobe piece is high quality or not is to look at the fabric tag and check and see if the piece itself is made up of mostly natural fibers. You ladies know I am a stickler for the natural fibers things like wool, cotton, silk linen, I absolutely love them for their breathability, their durability and their longevity. Check the fabric tag of your clothing to see what it’s composed of.

For this specific example I will say that if you are out there and you’re shopping, use the 80/20 rule as a rule of thumb. The 80/20 rule here is if the piece itself is mostly comprised in a natural fiber you can be assured that it is higher quality than its plastic man-made alternatives

2. Check the Hardware (Zippers, Buttons, Metal)

The second way on how to spot a high quality piece of clothing is to check on the quality of the hardware in a piece. I’m going to narrow in on the zippers. See if the zipper itself is sewn underneath the fabric as opposed to joining the two fabrics and being visible on the outside part of the garment.

The funny thing is that even though technically the zipper will perform better as a zipper when it’s sewn sewing the two pieces together instead of underneath the garment, it does tend to be a tip off towards pieces that are of lower quality. Why is this? When you see a zipper that is sewn underneath the fabric and in the same color as the fabric itself, usually they will paint the actual zipper tag itself with the same color paint as the fabric so it blends in, when you see this in a garment you know that there was attention paid to the detail of the garment.

That is an indicator that the piece itself is made very well. Usually on garments that are just kind of thrown together and mass-produced, you see that the zippers are just there to hold the dress together. Even though that is technically their purpose, a higher quality piece will have that special attention to detail and will hide the zipper. Besides, a high quality designer that knows their stuff knows that the attention of a garment shouldn’t be on the zipper. It should be on the dress or the skirt or the pair of pants as a whole, not the hardware putting it together.

3. Check for Tighter Stitches in the Hem

The third tip on how to spot high quality clothing pieces is to check for tighter stitches in the garment especially in areas such as the hems and sleeves. Tighter stitches in the hems of your clothing all point towards a better-made, higher quality construction of the piece. Looser stitches are not only the very first thing that comes undone in a garment but they point towards a piece that did not have that same attention to detail and is therefore a lower quality piece.

We’ve all been there, when we found a loose piece of string in one of our garments and we’ve innocently made the mistake of pulling at it just a little bit only to find that we have now unraveled the entire hem of a blouse or of a skirt or of a dress, you name it, we’ve all been there. Look for tighter stitches and that problem will be gone.

4. Compare Pieces Side by Side

The fourth tip on how to spot a high-quality clothing piece is when you’re out shopping take the specific garment that you’re looking at and compare it to another piece of the same kind. We know that the definition of quality is the degree of excellency of something compared to something of its kind and because we’re looking for a high quality version of something, when you’re out shopping it’s a good rule of thumb to compare two pieces.

The first reason why this is good is because when you’re looking at one piece, sometimes certain flaws and things that would indicate that it’s a lower quality piece won’t be visible or easily spotted until you look at another piece and compare the two. For example, if you’re looking at a blazer and you’re trying to figure out which piece is of better quality, look at the two Blazers side-by-side.

Which one seems to be composed of a natural fiber? Check the fiber tag. Which one seems to be composed of a better higher quality fabric? Feel the fabric in your hands. Which piece is a little more structured and looks better on you?

A good indicator of a high quality piece that is structured is that the piece will give the wearer its shape whereas a low quality piece will take on the shape of the wearer and be clingy. We don’t want clingy.

5. Check if the pattern lines up correctly

The fifth and final tip that I have on how to spot high quality clothing is check and see if the pattern of the clothing is aligned proportionally throughout the garment. If it’s the designer’s intent to create a piece for the pattern is very misaligned, this quality check might not apply. But generally speaking, if you are looking at a piece of clothing that has a stripe to it, a horizontal striped pattern to it.

Do all of the lines match up where the piece was sewn together? Do you see a straight line going through from the body to the sleeve or was there any attention paid to the detail of where the lines match up? This should be very easy to spot. It doesn’t always indicate that the piece was rushed or poorly sewn together. It just is an indicator of the designer that made the clothing. Did the designer want the piece to be consistent throughout? That’s a big deal.

I want to make a final note on price. Oftentimes we associate high quality with a high price tag. While it is worth the investment to spend a little bit more money on a higher quality piece that will last you much longer than a low quality piece of clothing, higher price doesn’t always necessarily indicate a well-made piece.

You need to be careful for those designers that have a very strong brand name and brand image that will just slap a high price tag on a poor quality piece. I hope you took away something from this tips and learned how to really narrow in and develop your eye for seeing if something is of high quality or if it’s of low quality. As time goes on and with experience shopping and comparing pieces, you will be able to spot the difference between a high quality and low quality piece and figure out which is the piece that’s right for you and for your investments.

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