If you’ve ever bought one of these cheap, ubiquitous garments that nowadays are all around us, you’ll know how fast they are to fade after the first wash or develop tears or pulls after you’ve worn it. They’re not built to last and are often easier to throw away and replace with more cheap clothes. That’s not to say that big name brands are immune to this either. Certainly there are items where you are simply paying for the label and not getting any guarantee of quality.
So forgetting about the name or the price, how can you determine if a garment is really made to go the distance? It really comes down to 10 things, and if you keep these in mind on your next hunt you’ll be able to discover clothes that represent value for money or are simply out right bargains.
1. ‘Manufactured In’ Tags
Finding out where a garment was manufactured helps you determine how much quality control went into it. Countries such as Spain, Italy, France and the US are far more strict on manufacturing quality assurance that countries such as China or Vietnam who normally try to compete on price alone at the expense of quality.
If the garment has a zipper, run it open and closed a number of times and ensure it has a smooth action. Zippers that feel rough or whose teeth don’t line up evenly on each run could be an indication of problems to come.
3. Add on accessories
Some garments such as dresses or skirts come with built in accessories such as belts. Oftentimes these are afterthoughts by the designer in the aim to make the garment a more appealing buy. Scrutinize these accessories to make sure they’re not made out of flimsy materials like softer plastics or cardboard.
Look at the stitching pattern on the buttons. If they use a cross-over pattern (X) then they’re far more likely to stay on the garment than if a straight pattern (=) was used. Furthermore, garments which hide the button underneath fabric are an indication of better quality.
If your garment has patterns like stripes or other textures, check any joins to see if the patterns line up. If they do, it’s a strong indicator that the manufacturer took the time, effort and added material cost of lining the garment up properly – and most likely paid attention to the other details.
A garment’s inner-lining says a lot about how the garment was built. The lining is what helps clothes fall and fit properly on your body, and should be made out of a very high quality silk or silk/cotton blend.
Hemming should almost be invisible, and any attempt that’s been made to match the stitching color and minimize the external stitching shoes the manufacturers attention to detail. Furthermore garments that have larger hems indicate a manufacturer that hasn’t skimped on material costs, and provides you plenty of allowance to lengthen a it if it’s too short.
Seams should never bunch together and should be as smooth as the rest of the garment. Have a look for any loose or broken threads that could cause a hole later on.
As a general rule, the more stitching per inch the higher the quality. Find a random length of about an inch anywhere on the garment and count the number of stitches. If it’s around 8 to 12 or more, then the stitching’s been done well and should hold for a long time.
Lastly, the material is one of the best indicators of durability and longevity. Natural fibers are always last longer, so opting for wool, cotton, silk or linen are all common materials that will go the distance. Less popular but just as favorable natural fibers include vicuna, cashmere, alpaca, ramie and hemp.
Next time you find an investment piece you like, do your own quality check to ensure it’ll be with you a long time. If you’re not sure what clothes suit your body shape and complexion, click here to instantly find colors and garments that match your complexion and body shape.