With so many low-quality garments available on the high street, it can be incredibly difficult for consumers to find clothing that will stand the test of time. While a tailor might be able to pick out a well-made piece of clothing, those who aren’t in the know about what makes a quality garment might often find themselves opting for pieces that only last for a handful of wears before losing their shape. If you want to be sure you’re investing in high quality clothing, follow our advice below!
There are plenty of little tests you can do while in store inspecting a garment, these will give you a pretty good indication of how long a piece will last.
Try tugging at the fabric of the garment from two sides and see how the fabric retains its shape when released. Some fabrics, especially those designed to be stretchy, will not immediately return to their original shape. This is an indication of poor-quality fabric. If it can’t stand up to a gentle tug, it’s not likely to stand up to years of tumble drying!
If you bunch up the fabric of a garment and scrunch it into a ball for a few seconds, the fabric should (in most cases) return to how it was beforehand. Clothes that wrinkle easily can be difficult to maintain and can cause wardrobe malfunctions, something like wearing linen!
When you’re purchasing an item made with print fabric, be sure to check that the pattern lines up around the seams. Not only does a mismatched pattern appear unsightly, but it’s also a good indication of how much care and attention has been paid when making a garment. If a designer doesn’t care enough to match fabric, chances are they’ve slacked on a lot of other quality factors too.
Good quality stitching should be consistent throughout the garment, unless irregular stitching is a design feature. This means you should be able to trace along the seams of a garment and see that each stitch is straight in line with the rest, the same colour and all a similar size. Irregularities in stitch patterns can lead to pulled seams and ruined clothing.
However, if you’re checking that an item is actually hand-stitched, you want to find stitches that aren’t perfectly straight and of equal length. Machines will produce a perfectly straight line but a human hand won’t. Look for little imperfections and flare!
You should also have a look at how many stitches per inch there are. More stitches mean it is a stronger garment that’ll be far less prone to splitting. Where you’re unsure how many stitches have been used you can pull the seam taut and see more clearly. This is also a great way to ensure that the stitches are strong enough to withstand general wear and tear.
On any item of clothing that has buttons, you can do quite a few extra quality checks. Buttonholes should be tightly stitched around with a neat notch for the thread to sit in. Check how the button is fastened to the clothing, if it is too loose or if there are too many threads sticking out it’s a sure sign that there wasn’t a great deal of care taken in production.
It’s a good sign if there are extra buttons enclosed with a garment. This indicates that the designer anticipates the product will last long enough to warrant minor repairs.
Often higher quality clothing will feature metal zippers rather than plastic ones. There’s nothing worse than shelling out for a gorgeous garment just for the zip to go off track after only a couple of wears. While metal zippers might not always look appropriate with certain pieces of clothing, they’re usually a pretty good indication of a well-made piece, especially with items like coats and jackets that are designed to be worn more often than items like skirts and trousers.
Purchasing items made from fabrics like cotton and cashmere is a sure-fire way to ensure a high-quality garment. Generally, designers won’t spend extra on quality fabrics if they don’t intend the manufacture the product correctly. This is why you’ll often find that items from low-quality suppliers will be made of artificial fabrics like polyester.
Pieces made to a good standard will stitch up the ends of their inner seam. If you see that a garment has fraying fabric on the underside it’s a sign of a budget manufacturing process.
You should also check that there is a decent seam allowance on the inside. Thoughtful designers will include an inch or two of extra fabric on the inseams to ensure that a piece can be tailored to have the hem dropped as the wearer grows. This is a good sign that the designer expects the clothes to last.
This one might be ever-so-slightly pedantic. If an item of clothing has a woven label rather than a printed label, it’s an indication that the brand you’re buying from is proud of their garment. Printed labels can fade, but woven labels will retain the brand name for as long as the garment lasts – they want you to remember where you picked it up!