how to figure out the quality of clothing
When I was shopping for new clothes regularly, I never so much as glanced at the composition label of a garment - I didn't understand what made a piece high quality or low quality, let alone how to suss it out for myself!
Around a year ago, when I joined the slow fashion movement, I began building a capsule wardrobe. This meant paying attention to the cut, style, material and colour palette of each new buy, considering every piece as a key and committed investment in my wardrobe. It was a distinct switch up from the temporary, trend-led style of shopping I was used to, and it's completely changed my purchasing perspective.
So after many years of adding poorly-produced garments to my shopping bag, I'm sharing the I've lessons learnt about quality clothing with you!
read the garment
the composition label
When it comes to clothing composition labels, there's no right or wrong ( even if people tell you otherwise ) ! Instead, I see it as a case of 'pros' and 'cons' - it's subjective and depends on what you prefer as the person who's wearing it! To figure out what you feel most comfortable in, consider which piece in your wardrobe is your favourite when it comes to texture, and have a look at its own composition label! This is a particularly good starting point when you're new to this side of shopping.
Natural materials are those constructed from plant-based or animal fibres - some classic examples are cotton, hemp, wool and leather. These are, of course, manufactured create their final material, but they require natural sources. As these materials are natural, they tend to fit and wear comfortably, somewhat moulding to the wearer. However, they do require extra upkeep and care that other materials don't.
Synthetic materials, on the other hand, are manmade. Manufactured with a range of chemicals to create a final materia, this fibre type is more durable than its natural counterpart - you can wash it plenty of times without seeing any degradation in the feel, fit or finish - hence why plastic is such an issue for the environment's wellbeing.
the pattern and cut match
Patterned clothing is a common go-to for brands who want to cut their costs - it's much easier to hide details with cut corners of quality on a busy piece than a plain one. But there are plenty of companies creating printed pieces that are made exceptionally well - here's how to find 'em:
Consider how the pattern matches up at each stitching area - for example, where the sleeves meet the main part of the garment - does it line up logically and evenly? If a piece is striped, are the sleeves symmetrical?
A roll of clothing material is constructed like the page of a book - there is a consistency in direction and spacing of its contents and presentation. When it comes to cutting the shape for a piece out of this sheet of material, the material sections must align perfectly when sewn together to create a high quality garment. Cheaply constructed clothes are haphazardly sewn together in any which way and direction simply to create as many garments as possible out of it ( and as much money as possible, let's face it ) .
Both buttons and button holes are prime indicators of how much a brand pays attention to the quality of their garments. If button holes are tightly and neatly sewn, with plenty of sturdiness and pull, they're built mindfully. When it comes to buttons, let's be honest with ourselves - if a brand doesn't want to make even the tiniest details of a piece high quality ( e.g. not out of cheap plastic ) , do you really think they care about the rest of the garment? No ma'am.
The same applies to zippers, and metal is always longer lasting than plastic.
And spare buttons are always a good sign.
This is not necessarily reliant on what is seen societally as a 'classic' or 'staple' ( fashion is about your self expression as an individual so I don't believe there's such a thing! ) , but on what you will enjoy wearing in the future.
the price tag
I hate to say it, but often times you do get what you pay for. Of course, this is dependent on each brand, so I'm very careful with wear I trust and invest in pieces.
A good fashion brand cares just as much about its customer as it does its clothing. They want you to feel amazing in their pieces, and they give you the tools to adjust it to fit you * just * right.
This can be found in the hem adjustability - turn the piece inside out and look at how much space there is between the folded edge and where it's sewn inside the garment. Is it generous to give you plenty of space to tailor it to the length that suits you best? If so, it's a good start and highlights a company's attention to detail.
the hem adjustability
This is a key aspect of sussing out clothing quality - how is a piece sewn together? If threads are loose, inconsistently toned and fraying, the piece is sure to part at the seams very quickly.
Furthermore, pay close attention to the seams. They should be discreet, neat and hidden ( unless they're a design feature! ) and should be sewn with a thick and durable thread. French seams, like French pastry, are always ideal.
feel the garment
This is something we need to start prioritising, people! Whilst plucking your eyebrows infers that beauty = pain, the same does not apply to clothing! If you buy pieces that make you feel uncomfortable - whether it's because of scratchy material or a cut that doesn't fit the way you want it to - return it, donate it or recycle it. You deserve better!
Generally speaking, the heavier a garment is ( with relation to its material ) , the better quality it is. This highlights the fact that it's built to be loved, worn and washed many times, which is integral to every piece in a high quality wardrobe!
move the garment
Hold the garment up towards the light, straightening it out. Unless translucency is a design feature, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that the more transparent it appears, the less durable it's likely to be.
Aside from naturally creasing fabrics like linen, which are usually intended to wrinkle a bit from an aesthetic point of view, a fabric that stays creased when you scrunch it up in your hand is definitely going to require extra upkeep to look good as new.