Over the years, people have become frustrated with the decreasing quality of clothing. Even pieces that cost over $100 can show the telltale signs of poor craftsmanship. They fall apart in the wash. They start pilling after a few wears. They stretch out, never to return to their original size. The overwhelming demand for fast fashion has left many brands producing less than stellar products, resulting in fashion frustration.
Fortunately, there are ways we can ensure our clothing is high quality, no matter how much we're spending on it. While we'd all love a custom tailor to make our formal dresses or to get our hands on a Burberry Trench Coat, it's not within everyone's budget. Using the tips below, you can make your wardrobe look expensive, no matter how much money you're spending.
Feel the Fabric. You'll need to really FEEL the fabric, even before trying it on. Don't be shy--feel that item up to your elbow. The skin on the underside of your elbow is extremely sensitive. It will alert you if an item wouldn't be comfortable to wear. Put you whole arm through that pant leg. Is the fabric itchy or rough? Is a part that should have lining unlined? If it seems smooth and comfortable, that's a good sign.
Check the Seams. Does the item have have any visible gaps in the seams? Are the seams crooked? It the whole garment held together by only a three seams? These are telltale signs of poor craftsmanship. Quality clothing often has multiple seams close together. If you gently pull a poorly made garment in sunlight, you'll see a lot of light shine through. Quality clothing is tightly stitched. Light shouldn't shine through.
Look for Round Buttonholes. Buttonholes should have tight stitching that easily fits the button. The buttons themselves should be tightly sewn onto the piece. Loose buttons of lots of threads sticking out are warning signs.
Check for Lining. Suits, formal dresses, and jackets are items that need lining. If you're looking for a nice pair of work pants, look for lining. Not every item of clothing needs to be lined. Jeans, casual tops, and leggings, for example, will not be lined.
Test The Fabric. Quality wool should spring back if you stretch it. Cotton should not be sheer in direct sunlight (unless that is the designer's intention), Real silk should feel warm upon rubbing it. With silk, you can also try slipping it through a ring. Real silk will easily slide through a small circle. Cheap imitations will get scrunched up.
Avoid Embellishments. Even on a $500 dress, I've seen jewels missing at the neckline. Bejeweled items don't hold up. Unless it's couture or a wedding dress--don't bother with embellishments like rhinestones or sequins. Even very expensive items can look cheap with tacky embellishments. Let your jewelry be your "shine" in an outfit.
Avoid Lace. Like embellishments, high quality lace is rare. It won't be found in a department store. Unless it's a wedding dress, avoid lace. Fine mesh is a better option if you want something with a sheer, romantic feel.
Avoid Dark Colors for Cotton Knits. For your basic tees and tops, cotton knits are fantastic. However, they do tend to fade after several wears. Avoid dark colors like black and navy. Instead, opt for lighter tones of blue, beige, and grey.
Make sure prints line up. Prints need to line up at the seams. A print that doesn't line up is a dead giveaway that it's junk. It's also how you can spot knockoff handbags. The genuine articles never have prints that are out of alignment.
Armed with this information, you can avoid fashion frustration during your next shopping trip.
Spring 2017 is calling on all of us to allot some of our closet real estate to bright colors. I'm a lover of neutrals. My closet is 90% beige, black, white and grey. If you're a neutral lover like me, you'll discover Spring's bright colors are the perfect way to perk up your wardrobe. Update your look with one or two new pieces and you'll be surprised at the possibilities.
Brights for Men
For men especially, the idea of wearing bright orange, green or pink pants can seem daunting. It's easier than you think. The key is to anchor one bold item with neutrals.
In the example above, I've paired a fiery orange chino trouser from Banana Republic with a more conservative, light button down from Gitman.
While you could go for brown or beige accessories, I chose black for an edgier, more masculine feel. I believe STRONGLY in mixing neutrals--including mixing metals which is why I have a silver Fendi belt and a Gold MVMT watch. It's also why I've gone with a Ted Baker messenger bag in Black and Grey. It provides more visual interest and looks less "dress by the numbers". It also allows you more permission to play with your existing wardrobe.
The Cole Haan Loafers are something that's probably already in most's mens' closets. In fact--that's the point of this look. Adding one orange pant, you can make many outfits out of your neutral button-downs, dress shoes, belts, watches and bags.
Brights for Women
As with menswear, I prefer to anchor a declarative color with a flurry of sturdy neutrals. These aren’t your standard basics though. This look is for the irreverent woman with a taste for luxury and an eye for edge.
The Iro Jacket in grey is a great wardrobe staple--tamping down the frilliness of the pink pleated skirt. The black and white tank is another piece that could be made ultra feminine, but here we balance the romance with the cool-girl-casual vibe of the Guiseppe Zanotti Sneakers.
These are guidelines for those who want advice on confidently wearing bright colors. Style has no rules--a ton of women look fabulous in high-contrast, multi-color outfits. It's up to you--that's why it's an art and not a science.
Resale, consignment, and thrift shopping have recently become my preferred avenues for selling and purchasing new pieces.
On a recent trip to La Femme Chic in Solana Beach, I overheard the salesperson and a customer having a conversation about her purchases. The customer was thrilled that she was able to pick up a Fendi handbag, Louboutin Pumps, and an Hermes scarf for under $700 total. That's less than the price of one of those items at full retail.
The saleswoman commented that she hasn't purchased anything new since she began working at LFC. She called it "smart girl shopping". She also mentioned that nothing comes in the store unless it's something one of the owners would wear or give to a friend. That's exactly how I feel about resale shopping in San Diego! It's simply the smartest way to shop--it's affordable, environmentally friendly and helps support our local businesses.
Since I reside in North County, I have a wonderful selection of resale shops to choose from. Below are some of my favorites around town.
La Femme Chic
La Femme Chic is one my favorites. It's the best if you want couture, designer or gowns at an amazing price. Now, it's not exactly cheap, but I saw a Jovani dress there for $149 when I know I purchased a similar one for $599 at Mia Bella. Yes, $149 is pricey for a pre-owned dress, but it's a whole lot less than $599. This is where you go if you want flawless Dior, Prada, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, etc.
My Sister's Closet in La Jolla and Encinitas
If LFC is the Neiman Marcus of resale in San Diego, My Sister's Closet is the Macy's. They offer a ton of inventory ranging in quality from Forever 21 to Chanel. I prefer their UTC location even though Encinitas is technically closer to me. The Encinitas location offers men's consignments as well--which is a great option for men who've outgrown Buffalo Exchange.
Orphaned Objects in Rancho Santa Fe
Orphaned Objects is not actually a consignment store, it's a thrift store that benefits Helen Woodward Animal Center. I will caution you, despite it being a thrift store, it's prices are closer to La Femme Chic than Goodwill. This is where Rancho Santa Fe residents donate their gently used (or sometimes never used) clothing and furnishings. I like to stop in a few times each month to make sure I'm not missing any fantastic finds. Throughout the years, I've scored an Armani Collezoni Cashmere Sweater, LK Bennett Pumps, a Burberry Belt, a Tadashi Shoji dress...
Throughout San Diego, you'll find other fabulous resale shop chains like Buffalo Exchange which caters to a youthful crown, Flashbacks that has all your more theatrical desires covered.
I'm Jaquelyn Wahidi. I take the stress out of getting dressed. I'm a personal fashion stylist in San Diego. I help women organize their closets, define their style, and shop with intention. My blog features practical style advice for women everywhere. Addicted to blazers since 2004.