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.
I'm Jaquelyn Wahidi. I'm a personal fashion stylist, writer, and entrepreneur in San Diego. I help women organize their closets, define their style, and shop with intention. My style blog features practical style advice for women everywhere. I've been addicted to blazers since 2004.