How To Identify High-Quality Clothing
Expensive or not, it’s important to know what you’re buying before you buy it. We all know what it’s like to purchase a shirt or blouse that fits beautifully, only to have it unwearable after the very first wash. We've been in the garment care business for over 65 years, and we can distinguish right away if a garment is quality or not. If you want to buy like a professional stylist, go through this quick guide to determining quality garments.
Step 1. Feel the garment
Any garment expert will tell you--the most important way to distinguish quality fabric is how it feels. You can bet that we’re concerned with fabric quality, regardless if the shirt is $15 or $300. If you can’t reliably wash a garment, that’s money gone down the drain.
Step 2. Check the seams
A sure sign of a quality garment is the care taken to ensure fine craftsmanship. This is why clothing from boutique manufacturers can often be equal or greater quality than some designer brands. Clean, consistent, and reinforced stitching is always a good sign. The seams should be flat, not bumped, and without any loose or stray threads.
Step 3. Inspect the tailoring
Quality garments often include ‘darts,’ or folds sewn into a garment to improve its fit. For shirts, there should be a separate panel between the back shoulders, known as a back yoke, which protects it from heavy wear. Likewise for jackets, check for a sturdy back seam.
Step 4. Scope the details
Are the buttons and rivets made of heavy, durable material? Or do they feel cheap and plastic-y? Is the zipper made of metal? If there is lining, is it soft and stitched cleanly? Is the label woven or cheaply printer?
Shopping for a specific fabric? Look for these signs:
The most important feature of cotton is the tightness of fabric. A quick way to tell is to hold the cotton up to the light. If you can clearly see through the fabric, chances are the shirt will either shrink significantly or lose its form after a few wears.
The main reason people buy linen is for its lightweight, breathable nature. This makes it great for summer wear, or in general warmer temperatures. However, this breathability comes at a price. Linen is easy to wrinkle, and difficult to keep crisp. We suggest instead buying a cotton blend, or a lightweight cotton.
There are a few types of high-quality wool, which range between thick and coarse, to thin and soft. We recommend reading the label to determine which type it is. Merino, Angora, Cashmere, Hogget, and Camel Hair are all high-quality wools, which you can safely buy for the long term.
The most important factor in denim quality is weight. High-quality jeans are made of stronger, heavier weight fabric, which means they’ll hold up for the long run. As a rule of thumb, you should look for denim above 12-ounce weight. Other factors to look for are: durable stitching, heavy buttons and rivets, and resistance to stretching. Proper jeans will feature double or chain-stitching at the seams, which will endure heavy wear and abuse.
Real leather has a distinctly pleasant smell. Have no shame in putting the garment up to your nose. Be sure the label indicates it is “full grain.” Feel the leather to make sure it is not hard, plasticky, or thin. Lastly, check the edges. Blue coloration or painting on the edges indicates the leather is not properly tanned, which will limit its durability.