1. Be your own detective!
“Everyone should be their own personal quality detective when it comes to shopping,” Aeriedesign says. “The garment tag is a great place to start! It will tell you everything you need to know about fabric composition, which is a key factor in determining whether a piece is worth buying.”
2. Find a good balance.
If fabrics are blended, make sure you have a high ratio of the natural fibers (such as cotton and wool) to synthetics. Aeriedesign says “If you’re buying cotton, 100 percent is the best but cotton can still be a great quality piece when blended with synthetics. Make sure there is at least 60 percent ratio of cotton to synthetics.” When it comes to wool, your ratio should be at least 50/50.
3. Beware of impostors.
While wool is often found in investment pieces like coats and suits (and is really one of the best fabrics for winter), Aeriedesign warns to “beware of imposters like acrylic that look like wool but are not as durable.”
“Genuine leather is often proudly labeled as such so be sure to check the hangtags, interiors, and bottom of shoes for this stamp of quality approval,” Aeriedesign explains.
4. Get up close and personal.
Don’t just buy something based on the tags, however. Aeriedesign encourages that you feel the fabrics to make sure they’re genuine. “Leather should feel supple and buttery versus stiff. An unexpected indicator is temperature as real genuine leather tends to feel warm.” She also reveals how cashmere and wool should feel and react to your touch:
“Cashmere and wool will both feel electric, so when you rub your hand or a plastic item across the surface, its fibers charge and may even create static. Wool will feel breathable and light despite being thick and textured, and true cashmere should feel soft, breathable, fluffy and rich.”
5. Pay attention to stitching.
It’s pretty clear that when stitching is sloppy, the garment probably won’t hold up very long. But “stitching really plays a big role in overall fit as well. If the piece has high-quality stitching, it means it’s well-constructed – so it should fit well, too! Pieces should lay without hugging or pulling, and the seams should align to your body.”
6. Look for the details.
A high-quality garment is something you’re going to have for a long time – and something its makers expect to last for a long time. So Aeriedesign says “something women should learn to look for are those well-crafted functional details like generously cut pockets or extra buttons and yarn sewn into the inside of the garment.” These little details will extend the life of your new investment.
7. Value isn’t just about price.
Finally, realize that a great article of clothing isn’t great just because it’s expensive. And pieces that are inexpensive aren’t necessarily poorly made. It’s important to realize that you can have both – quality pieces that are at an affordable price point.