Determine The Quality Of A Clothing Item With This Cheat Sheet

Determine The Quality Of A Clothing Item With This Cheat Sheet
Photo: Mentatdgt, <a href="">Pexels</a>

A question I get a lot from people who wear clothing is, “Where can I buy clothes that don’t cost too much, but won’t fall apart after the first wash?” As a former vintage clothing reseller and a long-time fashion podcaster, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the very very ugly when it comes to clothing quality.

Sadly, there are very few hard and fast rules to help you figure this out. That’s why I was so pleased to find author Anuschka Rees’ guide to judging the quality of clothing you’re considering buying. You don’t need to be a fabric or sewing expert to apply this guide to your next shopping trip, whether you’re shopping at a vintage boutique or just running to Target. You just need to be able to examine each piece. Here’s what to do:

Look closely if you want clothing that lasts

Rees’ number one tip is to look at a garment you’re considering in person. I know, that’s not exactly easy for someone who’s shopping online. “You might be able to decide whether you like an item visually just by seeing images, but to really assess its quality you need to be able to inspect it up close, to feel it, check the seams and try it on,” Rees writes.

For some people, the answer to that conundrum is to shop at online retailers that have generous return policies. But others may want to skip the online shopping guessing game and do more of their shopping in person.

If you’re thinking, “I don’t have good stores where I live,” that probably isn’t as much of a factor as you’d fear. I’ve heard from several stylists recently that brands that were once their go-to choices for clients seeking quality are no longer a guarantee — instead, they too have to inspect seams and stretch fabrics garment by garment to judge quality. The global scale of clothing manufacturing means that your $5 t-shirt from one brand might be made in the same factory that makes your $80 khaki work pants from another brand and your $280 wool pea coat from yet another.

So think like a stylist and examine every piece before you decide to buy it, or, if you’re shopping online, decide to keep it.

Rees offers a two-part guide to assess garments: one about fabrics and a second about seams, tailoring and other details. Both are worth a read before your next spin around your local shopping center.

But before you do, keep in mind that you don’t need to whip out a magnifying glass every time you go shopping just out of principle. “Not every single thing in your closet needs to last 20 years. Not every single sock you own needs to be made from merino wool,” Rees says. “Decide which items you do want to invest a bit more time (and money) in and which you don’t mind replacing after a couple of seasons.”

In the meantime, Rees also has a cheat sheet to basic questions to ask. Check it out below (you can download it as a PDF, too).



  • For the mens clothing, apart from the very important hands-on approach try these 3 ready reckoners:-

    Trousers: Does the gap at the top of zipper on the pants close when the pant is buttoned up. A zipper with a gap at the top looks very bad.

    Shorts: Check the depth of the pockets. If they are not deep enough they will cost dearly when your coins and car keys fall out. Stick your forefinger in the pockets, if you touch the bottom the pocket is not deep enough. Fit your hold hand in is good.I tried the depth test with Cotton On shorts…. lets just say I cottoned on.

    T-shirts & pullovers: There is a reason we can not ween ourselves of China made product and that would be the price. China made garments are generally made with minimal fabric, so check you are not being ripped off. Does the neck of the shirt cling close to your neck or is it loose, approaching your shoulders and looking sloppy? To check without trying it on, grab each end of the neck of the shirt and measure the distance using your teats (nipples); if the neck of the shirts stretches longer than the distance between your teats then it will be a sloppy fit.

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