Although I love new clothes, I also wear many of the same pieces over and over. I try very hard not to mindlessly shop, particularly for clothing. I want my clothes to last a minimum of ten years – it’s not only more sustainable, it’s easier on the wallet in the long run not to constantly replace worn-out items.
Here are a few things I look for when investing in a new piece. Please note – price isn’t on the list. Higher price does not always equal better quality. Give garments a good once-over, no matter the price point!
- Proper seam and hem finishing – If the garment is thrown together with loose serger stitches, it’s not a keeper. Likewise, if the hem is tacked up with a stitch here and there. One of my favorite and longest-lasting skirts is hand-hemmed with hem tape. Pro-tip: if you stretch out the seams and see daylight between the stitches, put down that cheap garment. Fit is a big part of this, too. If the seams don’t sit correctly on your body when you’re wearing the correct size garment, it’s probably not very well made.
- Quality fabric – Natural fibers are best or at least a blend that is more natural than not. However, I’ve seen cheaply made garments that use natural fibers, so be sure the fabric is an appropriate weight. You don’t want the fabric to be flimsy. Even lighter weight summer clothes of high quality will have some heft to the fabric. Cheap fabric simply feels cheap – see-through cotton shirts, itchy ‘cashmere’ blends, poorly spun wool, synthetics – you’ll know it when you see it. Rub the fabric between your fingers and hold it up to the light. It should feel luxurious, and you shouldn’t be able to see straight through it.
- Attention to detail – Are the buttons attached securely? I’ve read that fast fashion factories don’t tie off buttons after attaching, which sounds true enough. You want your buttons to stay on and spare you either extra sewing or trips to the tailor. Some other marks of quality are metal, wooden or self-fabric buttons and metal zippers – all as opposed to plastic, of course. If the garment has beadwork, be sure they’re sewn on securely, never glued! Embroidery such as monograms should be tight against the fabric and never pull loose when rubbed with a fingertip.
- Good stitch work – Stitches should be small and close together, as mentioned above. If the garment is topstitched, make sure the stitches are even and tight.
- No imperfections -Ensure the garment is put together well, with no mistakes in the sewing, such as bunching on the hem. My personal pet peeve with clothing and table linens is having to clip dangling threads on a brand-new item. There shouldn’t be stray threads on your investment pieces.