Not all fabrics are created equally. Determining fabric quality before buying can be tricky, considering most of us shop for clothing online (check those return policies). Higher-quality fabrics not only last longer, but are more enjoyable to wear. Dealing with a see-through white T-shirt or itchy synthetic sweater are never any fun. Neither are clothes that disintegrate within six months. Here’s how I determine whether a garment’s fabric is investment material (pun intended):

Do the light test
Hold the garment up to the light. Can you clearly see the room in front of you? Unless the fabric is intentionally sheer, this gets a hard pass. Something else I do is hold my hand inside the garment and see how much of my skin shows through.

Dense fiber weave
We all know about high thread count sheets, right? You want high thread count clothes, too! Of course, you’re not going to see a rack of button-downs with a ‘600 count’ label. The light/hand test above can help determine the weave density. The higher the weave density, the less daylight/skin you’ll see. This is even true for lighter materials like silk.

*A quick note about fabric types – ‘knits’ aren’t just sweaters – these include any T-shirt type material, too. ‘Wovens’ are linen, cotton, etc. Generally speaking, you’ll be able to pull knits on and will need buttons or zippers with garments made of woven fabrics.

Natural fibers

At least 80% natural fibers are best. Natural fibers breathe better, last longer, and require less washing. Linen, cotton, cashmere, silk, and wool are some examples. Synthetics to watch for include polyester and acrylic.

Rub it between your fingers
This is so basic, yet very important. A quality fabric will have heft to it, feel smooth, and feel weighty (see weave density above). If you rub the fabric of a couple of cheaply made garments in your fingers and then find some better-made pieces for compare, you’ll learn the difference quickly.

I’m also planning to do a sweater shopping guide as the weather cools off, so follow me for more fabric content!