Continuing on my research in to how to avoid dud clothing purchases, here are some more hints:
1. Natural fabrics such as wool, angora, cotton, silk and linen are often a good sign. However fibre quality varies for all fabrics, including natural fabrics (e.g. Egyptian cotton, extra long, etc).
2. Test the fabric quality:
- Scrunch the fabric in your hand for 20 seconds. See how much it wrinkles.
- Hold it up to the light. Is the fibre thin and cheap ?
- Scratch it with your fingernail. Does it pill?
3. Multiple fabrics combined or multiple layers is a good sign. They provide ease of movement and structure. They require more skill.
4. Cheaper garments get their fit by stretch, not cut. So look for (2% or so of ) fibres such as elasthane (lycra) in lower priced brands.
5. Cheaper garments save costs by using less fabric – no sleeves, shorter and tighter skirts, no lining, no pockets. Sleeves are expensive to produce!
- Sit down – A good cut means that the garment doesn’t ride up when you sit down.
- Move your arms – You can move your arms, because the sleeve has been generously cut.
- Is there a yoke? – A shoulder yoke on a shirt permits the garment to sit neatly and flatly at the shoulder. Any excess fabric, used to fashion a more flattering waist, is gathered slightly below the shoulder where the fabric bulk won’t be noticeable.
- Is there a back seam? – A back seam on a jacket or shirt means the garment will take into account the curvature of the spine.
- How is the leg cut? – A well cut trouser leg is flattering, not shapeless and straight. The rear rise is longer than the front. The placement of the leg seam can determine comfort as well as provide a slimming vertical line.
- Generous allowances that take the strain.
- Seam finishes that enclose raw edges (French or flat fell).
- If bias cut fabrics aren’t hung long enough before stitching, the seams won’t be flat after wear.
- Facings – Fabric used to finish the raw edges of a garment at open areas, such as the neckline, armhole. Important as they provide sturdy support of the garment shape.
- Interfacing – Enables collars, belts, shoulders and buttons to keep their shape. Cheaper garments often have the wrong interfacing – too much or too little – or ‘fused’ interfacing which is just stuck on.
- Trousers that are lined to at least the knee will not sag so much at the knee.
- Skirts that are lined won’t grip onto your tights. The lining musn’t poke out after you sit down.
- Jackets can be fully or partially lined. Linings are important because they help the jacket to keep its shape and reduce strain on all seams, as well as providing some slip when one garment goes on over another.
- Hems – Should be flat. Invisible stitching the same shade or one shade darker than the fabric.
- Zips – Should be invisible (unless it is meant to be a design feature) and not plastic.
- Stay tape – Quality knitwear will have stay tape behind buttons, buttonholes and at the shoulders to prevent distortion.