We have all been there before - you walk into a shop, spot something you love, you buy it, wear it a few times, and then things start pulling, fading, and ripping. You think to yourself, but I just got this - why is it already falling apart?!? The harsh truth is, you bought a lemon, my friend. Another harsh truth is that the garment was made to fall apart in the first place. While this is an all too common occurrence – especially in the fast fashion market – there are still brands making quality items that are meant to stand the test of time. Below are a few tips you can use to help decide if it’s a purchase or a pass.
Tip 1: Learn Some Basic Sewing
When you have made something, you understand how clothes are constructed, changing the way you look at a clothing.
Tip 2: Fit & Cut
Pay attention to the way the garment is cut. What I mean buy this is to make sure each panel (ex. the front, the sleeves, the back) are cut in the same direction (the weave of the fabric is moving in the same direction). If they are cut in different directions, this means the tension of the material will be off, causing the garment to age awkwardly.
For fit, try it on! Make sure it is something you can move comfortably in. Many fast fashion brands skip fittings in their design process, which leads to things being made for a hypothetical body and not to the dimensions of a real one.
Tip 3: Fabric Materials
There are two types of fibers: natural and synthetic. Some common natural fibers are silk, cotton, linen, and wool. Next are modal, viscose, and Tencel which come from natural origins but are updated and improved (better breathability, less shrinkage when washed, etc.). For synthetic, you will most commonly see polyester, acetates, acrylic, rayon, and many more. Synthetics aren’t always bad, sometimes when thoughtfully used, blends can be a good choice. A good rule of thumb is to make sure a garment is ⅔ of one single textile.
There is a previous blog all about what fabrics are good to wear for summer. Check it out here:
Tip 4: Colors/Dying
Take a look at the overall color in natural light. It should appear even, no fading. Then look at the care instructions on the inner label. Does it say to be careful because the colors may run? Take this into consideration and decide if that is something you can realistically add to your wash day routine.
Tip 5: Sewing Quality
The best way to quickly see if a garment has been well-made is to flip it inside out. It should look just a beautiful on the inside as it does on the outside (just like you!). The stitching should be nice and tight, there should be no visible loose threads, the seams should be flawless, and everything should be laying flat.
Buttons have to be well attached with some type of reinforcement, the buttonholes should be clean and large enough to fit the button securely, and another indication of quality is if the item comes with spare buttons attached to the label.
Zippers should be metal, plastic just doesn’t hold up. Make sure to run it up and down a few times to make sure it works well and there are no snags or fabric getting in the way.
Check the lining, if it has one, and make sure it is cut right for the garment. There should be no sagging or sloppiness at the seams. Another thing to think about is what the lining is made of. Since it will be in direct contact with your skin, this detail truly matters.
Lastly, make sure the pattern lines up. If you are buying a striped top, make sure the stripes match at the seams. This missing detail is a huge indication of something that was made without care and, so many times, is seen in the fast fashion industry.
If you have read thus far, thank you! I hope you found these tips helpful and as always, let me know in the comment section below.
Till next time,