Look for clothing that will last you years, not weeks.
Buying clothes that are quality made will ensure you’re getting the most out of them, saving you money and reducing your impact on the environment.
Not sure how to find clothing made to last? In this section we’ll share some tips on what to look and feel for when shopping for quality clothes.
Before you shop
- Look at what you have in your closet. Identify gaps in your wardrobe and know what it is you’re looking for.
- Walk in with a plan, or a list, and know what impulse items to be aware of and avoid.
- Keep in mind what new items might go well with what you already have at home.
- Study the items in your wardrobe that have held up longer than others. What qualities do those clothes have? Keep an eye out for those qualities when you’re shopping.
Tips for identifying quality
Let your hands be your guide. Quality clothing should feel smooth and substantial. It doesn’t necessarily need to be heavy, but what you want to see is density in the clothing weave. The stronger and more substantial the fiber, the more likely it will last longer. Some manufacturers may add chemicals to make clothing feel heftier and smoother, so judging on touch alone is a good start, but won’t be enough.
Look carefully. Hold the garment up to the light to get a better look at it. The more tightly packed or spun the weave, the better. Now look at the seams, inside and out. Look for stitching that is even and closely spaced. Avoid sloppy or loose stitching, as this is usually a red flag for lower quality. Avoid buttons that look flimsy or button holes with fraying ends. Fabric on clothing should be cut either straight along the grain, or on a right angle, allowing the clothing to stretch. Improperly cut clothing will get pulled out of shape over time. Look for collars on dress shirts and waistbands on pants with interfacing (thicker cloth that creates structure to keep the garment shape stable), which ensures that area will maintain shape over time.
Read the label. Natural fibers, such as cotton, wool, linen, or silk are typically a good sign of better quality. Cheaper synthetic materials such as polyester, acrylic, spandex, rayon and other manmade fibers made from plastics are cheaper and usually an indicator of a lower quality item. Natural fibers can withstand repeated washing & drying, whereas cheaper manmade materials will break down much quicker. For example, when you dry a cotton-polyester blend, the two fibers will shrink at differing rates, eventually changing the shape of the garment.
High price doesn't always equal high quality. Buying better quality clothing typically means paying more upfront (unless you are
buying second-hand). But that's ok – the product is likely of a higher quality and one that will last longer. If you're a bargain shopper, you are better off spending a bit more upfront on clothing that lasts. Lower price clothes are typically cheaper for a reason – they are of a lower quality and they don't last. However, a key thing to highlight here is that a higher price tag doesn't necessarily mean higher quality, so use the tips in this section to become a more conscious connoisseur of quality clothing.