How to tell if something is high-quality or poor quality

In a previous post, we shared the importance of a creating a timeless wardrobe that works for you. One of the elements is investing in high-quality, long lasting pieces.

It's an incredible feeling knowing that your wardrobe consists of garments that will stand the test of time. But sometimes it can be hard to select great investment pieces, as a garment's price does not always reflect a its quality. Luckily, there are some easy tips and tricks to help distinguish good quality from bad quality.

Here are 8 little ''tests'' you can do before we buy something, to ensure it will be worth your money.

1. Pay attention to fibers

In general, natural fabrics made from 1 material (e.g. linen, cotton, leather) last longer than synthetic fabrics like polyester, acrylic, and rayon. They are also better for people with sensitive skin as they are more breathable.

What to do: turn the garment inside out and find the inside tag. This is usually sewn on the left seam. Have a look at what the garment is made of.

2. Do the light test

The material choice doesn't say everything about a piece of clothing. The quality of the material is just as important. Generally, garments that are woven from a thicker material will last longer. So do a quick light test to compare different items if you're doubting between multiple similar ones.

What to do: Put the fabric up against the light. Can you see the light through the fabric? This is usually not a good sign. Generally, the thicker the fabric the better.

3. Do the pull test

High-quality materials are made to look good, even after you've worn them for a while. Do you want to wear something that will just look creasy and bunched up after just five minutes of wearing it?

Yeah, me neither... 😉

What to do: Tug a little at the fabric. Does it end up creased and distorted? That's a sign of low-quality fabric. If the fabric bounces back without too much fuss, it's more likely to look good for longer.

4. Investigate the hem and stitching

Even if a garment is made of a great material, if it's not sewn correctly, it will fall apart just as easily as a low-quality one. So look for articles with strong, neat seams. Also look at the quality of the seams and make sure everything's completed correctly.

What to do: Slightly tug at the seams. Sloppy seams that gape are usually a sign that it will not last long. Also check for mistakes like twisted seams, forgotten parts, loose threading, or seams that are done over twice. This tells you that it's made cheaply or hastily.

French seams are considered the best, as these are the strongest. For footwear, have a look at Goodyear Welted shoes and boots. These will last longer and are more easy to repair once the sole wears off.

5. See if the pattern or grain is lined up correctly

There's nothing more that says ''I'm made cheaply'' than a pattern that is not lined up correctly along the seams.

You can also spot low quality by checking if the fabric grain (the direction of weaving) is aligned with the seams. Fast fashion brands tend to use every piece of fabric they can to produce more cheaply, but if the direction of the grain isn't sewed properly, the item will twist and look frumpy.

What to do: lay down the garment and trace the pattern and grain of the material with the seams. Is it laid correctly? Awesome, great sign! If not, it's best to pass.

6. Check the buttons and button holes

For shirts and blazers, pay close attention to the buttons and the buttonholes. Make sure they're fastened properly to ensure they don't fall off too easily. You can tell a high-quality piece from the buttons if they're made from better materials, like real wood, instead of plastic.

What to do: Stay away from items that have frayed buttonholes or buttonholes that don't line up. The buttons should be secured well and feel sturdy.

Also, see if the garment comes with extra buttons. This is a sign that it's designed for durability and makes it easier to get mended. And if you do end up losing a button, you can easily replace it yourself.

7. Check the other attachments

Nothing's more annoying than attachments like zippers that get stuck all the time or embellishments that fall off after one wear.

What to do: Check if all attachments are sewed on accordingly. Take the time to try out the zipper. Make sure it's strong and runs smoothly, as zippers can be expensive to replace. Metal YKK zippers are always a good sign. Try to avoid cheap, plastic zippers.

8. Look at the lining

It's a great sign if a garment is lined. This will add to its comfort and durability. So this is already a great sign! But there are still a few things to look out for.

What to do: Make sure the lining is loose enough to be comfortable to move in. It's an even bigger bonus if the lining is made from natural fibers like cotton or silk.

No matter how high-quality a product is, if it's not maintained properly it will not last. That's why it's so important to to take care of your garments. Read how to give your huaraches, boots, and jewelry the love it needs here.


Written by Jessica Teeuw

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Looking forward to Spring

"Very nice quality and they fit very well"

Cecilia B.

on LAURA Natural