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How to Shop for Quality Fashions

How to shop for quality fashions

When it comes to buying the best fashion pieces, it's what's behind the seams that really counts. People who appreciate style and substance over the latest fashion trends will often consider fabric, stitching, and overall fit as key factors when determining the quality of merchandise.   

"When I'm making decisions about what to purchase, I always evaluate if an item is on-trend – but it's more than just the style that matters. I look for key indicators like stitching, lining and the fabric to ensure that it's not just a stylish piece but also a quality one," says Jennifer Z., Ladies' Fashion Buyer for T.J.Maxx and Marshalls. "I travel internationally year-round to places like Italy and France in search of the highest quality designer merchandise that shoppers will love."

Savvy shoppers understand that quality clothes last longer and that you're more likely to save money in the long run, even if you invest in a more high-end, expensive piece. However, it's also important to remember that high price doesn't always equal better value. Again, it's important to consider the construction of the garment, as well as what looks good on you in combination with the price when selecting which pieces to buy. You should also look for garments made from natural fabrics that are easy to care for.

"It's important to assess a piece in its entirety. Every shopper should be their own personal quality detective and really examine the item to determine whether or not it's a piece you want in your closet," says Sara Kozlowski, former Assistant Professor of Fashion Design at Parsons The New School for Design. Sara offers the following top insider tips for how to identify and shop for high quality pieces: Look, Touch, and Wear.

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Ace & Jig cardigan and Marc Jacobs Leather Backpack
Ace & Jig Sail Cardi Wrap Jacket and Marc Jacobs Leather Backpack
(available at Nordstrom)
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1. LOOK
Look at the label to see what fabrics were used to make the garment.

Global. European designers have a long legacy of excellent craftsmanship. My general rule of thumb is if it says "made in Italy," buy it! 

• Cotton is the ultimate natural fiber and one of the softest materials, which can easily elevate denim, a tee or a cardigan. Look for the percentage of cotton on the tag – 100 percent is the best but often cotton is blended with synthetics and can still be a great quality piece.

• Wool is a great fall fabric that is durable, insulates and mixes well with others including mohair, silk and synthetics. It's perfect for investment pieces like a great fall coat.

• Genuine leather is often proudly labeled as such so be sure to check the hangtags, interiors, and bottom of shoes for this stamp of quality approval.

• Signature Details. Look for well-crafted functional details including generously cut pockets or extra buttons and yarn sewn into the inside of the garment. The extra materials are for wear and repair to extend the life of the garment. Hardware can also be an easy way to determine if it's a well-constructed piece. Particularly on shoes, look for real zippers and buckles. Any nonfunctional hardware means it's there simply for aesthetics. 

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 Tweed Bomber and Maroon Leather Backpack
Tweed Bomber and Maroon Backpack
(available at T.J. Maxx / Marshalls) 
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2. TOUCH
Get Up Close and Personal. Don't get tricked by the trend - feel the piece to determine its quality level.

• Leather should feel supple and buttery versus stiff. An unexpected indicator is temperature – real genuine leather tends to feel warm. I also recommend smelling it. You will know if it's good leather if it has a rich, masculine smell. 

• Cashmere and wool will feel electric. Rub your hand or a plastic item across the surface and its fibers charge and may even create static. Wool will feel breathable and light despite being thick and textured. Cashmere will feel soft, breathable, fluffy and rich.

3. WEAR
Try it on. If it looks good and it feels good, it should also fit well

• The piece should lay well and not hug or pull and the seams should align to your body. Shoulder seams should skim the body without any stress or strain. A well cut dress, jacket, shirt or blouse should have ample room across the back and shoulder lines to allow for free movement. Side seams and inseams should run straight down the side of your leg in trousers and skirts.

Shoppers should always keep these tips in mind as they embark on their next shopping trip. 

Source: T.J. Maxx / Marshalls - Top photograph by Creative Lab

Check out more fashion and style features in the latest issues of VERGE Lifestyle & Urban Culture magazine. Click here to shop the issues now and become inspired! 

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