Before You Snatch Up That “Good Deal,” Read These 11 Tricks to Knowing If Clothes Are Well Made or a Waste of Money.

We’ve all had that movie-moment in the department store – you see THE dress or shirt, in your perfect color and right in your size, too. It might even be on sale! But before you go dancing around the store, you should probably check one little thing: the quality of the clothing. You might think that it’s impossible to tell (no store is going to put a tag in a pair of pants that says “Not Good Quality”) but there are a few little tricks of the trade! Try one of these 11 clever tricks that you can try in-store to test the quality of your next big buy.

  1. Clothing Liner

    A quick distinguishing featuring is the presence of an inner lining. Higher quality jackets and dresses will always have lining inside, so if your dream blazer is missing this key feature…keep shopping.

  2. Pattern Matching

    Check to see if the pattern of the garment matches at the seams, including pocket seams. If the pattern matches perfectly, this indicates that more fabric was used to match the patterns, and therefore, the clothing is probably sturdier.

  3. Fabric Grain or Nap

    Another quick thing to check is that everything is going WITH the grain of the clothing – you can tell the grain by looking closely for the longest line of woven thread. Nothing should be cut or sewn against the grain. For suede’s or corduroys, the grain is referred to as the “nap.” A suede skirt, for instance, should have all the nap going in the same directions. Otherwise, the clothing was poorly made.

  4. Seam Allowance

    This is a quick way to tell how well the clothes were stitched together: give the clothes a little (honestly little, don’t rip the clothes apart) tug at the seam. If the stitches come apart and have a lot of excess room between them, the quality of the clothing is probably not too great.

  5. Buttons and Buttonholes

    There are a few tricks that you can use when it comes to buttons and buttonholes. First, high quality clothing will almost always come with extra buttons, so that’s an easy tip off. Secondly, give the buttons a press – they should not wiggle and no strings should be protruding out.

    Finally, take a look at the buttonholes. They should be thin and firm, as if they were made to hold the buttons in place! Imagine that. The quality of these small details speaks volumes to the quality of the clothes overall.

  6. The Light Test

    This is a super simple test. When you find the clothing item of your dreams, try holding it up to the light in the store. The more fabric (and therefore the more difficult it is to see through the garment) the higher the quality of the clothing.

  7. Hem Allowance

    The hem allowance is the width between the hemline and the hem edge. Most quality skirts (pencil length to mid-length skirts, at least, not mini-skirts) should have about a two inch hem allowance. There are lots of other factors that can make this untrue (like the bulk of the fabric), but this is a good rule of thumb.

  8. The Squeeze Test

    Sounds weird, but makes perfect sense. Give the fabric of the clothing a squeeze – if it’s cheaper fabric, it will wrinkle in your fist and stay wrinkled once you let go. High quality fabrics will take much more effort to wrinkle, or may not wrinkle at all.

  9. Check the Tag
    When in doubt, always check the clothing tag to see what the fabric is made out of. You’re looking for natural fibers – the higher the content of natural fibers, the better. Fibers to look for are cotton, silk, and wool, these will hold up against wear and tear better than synthetic fabrics that cheaper clothes are mainly comprised of.
  10. The Pull Test

    Another simple one that tests the quality of fabric! If you can’t tell by the light or by wrinkling, give the fabric a gentle tug, enough so that if it’s poor quality, it will disfigure a little. We’re not saying to rip the clothes apart, you just want enough tension so that when you let go, a cheaply made blouse or skirt will look a little saggier. Higher quality clothes will spring right back.

  11. Exposed Zippers

    Another trick that only requires a quick glance is checking out the zipper. If the zipper is exposed (rather than being partially covered with fabric) this is most often a sign of lower quality clothing. It’s not a death sentence exactly, but it is a little red flag to keep in mind.


Do you have any tricks that use to test the quality of your clothes? Share them in the comments section below.