This is part of the Shop Quality Series.
So this is what I’d typically wear to work. A cute dress, belted, topper, some jewellery, and heels.
You may be surprised to realize would have cost $11K at retail:
But because most of it except for the topper and ring are secondhand, I paid a fraction of that:
Obvious right? I paid $730 and most of it was in a vintage watch.
The rest of the items were just great finds at a very high quality.
I have had those heels for instance, for 8 years. EIGHT. YEARS. I have had them repaired three times, and I will wear them until they can be worn no longer.
I also buy larger sizes in designer brands because you may not fit into the same designer sizes, they cut everything very small and very tailored/nipped in and fitted.
I am a US 4 in Banana Republic for instance, but a US 6 or a US 8 in designer brands, sometimes larger.
This dress for instance, is a US 10!!! And it fits looser but looks fantastic even slightly larger.
DON’T LOOK JUST AT THE BRAND NAME
Yes, brand name labels can HELP you find pieces that are of a high quality, but just because it has a brand name on it, it doesn’t mean it is amazing.
There are a lot of brands out there that do lower-end labels of their higher-end brands. The quality in these runoff lines are NOWHERE close to the actual brand’s quality and workmanship.
This cashmere turtleneck is by Christopher Fischer and super soft, and fantastic, retailing for about $300 USD, purchased secondhand for $50-ish.
How can a normally $500 cashmere, hand-knitted by fairies sweater, be sold as a similar item in their lower-end label for only $100?
You may think you’re buying the big brand label, but you’re not. You’re buying mainstream quality, with a big brand label lending its name to a lower quality product, in an effort to try to get more consumers, but to preserve and not dilute their names.
Again, even as I say that, it doesn’t mean that their lower-end lines are of bad quality, but don’t be fooled into buying a $300 bag and thinking it is worth as much as the $3000 bag of its bigger label, just because the brands are related.
They are just NAMES. An example would be Chloé and its lower end See by Chloé. Two different lines, targeting two different consumers.
FACTORY OUTLETS OPERATE ON THE SAME MINDSET
Even factory outlets operate on the same mindset. They are NOT of the same quality as the main brand.
ALL of these brands have factory outlets to lure in people who want to wear the brand, but can’t afford it, and they specifically manufacture LOWER END and LOWER QUALITY Factory lines just for sale in that store.
You are very unlikely to find something in a Factory Outlet store that was originally sold at their main store, unless it is an off season thing, or something that really just didn’t sell.
DON’T CONSIDER JUST THE PRICE TAG EITHER
I have tried on very expensive coats and sweaters only to find them ridiculously itchy, and turned around and gone to a mainstream store and found just-as-nice-to-me quality coats and sweaters that weren’t itchy.
I never look at just the price tag.
LOOK AT THE QUALITY
It is one consideration, but I look at how it is made – the tailoring, the workmanship, the seams, the details they put into matching the pockets to make sure they line up with the shirt, or the pattern matches on the cuts of the dress.
I check with a tug test, pulling on a garment and seeing if the seams loosen. In very cheap brands like the now bankrupt Forever 21, H&M and Zara, don’t be suckered into their $100 price tag. Fast Fashion clothing is meant to be worn 10X at best.
TEN TIMES. Can you believe it? We used to in the past, have coats meant to last a whole lifetime, with light repairs, etc, but these days, each garment is worn TEN TIMES and then discarded. It boggles my mind.
I run the zippers up and down like a gleeful toddler in stores because I want to see that they don’t catch and will glide easily like a quality zipper.
I unbutton, and button coats.
I crumple and squeeze the fabric in my hand to see if it will wear well and sit well if I go about my day, or will I end up looking like a rumpled, wrinkled mess after an hour?
I touch the weight of it — is it thick? I should be able to wear a t-shirt and not show anyone my business.
(This is a J. Crew shirt)
This marketing, especially well done by J. Crew about “tissue thin” and “gossamer like” fabric as a QUALITY fabric is a load of crap. Fabrics should be thick so they can drape and wear well, and not be so thin that if you put your hand underneath, you can see through it, or rip it with a finger.
“Tissue Thin”. *SNORT*…. that’s really some genius marketing ploy to get us to buy lower quality at a higher price.
I also check the fabric mix itself – if it has polyester, I take stars off.
I like more natural fabrics, while understanding that polyester blends CAN be very beneficial to boost the natural fabric to make it stretchy/fitted/better, I am also concerned about microplastics from these clothes leeching into our waterways, and the fact that cotton is just so pesticide and water intensive. O_o
I like fabrics like Tencel for instance, bamboo, wool, cashmere…
I check the shoulders, the seams, the way the fabric looks on a hanger and on a body.
I once found a Karen Ritter (KR) dress in a thrift store that had CUSTOMIZED shoulder pads in the same fabric of the dress itself. That kind of quality is unheard of these days, to make and fully cover shoulder pads in the same fabric? Amazing.
And this is how the dress looked, the sewing and workmanship was impeccable in all the seams, the cuffs… the hems…
Many places just sew the shoulder pads into the shoulders themselves, then cover the whole lot of it or leave it hanging as-is. No one takes the actual fabric and sews over it to make the pad blend in.
When I check a piece of clothing, I am looking at everything from top to bottom.
When you wear a better quality product, it fits better, makes you feel better and gives you an extra boost so to speak, in your confidence and outlook on life. You feel so much better when you’re in a bombass outfit than in a polyester imitation.
So, if you don’t have the budget – BUY SECONDHAND. Even if it costs more money to buy it used, you can get beautiful items for a fraction of their original retail price, and enjoy them.
Thoughts? Are you as annoyed at retail like I am?
Want more? This is part of the Shop Quality Series.