Resolve to Buy Smarter: Secrets to Spotting High-Quality Clothing

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Resolve to Buy Smarter: Secrets to Spotting High-Quality Clothing
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From rejuvenating your makeup regimen and committing to a fitness plan, to staying on budget, the new year inspires positive change. This year, add one more resolution to your list: Devote some time to researching the quality of your clothing before heading to the cash register.

"Today's clothing is not as durable as it was a few decades ago," warns Russian designer Marina Makaron. "Quality has dropped whether you shop mainstream or cheap Sunday market." Studying the quality of your apparel ensures you'll get the most wardrobe bang for your buck -- and looking fabulous in the process certainly doesn't hurt.

Evaluate Detail Construction
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Evaluate Detail Construction

Always evaluate the construction of your clothing, especially when they incorporate extra details like buttons, beading and sequins. Pay attention to both the quality of the details and how they're attached to the clothing, suggests Makaron.

Check if studs are glued on or attached via grommet. The former leads to missing and cracked studs while the latter means a longer life span. Also check how beads and sequins are attached. If they're sewn on as a unit, one unfortunate snag could lead to your apparel's demise.

Check Jean Density
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Check Jean Density

Jeans are often considered a breed of their own in the fashion world. Like all textiles, though, not all jeans are created equal.

"My first tip for buying jeans is to pay attention to the density of the fabric," says Elana Brynes, founder and creative director at Kings of Cole clothing.

To check jean density, hold the fabric up to the light and see how much light comes through. This will determine how tight the weave of the fabric is.

"The tighter the weave is, the longer the jeans will last," she says.

Study the Stitching
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Study the Stitching

Always examine the thread and stitching of your garments before buying. Makaron says that a crooked stitch doesn't always mean poor quality -- it may simply mean hand sewn -- but the thickness of the thread is key. The thinner the thread, the less durable the garment typically is. Also look for double stitching, which reinforces the garment and prevents tears in the seam line.

Feel the Fabric
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Feel the Fabric

Sherrie Mathieson, style consultant and author of "Steal This Style," recommends feeling the fabric to determine its quality. "Some fragile fabrics, like silk, will easily damage via wear," she says. "Crush a small piece of the garment in your hand and observe the result."

Adds Makaron: "The garment should feel comfortable and soft. It's all about the touch."

Read the Tags
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Read the Tags

Though it seems like an obvious tip, many do forget to check their clothing tags. Forgetting to do so often happens when shopping online or if the product's name alludes to the ingredients (e.g. "cashmere sweater" or "silk scarf").

"If a sweater looks and feels like cashmere, it may still be an imposter," Brynes warns. "Always check the inside tag to make sure that sweater is, in fact, 100% cashmere."

If you're paying the price for a cashmere, silk or other fine fabric, make sure that's exactly what you're getting.

Check for Extra Fabric
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Check for Extra Fabric

Just as seasons and trends change, so do our bodies. If you invest in a quality garment, you'll want to keep it around for years to come. To accomodate for body and style changes, choose pieces that come with a little extra fabric.

Mathieson says there should be enough fabric in the seams to accomodate for weight gain and to lengthen the hem.

Consider the Time Investment
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Consider the Time Investment

In the same way you can gauge how much effort went into a decorated cake or DIY gift, you can tell how much energy designers put into their clothing.

"Notice the little things like inside prints or weaves," Makaron says. "It's all about the little details."

When a designer takes the time to implement an extra pocket, printed detail or weaved design somewhere less visible, it demonstrates the care put forth in the production process.

Search for Extras
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Search for Extras

Always check for -- and keep -- extra buttons, zippers, sequins and other details that come attached to garments. Those extras save you money (and time searching for look-alikes) should a button pop off or sequin go missing, on a garment with these details.

Though it's not always fun to sew those extras back on, they do come in handy when you're in a pinch.

Saving money is a priority for many clothing companies, and it's common to find that quality is sacrificed for the sake of a price tag. Use these tips to find clothing that lasts.

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