Recognizing Quality Clothing

by Cyndi Roberts and Tomilyn Lane

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Department stores and outlet stores are having their clearance sales and even resale and thrift stores are clearing out merchandise to make room for next season's items! Of course, garage and yard sales are wonderful places to find bargains all year long.

But, when shopping for clothing, how do you know if you are really getting a quality garment? Here are some things to think about before you buy, whether you are buying new or previously worn.

Be sure to take along a notebook with the measurements of everyone you are shopping for, not just their current sizes. Along with waist measurements, include inseam and sleeve length measurements. A size 4 may not still be a true size 4 after it has been washed and dried many times. Even in new clothing, sizes are not always consistent. And don't forget your tape measure!

Remember that designer labels don't always equal value at an outlet or off-price store. Designer labels are there because they didn't meet their own quality inspection. This means that even though it looks fine on the hanger, once you wash it, you may have a skewed sleeve, or the item could shrink two sizes. Or it could be fine. This is the time you must use your best judgment on price versus risk.

Take the bottom of a garment and scrunch it up in your hand. This will help you determine how it will look after being worn and washed. If the fabric wrinkles a lot and feels "flimsy," it might not be worth buying. Cheaper clothing uses a lower grade of fabric that can shrink and look old after just one wash, even in cold water.

Fabric that contains 100% cotton or mostly cotton will shrink. Polyester won't. But one good thing about buying previously worn garments is that the shrinking is already done. The size you have is most likely the size the garment will stay.

Higher quality garments will have buttons spaced more closely together and sewed on securely without loose threads. Also look for metal zippers, not plastic ones that do not last very long.

Buy clothes that are classic in style as opposed to trendy clothes. You are more likely to wear these as they won't go out of style. And re-selling them yourself will be easier.

When buying sweaters, check where the arms naturally rub up against the body for pills.

Remember, navy and black items can sometimes be dyed back to their original color if the item is in good condition, just faded. And jeans can be cut off for shorts if the pair is good except for worn out knees.

Using these tips, you are sure to be pleased with your purchases, whether you shop at retail shops or yard sales.

Cyndi Roberts is the editor of the "1 Frugal Friend 2 Another" bi-weekly newsletter. Tomilyn Lane holds a degree in Fashion Merchandising and is a former merchandiser for JCPenney.

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