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How to Spot Quality in Men's Clothing

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Section: Dressing for the Occasion - Blog

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“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten,” according to Benjamin Franklin. If your wardrobe is full of cheap clothing, you may suffer more than the bitter regret of money ill spent.

Image is the currency of success; if you allow cheap clothing to dictate your appearance, you could sacrifice victory to save a few dollars.

There is a difference between cheap and inexpensive clothes; and the level of quality is the key. The latter refers to good quality clothes purchased at a bargain price. The former refers to clothing made of poor quality fabrics.

If you buy cheap clothing, you'll look and feel uncomfortable and shabby, and you could end up sabotaging your career. Here's some insider tricks to spotting quality in men's clothes so you can be sure you are investing your budget dollars wisely.

Fabric and Texture

Always examine the clothing's composition. Fabrics containing a substantial amount of synthetic fibres like polyester or rayon can develop a plastic-looking sheen over time. Your best bet is to avoid clothes that contain more than 15% artificial fibres.

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On the other hand, garments with less than 15% of manmade fibre are good choices because small quantities of manmade fibres can strengthen a garment. The fibre content will also make them stain and wrinkle resistant. Higher percentages of artificial fibre used to make clothing are signals that the manufacturer was trying to cut costs.

Fabric Hand

Learn the basic “feel” of the fabric you want. Woollen garments can range from the coarse and hairy texture of rough tweed to a very smooth worsted finish or a soft, fluffy flannel. Cotton can vary depending on the fabric's thickness. Therefore, cotton can be thin and flimsy to the touch or it could be heavy.

Your wardrobe will be more versatile and cost effective if you vary the textures of your fabrics. For fall and winter, choose clothes made of thicker, coarser materials to keep you warm. In summer, light and smooth fabrics are perfect choices.

Try Clothes On

If you have the option of trying on clothes before you make a buying decision, do so. Wear the outfit and see how it drapes as you move and stretch. Does the fabric hang well and fit smoothly over your body?

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Observe yourself as you walk back and forth in front of a mirror. Watch the trouser cuffs and swing your arms around to see how the shirt sleeves move. A billowy, blousy fabric that shifts around with every movement indicates a thin, cheap cloth. Over time, these tear easily, look saggy, and can even become transparent in the appropriate level of lighting.

Buttons and Fasteners

Take a quick look at the buttons and other fasteners. If the buttons are so loosely stitched that you can wiggle them up and down, you are better off not buying the outfit. Plastic buttons are a dead giveaway of inferior quality.

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Stitching

How does the stitching look? Is it a single line with 12+ stitches per inch, or is it double stitched loosely at 6 stitches per inch?

Single, loose stitches in areas of stress will not last beyond one washing. Contrast this scenario with that oftailor made men's suits or business casual clothing, which still looks as good as new months or years after the purchase. When you invest in quality clothing, you'll always look and feel comfortable and confident in the outfit.

Collars

When it comes to shirt collars, a button-down collar is a solid choice. The hidden button-down collar or the medium spread with removable collar stays are more sophisticated options to consider, however. Both of these provide a crisply defined shape and look perfect with or without a necktie.

Cuffs

French cuffs are usually worn at formal occasions. They demonstrate the wearer's attention to quality in sartorial matters. This is because business shirts made with French cuffs require more fabric. It is rare to find cheap shirts that feature French cuffs.

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Once you've trained your eye, you can quickly spot the difference between well-made, inexpensive clothing and poorly made, inferior garments. By investing your wardrobe dollars in quality garments, you'll eventually build a reliable inventory of sharp looking outfits to suit any occasion.

If you'd like to give your "eyes" some more hands on training in spotting quality, stop by our Sydney showroom and browse our offerings or let your fingers do the walking through our online style galleries. Our expert staff is eager to help you put together a unique style all your own.

Original idea for article from Antonio Centeno, author of the internet's most actionable men's style guide. We recommend a read!

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