10 signs that your clothing is actually low quality

Ivan Kurmyshov/ShutterstockNot all clothing is made equal.
  • Buying high-quality clothes will save you some money in the long term.
  • It can sometimes be hard to figure out if your clothes are high-quality or not.
  • These are signs that your clothes might not be as high-quality as you think.

When it comes to spending your hard-earned cash on wardrobe essentials, you want to make sure you’re investing in clothing that will last more than a few wears.

If your clothes seem to fall apart after a couple rounds in the washing machine or look shabby after a single season, they might be low quality. Here’s how you can tell if your clothes are made to last or not.

You can see right through a piece of clothing.

denozy/ iStockHaving a shirt that doesn’t have dense material could be a sign that it isn’t high quality.

Though quality doesn’t always correlate with fabric thickness, being able to see straight through a piece of clothing might mean it’s made out of cheaper material.

Try this trick suggested by Anuschka Rees: hold an article of clothing up against a bright light. If you can see right through the fabric or discern the outline of your hand through the piece, the fabric weave isn’t very dense and might not be that durable.

Your 100% cotton shirt is already pilling.

LightFieldStudios/ iStockCotton’s natural fibre doesn’t pill easily.

If that cotton shirt you just bought is already showing signs of pilling, it might not be made of quality fibres. That’s because cotton is a natural fibre that is actually pretty resistant to pilling, according to CottonWorks. When a new cotton garment is already showing signs of pilling, that might mean that it’s actually a cotton blend or that the cotton fibres used aren’t very good quality.

Your jeans feel lightweight and are soft on the first wear.

kw_thailand/ iStockHigh-quality jeans might feel stiff at the beginning.

That stack of $US20 jeans at the mall might be tempting, but you’re they’re probably not the most durable. According to Live About, that’s because good quality denim usually has a higher thread count and is made of a weave with at least a 12-ounce weight.

Good quality denim may actually feel stiff and uncomfortable at first, though it will eventually “break in” and last a long time. Cheaper denim is often made of less dense material, which can leave it feeling light and deceptively soft right off the rack.

That expensive wool sweater you bought is covered in pills even after washing.

Megan Willett/Business InsiderWool’s pilling usually go away in the wash if it is high-quality.

Because it’s a natural fibre that’s actually covered in tiny scales, wool should always be washed gently and carefully to prevent pills from forming. However, if your “100% wool” sweater doesn’t lose any pills after being cleaned, that’s not a good sign.

According to CottonWorks, natural fibres like cotton and wool actually shed their pills in the wash. On the other hand, pills that form on synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester usually stay visible after they’re formed. This means that stubborn pilling might be a sign that a garment isn’t actually completely made of high-quality natural fibres.

A garment doesn’t retain its shape after being stretched.

Yulia Grigoryeva/ShutterstockHigh-quality clothing doesn’t stretch that easily.

Most high-quality fabrics should retain their shape after being stretched, according to DIBY Club. This is called “recovery” and is really important if the garment is meant to be tight-fitting or structured.

If you pull a piece a piece of clothing between your hands and it looks different or saggy after you let go, it will likely not fit the same way after a few wears or wash cycles. This might not be an issue in items like loose skirts or draping tops, but could be a problem in garments such as form-fitting dresses or shirts.

You spot an exposed zipper.

pong-photo9/ iStockZippers can damage the clothes if they are exposed.

Exposed zippers are sometimes an intentional part of a garment’s design, but they can often also be a mark of shoddy construction.

According to Altitude Blog, exposed zippers are more prone to catching on fabric or being damaged. Higher-quality clothing often features zippers that are covered by a fabric placket, which both conceals the zipper and protects it from catching. If the manufacturer of the garment didn’t take the time to cover an exposed zipper, it could mean clothing isn’t very high quality.

There’s no hem allowance at the bottom of your skirt or dress.

JANIFEST/ iStockHem allowance lets you get your clothing tailored.

When you’re buying clothing off the rack, it’s unlikely that every item will always fit perfectly. That’s part of why many higher quality garments include something called a hem allowance, which is essentially extra fabric sewn up around the bottom of a dress or skirt. This allows tailors to lengthen the item if needed and also reinforces the hem, giving it a more polished look.

Unfortunately, some manufacturers try to cut costs by not including a hem allowance, which can lead to fraying and can make it harder to easily alter a skirt or dress.

The fabric pattern doesn’t match at the seams.

Flickr / WalmartPatterns should match up, even throughout the seams.

Take a look at your patterned clothing and try to spot if the pattern matches at the seams. According to the Eileen Fisher website, patterns like stripes or plaids that don’t match up at the seams likely indicate that the manufacturer was not willing to use extra fabric (i.e. spend more money) to ensure the pattern was continuous. This lack of attention to detail might translate to a poorer quality garment overall.

Your clothing didn’t come with extra buttons or thread.

iiiphevgeniy/ShutterstockExtra buttons are a sign of high quality.

Well-made clothing is an investment, so it makes sense that higher quality garments often come with extra buttons and thread to use just in case you need to repair the item. But according to The Luxe Strategist, a lack of these extra essentials might mean that the manufacturer didn’t intend for the piece to last long enough to need repairs.

An item is glued together rather than stitched.

Wikimedia CommonsGlue doesn’t hold clothes together as well.

As you might expect, gluing two pieces of fabric together is much cheaper and quicker than stitching them. Stitching holds up better to wear and tear, while glued seams can come apart more easily.

Style blog Anuschka Rees advised that consumers should be particularly wary of leather garments with traces of visible glue, as this can indicate low-quality construction that might shorten the lifespan of a leather item.

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