Have you ever bought a piece of clothing that you loved when you saw it in store, but then you only got to wear it a few times because it soon frayed/faded/changed shape—or worse—shrank after the first wash? I hate it when that happens. After all, when we pay for something, we expect to get a lot of use out of it. The truth is that we frequently get swept up in the excitement of shopping and don’t pay attention to a very important factor when choosing our clothes—quality.
Writer Ellen White mentions that “our clothing, while modest and simple, should be of good quality, of becoming colors, and suited for service. It should be chosen for durability rather than display. It should provide warmth and proper protection.” (Messages to Young People, p. 351)
In other words, when choosing our clothes, quality and durability should be the first thing we evaluate! Then we consider whether we like the item’s beauty, style, fit, enough to buy it.
Expensive ≠ Good quality
Prioritizing quality doesn’t mean you should only buy expensive clothes and max out your credit card, because “expensive pieces are higher quality.” It’s undeniable that slightly more expensive pieces usually have better fabrics and stitching, but this isn’t always the case. There are many stores that sell expensive clothes that lack quality. What you’re paying for is actually just the brand label.
On the other hand, we need to be suspicious of very low prices, because in many of these cases, cheap prices are already an indication of poor quality. It’s worth investing (within your means) in something that will last for years, instead of buying a bunch of cheap clothes that won’t last long. This is also smart spending.
Look for sales, then arm yourself with quality analysis skills to get the best deals for your buck!
How to recognize good quality
So how do we acquire these “quality analysis skills”? Well, once you’re drawn to the outer beauty of a piece, pick it up, feel the material. Does the fabric look like it will fade easily? Does it seem very fragile? If yes, pay attention. Turn it inside out (this part is VERY important), if there’s a loose seam, a loose thread, these are bad signs. Take a good look at the seams, see if they are tight or if you can see holes where the needle went through; if so, the stitches will loosen after the first few washes. Try it on, feel the fabric on your body and see if the piece is comfortable on you. If the reverse is as beautiful as the outside, the seams are tight and the fabric is good, it has passed the test.
If you can’t find stores that sell quality clothes in your town or within your budget. You still have options! Thrift stores are a treasure chest for quality pieces. If you know how to look (and now you do), you can find pieces that are reasonably priced and that will last for years. If you don’t have thrift stores in your town, you can look for online thrift stores or Instagram bazaars where people sell their second-hand pieces. In this case, you won’t be able to analyze the piece in person, but depending on the thrift store, you can return it if you don’t like it. Before buying anything, see if the store accepts returns.
Another option is to find a seamstress! (As a seamstress, I may be just a tad bit biased about how wonderful this option is!) I myself have pieces that I made or had made years ago, but that I still wear. Everything will depend on the quality of the fabric you choose, the service provided by the seamstress, and the care you take with the piece.
At first, quality analysis might be a little awkward. But your skills will sharpen with time, your eyes and hands will become used to the exercise, and identifying a good quality piece will become second nature and your closet will be full of quality pieces, making elegance a natural result!