Growing up with a Mother who happened to be an excellent seamstress must have helped fuel my passion for fabrics and good garment construction. How to choose clothes that last brings back fond memories of being allowed to choose my own fabrics and patterns under her watchful eye.
Over the years it has become more important to me to buy and wear better quality garments that stand the test of time, particularly when we hear about the detrimental effects of fast fashion upon our environment.
A recent personal search for a suitable evening dress for a forthcoming Award ceremony got me thinking about what we should expect when making more considered clothing choices. When we dress successfully, good quality is something we should all be more mindful of.
In order to feel comfortable, confident and worthy in our clothes, we should always insist on certain quality details – regardless of our budget.
How can we do that? My guidance here on how to choose clothes that last may help you.
Choose your clothing carefully
If we select garments that we love, garments that suit our lifestyle, our individual style and that fit and flatter our body shape, it encourages us to wear them. Choose current ‘trends’ with care – just because a garment is ‘on-trend’ does not mean that it will suit us all. Choosing carefully also ensures that the garment will mix and match with others in our wardrobes and maximises our choices.
When we identify a style that really works for us, our clothing choices become far easier, we become more discerning and learn to select more successfully. Style continues long after the fashion has faded. As Yves St Laurent once said, “Fashions fade, style is eternal”
If you have not yet identified a style that resonates with you, consider putting together a Pinterest ‘look book’ to inspire you.
Before you Shop
Make sure that before you shop, you have assessed your wardrobe needs so that you come home with clothes that do mix and match together and not with a random selection that go with nothing.
Why not create a list of ‘wardrobe needs’, keep it on your phone and then when a shopping opportunity arises, you have it right there!
Looking at the garment construction will guide you
Take time to look at the garment and check the fabric, a denser weave for example (even in a finer fabric) should last longer.
Become familiar with looking for natural materials that are longer lasting. Blends of natural and man-made fabrics tend to wear at different rates and will not ultimately biodegrade. A mix however of natural materials will tend to look better for longer.
You will find that synthetic fibres such as nylon or polyester will not biodegrade whereas more modern natural fabrics such as Tencel and Modal (you may know as Lyocell – a fibre made from wood pulp that is naturally breathable, biodegradable and pretty well eco-friendly) are made to stand the test of time.
Check the washing instructions
If it only recommends dry cleaning, consider how practical this is for you. A pale coloured silk blouse for example may spend more time in the washing basket than on your back.
Before you purchase
In my experience clothes should look as good on the inside as they do on the outside if they are well made providing a glimpse of the quality. Look out for clothes that come with extra buttons or thread to aid any repairs although this check-list may help you:
- any patterned fabric is properly matched at the seams
- the zip fits flush with the garment and when on our body does not pucker up
- the buttonholes and fastenings are well stitched
- the hem is well stitched and straight
- any (woolly) fabric is not already bobbling
- asking yourself if you love the garment and if it fits YOU, will save you a heap of hassle once you have brought the item home
A good seamstress will alter any item of clothing and can breathe new life into some vintage clothing helping you re-purpose the garment and maximise it’s life.
When we are more aware of these details we elevate our self-esteem, our dressing confidence increases and we will feel far more special.
Actually, the benefits of choosing clothes that last are far more wide-reaching in that shopping more wisely, supporting charity through shops or dress agencies, we are contributing less to the negative impact upon the environment. How good does that feel?
I wonder if this may change your view on the way you choose your clothes. I’d love to know, please leave a comment and look out for my next blog about Caring for our Clothes. In the meantime, if you wanted some bespoke guidance, do feel free to get in touch.