Wednesday, May 27, 2015


My friend recently visited SoCal from Dallas and wanted to go shopping. He was looking to upgrade his wardrobe and called me in for some assistance. Upon his request we headed to the Beverly Center (no he didn't want to go to Robertson Blvd. and had I known that he was a label whore I would have taken him to South Coast Plaza for a better selection). He wanted a casual look he could dress up or down so we shopped Banana Republic and Armani Exchange. My friend commented that he'd never patronized these stores even though I showed him some good, fashionable, staple pieces that he purchased. I wanted to get him into Bloomingdale's but he b-lined into Hugo Boss and ended up buying three shirts and a pair of shoes, thus ended our shopping experience. I was disappointed in the quality and lack of style in Hugo Boss. Big 5 probably sells nicer polo shirts in their golf section. More upsetting was my friend spending close to $1,000 in there.

Once we left the mall my friend asked me how he'd know if he was buying quality garments or simply buying a brand. I'm so glad you asked! I explained that his Hugo Boss purchases were buying into a brand. The shirts he bought were not stylish, were not in a unique color palatte that enhanced his skin tone, nor did the fabrics have great handfeels. I'm sure his ego was inflated knowing he could spend close to a rent payment on a few articles of clothes, but unless someone checked the label they'd have no idea his shirt wasn't from JCPenney. So here are some pointers for shopping for quality as opposed to a brand:

  • THE SEWING. A good garment will be sewn well. There will be no loose threads or unraveling after a few washes/drycleaning. 
  • FABRIC/HANDFEEL. A quality garment is made with quality fabric. Quality fabric is expensive, hence the higher price point. It will have a good handfeel because it's been chemically treated/washed/brushed or combed. It will either be softer, silkier, smoother or have some type of luster or texture that you do not see or feel often. This adds to the garment price but it's justified.
  • COLOR. We've all tried on a garment that made us look great. It wasn't the cut that enhanced us, it was the color. That's because a very important role of a designer is to flip through pantone books and find colors that look good with different skin tones and hair color. Some designers even create new colors. choosing color is an essential job that is taken very seriously. When you receive that compliment "That color looks so great on you!" You understand why.
  • FIT. Everyone's body shape is different, so no one brand is going to look good on everyone; however, some brands use very general blocks to create their patterns, subsequently the clothes "kind of" fit well enough to buy but something always looks off (the hemline doesn't hang well, fabric puckering, the waist is ill fitting, the shoulders are too broad, darts are needed, bad draping, etc),  while other brands take great care in the fit of their garments. It's not so much about buying a brand because you can afford it or purchasing a style because it's trendy. Does it look good on you? If it does then adopt that brand as a go-to. 
  • STYLE. You will either pay to have a great fitting, staple garment or you will pay to have a trendy and unique quality garment. If the garment you're contemplating buying doesn't have either, hang it back on the rack and keep shopping. It takes time and expertise to create that one of a kind garment full of pleats, tucks, bias cut fabric, etc. Some garments are created by genius patternmakers who must be compensated for their craft. Garments then have to pass through the hands of several contractors to add the headset pleats or the grommets, or have the custom dyed buttons, etc. Then there's the skilled sewer who has to put the masterpiece together. 
Many high-end brands adhere to all of the above but others have built a strong name and now cut corners. I encourage people to take pride in spending a fortune on clothing if that's what they can afford to do and it makes you look like a fortune. If you buy a $100 tshirt but it's the softest, most comfortable thing you've ever put on then I applaud you for your find. But, if you are wearing $500 worth of clothes and I mistake you for shopping at Kmart you went wrong somewhere. Quality clothes look and behave as such. 

I will end this post by saying there is also nothing wrong with shopping at budget stores. There are great finds everywhere. I get some of my best compliments in my dresses from Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe. You might find your favorite outfit at Ross. The point is to be smart about shopping so you're not wasting money. 

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