21 Ways To Identify a Well Made Clothing [Part III]

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Equally important as fabric when assessing the quality of a garment, is being able to recognize proper garment construction and good craftsmanship. But unless you studied fashion design at some level, it’s quite easy to be fooled. With a basic understanding of quality garment construction, you’re light years ahead of what retailers are betting on, and well on your way to making wiser wardrobe selections for life.

Featured Image @alena_alena

How to identify a well-made garment?

Discerning well-made clothing, like identifying quality fabric of clothing, is two-fold.

  • Recognizing well-made clothing construction and quality tailoring.
  • Identifying exceptional finishing, detail, and workmanship.

A. Identify quality garment construction.


Here are some basics to inspect beforehand over your hard earned cash on any item of clothing.

1. Appropriate structure seams.

Seams require an extra step and more material, so cheap manufacturers will forgo this detail completely. The time and expense saved during construction results in a garment that lacks appropriate shape and structure. A well-made jacket, coat, or dress will almost always have a center back seam or multiple seams that follow the natural curvature of the body. Cheap garments, for example, will many times have a single square piece of fabric across the back, sans back seams, which looks boxy.

  • Does the garment have appropriate seams (e.g., back seams) for shape and structure?
  • Does the bust line have darts to allow room for breasts?

2. Check for shoulder yoke when appropriate.

Certain styles of blouses and shirts should have a shoulder yoke, preferably a split shoulder yoke. This allows the top to sit neatly and offers a more comfortable, wide range of movement. Cheap blouses and shirts will often have the back and front of the shirt meet at a seam atop the shoulders.

3. Check for facings or interfacings.

Interfacing is a strong fabric sewn in between the layers of a garment to help it hold its structure. You will often find facing in the sleeve, neck opening, waistband, by the buttons, shoulders, and at the hem of a well-made garment. Facing and interfacing are especially important for jackets, skirts, and pants, but cheap clothing manufacturers will often skip this step to save money. While the garment will look fine on the hanger, without facings or interfacings, a garment can quickly lose its shape after a few wears or washes.

4. The garment fits as it should.

Cheap clothiers often cut costs by skimping on fabric as much as possible. That can translate to too-short sleeves, high water pant legs, or insufficient room through the shoulders of a garment; resulting in clothes that don’t drape well or fit properly.

5. Generous inseams.


Even when a garment seemingly fits as it should, ensure inseams have room to be altered if necessary; especially if you’re tall. Even if you do not need any extra room, this is an indicator of quality. The hem allowance is the width between the hemline and the hem edge. 1-½-inch to 2-inches is a decent amount of hem allowance for a pair of pants or skirt.

6. Check for neat stitching.

Always turn a garment inside out in order to inspect the workmanship of the seams and stitching. Ensure that the seams throughout an article of clothing are straight, neat, and tight. Check for red flags such as loose threads, unraveling, sloppy lines, loose stitching, and other imperfections which are indicators of cheap construction. Ensure seems do not appear to have been stitched over multiple times.

Caveat: If an item is hand-stitched, although a skilled seamstress will achieve a neat line, the human hand will inevitably create some “flair” in the stitching, and may not be as perfectly straight as machine stitching.

7. Ensure strong, sturdy stitching.

Check the strength of a garments stitching by grabbing either side of the fabric and very gently pulling apart. If the fabric at the seam separates, the seam is very weak and was most likely poorly sewn. Buttons and zippers should also be strongly attached.

8. Inspect the thread count.

Generally, the higher the stitch count, the better. This is because a higher stitch count takes more time, skill, and can be more expensive to achieve; a higher thread count makes for a stronger seam. Some designers, however, may intentionally opt for a lower stitch count to achieve a certain vintage or classic style aesthetic.

-Does the garment have a high stitch count?

9. Neatly finished seams.

Unfinished edges are a tell tale sign of poor quality construction. A serged seam, that distinct zig-zag pattern you can often see clearly on a lightweight garment such as t-shirts, is a fast and cheap garment seam. While ok for very lightweight garments like cotton t shirts, this method is not suitable for heavier, tension bearing seams. Serged seams can look especially taky when not folded under or properly hidden. Learn to identify French seams, flat-felled seams, and bound seams, which are good markers of quality.

10. Lining baby!


While not clothing require a lining, many of them do. Lack of this simple detail can be an indicator of low quality construction; especially for jackets and coats. Linings protect the interior of a garments outer shell from sweat and dirt, provides additional insulation, and is typically made of a smooth material that feels nice on the skin. Additionally, linings provide some slip to minimize stretching of the garments fabric, seriously prolonging its life.

11. Inspect quality of the lining.

Ok, so they don’t skimp on the lining; but is the lining any good? Cheap linings are usually made of polyester, a cheap material that traps heat, and doesn’t breathe at all. A high quality lining will be made of silk, or other breathable natural fibers. High quality garments will also sometimes have very stylish linings that add an extra dimension of style to the garment. Linings are especially important in jackets, coats, skirts and dresses.

B. Identify quality garment finishing, details, and workmanship

12. Ensure patterns match at the seams.

Just like wallpaper, fabric patterns should always match up precisely at the seams. This minor detail, as you can imagine, takes time and effort to achieve. Although terribly unsightly, cheap retailers are not afraid to cut corners by permitting mismatch at the seams.

13. Reinforced buttonholes.

High-quality garments will have very thick, tightly stitched thread to reinforce the button holes. A strong keyhole style buttonhole is a marker of good craftsmanship and is especially good for well made jackets and coats. You generally should not be able to see the raw edges of the fabric through loose buttonhole stitching.

14. Sturdy zippers.

Unless an exposed zipper is a design element, zippers should lie flat and be covered. Additionally, opt for zippers made of metal or other sturdy material. Plastic zippers are cheap, are hard to zip, and wear out quickly.

15. Hardy buttons.


Like zippers, buttons should also be made of high-quality materials. The material of buttons are made can tell you a lot about the quality of a garment overall. Plastic parts are typically an indicator that a piece of clothing is cheaply made. Always apt for robust buttons and hardware.

16. Quality thread.

A flimsy thread is a good indicator of flimsy construction. Take a minute to examine the quality of the thread that’s been used to put the garment together. Does it appear to be strong enough to hold the fabric together? Could they have used something stronger? The thread should also match the fabric throughout the garment, unless contrast between thread and fabric is intentional.

17. Extra buttons, threads, and beads please.

A garment that comes with spare buttons, thread, beads, or other parts, is one the designer expects to be around long enough to require a few minor repairs.

18. Usable Pockets.

Don’t you hate when you reach to put something in your pocket, only to realize they’re sewn shut? Wth! Ensure the pockets on a garment are real and not faux!

19. Not so simple sizing.

Although “Small”, “Medium” or “Large” are typical, high-quality garments tend to size beyond simple sizing. Unlike an ordinary t-shirt, well-made garments are usually cut more precisely. Hence, high-end items tend to be sized numerically.

20. Made close to home.


Although “Made in China” doesn’t always necessarily denote subpar construction, it does cut the cost of manufacturing substantially compared to garments made in Europe or made in the USA. When retailers make an effort to have their clothes made close to home, its an indicator that quality construction could also be a high priority for them.

21. Use your taste.

More from this series:

  • Mikayla says:

    Love the content! Thank you.💗

    P.S. I have noticed a few spelling mistakes in your articles. You might not care, but just wanted to let you know. x

  • Katherine says:

    Pockets are routinely “sewn shut” on high quality garments, especially suit coats. I think you meant to say that “the pockets are fake”, in tip #18.

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