Try Before You Buy: How to Spot Well-Made Clothes in the Dressing Room | life and style

JThe adage, try before you buy, may be more appropriate for clothing than any other product. No matter how typical your proportions are, most brands use a “fitted model” – a person whose job it is to try on their clothes – with their own unique body shape, which is why we are all subject to confusing variations in clothing sizes.

Making sure something fits is important for a long-lasting wardrobe, because ill-fitting clothes can warp, stretch, and ultimately break more quickly. Fit can also indicate how well something was built, which is a good indication of its quality.

This week, our experts take us into the fitting room and explain how a well-made garment will feel when you try it on.

Check the lining

When you’re about to put on a garment, the first thing you might notice is whether it’s lined or not.

Silk dresses and summer coats, like this outfit seen at London Fashion Week, may not need lining, but heavier, tailored garments often do. Photography: Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Depending on the garment, lining may or may not be necessary. Max Sanderson, lecturer in fashion design at Parson’s Paris, says “if it’s a winter jacket that’s made of a fabric that will be uncomfortable against the skin, then the lining is fine.” But a light jacket for the summer will probably be more comfortable without lining.

If a garment is made to measure, the lining is extremely important. Shop Bruce vintage consignment store owner Dan Neilsenbeck explains that this is because “the lining conceals a garment’s construction and reduces tension, which increases its lifespan.”

Designer Bianca Spender says this can be applied more broadly to fitted clothing. She says the liner has an important role to play, removing some of the resistance from your movement, without pulling on the outer fabric. But her “favorite silk dresses have no lining because there’s nothing like the feel of silk on the skin.”

On that note, it’s important to consider what the liner is made of. Sanderson recommends a cupro lining, which is a cellulosic fiber (like viscose), because it breathes but is also very resistant, or silk because it is a protein fiber so it has good thermal properties. “If I saw something with a polyester lining, I would worry about sweating into the garment and being uncomfortable because it doesn’t breathe,” he says.

Fill the pockets

Anyone who has worked in retail will tell you that women get very excited when clothes have pockets. Unlike menswear, where there are usually pockets in every conceivable place, womenswear often leaves them out, which is frustrating. Thanks to the pockets, you may not need to carry a bag and they can also improve the silhouette of a trouser or the line of a dress.

The only thing more annoying than clothes without pockets is an insufficient pocket that can’t support the weight of a phone. Sanderson says if you’re buying something that you’ll wear regularly, you should make sure the pocket bag (the inside of your pocket) is made of a durable fabric, like cotton or something heavier, so that your keys, wallet or phone won’t. t tear a hole in it. It’s even worth tucking your phone in a pocket while you try it on, to make sure it doesn’t sag or become deformed.

If the item is made of delicate fabric for a special occasion (like a tuxedo), a durable pocket bag may disrupt the way it sits, so a subtle pocket bag will have to suffice in these cases. The same goes for the inside chest pocket of a jacket, which should be discreet.

To move

A well-constructed garment should not restrict your movements. When trying on something, there are a few small moves you can make to test the feel of the garment. Spender says to be sure that “you can drive a car, grab a book from the top shelf, and sit in a chair without exposing yourself or getting shot.”

Six different colored shirts hang on hooks on a metal rack
For shirts, check the square pleats between the shoulder blades and the back yokes to make sure they allow enough movement to be comfortable. Photography: vasiliki/Getty Images

For a shirt this may mean there is a square crease between your shoulder blades – this will allow more movement through the arms and body. Neilsenbeck says a good shirt will have a back yoke, which is the piece of fabric that runs from the back of your neck along your shoulders. He also suggests inspecting buttons and buttonholes to make sure they’re finished properly. If the threads are already coming loose before a garment has left the store, the problem will only get worse when you bring it home.

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For jackets, Sanderson says to make sure “there’s enough room under the arm” so they’ll be practical all day. “If you wear big sweaters all the time, is it [the jacket] will work with clothing size below?

When trying on pants, Spender says to check that there are no creases in the crotch and that the pants fit your body well from all angles. Other things to look for in pants are extra fabric in the hem and along the seams, so they can be extended or left waisted if needed.

Generally, the way a garment hangs on the body can indicate how well it was made. “It should really fall off the shoulders with no tugging or tugging in the neck, armhole and around the sleeves,” says Spender.

Think about your lifestyle

If you’re considering a dress or jumpsuit with a zipper in the back and find it difficult to undo or redo it yourself, will that be a problem? You may live with people who can help you, but it might be worth considering if you feel comfortable asking a stranger in a restaurant bathroom.

Or if you have young children, a puppy, or a job that involves working in the garden or cooking, it’s probably not a good idea to buy a jacquard silk coat for everyday use. Especially because you can’t machine wash it.

Sanderson says it’s important to consider what your day entails when shopping, to avoid buying clothes you’ll never wear. “You don’t buy a Maserati and drive it down the beach, so maybe you don’t wear a silk coat to haul your groceries,” he says.