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8 Tricks to Spot a Well-Made Piece of Clothing

Don't let expensive shops fool you. To find well-made pieces of clothing, look for these hidden signs of quality.

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The hardware is in good shape

Look for metal zipper with a hook-and-eye clasp, snap, or button at the top to keep it in place. The zipper should be hidden with a placket and should run up and down smoothly. Give it a test run to make sure it zips smoothly and doesn’t snag. For other types of hardware, like metal buttons and design features, give them a quick texture test. Does it feel light, or like it’s made of plastic? Quality hardware will have some weight to it.

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It isn’t totally sheer

No matter if a top is meant for a girl’s night out or an afternoon at the office, sheerness is a fairly good indicator it wasn’t built to last. Lightweight and expensive materials like silk and cashmere aren’t exempt. Before leaving the dressing room, put your hand under the fabric and hold it near the light. If you can see your hand’s outline, the garment will likely be sheer in most lighting.

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The fabric is natural

Natural fabrics like cotton, wool, cashmere, and silk tend to hold up long than synthetics.  The exceptions: denim and workout clothing. For a more comfy fit, jeans can be infused with Lycra to give them a bit of stretch. Polyester, nylon, and spandex are all great fabrics for workout wear.

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It comes with spares

Spare buttons and matching thread signal that the designer is confident the garment will hold up long enough to require a few minor repairs, according to About.com. Consider using a business-card organizer to keep all of your spare buttons, thread samples, and wash tags in one place.

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Its seams are tightly stitched

Turn the item inside out and gently pull at one of its side seams, suggests Recovering Shopaholic. If you can see daylight between the stitches, it’s a sign the garment might not stand the test of time. High-quality garments have tighter seams and a high number of stitches per inch, which make it harder for holes to develop and threads to snag.

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It came from the men’s department

In general, men’s wool and cashmere sweaters tend to be thicker and of higher quality than similar sweaters from the women’s department. Same thing goes for button down shirts. However, if you know you’ll never get around to taking the item to the tailor, stick to buying clothes in your own size and department.

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It passes the wrinkle test

Before buying an item, scrunch it up in your hand and release to see how many wrinkles form. If you know you’re not great at waking up early to set up the ironing board, consider leaving the item on the rack if it fails this test. For 100 percent cotton that also tends to wrinkle easily, try non-wrinkle versions, or cotton blends.

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The patterns match up at the seams

In well-made pieces, the patterns, especially horizontal stripes, will match up at the seams and sleeves. You can ignore this one for large patterns and random patterns (like polka dots), and garments with a lot of seams (like a blouse).

Originally Published in Reader's Digest