Knowing which are the best quality fabrics for clothes is one of the most important parts of choosing high-quality pieces. Part of living well is wearing things that not only look good but also feel good on your body. Most consumers, however, have a hard time identifying quality versus crap. If you’re able to master the basics of knowing low-quality versus high-quality fabric you will be able to confidently shop in person or online and not get bamboozled into overpaying for a crappy garment.
Discerning high-quality from low-quality fabrics is a skill that can easily be developed with practice. The main things to know are that the type of fabric matters and there are levels of quality within each group of fabric. It’s also worth noting that nine times out of ten, you get what you pay for. Premium and designer brands are more likely to opt for the best quality especially if their brand prides itself on craftsmanship. You do have to be aware that popular brands that leverage their logo or brand name may not always choose the highest quality because they trade in hype and coolness. There is nothing wrong with that, but if you’re looking for quality above all else you may have a harder time finding something you’ll like from those brands. So what are the most luxurious and best quality fabrics for clothes?
What Are The Best High-Quality Clothing Materials?
Some of the best high-quality clothing materials are silk, cotton, leather, wool, and cashmere. These are natural materials and as such usually come with a higher price tag, but are one hundred percent worth the price. If you are looking to build an elegant wardrobe that will stand the test of time and look great season after season, these materials are well worth the investment.
Silk is one of the most luxurious fabrics and my favorite. It has been around for centuries and is the epitome of luxury fabric. It is lightweight and breathable and therefore perfect for a sophisticated and elegant wardrobe. Don’t let its softness fool you. Silk fibers are incredibly durable.
How to Shop for High-Quality Silk?
Not all silk is created equal. Mulberry silk is the highest quality silk in the world, but when buying silk you should look at its momme. Silk fabrics with a higher momme are made with thicker yarn. Momme is similar to the thread count of cotton sheets. The higher the momme the higher the quality of the silk and the longer its lifespan. A Mulberry silk with a momme of 22 is of higher quality and denser than silk with a momme of 19.
Silk should feel warm when you rub it and should look lustrous, seemingly changing color as the angle of light hitting it changes. It should feel very smooth in your hand and will likely cost much more than satin, a silk look-alike.
Linen is a lightweight fabric that breathes very well in hot weather. Linen pieces will typically look pretty casual, but will almost always look elevated as well. If you are someone that cannot stand wrinkles or fussy laundry days, this fabric is not for you. Linen wrinkles very easily and requires gentle care when washing.
How to Shop for High-Quality Linen Fabric?
Good quality linen is relatively easy to identify. What you’ll want to check for is its weight in the same way you would look at the thread count in sheets You want to get linen that isn’t thin and see-through.
Cotton is very easy to clean and is comfortable. It’s also very inexpensive and, unfortunately, it can stretch out and lose its shape over time.
How to Shop for High-Quality Cotton?
Choosing something made of 100% cotton is almost always a good bet, but don’t assume that the fabric is good quality because it is made of 100% cotton. Higher-quality cotton is made from long fibers and will be less prone to pilling because of that. Good cotton will feel soft in your hand and be tightly woven. High-quality cotton should be thick and more opaque so hold a cotton garment up to the light and see how transparent it might be.
Wool is a soft, insulating fabric made from animal hair. The quality of wool is determined by the diameter and quality of the individual fibers that make up the fabric. Those factors are determined by the breed of animal that the wool fibers are coming from, the animal’s diet, stress levels, and how the fibers are handled during the manufacturing process. The diameter of wool fibers is measured in microns. Fibers that are finer than 25 to 30 microns are usually used for garments and thicker fibers are used for heavier items like coats, blankets, and rugs. The finer wool fibers are usually more expensive than fibers that are more coarse. This is because they are softer and more meticulous to manufacture.
How to Shop for High-Quality Wool?
When you’re shopping for high-quality wool make sure there are no pills on the garment. Look around the cuffs, neck, elbow creases, and knee creases. Pilling happens when individual fibers come loose and curl into a ball. If you don’t see any pills on your garment it’s a sign that it’s higher quality wool because the fibers are more tightly woven. Wool should immediately bounce back into shape after you stretch it a little. If you stretch the hem or any part of the garment and it doesn’t bounce back the quality isn’t good.
Brands that use high-quality wool fabric will typically let you know exactly what kind of wool a garment is made from. Merino wool is popular and is known for its soft and very fine fibers. Cashmere is known for its softness as well. Softness, however, doesn’t automatically mean that a wool item is of high quality. Coarser wools can be of higher quality and feel scratchy because they are not meant to be worn directly on your skin (like a coat) or worn at all (like a rug).
Cashmere is a type of wool that has long been associated with luxury. It is made from the very soft underbelly of Pashmina and Kashmir goats. It is known for its extremely soft feel and insulating properties and is incredibly smooth, almost silky to the touch.
How to Shop for High-Quality Cashmere?
When you’re looking to get high-quality cashmere it should feel smooth and velvety, not dry and crunchy. It should also feel springy when you squeeze it. Good cashmere will look matte, showing almost no sheen. Only pure cashmere sweaters can be labeled 100% cashmere so if the tag says that you’ve probably found an excellent garment.
Tweed is another wool fabric that is rough. It has a very flexible texture and is typically woven in a plain weave or herringbone structure. Tweed pieces are popular in English brands and therefore lend themselves to the west coast or old money aesthetic.
How to Shop for High-Quality Tweed?
You will shop for a good tweed garment in the same way you would shop for a good wool or cashmere piece. It’s worth noting that tweed doesn’t always have to be made of wool. Because tweed’s essential character is defined by its rich mixture of colors at the fiber level, it doesn’t have to always be made only of wool. You can also have cashmere tweeds, silk tweeds, mixture tweeds, and so on, but wool is the most common.
Denim isn’t one of my favorite fabrics, but it is incredibly durable when bought correctly. Denim is made from cotton that is densely and tightly woven in a way that makes diagonal ribbing. It is very stiff and sturdy, fades well, and wears well. You should be able to keep premium denim garments for decades.
How to Shop for High-Quality Denim?
Buy denim that is no more than 3% elastane. The more elastane or non-cotton fibers in the garment, the lower the quality. Pieces with less cotton in them will wear more quickly and not last as long. The garment shouldn’t be very stretchy or soft. Good denim is rough and stiff, but the fun comes in breaking in your denim pieces to make them uniquely yours. Try to stay away from acid washes or crazy amounts of distressing for a more elevated look.
Though controversial and technically not a fabric, leather is one of the best materials for clothing and accessories. Leather is made from the skin of animals by tanning the animal’s hide. Cow, sheep, goat, and pig skins are some of the most common leathers, but there are also more exotic (and high-end) leathers made from, lamb, ostrich, snake, and even stingray hides.
How to Shop for High-Quality Leather?
A dead giveaway for high-quality leather is its smell. Leather should smell rich and decadent. You’ll know it when you smell it. It should feel soft, warm, and have a skin-like grain because that’s what it’s made of. If you see imperfections in the grain that’s a sign of authenticity. No one’s skin is perfect.
When considering leather’s quality, Full Leather is the most premium grade of leather followed by, Top Leather, Genuine Leather, and finally Bonded Leather. Usually, a tag inside of the leather good will tell you about its quality.
Best Quality Fabrics for Clothes That Are Synthetic
Buying exclusively natural fabrics and materials can get expensive. Luckily, there are a few synthetic fabrics that can look and feel luxurious. These are some of the best quality fabrics for clothing that are synthetic.
Satin is actually a type of weave, not a raw material like silk. Satin can be made of silk, but most commonly it is made from a combination of other fabrics like nylon, polyester, and rayon. Satin usually will have a glossy side and a dull side.
Viscose and Rayon
Viscose and rayon are ultra-popular materials for clothes right now. They drape well and are lightweight, but are heavier than cotton. Though sometimes used interchangeably, viscose and rayon are not the same material. They can feel and look the same but are created using different processes. They are made from chemically manufactured cellulose fiber made from wood pulp and as such are somewhere between natural and synthetic fiber. Viscose and Rayon are often used to mimic the look and feel of natural materials like silk, linen, and wool.
They are ideal for hot and humid climates because they don’t insulate body heat, but require careful washing or dry cleaning to not lose their shape or shrink.
Where to Find the Best Quality Fabrics for Clothes?
The best quality fabrics for clothes can be found almost anywhere. Of course, fast fashion brands probably won’t meet the mark so if you’re going for quality clothes over quantity, you’ll want to steer clear. Armed with the knowledge here, you’ll have a much easier time shopping in person or online for clothing that will stand the test of time with proper care.
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