Thursday, December 17, 2009

Shop Smarter: Secret No.1

Know quality. If you educate yourself and have a good idea of what you are looking for, you won't end up disappointed AND your purchases will last longer. Remember, quality over quantity.



(With that said, I should tell you that I am the person who buys the expensive toilet paper. Yes, that's right. why pay less for a painful experience down there, when chincy toilet paper only means using MORE squares per application. Think about it- a person uses LESS sheets per use when the quality is STRONGER and softer. I think how people view toilet paper says a lot about their shopping personalities. LOL. It's true, my friends!...but let's talk clothing.)




Here are some quality markers:

Styling
Fit
Fabrication/Durability
Price
Consistency

This list is similar to our Perfect T-SHIRT list from last week, but here's the thing: the order of importance is up to you. Styling/Fit always comes first in my mind.


Styling is what makes the item jump off the rack. How does it hang? What makes the lapel unique compared to other jackets. Is it a run of the mill sweatshirt or a motorcycle inspired sweatshirt? Does the sleeve have tucks and gathers or is it capped? Style gives the outfit a flavor. OVER stylized outfits can tend to look corny or like a costume.


Fit is how the item conforms to your body. Every company in the USA uses a FIT MODEL, someone who's body type are the proportions that they make their clothes to. Larger sizes are just a ratio of the initial fit model. Think about how a DELIA's outfit would fit \very differently from a J.JILL outfit. One uses an early adolescent female fit model, the other uses the matured, perhaps even menopausal, female figure. In the USA, there are no laws or regulation about SIZING standards, thus each company makes their own. This leads to what is known as VANITY SIZING, common among companies targeting a youthful shopaholic. Vanity sizing sizes clothing with numbers smaller than the actual size, in order to flatter the size 6 customer who leaves with a size 4 pair of pants feeling pretty darn good about herself. Bottom line: know how clothes fit your body properly and avoid squeezing into things because of the size it says on the tag. (We will discuss this more in posts to come.)


Fabrication is what composes the fabric of the item. Fabrication is legally required on each garment sold in the USA and is listed like food ingredients, in order or largest amount to smallest of fiber content.


Some fabrics are cheaper than others. Some are more expensive. Companies cut corners by blending cheaper fibers into more expensive fibers. Some materials react differently in the wash than others. Some expensive materials are more costly and/or rare, but less durable. Sometimes, certain fibers are sourced from more expensive countries, ultimately driving UP the cost of that item. Certain fabrics is appropriate for one type of item but not another. Think about it- I definitely would pay a lot of money for a great wool coat, but I'd really rather not buy wool blend dress pants in the spring because they wont last for the summer months. Sometimes items end up on the sale rack merely because the fabric chosen wasn't appropriate for the seasonal shopper. (This can be a great opportunity to purchase on sale and save for later.)
Side note: before manmade fibers were created, people swam in WOOL bathing suits. Can you just imagine selling a wool bathing suit in the store nowadays? HA!


Price is often an indicator of better quality. Expensive fibers cost more. Higher quality control takes more time/costs more money. Faster production (to put out the trends FIRST ) costs more, if a company does not want quality to suffer. Fashion production has a holy trinity- cost, quality and speed. When producing a garment, only two can ever be achieved. Do the math: if you want a QUALITY garment produced FAST, the price skyrockets. If you want a QUALITY garment produced at a good COST, the speed slows down.


Consistency is a mark of good business. Whether the target customer is a wealthy socialite or a bargain hunting suburbanite, peoplel return for service when they know what to expect. Consistent style, fit, fabrication, price, or maybe customer service. We all have favorite haunts- clothing stores, restaurants, hair salons. Why do you keep going back? Some thing there is always consistent.

Pictured Coat (above) from gap.com .


1 comment:

  1. In the past year or two, I switched from the cheapest toilet paper I could find to Charmin or Cottenelle for precisely the reason you listed. My fashing shopping style has also changed in those two years: now I only buy clothes that look great on me and that I absolutely love, no matter what the price (ok, it has to be somewhat reasonable - I love a $220 shirt from Anthropologie and it looks great on me, but I won't get it til it goes on sale for at least 50% off).

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