Here you will find information on planning your purchase, store selection, fabric inspection, and other helpful tips.

Check Your Closet

Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is the item worn-out, out of fashion, or one I never wore?

2. If the garment is worn out, why did I wear it so much?

  • Was it a flattering color? 
  • Did it fit well?
  • Was the fabric visually interesting?
  • Was it comfortable to wear?
  • Was it appropriate for many occasions?
  • Did it go well with other items?
  • Was it easy to put on and take off?

3. If the garment is out-of-fashion:

  • Was it a fad?
  • Was the color fashionable for a limited time?
  • How long was it worn?

If the garment was never worn or worn only slightly, why was it worn so little?

  • Was it an unbecoming color?
  • Did it fit poorly?
  • Was it an uninteresting style?
  • Was it an unbecoming style?
  • Was it not appropriate for many occasions'?
  • Was it uncomfortable to wear?
  • Did it not coordinate with other things in the wardrobe? -
  • Did it have limited use?

The purpose of this excercise is to get you thinking about what clothing you do and do not like, therefore creating a more simplified and satisfactory buying experience.

Plan the Purchase

If you are an impulse buyer, you know shopping this way can be disastrous. Money intended for needed Items is wasted on other items that "looked good" or were a "good buy."

A spending plan is handy. It does not have to be detailed, but it will give you something to work with. If you are buying for a family, a plan will help distribute the total family budget for clothing where there are real clothing needs.

  • Keep in mind the clues gathered from checking through your closet.
  • Remember the way in which you spend the largest number of hours a day.
  • What kind of clothes do you need for this activity?
  • Does your wardrobe contain more clothing suitable for this activity than for any other, or is it overbalanced with clothing suited for an activity you are engaged in only occasionally?
  • To have a workable wardrobe your clothing must relate to your activities.

Cash is an item most of us would like to multiply. especially when we see items we want. Because very few of us have an inexhaustable supply, it is best to allocate a certain amount for major expenditures, clothing being one of these. Decide what you can afford to spend on clothes, by season preferably, and set your sights on spending only this amount.

Minimize the Cost

There is no way to change clothing prices, but there are ways to help minimize clothing costs.

Find out the color family or families that look best on you. Work around shades and tints of this hue. You will find that more things "go together" when this plan is followed. Choose clothing which can be mixed with other items in the wardrobe and may be worn through many seasons or may be worn from day into evening.

Consider not only the initial price but the cost of upkeep. A dress which is labeled "dry clean only" and is worn frequently will prove to be more expensive than a frequently worn dress which can be washed. Divide the anticipated number of wearings into the price. This should help you determine if the price is reasonable. Look for coupons, money back, and discounted items.

If you sew, but have limited time, make those items that cost a lot in ready-to-wear but take little time to sew like skirts, pants and shorts. There are some blouses and jackets that can be made quickly and simply. Leave the more complicated, detailed items that you have neither the time nor the skill to sew to be bought as ready-to-wear.

Shop in the right place for the right items. Underwear can be purchased more inexpensively in a large chain store than in an exclusive department store. A child's pajamas can be purchased more inexpensively in a large chain store or mail order house than from a specialty store.

When shopping it is good to know the original price of the item, Many items are brought into a store especially for a sale and may not be the same quality as regular-stock merchandise which has been reduced in price.

Finally. if you do not need apparel, stay out of the store. Displays in stores are created to psychologically make you want to buy merchandise you may not need. Don't fall for the trap!

Select the Store

In addition to the usual apparel sources there are many unusual places which sell items of apparel- from the grocery store to the city sidewalks, from garage sales to shops in hotel lobbies. With such an array of available sources, where is it best to buy? Each source should be evaluated on its own merits

Variety Store

Advantages:

  • Prices moderate to low
  • Excellent source for fad or limIted use items
  • Extended operating hours

Limitations:

  • Self-service only
  • Limited or no fitting rooms
  • Usually operate on a cash only basis
  • Apparel quality must be carefull" checked
  • Usually difficult to return items
  • Little variety of merchandise within an apparel category
  • No alteration service

Discount Store

Advantages:

  • Usually low price merchandise
  • Excellent source of fad or limited use items
  • Extended operating hours
  • Usually located where parking space is plentiful
  • Feature regular sales

Limitations:

  • Little variety of merchandise within an apparel category
  • Many items poorly constructed
  • Self-service only
  • Fabric quality may be poor
  • Limited fitting rooms
  • No alteration service
  • Limited charge account services

Large Department Store

Advantages:

  • Variety of merchandise in each apparel category
  • Usually conveniently located·
  • Prices generally reasonable
  • Feature regular sales
  • Various price levels within category of apparel
  • UsuaUy have their own charge account service
  • Usually offer alteration service
  • Preferential customer sales for charge account customers

Limitations:

  • Merchandise may be shop-worn
  • Non~sell items in other stores may be transferred
  • Stock may not be localized in appeal if items are centrally bought
  • Finance charges may be unreasonable
  • Limited personal service

Outlet Store

Advantages:

  • Low prices for fashion items

Limitations:

  • Self-service
  • Merchandise may have flaws
  • Sizing may not be standard
  • No alteration service
  • Limited hours
  • Limited or no fitting rooms
  • Usually no returns allowed
  • Usually operate on a cash only basis

Chain Store

Advantages:

  • Many sizes and styles within an apparel category
  • Usually moderate cost
  • Usually easy to return merchandise
  • Some feature pre-market testing of goods
  • Usually have their own charge account service
  • Feature regular sales

Limitations:

  • Limited personal service
  • No alteration service

Garage Sales, Attic Sales, Yard Sales, Thrift Shops

Advantages:

  • Usually low price merchandise
  • Garments may be a source of nice buttons, trims, and fabric

Limitations:

  • Garmet wlll need refurbishing
  • A care label is usually not available
  • May need altering
  • Cash only
  • No place to try on
  • Unsatisfactory items cannot be returned
  • May need cleaning
  • May contain insect damage

Boutique

Advantages:

  • Source of hard-to-find items
  • Specialize in the unusual
  • Personalized service
  • Usually offer alteration services
  • Very luxurious decor and relaxed atmosphere

Limitations:

  • Usually high prices
  • Not always conveniently located
  • Limited size range
  • Limited hours

Specialty Store

Advantages:

  • Breadth and depth of merchandise
  • Personalized service
  • Usually offer alteration service

Limitations:

  • Usually high cost
  • Limited hours
  • Usually operate on a cash only basis or limited charge
  • account services

At the Point of Sale...Do More Than Feel The Fabric

The way a fabric feels. its color and its overall look are important. Usually color and/or pattern first attract you to an apparel item. These should be considered. However, color and the overall look do not always assure a serviceable outfit which requires minimum care.

Labels

By law each apparel item must have two different types of labels. These give you valuable information about the garment.

Fiber content- A removable or permanent tag must be attached to the garment.

The tag must specify by percentage the amount of each fiber present in the garment fabric. Because each family of fibers has certain characteristics, this information should give you some clues as to how the fabric will perform. For further information on fiber properties contact your local county Extension agent. 

Permanent care label- A label giving garment care instructions must be permanently attached to the garment and clearly visible.

It must last the life of the garment. The instructions must state in dear terms how to care for the garment without using promotional language. It should not state that the garment must be dry-cleaned when it can be washed. For further information on permanent care labeling contact your local county Extension agent.

Fabric Finishes

Many times a garment will have additional labels which specify that the fabric has a certain finish which has been applied. Most finishes will be identified by trade name and in addition have words which identify the function of the finish. i.e., water-repellent, wash-n-wear, etc. Contact your local county Extension agent for additional information.

he following terms are commonly found on apparel hang tags and should be understood:

Abrasion resistance

The degree to which a fabric is able to withstand surface wear and rubbing.

Anti·bacterial finish

Treatment applied to fabric to make it resistant to attack by micro-organisms.

Colorfast

Fabric will not fade noticeably during garment's lifetime. Should be qualified, i.e., fast to washing. sunlight or other specific color destroying agents.

Crease-resistant

Fabric will not wrinkle during wear and the wrinkles that do develop will hang out overnight. Manmade fibers like polyester are inherently resistant.

Crinkle·resistant

Fabric will retain its crinkled surface after repeated washings.

Crush resistant

Fabric will spring back to its original shape after being subjected to crushing or pressure.

Flameproof or flame·retardant

Fabric will not continue to burn when removed from the source of heat. All children's sleepwear sizes 0 to 14 has to be flame retardant. Contact your local county Extension agent for more information on rulings which require many garment and textile products to be flame retardant.

Mercerized

Cotton which has been treated so that it has increased luster, improved strength and greater dye affinity.

Mildew resistant

Fabric will resist attack by mildew.

Moth repellant

Treatment for wool which makes it resistant to moth attack.

Permanent press

A fabric which has been treated to prevent the removal of creases and the formation of wrinkles during the wearing and machine laundering of a garment.

Perspiration resistant

Fabric has been treated so as not to be damaged by acid or alkaline perspiration.

Pre·shrunk

A meaningless term. Shrinkage should be stated in terms of percentage of residual shrinkage.

Residual shrinkage

The shrinkage or shrinkage properties remaining in fabric after it has undergone a shrinking process. Two-percent residual shrinkage is equal to one garment size.

Sanforized

A trademark applied to those fabrics that have been shrunk and have a residual shrinkage of less than 1 percent.

Shrink resistant

A meaningless term without a given percentage of residual shrinkage.

Soil release

A finish which allows a fabric to readily release soil in cleaning.

Soil repellent

A fabric which is treated to resist absorption of soils or stains.

Solution dyed

A fabric which is less likely to fade because the fibers have been dyed while in the liquid state before being formed through the spinneret.

Spot and stain resistant

Fabric which has been treated so that spills can be wiped off without leaving a water or grease spot.

Wash and wear

An item which can be washed. dried and then worn again with little or no ironing.

Waterproof

A fabric which has been coated or sealed so there can be no penetration by water.

Water repellent

A fabric which sheds moisture before it can be absorbed.

Water resistant

A fabric which repels water for a limited time.

Inspect the Interior

Shortcuts in construction show up in the finished garment:

  • Puckered and raveling seams
  • Ragged buttonholes
  • Uneven hems

Many of these flaws can be repaired simply and easily. These are the things that indicate how much of a bargain you are getting.

Price is not the only consideration. In these days of mass production the garment industry can turn out large quantities of quality garments for every member of the family at reasonable prices. It is knowing what to look for that counts. Remember that the manufacturer's first priority is the outward appearance of the garment - how it catches the eye when it is hanging on the rack, how it looks when you first try it on. The real story is told on the label and inside the garment.

If you read the label you will be able to make a reliable judgement about how well the garment will wear, what you may have to do to it, and the care you will have to give it.

Are the seam allowances generous and the raw edges finished to preuent fraying?

If the seam allowances are skimpy and the fabric ravels, the seams will begin to fray after a couple of washings. If you need to let out some of the seams, the seam allowance should be large enough.

Are the findings good quality?

If the zipper teeth are metallic colored, not painted or dyed to match the zipper tape, the zipper is probably poor quality and the teeth may pull out. (Naturally, big, brassy mod zippers are not included in this category.) When you run your fingernail across the seam tape at the top of hem, is the tape so loosely woven that the threads separate? If so, you will probably have to replace it after a few launderings.

Do plaids or stripes match at the seams?

Sometimes they are carefully matched at the center front and back where they show but not matched at the side seams where you may forget to look.

Is the garment lined?

A lining is not vital in every garment, but it helps in some. Straight wool skirts of bonded or unbonded fabric are likely to develop a "seat" if they are not lined across the hips. Some thin, flimsy fabrics can not hold their shape without an underlining. Check the lining to make sure it is not too tight for the outer garment, making the garment wrinkle. Be sure it is firmly attached to the inside of the jacket or coat shoulder seams so that sleeve linings do not droop below the sleeve hems. The lining inside a coat or jacket should have a pleat 3/4 inch deep down the back to give it enough ease across the shoulders.

Are the buttonholes closely stitched and fol/owing a grain?

Bound buttonholes are found on more expensive clothing, but the lack of bound buttonholes is not a sign of poor quality. In fact, on washable garments and many sports or casual clothes, bound buttonholes are not suitable. Machine made buttonholes should be closely stitched with no loose threads

Do the underarm seams of sleeve and bodice meet precisely?

In mass production sleeves are often sewn to the garment before the side seams are stitched. Sometimes the seams will not match under the arm or at the waistline. As a result, the garment may not wear comfortably.

Are the seams flat and the darts tapered?

Puckered seams or fabric caught in the stitches are signs of a hasty job. Also look for a seam or dart that does not lie flat because it was not pressed flat before it was joined to another section. Darts which have not been tapered to a point result in puckering or bulges at the end, another sign of a manufacturer sewing with "a red hot needle and a flaming thread."

Is the hem sufficiently wide to be let out?

Do the stitches which hold it in place show on the outside? Will the hemline crease press out of the fabric when the garment hem length is changed? You should be able to answer "yes" to all these questions.