The stylist’s eye: how to recognize a quality piece at first sight?

In a shopping session, I explain how to be uncompromising with mediocrity. Without necessarily being picky, you should know a minimum of tricks to spot rough details that will ruin a piece of clothing or devalue an accessory. And, therefore, that will run the risk of boring your morphology, making you lose the style and impoverish a look.

Never lower your vigilance just because you have a slump or the price of the piece implies that it’s inappropriate to be tough. Why spoil your figure and fill your wardrobe with a “too cute” dress at €19.99 whose color and finishes will end up revealing inferior quality? I specify that a low price is not always a sign of poor quality. But inevitably, you’ll still be more at risk of falling for cheap fast-fashion pieces. On the other hand, a high price is not an index of perfection either. Even a fashion designer can create pieces that will disappoint with fabrics that fall out or seams that fall apart after washing. Don’t blindly believe the “made in France” commercial argument, which is not always a guarantee of quality. All the more reason to keep your senses awake regardless of the price of the piece and the reputation of the brand or designer.

Read too: The stylist’s eye: these mistakes that ruin a look

Educate your eye

It’s not always easy to instinctively identify material that won’t bunch up or crumple after five minutes. It’s not easy to point out lousy finishes or judge a dangerous tone. Men are sometimes better trained or more sensitive to this aspect of clothing. Also, I advise you to go inspect the closet of a gentleman who likes to dress carefully, or take a look among the top-notch jackets, shirts, sweaters, and shoes in the men’s department. You will appreciate the materials, the form and the know-how.

I also suggest that you become aware of color reproduction. The quality of the pigments used and the technique of dyeing the fabrics are not always the priority of the big brands. Hence these colors that are not always “clear”. Especially on a low-end material, where the rendering will be dull rather than deep, shimmering, or vibrant. You can also train your eye on vintage stores that offer fine selections from the 40s to 60s. Or rely on renowned artisanal brands from the last century.

tap the materials

Reading the composition label won’t tell you completely. You may have read that you should avoid synthetics in favor of natural materials. However, you can deal with good or bad quality cotton. The same is true of silk, wool, linen or cashmere, which sometimes only have a noble reputation. As for artificial fibers (cupro, viscose, etc.) and synthetic fibers (polyamide, polyester, microfiber, etc.), not all of them deserve to be demonized (except for their more or less polluting side): better or worse. You will identify the good from the bad with experience.
In the meantime, take the fabric with your whole hand: does it wrinkle, regain its shape, is it rough or creased? The test will give you a good indication.

Zoom in on finishes

This is essential to know the quality and longevity of clothes and accessories (shoes, belt, bag). No jagged seams, threads that come undone if you pull them, thick buttons, polyester linings that make you sweat, collars that stick out, unsewn loops, pocket pants that come off, thick ribs, asymmetrical lapels, zipper that gets stuck. .. Yes, with neat details, delicate topstitching, connected patterns, pretty colored cotton lining, hidden button placket, neat neckline, clean hem… Turn the garment: it’s a way to determine your level.
Be so picky about the leather (cow or lamb): the pores should be fine and regular and the touch soft. Suede leather should be smooth, even and not rough with visible flaws. If you want comfortable shoes that last, count on a leather insole. Don’t fall for a fake bag that can crack and fray along the shoulder strap. Avoid flashy details that will inevitably age badly.

Try, keep or give up!

How does the outfit fit your body? Do you need to stand or tuck your belly in for her to sit up? To wear heels? Learning to perch? To tame slippery soles and shear straps? If yes, run away from these bad comrades. In the dressing room, go further by testing the object of your desire: sit down, cross your legs, lift your arms, squeeze them… Does it pull or float?

In a personal shopping session, I sometimes temper my excitement, to be firm on an inspiring piece, but with a disappointing bill. Even if you fall in love with a print (a color or a cut), don’t be fooled by your enthusiasm: whatever the price, choose quality.

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