I get a little thrill when people tell me my outfit looks good and it’s not because I’m an image obsessed narcissist. Rather, it’s the satisfaction of knowing I didn’t spend a lot to get my look. I rarely spend much money on clothing these days in fact many things I wear cost less than $10! No-one would ever know though because they look expensive. So how do I do it?
There are a lot of things, dear reader, you must know about me. One is that I’m a recovering shopaholic, another is that I originally left high school to study fashion at TAFE. I didn’t end up pursuing a career in the rag-trade but while I was there I learnt an awful lot about clothing manufacture and how to spot a shoddy garment from a mile off, regardless of the label.
Many people think if you buy an expensive piece it will be good quality and vice versa, all cheap clothes will fall apart. But this is simply not true! In the age of globalisation, as manufacturing increasingly moves off-shore, many previously Aussie made clothing brands are now having their collections made in China, India or South East Asia. Further, since the impact of the Global Financial Crisis, many labels have resorted to using cheaper fabrics and narrower cuts to keep costs down. A friend of mine noticed recently when she had purchased a dress from her favourite designer, that the new collection was made from acetate whereas previously, they had only used silk. Had the designer passed on the savings to the customer? Oh no, they were still charging the same exorbitant costs as before.
So why was my friend so annoyed about the acetate dress? Because acetate is a pain in the behind, people! You see, acetate dissolves very slowly if you dry-clean it as the chemicals wear away at its fibres. But guess what? It reacts to laundry detergent too! Basically, an acetate garment will gradually disintegrate unless you never wear it in which case, one might wonder why you would buy it at all. Whether a boutique, an op-shop or a variety discount store, always check your fabrics.
Damaged by dry cleaning and laundry detergent chemicals
Looks like wool but pills very easily and gets static electricity
Doesn’t breathe, so watch out for sweat marks! Also develops static easily and can cling.
Doesn’t breathe, can’t be washed normally, can’t be ironed. Tends to smell after a few hours of wear due to the “greenhouse effect” going on inside.
Not always bad, but likely to crease very easily. Make sure you scrunch the fabric up before buying to see how it reacts!
Breathes nicely but as above, look out for creasing!
Another lovely fabric but, unless hand washed with care, it will shrink.
Also known as lycra, elastane will lose its stretch if exposed to heat, light, chemicals or salt water. Needs to be hand-washed and hung to dry indoors or it’ll go baggy.
Beautiful fabric but quite often, dry-clean only. Very easy to stain, even water will mark it- not suitable for clumsy types (aka: me).
Usually, your best bet is to buy a blend, that way the good attributes of each fibre help offset the negative aspects of the others. And for goodness’ sake, follow the care instructions!
Whether buying high end or on the cheap, making informed decisions about fabrics and caring for them accordingly will ensure your clothes look better for longer and not needing to replace your clothes regularly is going to save you money.