Can quality make a comeback?

Balenciaga jean
A while ago, I decided to buy fewer but better clothes. This turns out to be a perplexing, meandering activity.

What "better" means depends on a woman's quality standards and means, but also the intersection of her values with her closet. If I had $595 to spend on these Balenciaga jeans, I could not do it.

Quality criteria include materials, construction, durability; could you wear this for at least five years? It also includes consistency in delivering that quality.

It does not consider other factors such as style, size range or access. I began to think of quality in terms of four categories, clockwise from top left:


Level One: Inspiration
High quality; you might never buy it, but it represents the best of ready-to-wear
Example: Tomas Maier striped cashmere sweater.

Level Two: Investment 
Very good quality; you would buy, or buy on sale/resale
Example: ça va de soi "Bercy" merino tunic

Level Three: Acceptable
Decent quality, at least for some items; may be inconsistent 
Example: J. Crew merino sweater-blazer

Level Four: Low
Quality is either deliberately low ("fast fashion"), or has slipped from Acceptable; can look pretty good, especially if you don't plan to wear it long
Example: Zara oversized acrylic-nylon sweater

Grown women fit into a bell-curve distribution, with the majority buying at Levels Two and Three; and a few outliers at the other ends of the quality continuum. Women who depend on Level Three, Acceptable are always asking, What happened to the quality?

Three reasons for the erosion of Acceptable quality:

1. New ownership, often from a family or privately-held firm to private-equity firms. Land's End, now majority-owned by Sear's top shareholder, ESL Partners, and Talbot's, owned by Sycamore Partners are but two examples. This kind of "rescue deal" always presages a quality drop.

2. Financial stress: Look behind the attractive web sites or shops to results, and you will find financial turbulence; last spring, J. Crew's debt was around $2 billion. That translates into more acrylic in your sweater, and ever more goods produced in China and Vietnam.

3. Pressure from the bottom. When Level Four brands H&M or Forever21 remerchandise their stores every three to five weeks, Level Three feels the heat. Short cycles equal cheap manufacturing. Fast Fashion is the bedbug: nipping, causing misery, and not going away.

This means you can't trust brands you once relied on. (Remember when Anne Klein made covetable  clothes? When a Coach bag would last for a decade or more?) One of the axioms of Marketing 101 was "A brand is a promise", but some of the best-known now have their fingers crossed.

When a brand renowned for quality slips, it's work to find a substitute, especially if moving up to Level One isn't possible. The high-low thing never really works; a Liberty neckerchief on a badly-cut top that closes with the now-ubiquitous exposed zipper will not elevate the top.

Liberty of London neckerchief


Faint hope

One hope is the rise of Level Three e-tailers like Everlane (apparel), Warby Parker (eyewear) and Coclico (shoes). They promise to fuse quality to accountability, and though not every company aiming to hit the sweet spot of ethics and quality will make it, the model appeals to me...and so do these gold booties:
Colico booties

Such brands are aimed at young adults, but often the sizes or cuts are not right for mature bodies. (How to produce a $100 cashmere sweater: cut out the retail presence, but also, crop it very short.)

And many in their target market find their prices out of reach. Becky, a friend's 28-year-old daughter, is unimpressed by Everlane et al. She says she'd rather buy at Level 4: just get something cute, at H&M, don't expect much, bin it after a season.  

I am dismayed by that, but Becky's tactics are easier to apply: no navigating web sites, no sending stuff back—and I can't even say to Becky, "But, look at this, the quality is so good!" because the 'this' is so much harder to find. She will borrow her mother's Jaeger coat without a glance at the bound buttonholes, but maybe she will feel the difference.

The quality so long missing from North American sports and casual wear (rarely made there anymore) is making a last stand in small niche brands, but unless the sizes and cuts satisfy older as well as younger buyers, they will be buried under the low-priced manufacturers offering a trend-driven selection of inferior goods.










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38 comments

Janice Riggs said...

Preach it! I've been very lucky to find jeans MADE IN CHICAGO, from American-milled fabric, that seem to hold up amazingly well - Dearborn Denim. I don't care for the styles they have for women, but one of the cuts for men is perfect for me. They hem to measure right there in the store, too.

But I despair of stores like Talbots, which used to be a stalwart of good suit pieces that wore like iron... And I don't know what to do about people who are happy with "cheap and cheerful" clothing - they're going to destroy the planet without a 2nd thought.

And although I'm very short-waisted, some sweaters are still absurdly short. Are your abs really THAT attractive...

Shaking my head,
Janice

Darla said...

I find it harder and harder to find clothes I like at any level. I'm a senior and and don't care to look like a wrinkled teenager - which eliminates most fast fashion. I don't have much luck online because I have absolutely no idea what size I am. Someones 12 is a 6 in another brand. Yes, I've measured. No, it still doesn't fit right. Ordering a replacement (same brand, same size) is no guarantee either. Fit and fabric can change while appearing to be the same item. I'm wearing what I have but that won't last forever. Rant over!

Jane W. said...

So true!!! I've noticed a huge difference in clothing purchased from Pendleton in 2012 vs. 2015. It would take a huge cultural shift for quality to really make a comeback. My daughter's generation makes me hopeful. She's 15, very aware of the environmental impact and human cost of fast fashion, and seeks out vintage men's clothing at thrift stores (that means 1990s, eek!). Of course, when you're 5' 8" and 125 you can do that....

LauraH said...

Love your analysis of quality, the four levels helps me sort it out in my mind. I try hard to buy Canadian or European made but it is not easy. Prices are higher but it's the lack of colour and fit for my short-waisted, wide hipped body that stymy me. Unlike Janice, all the tops I see are incredibly long on me and I don't want to wear black or beige. You're so right about the small niche brands - love the concept but the styles for me are lacking, they focus on the younger demographic.

I'm willing to pay for good quality that will last but I can't pay $595 for a pair of jeans - both financially and psychologically. Thanks to you I found Eric Bompard and Brora and I've found linen shirts for summer. Well-fitting pants are the real bugaboo. I still buy jeans and cords from Talbot's as their fit works on my shape at least i t's the best I can find after a lot of looking. The t-shirts have declined in quality for sure.

And yet we keep being told that baby boomers rule the market...hah!!

BTW I like the look of those booties. La Canadienne still makes shoes and boots in Canada, last I heard. Very good quality. https://www.lacanadienneshoes.com/ca_en/#

Margie from Toronto said...

Did you see last week's "Marketplace" about the high cost of cheap fashion? All those category 4 (and higher) clothes going overseas but even then there is too much and it ends up in landfills or being burned - it is truly overwhelming!
I try not to buy in category 4 and I certainly don't buy very much at all these days but it is so difficult to a) find quality items and b) find quality items that aren't priced at ridiculous amounts! And yes, even if I had the money I wouldn't spend close to a $1000 for a thin cotton Boho top that I might get to wear with jeans a couple of times per summer! Saw this in Holt's not so long ago!
And when you are petite and plump - it's even more difficult!
Thanks to blogs like "The Vivienne Files" I have been working on streamlining my wardrobe and really thinking about future purchases. I've always preferred quality over quantity (thanks for that tip Dad) but these days even a higher cost doesn't necessarily mean quality.
And I reject the idea that Milennials will somehow lead us out of the wilderness - H&M, Forever 21, Old Navy etc. are always packed with those in their teens & twenties and even thirties! I think that it's the older woman who now thinks a bit more about making wise purchases.
A great topic as always.

Duchesse said...

Janice: Thanks for the shout out re Dearborn Denim (whom I would have expected to be based in Detroit, as a Michigander would, hearing Dearborn.) SO why are the women's high rise all skinnies? The cropped sweaters. dolman sleeves and exterior zippers are all in the service of lower costs, not to show off anyone's abs.

Darla: Rant away, sister. I've been stung by re-ordering jeans and the same jean, same size is too small. Grrr.

Jane W.: I have returned to thrifting (for a few things) after a 30-year absence, mainly for the fun, and once in awhile I find a very high quality item in perfect shape. I look for current things that were someone's mistake. A nearly 70 year old woman in vintage is a bit Miss Havisham. I If I were your daughter's age I would look at mens', too.

LauraH: If I had to nominate one item on which I rely, it is EB sweaters. They are my uniform 7 months a year, and I have a number that are at least 12 years old, a few twenty years, and going strong. (Several invisibly mended thanks to moths.) Thanks for mentioning La Canadienne, very high quality.

Margie from Toronto: I didn't see that, but did watch the excellent doc on Netflix, "The True Cost" and have been reading similar articles for years. It's one of my soapbox causes. I avoid fast fashion...confess I did buy a couple of cute Forever21 totes b/c had a gift card.

I'm surprised no one has written that hard-to-fit women ought to sew their own basics. It certainly is one option, but you do need skills. Mine are rusty but I could probably muster a simple skirt.

Your Dad was likely from the same era as my Mom! She had a camel hair coat, must have worn it for at least 15 years. Then Dad bought her a new one (identical) for Christmas. In private, she wept, because she said "No one will know I have a new coat." But then she wore it another 15.

Lynn L said...

This makes good sense. I have been upset that trusted stores such as Talbots have such thin sweaters and tees that you can see through them and they tear easily. And what Talbot's has done to sleeves in the last couple of years is just crazy. It's necessary to shop really carefully. We have no decent thrift/consignment shops in my Florida college town -- lots of children's clothes, bootie short and tanks -- but nothing a grown woman would want to wear. I used to ebay often, but now sizes are so crazy as Darla noted that that is difficult. Now I rely primarily on my old clothes and try to make them last as long as possible.

Laura Jantek said...

Hope there is room for one more on the soapbox but I fear we are talking with the converted. Fast fashion is so deplorable but like other big issues no simple solution. And let's face it some women love new stuff all the time and want to be in style. (Maybe men too?) sewing was my hope at one point but access to quality fabrics is challenging and as I have grown older those tailored items no longer appeal and sewing knits would be an investment in time and end I no longer wish to make. Like many I thrift and wear things to the bitter end! I wonder if those fast fashion shows have any impact???

sgillie said...

I'm in my late 60s. Last year I purchased a number of basics from Everlane and have been please with the fit and quality. I am, however, disappointed in their website. The age and size of their models is very narrow-not a wise strategy for the current customer mood.
Quality has never gone away, it's shifted to lesser known brands. The best quality for price are sports brands-Patagonia, North Face and Columbia. I regularly pair one of their pieces with more conservative pieces for a city-appropriate look.
Shoes are good options for incorporating quality in a wardrobe. I just purchased a pair of Nisolo D'Orsay oxfords-stylish, comfortable and they'll last forever.

Duchesse said...

Lynne L: Sycamore has gutted Talbot's. I still buy their jeans, in multiples, on sale, but even with those, the quality has slipped. I have a pair that must be 5 yrs old, and the denim is so much nicer- thick but still supple. The new ones are acceptable but not what they were. Have you noticed how many commenters say they are wearing their things till they wear out? That is smart, and sooner or later we have to face the music and replace them, and that's where the problem is.

Laura Jantek: I had to deprogram myself from "Oh I'm wearing that again." I have one friend who still comments on whether she has seen what I am wearing before, but now it is hard to tell as I often wear a 'uniform' item that could be any age, like my black cashmere turtleneck.

sgillie: You are lucky to find a brand that fits you, and has styles you like. I have a few, and it has resulted in a 'uniform' approach to dressing which I don't mind, but if I could find more decent clothes, I might branch out a bit! I agree, too, about the athletic/leisure brands you mention. You can also find quality in shoes, but the investment is significant.

I bought two pairs of Thierry Rabotin shoes, and they were great, but they could not be repaired- at over $400 a pair, I would like to be able to wear them longer. I spent the same amount on bespoke oxfords that I can probably wear forever.

AnnetteAK said...

I agree that the quality of clothing has gone downhill, in part by cheap clothing and the need for new stuff. I live in Alaska so all of my clothing is bought online. The local stores consist of Fred Meyers and a few independents that cater to either the young or are very expensive. I now make most of my clothes buying fabric online from known/trusted fabric stores. It is not the answer for everyone but for me it works

Rita said...

There is another aspect of fast fashion that I dislike, in addition to the poor quality: the styles seem frantic and incoherent as the designers are pressured to provide new styles so frequently. Sometimes it seems that they will grasp at any new, extreme feature, just to produce something different.

Wendelah said...

As a plus-sized woman, my fashion choices necessarily start at level three. The most "inspirational" label I have access to is Marina Rinaldi. I own two pairs of their jeans, one purchased in Paris during a July sale back in 2010 and one bought off Ebay a couple of years later. I also own one beautiful dress bought from Neiman Marcus when it briefly went to 70% off. In summer, I wear it with leggings and sandals, in winter with tights, boots, and a sweater or leather jacket. Even before I retired, I didn't need office wear because I wore a uniform to work every day. Finding jeans that aren't skinny and T-shirts that still cover my stomach when I reach for something on a high shelf is the extent of my basic fashion needs. Because of the mild climate in Southern California, I only have to pull out my wool coat once or twice a year. Yes, it dates back to 1994 but who cares? As always, the hardest purchase for me is shoes. I'm constantly on the lookout for a pair of sneakers that are supportive and cushioned which can accommodate my rather extreme orthotics. I've about worn out my three pairs of Brooks Ariel 12s and both newer models were a no-go. I happily paid full price for those running shoes and I'd pay it again, if I could find a shoe to meet my needs.

Except for that item, this is my year of buying no clothing at all, not even socks, underwear or jewelry. I don't need anything new. After a thorough purge, I'm going to shop my closet and get creative, and use the savings for something I need much more: new drapes, and a new sofa and love seat!

Duchesse said...

Wendelah: Though you are on a furlough, what do you think of the Navabi site? I have several friends who adore it, and the quality - though not Marina Rinaldii- looks good. (They carry many brands so I'm generalizing.) My friend Theresa literally camped out at the MR boutique in my former city to be first in the door for the 50% off sale.

New drapes, sofa and love seat should take care of your clothing budget!

Marina said...

I am new to this blog and so happy I found it while browsing Kojima Pearls. Duchesse, your blog is my new favorite read! I share so many of your POVs!
I will be 50 this summer, but I work from home and do not need too many clothes, but I've always strived for quality and my motto is "I am not too rich to buy cheap stuff", so my wardrobe is pretty slim, comparing to other American ladies. My big vise though, that's been here for 20 years is Hermes scarves and shawls. The latter's quality declined big time, huge over time! I have a shawl from 1999, that looks like new and a shawl from last season that looks like it was used as a dog blankie.
I buy everything online and send back a big portion of it. I stopped by a Zara store a few months ago first time in ages and was absolutely appalled by the quality of EVERYTHING. So I stay away from such vendors. The majority of my clothing budget is spent on Hermes and shoes from Tieks and Sabah (I can highly recommend both). I love Brora too! Cashmere and silk skirts are my staples from them. I have only a handful of purses and they are older Balenciaga and Prada, nothing new or "IT". I recently "discovered" pearls and they are my new "hobby", but I've learned right away about places like The Pearl Guide and buy only quality for a fraction of retail cost. Being a recent widow I cannot stop thinking of what I really need in life in terms of "things" and what I will leave behind for my children except a good memory... and I have no girls! :)

Duchesse said...

Marina: Welcome to the Passage, and thank you for commenting. Shocked to hear about your newer shawl; in my experience Hermès has always taken back substandard goods. I was given a pair of gloves that came unstitched right away, and they replaced them and said, "That should not have happened." Also, this might be me, but this season Brora have made almost every sweater short or cropped. Fine if you are short-waisted, but I am not and they just don't hang well.

Marina said...

Thank you for your warm welcome, Duchesse!
The quality of all luxury brands went down significantly, whether it is a quality of materials or/and craftsmanship. The quality of Hermes shawls went down gradually over the years, being exceptionally bad around 2009-12 when a lot of customers did return faulty shawls. They somewhat improved the quality in the recent years, but all and all the newer pieces of cashmere are nowhere near the old ones. My cousin used to buy Chanel shawls and they are just awful quality-wise nowadays, so she quited.My theory is that the amount of highest quality cashmere is just too limited - China does not import much and Mongolia is just can't supply enough, the quality went down over the whole upper luxury segment (I'd call that a category 0), and only reserved for exceptional pieces that retail in $5,000+ category for a shawl.
As for Brora, I didn't buy anything from them in more than a year - you are right, the models are just not too appealing for a mature audience. I still enjoy my older Broras...

Duchesse said...

Marina: I agree that that quality cashmere is getting scarcer. I have some old Hermès cashmeres that are like rugs, in fact in perfect condition because they are too heavy to wear in most indoor places. It has been awhile since I bought anything at that level, so you have just encouraged me to hang on to them. Brora (and Johnstons of Elgin, the mill producing Brora's pieces) wear extremely well. Eric Bompard wear well, but again, the weight in some of the models has gone down a bit. I have EB sweaters that are 20 years old- they still make the identical model, and mine look like new.

The Chinese are moving from the low and middle end to better cashmere:
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/27/business/cashmere-moves-on-and-scotland-feels-a-chill.html

Jane said...

Is it too late to add my pet peave? Garments, especially tees not cut and sewn straight to the fabric grain. I find myself unfolding and holding up tee after tee trying to find one that is straight. Home Ec 101, pin the pattern and cut straight to the grain.

Judy Thompson said...

Yes, Anne Klein! Albert Nipon! I loved both back in the day. Sadly, it’s a race to the bottom line now. Hence, my wish to make clothes rather than buy them. 😎

Sisty said...

Amen, Amen!! That's why I'm focusing nearly solely on Level 2, which does permit one to own fewer things of better quality, and to take better care of what one does have. I am still wearing a pair of black wool gabardine Armani pants, unlined, that I got at Century 21 at a deep discount probably ten years ago. I wear them often, because I know I look good in them and, more importantly, the pants themselves show no sign of wear.

But what to do about the staples that you know you're going to have to replace often, like white tee-shirts? Until very recently, I was willing to spend more for better quality for these, but was disappointed to discover that quality at Boden has taken a dive. Sigh.


Duchesse said...

Jane: In the late '60s at university, I took a textiles class in which we pulled apart "designer" clothes (that none of us could afford) and found many were not cut on the grain, or true bias. I never forgot that lesson and that was •then•, when you could still get quality in US-made brands.

Judy: And look at what you are making! Whee!

Sisty: You are lucky those gab pants don;t have a shiny bottom by now. Sorry to hear Boden too have dropped. I bought a classic cotton shirt there, about a dozen years ago. I found it skimpily cut and badly finished.

Christi Carlisto said...

One hopes it will!
As a former executive in the fashion industry, I have despaired of the decline in quality and styles for woman that don't want to dress like a 20 year. I worked for companies that were known as "bridge" that had style and quality but not the designer price tag. Those type of lines have disappeared! Anne Klein was certainly one of those companies, as was Liz Claiborne.I worked for the Ralph Lauren classifications(not the high price collection), Jeffrey Banks and ALexander Julian.
I find that Eileen Fisher mostly has quality items made to an ethical standard but her collections are primarily black or gray and when she offers colors, too often they're muted or muddy or bright jewels tones. If those aren't your colors, the selection is limited.
My husband is still in the industry, in men's wear, and there are more companies that offer made in America. Interesting.
Great post. I enjoy the thoughtfulness of your blog!

Jean Shaw said...

I sew, and I plan to do more this year--in fact, I've joined the RTW fast hosted by Sarah Gunn @ goodbyevalentino.com.

There is a wealth of information out there. New tools, evolved techniques, some very good online fabric shops, interesting pattern lines--it's not home economics circa 1969 (which is when I learned to sew). That said, you don't have to have a brand-new machine, nor do you have to have multiple machines.

Duchesse said...

Christi Carlisto: Fascinating to hear your perspective. Evan Picone, Liz Claiborne, Perry Ellis, Willi Wear: the backbone of my wardrobe, long ago. How I miss that quality. Some of it was a stretch for me to afford but it lasted!

You may be interested in my most-ever read post, "What is It About Eileen Fisher":
http://passagedesperles.blogspot.ca/2013/10/what-is-it-about-eileen-fisher.html

Jean Shaw: Good for you! The RTW fast is really cool. (And I wish she would make an exception for thrifts, because thrifted items are rescued from landfill.) There is so much more choice of fabric thanks to online shops. I still browse patterns and read of others' projects. I learned to sew in '62, junior high; my old Singer Featherweight (enamel over cast iron, no plastic!) is a beloved member of my daughter-in-law's machine collection.

lagatta à montréal said...

Nothing to do with fashion, though yoof seem to think they are cool... A pair of Sorel boots for $10 at Renaissance... Warm and dry, but still looking forward to wearing my leather booties again. Those are a "sturdy" German brand, Josef Seibel. And yes, La Canadienne makes very good footwear, though many run a bit narrow for my sturdy little feet. They have a showroom near Ça va de soie. http://www.lacanadienneshoes.com/

Bunny said...

I just retired a fifteen year old pair of Siebel Mary Janes. Such quality!

I have had the same convos as you have with milennial acquainances. Many are totally OK with one season's wear and then on to the next bit of fast fashion. Weren't they supposed to be the "save the planet" generation? When asked, never unsolicited, I will proffer the advantages of buying quality and the proof that cost per wear is far lower with a quality garment than with a Walmart special. It's as if the cost per wear argument is unable to compute in many 20-30 something minds.

On the other hand, I know some millennial moms who are very tired of buying garbage for their children and watching it fall apart before it is outgrown. Wasn't it the other way around when ours were little, outgrowing clothing that was in perfect shape and able to be passed on? These moms are now going town to town, shopping the thrifts, comparing notes on FB, and spreading the word on quality garments for their children. Alas there is hope.

Duchesse said...

Bunny: Excellent point anout millenial moms getting into quality via their kids. I think they got hijacked by the tidal wave of fast fashion. It simply was not available when we were 20. There were always cheap clothes, but they were not nearly so cool, and stock did not turn over in such short cycles. One of my younger friends has a babysitter who takes her earnings to buy 3 or 4 new outfits at Forever21-
every month, and more if she gets cash gifts ( the only kind she wants.)

You just couldn’t do that then.

Lagatta: Boots in new condition at a thrift are a major score! And we’re having the cold weather to appreciate them.

Margie from Toronto said...

SISTY asked about staples such as white t-shirts that need to be replaced more often? I have had some luck with LL Bean, Talbots (but you do have to really shop around as they have gone the thin, see-through route for some T's) and Lord & Taylor. But it can be very hit or miss. I think my max for a decent quality white t-shirt is about $50 - and if I find a decent quality one I will buy a couple and then wait for sales to stock up even more. I hate when whites get grubby or stained, and since I have big boobs, accidents will happen! :-)

Duchesse said...

Margie from Toronto: Thanks, you really cannot depend solely on brand anymore. I have had good wear from the Land's End "shaped layering" tees:
https://www.landsend.com/products/womens-shaped-layering-crewneck-t-shirt/id_315186?sku_0=::JP5

which are cotton with a bit of rayon, so drape (not cling). But one woman's just right is another woman's too thick or thin.

Besides easily stained, white tees sometimes go yellowish just sitting in the drawer.

Roberta said...

When Talbots started to simplify their clothes to save money - no more welt pockets or true buttonholes at the wrist, for example - I started looking for their older items on eBay, but those are long gone now too. My style started shifting to less structured garments, fortunately. I suppose young women, unless they sew, don't know what they are missing. Most of my new things come from Boden now; I think their quality is still very good compared with American stores. Otherwise I shop with a critical eye and buy a few things at Ann Taylor (VERY nice pants), Talbots, and a few one-offs at Nordstrom (Nic & Zoe, Halogen). I launder with great care, and I've resigned myself to paying four or five times as much for shoes as I did a decade ago. This is all a good incentive to buy much, much less than I used to! Still, I miss all those lovely two part sleeves and full rayon linings.

Duchesse said...

Roberta: Even if one wears less-tailored clothing, so much is simply not available anymore, unless by a luxury brand like Céline: zippers with plackets, bound cuff openings, mother of pearl buttons, French seams. Even little things like a hook and eye at the waist. Lined trousers are practically unheard of. I am kind of meh about Boden, patterns looks to me like a kid let loose with crayons, but I have a jersey dress from them that is decently made, at least the hem hangs evenly.

It does control me too, but when I need something it is so hard to find the details I miss.

Dr itGirl said...

I'm a millennial who has shopped a lot at Everlane. The quality is actually not that great and is getting worse. 1 in 5 purchases were good quality.

Duchesse said...

Dr itGirl: Thank you for weighing in on Everlane. (Just because something is simply and cleanly styled does not mean it’s good quality, sigh.) Is there a brand you think delivers consistent quality and beats Everlane?

the good enough mother said...

I appreciate your post and your readers' comments. All echo my experience too. Talbots and Pendleton had been the backbone of my work wardrobe for decades but recent purchases have been disappointing. I have had better luck with Ann Taylor of late and there is a good selection in petite sizes. I buy a couple of Eileen Fisher pieces each year and have been pleased with the quality. I can't carry off her minimalist look but there are good basics like her jersey turtlenecks which I have worn for years.

Frugal Scholar said...

I'm making it a mission to find you a vintage (Scottish preferably) cashmere sweater before my next trip to Montreal. These older sweaters are of extremely high quality and DO NOT pill. They are getting scarcer. My son, who says "I only wear cashmere and alpaca," had a terrible moth infestation. After a year of looking, I found him a few of these vintage ones--he's so happy! You are next on my list.

Duchesse said...

Frugal Scholar: I am eager to see you here, but can relieve you of your task, unless you enjoy the challenge! I buy cashmere that does not pill, or pills very minimally, nothing a wash doesn't fix. I grew up with in a family who invested in those Scottish brands - Pringle, Ballantyne and the private label made for my godfather; my first Johnston's piece was bought well over forty-five years ago. But moths will eat any brand!

Though hesitant to jinx it by saying so, I have not seen any moths in almost three months, not in the traps or in my frequent, obsessive inspections.

My beef is more with wobbly seams and sloppily-inset zippers, bunchy armholes and those stupidly low and wide dolman sleeves, cheap dyes in woven fabrics, shallow pleats, the vanished details used to be on shirts (darts, pleated yokes), the lack of interfacing, cheap plastic buttons, nonexistent pockets. Stiff, cheap denim and acrylic-wool blends that shred at the first wash, and no linings, no fabric in a hem. That's just a start.

Leah said...

So late to this conversation...still catching up on great posts I missed! I've found that older millenials (I'm almost 34) are often leading the way in terms of compiling ethical sources of fashion and promoting the "buy less, higher quality" mantra. Capsule wardrobes and sustainability are big amongst the bloggers/instagrammers I follow - but I might be biased because I wear nothing but thrifted clothes and am always looking for similar-minded folks. :)