Do you ever feel overwhelmed by options when you just want to purchase a staple clothing piece for your closet? Whether it’s a neutral-colored tee or a collared shirt, sometimes the more options we have, the more difficult it is to find what we are actually looking for. We are here to help you narrow down the options by considering a few factors.
1) What do I need this piece for anyway?
For starters, do YOU know what you want out of this garment? Ask yourself these questions:
What is the intended purpose?
Is it strictly for work, an event, a trip, or perhaps you are hoping it will be made in such a way that it can be worn in various environments and last for a number of years. Depending on what you want out of it will determine what you begin looking for and how you carry out this search.
What do you want this garment to feel like?
Regarding tees and collared shirts, are you hoping for a stiffer shape/thickness or perhaps a softer/thinner material?
How would you like the garment to fit you?
Finally, make sure you know what kind of fit you desire—regarding both width and length (oversized and drapey, fitted, skin-tight, loose but short, etc.). Consider what neckline suits your body type and what do you find most flattering?
We do not always answer these questions before browsing for that new piece…which often leads us to aimlessly purchasing a pile of tee shirts that are all “almost” what we were looking for. Answering these questions will relieve some of the stress and pressure when faced with many options.
2) Fiber content & “the hand” of a fabric
Based on how you answered these questions will determine what kind of fibers to look for. “The hand of fabric” is a fancy way of saying—when you feel the garment you will notice how thin/thick it is as well as how much light goes through. This is a helpful and quick indicator of what kind of undergarments you will need for this shirt/blouse. The hand of fabric is also a telling sign about whether daily sweat will show through.
Become familiar with the distinction of synthetic versus natural fibers, “Natural fibres are derived from plants and animals, while synthetic fibres are made from chemical compounds.”(Compare Ethics) For instance, rayon is a natural fiber but it is produced in a way that is harmful to the environment and tends to not hold up over time. Natural fibers are noted for their: durability, absorbance, insulated, and hypoallergenic while synthetic fibers have the benefit of being affordable, stain resistant, and waterproof (read more about both here: The Case For Natural Fibres vs Synthetic Fibres). There is the benefit of having that super soft feel with some fibers like lycra or rayon which imitate silk. Feel free to check out the definitions of various fibers in our article, “What the Tag Is Not Telling You: Part 2.”
Anytime we choose synthetic fibers, pay close attention to the directions of washing that garment since some synthetic fibers will shrink up or wear away in the washing machine, not to mention melting in the dryer. Spandex tends to melt in the dryer, hence why a garment with a high percentage of spandex will lose its shape over time.
3) Pay attention to the weave and seam of the garment
When a garment is already woven in such a way to provide stretch (ex: like in a cotton knit shirt), there is no need for spandex to add stretch.
Look at the seams of a garment by flipping it inside out and make sure no threads are loose. An overlock seam consists of one long thread or 4 looped together to go on the edge of fabric to make sure the garment does not fray—but if there is no thread tension then it eventually comes loose leading to tears in the garment and loosening of the shape.
4) What style of sleeve best suits your needs?
There is a variety of sleeve choices! It is important to notice how a sleeve is attached since that will determine your range of movement and your comfort (no one wants a sleeve seam cutting into their side).
Attached sleeves do not have a separate seam to fit the shoulder (ex: a batwing sleeve) which often avoids having the possible problem of tight seams in your armpit. The baseball tee is noted for having sleeves that allow for range of movement (this is super flattering on those who have broad shoulders). The drop-shoulder-sleeve is a common look for tees that are meant to appear oversized, the seam that attaches the sleeve rests lower than the shoulder rather than right atop the shoulder like a fitted tee or formal blouse.
Discover different sleeve styles and their benefits here: 33 Different Types of Sleeves for Tops!
You deserve to wear the garments YOU have in mind, not the ones the industry tells you to settle for. Let us know how it goes and if you learn anything new in the process! We are excited to help you discover the joy of intentionally choosing garments that serve you.