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Saturday, January 14, 2012

What clothing brands provide both reasonable prices and good quality/value?

Just wondering, chic and frugal (sometimes!) readers: which clothing lines provide both decent quality and reasonable prices. Here, I'm not talking about how you can use your Hermes bag every day for ten years, yielding a reasonable COST PER WEAR.

I'm talking more about Lands' (their typo) End tees worn by the wise Vivienne.
Or the silk basics recommended by the equally wise Duchesse.

I guess I'm talking about the basic pieces that will enable those of modest or moderate means to save up for the special item. Sad to say, I mostly buy these basic basics for Mr FS. I bought Mr FS two turtlenecks from Lands'End a few months ago: the cotton is combed and of quite good quality. I need to look for some myself!

P.S. Of course, the reason Lands' End can sell their tees for such low prices is because they are produced where labor costs are very low. I can only hope that these big companies have the desire and muscle to enforce fair working conditions and wages. The rash of suicides at the Chinese factory where Apple products are made gives one pause--or more than pause, really.

P.P.S. Check out Duchesse's swoonworthy shawl in her blog pic.


Patience_Crabstick said...

J Crew isn't usually thought of as a low price establishment, but I think they offer high style for a relatively low price (compared to, say, boutiques). It's my go-to store for basics--I like their "perfect fit" tee line. I bought my job interview suit at J. Crew and I feel I got a good value. I can wear it forever and I know I didn't pay an exorbitant price for it.

déjà pseu said...

I'm finding that quality is pretty hit-and-miss everywhere these days. The J.Crew "Jackie" cardigans are a great buy (especially on sale) but I've been disappointed in the quality of some of their other pieces. Talbots used to have consistently good quality, but I think they've gone downhill as well. Lands End, for basic pieces, does seem to be able to maintain their quality at reasonable prices (though fits can be inconsistent).

SewingLibrarian said...

I sew most of my clothing, but for knit basics I like Lands' End. I buy sleeveless silk and silk/cotton shells from August Silk at Nordstrom Rack, and they have held up well. I bought a couple of marinieres (sp?) at the Ralph Lauren outlet last summer, and they were pretty good quality. For jeans I like Not Your Daughter's Jeans from Nordstrom (and many other places, too). I do wash my good knits by hand and roll them in towels and dry flat. That seems to keep them much nicer than using the washer. (See Pseu's post on that!) Agree with Pseu that Talbot's quality has suffered. Used to buy lots from them, nothing in the last two years.

Diane said...

For t-shirts, here's my vote: For new tees, Target, especially its Mossimo brand, are terrific, with H&M in second place. These tees will last a year or so without losing shape, and they're reasonably cheap. For thrifted tees, go for Majestic Paris and Vince. I really understand what the fuss is all about with both those brands, which are ridiculously expensive new. I wouldn't pay $110 for a Majestic tee, but the ones I've found for $3 or $4 have lasted forever. Similarly, Vince tees are too expensive new, but thrifted ones have worked for me. I've also found great cashmere cardigans by Vince, and they've held up well. I realize this is sort of a twist on what you're asking about, but I definitely consider a much wider array of brands when I thrift, and some just aren't good value even at Goodwill prices. Talbots clothes thrifted don't hold up, in my experience, but newer Eileen Fisher and JCrew stuff does.

Anonymous said...

I tend to buy medium-quality stuff. I shy away from designer brands because I often ruin things at work. (I am willing to buy pricey shoes and accessories, though.) That said, I like nice fabrics and good construction.

My favorite tees are from Target. They don't last more than a year or two, but they look nice enough and they are inexpensive. I also really like Banana Republic's rayon blend tees for layering under sweaters. I have some that are 3 years old and still look new.

My favorite sweaters are my Merino wool pullovers from Banana Republic and Ann Taylor. I wasn't so crazy about the cashmere sweater I bought from Ann Taylor, though. It started pilling almost immediately. I would stay away from Target sweaters if you want clothes that last.

My favorite dress pants are from Talbot's. My favorite skirts are from Banana Republic.

I love J Crew's designs and colors but I've been disappointed in the fit of their clothes. But fit is an individual thing. The quality seems pretty good but I do think they are slightly overpriced.

Anonymous said...

I'm curiously stalking the comments on your post. Just wanted to let you know I was here. Don't know enough to advise. :)

Duchesse said...

When I need a dress, jacket, etc. (anything but a "basic") at a good price, I visit local (or nearby) designers. Without the exorbitant advertising budget, the prices are very good and you support a local business. I guess this doesn't fit into our question of "brands" but wanted to point out there is this resource.

Besides cutting quality, Talbot's have infuriated me by sending a "customer service" e-mail saying they are cutting out free shipping to Canada, charging $25 flat rate. (J. Crew charges $10, LL Bean is free and LE often is too.) @25 extra for a pair of jeans, crazy!

Frugal Scholar said...

@PC--i've long wished I had a nearby store so I could check the fit. Thanks for the endorsement.

@Pseu--Yeah--there's little consistency these days. LE is so boxy, usually. Will check out the Jackie.

@SL--Hmmmm. I ssee that I have fewer places to shop than most--no Nordies or Rack here. No outlets either. Sewers of my acquaintance say that it's now too expensive and difficult to buy fabric--true?

Genuine Lustre said...

Hannah Andersson items hold up forever. Though they are known for their kids clothes, there are a few adult items too.
LLBean boots. Eddie Bauer older 100%wool sweaters. Lands End tees and outerwear. I have some thin long stretchy Sonoma turtlenecks from Kohl's that are fantastic.
My current fav jeans are the Rock Star High Waisted skinnies from Old Navy - they feel like pajama jeans.
Ralph Lauren items ( I shop at TJ Maxx) are very good values.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Diane--You must have fabulous thrifts--I've never seen such upscale tees. I like the Mossimo tees also.

@Ms M--Will check out Banan rayon next time I'm in one. Thanks for the recommendation.

@Terri--You will after your year of checking out retail offerings.

@Duchesse-I've enjoyed your posts about Canadian designers. i went to some shops on a trip to Montreal many years ago. Wonderful!

Frugal Scholar said...

@Genuine--Ah, I still have the few pieces of Hanna Andersson I bought for my children. Would love to try the women's clothing, but am not sure about sizing...

SewingLibrarian said...

FS, it's certainly more difficult and expensive than it used to be to buy fabric, but not impossible. The trick is to know the Internet sellers who deliver quality and good service. Believe me, word gets around the sewing forums as to who the good and bad vendors are.
I'm currently sewing some of the fabric my mother gave me when we visited her last summer. I just finished a skirt from a piece of J P Stevens wool she bought at the Worumba Mills in Maine in the 1960's. She paid $2.41 for a 7/8 yard remnant. I used some rayon lining I've had around for years and a zipper and thread from my stash. I figure the skirt cost less than $5.00 total! It's a lovely black and green fine herringbone wool. Next up is a purple wool she bought at Britex in San Francisco who knows when. Britex is still in business, by the way, as are Vogue Fabrics and Fishmans in Chicago. And the New York fabric district, while a pale shadow of its former self, still harbors stores with good merchandise. Small towns, however, have largely lost their independent fabric stores and have to make do with Joann Fabrics. One of the sewing bloggers calls it "the craft store that masquerades as a fabric store." That's why garment sewers have turned to the Internet.
I also beiieve that people think sewing is expensive because of the amount of cheap clothing available here in the US, as we have discussed previously on several blogs. I sew because it's relaxing to me, and because I believe I can achieve better quality and better fit than shopping at retail.
And, to comment on your previous post, sometimes anticipation can be fun, I agree.

Jane W. said...

Eileen Fisher, on sale. I've also snagged some pieces very reasonably on consignment. Not thrif-store cheap, but 1/3 to 1/4 of boutique prices.

Dansko clogs, if your workplace is casual enough for them. They're around $115 per pair.

Also second the Hannah Anderson.

Jane W. said...

Also Pendleton.

Blue Jeans Girl said...

I am late to this conversation, but I'd add Last Tango tops to the mix. I wear them in place of t-shirts. I like both the scoop & V-necks in long sleeve and tank version, and I find the ruching through the midsection in obscuring what I want to hide. They run between $30 & $40, come in a range of colors, and look great for years. I consider these a basic and a good value.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Sewing--My mother-in-law used to buy odd bits of nice fabric and make simple skirts. She had a huge stash of fabric.

@Jane--Love EF too, but as I told you on your blog, I had a disappointing mail order experience. Pendleton--I used to find old wool shirts ALL the time, and then they simply disappeared. The new items looks nice too.

@BlueJEans--Thanks for the tip--they do look nice and I definitely have a tummy problem.

Janvi said...
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Maha Bahis Alarifi said...
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