My first job was retail at 18 and I loved it. Seeing the new stock come in, the different materials and how they go from the bays in the stockroom to the racks and mannequins on the shop floor. Throughout all those years, I learnt that the most important thing when it comes to high street shopping is buying quality. Here are the basics on how to find the best quality high street clothes that also helps us to be more mindful when shopping.


    The fit

    How the garment fits on you is everything. With the price gap between premium high street and luxury gradually closing, mass market shouldn’t mean that you compromise on the fit. Things like hems and straps can be adjusted but waist and crotch ratio should not. The jumpsuit is a hot trend that’s flattering and if your 9-5 is in a casual office, it’s also work appropriate. I’ll use it as an example to show you the difference that tailoring makes. The ‘I just left my art studio to get an oat milk latte, this is what I wore’ look is cute but that’s not the point here. This post is all about how to spot affordable clothing that looks expensive.


    Luxury tailoring


    Even though I can totally foresee the camel coloured jumpsuit creasing like a bitch, the silhouette on both of these are cut so beautifully. The black on in particular from Saint Laurent, have wonderful finishing details, look at how the lapel trials down to the zipper which elongates the body.


    Good high street tailoring 


    Examples to avoid


    Lines are a risky. If you notice, the alignment is completely off on the jumpsuit which you’d rarely find on luxury apparel. This brings attention to the waisted area and below. Although it’s cut to accentuate hips (notice how the panel at the front is straight and the lines dart away), the pattern looks messy. The camel one, although fitted on a model, is still too baggy around her hips.

    The material

    I know not everyone is going to be forensic about the fine print on labels. But material is still key to your comfort, as well as controlling the quality and amount of wear you give to each item. The perfect example is the silky 90’s slip that’s been going strong for a long, long time now. I’m also going to show you the difference between types of lace, because while you might think something is painfully gothic McQueen, it’s actually flammable and itchy.


    Luxury slips


    Good high street slips


    I’m not a fan of those Topshop’s slip dresses that every female millennial owns. They were terrible quality and the one skirt I kept didn’t wash well. However, from examining these they seem a lot more hopeful – bar the 100% synthetic composition. The black dress looks incredibly chic and elongating, thanks to the high neck. The blush coloured skirt is something out of a romantic Zimmermann dream and who can resist a sassy mini dress, especially in such a cute colour? The material to avoid would be viscose, which mimics silk and looks so beautiful online. In real life however, it’s often semi-transparent and will make you sweat like you’re permanently on the train in rush hour.


    Examples to avoid


    I know about inflation but oh my gosh, £30 for this?!


    Luxury lace 


    Good high street lace


    Examples to avoid


    The gaps between the patterns on lace shouldn’t have visible lines between them like we see in this stretchy white top. The appearance of soft, delicate lace that’s almost like material in itself makes the camisole look ok. But when you compare it to how much better it’s done by & Other Stories above, the difference is stark. Lace shouldn’t ‘curl’ and fray the way it does in this example. It also shouldn’t be ‘shiny’, in the case of the pink dress.


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