There's a lot of good info in this article, but there's also a lot more beyond it. For example, it mentions (accurately) that the fineness of cotton and wool fibers is an indicator of its quality, but the fiber length is a greater indicator of quality. Unfortunately, cotton and wool products are frequently marketed according to their fiber diameters (e.g., "800 thread count bed sheets" and "Super 100s" wools for suits), but you will never see the fiber length listed. You need to either be able to feel the fabric to assess its fiber length (something that I was never really able to do well) or rely on the recommendation of someone else who can. It's like saying that a network link has 10Gb bandwidth but failing to mention its 100ms minimum latency.
Another item that they mention that is frequently misunderstood is that there are different types of fabrics, especially wools. Just because a specific type of wool such as merino is mentioned doesn't mean that it's good quality. There is both junk merino and excellent merino. Just because it came from a merino sheep doesn't mean it's great. The same goes for cashmere, alapaca, angora, mohair, camel, etc. It's like saying that it's an SSD rather than a 7200rpm HDD. The former is almost certainly better, but there are still a wide range of SSD characteristics to be evaluated.
Yet another item is that while it is true that expensive clothes are not necessarily high quality clothes, it is almost always the case that high quality clothes are expensive. Or rather, they're expensive upfront but often turn out to be more economical over the life of the garment. In either case, they will be more pleasant to wear than a lower quality alternative.
And the Last item, since I could go on indefinitely about this, is that garment quality should be assessed on three axes -- quality of materials, quality of construction, and fit. If the first is lacking, the garment's material will pill, rip, fray, or just plain wear out too fast. If the second if lacking, it will fall apart too soon. If the last is lacking, it will be uncomfortable and look bad on you. The trick is, of course, to find garments which have all three.
Good ol' Vimes "Boots" Theory of Economic Injustice strikes again:
> At the time of Men at Arms, Samuel Vimes earned thirty-eight dollars a month as a Captain of the Watch, plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots, the sort that would last years and years, cost fifty dollars. This was beyond his pocket and the most he could hope for was an affordable pair of boots costing ten dollars, which might with luck last a year or so before he would need to resort to makeshift cardboard insoles so as to prolong the moment of shelling out another ten dollars.
> Therefore over a period of ten years, he might have paid out a hundred dollars on boots, twice as much as the man who could afford fifty dollars up front ten years before. And he would still have wet feet.
> Without any special rancour, Vimes stretched this theory to explain why Sybil Ramkin lived twice as comfortably as he did by spending about half as much every month.
(though in a way modern society have made things worse as, as you note, "better" is usually more expensive but more expensive doesn't necessarily mean better, and it's often hard for the uninitiated to know if they're paying for quality, for brand, or for getting fleeced).
E.g. with shoes with leather soles, you can just pry them off and tack on a new sole; with an expensive couch with good framing, you can just reupholster the thing; etc.
Likewise, clothes considered higher-quality are usually made of materials that can "absorb" re-stitching; while clothes made of "expensive" but not "high-quality" materials (e.g. modern sports fabrics) will tear and then there's nothing you can really do; any patch sewn onto them would fall back off the first time they're put through the wash.
However, finding the sweet spot is rarely 100x the cheap version it’s more like 2-10x. The risk is not just normal use some times things get lost etc.
Same for my 100€ winter jacket, sits and looks great still after 10 years. It's def not lovingly handcrafted but a level up from fast fashion anyway.
Shoe trees can vastly prolong the lifespan of a pair of shoes.
Regular foot sweat should be long since evaporated away with just an overnight stay in the shoe closet unless perhaps you live in an un-airconditioned house in a swamp.
I wear the same pair of leather shoes every day and in the end it's the soles that wear out, not the leather. They aren't even fancy shoes, just run of the mill Dockers.
And there are still plenty of independent shops kicking about. Most places offering lock smith services also offer shoe repair.
This is because much of the wear on your shoes does not come from steps and hitting the ground. It comes from sweat and moisture inside the shoe, and the inside of your shoe takes a REALLY long time to dry out fully.
If you wanted to extend of life of a shoe without rotating pairs you can also buy a shoe drying rack. This is what a lot of people in construction do with extensive work boots.
For the price of 2 Allen Edmonds bought retail, I could have 7 pairs of their timeless shoes, rotate them regularly, and never buy shoes again.
In reality, I have 4. 2 brown and 2 black, and that’s more than enough. My Dad has the same, and is still wearing his from the 80s on a daily basis.
I also have a 30 year old Omega watch. Every five years that goes back to Omega, it’s away for about a month and costs £2-300 each time.
My experience is that while lifetime and cost are often correlated, they aren't always, the ratio is often a curve, and the curve is different for every product. My $10 Casio watch has outlasted some nicer watches costing more than $100. But I once made the mistake of buying a $40 pair of shoes, and they were unwearable within a few months.
Another example is that high-end suits with high thread count are supposedly less durable than less expensive suits, because the finer, more comfortable fabric is also thinner and wears more quickly.
My oldest pair of shoes are going on 11 years, and look even better than the rest after one re-sole.
That being said, my everyday Omega (a PlanetOcean diver) has gone for 11 years without a service and still keeps excellent time; once timekeeping deteriorates, I’ll have it cleaned, lubed and adjusted at my local watchmaker’s.
Oh, and the case will be refinished over my dead body; it has more or less literally gone to war with me, got banged up a bit, lived to tell the tale and is still ticking.
Or do you think that it's just that the poor people are held down?
(Cue stories about people working their way out of poverty and thus proving the poverty trap isn't a real thing)
My wife has the luxury of not having to work so we have never used daycare. That's tens of thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours driving, not getting sick all the time, not needing a second car, the list goes on not to mention the immeasurable cost of missing out on the absolute best hours of your child's life.
You'll miss out on a lot of the time with your kid, but on the other hand they get to socialize a lot more from a very young age already. Some parents also burn out at home after a while, but that of course depends on the person.
I realize this went quite offtopic, sorry about that.
I believe we have cheap or free subsidized daycare too but it's generally terrible. There's also 12 month waiting lists where I live. My colleagues all pay tens of thousands.
There's obviously trade-offs to that approach but my point is that upper middle class patterns of behavior shouldn't be projected up and down the economic ladder.
Upper middle class people call a plumber. Poor people call a plumber that owes them a favor.. Etc, etc. and so on and so fourth. It's a whole different economy and a lot of the patterns surrounding the crap in life that saps your money are totally different.
There's a quote often falsely attributed to John Wayne "Life is hard; it’s harder when you’re stupid". Some folks see that as good, some as bad. A classic argument of individualism vs collectivism. Obviously the individual is better off if individual stupidity is not punished and obviously the civilization is better off, especially in the long run, if stupidity is punished, so opinions on punishment usually simplify down to an argument about individualism vs collectivism.
The Vimes example is about the fact that being poor to start with is more expensive in its own right.
Vimes does not make a stupid decision not to buy the expensive boots, they are simply more than he can afford in any reasonable period.
There is another saying "making your first million is hard, making your second million is inevitable"
This is demonstrably, dramatically false.
"The headline could be "The number of people in extreme poverty fell by 130,000 since yesterday” and they wouldn’t have this headline once, but every single day since 1990, since, on average, there were 130,000 people fewer in extreme poverty every day." https://ourworldindata.org/a-history-of-global-living-condit...
Both the quality and duration of life for "the poor" have increased dramatically over the last decades and centuries. https://ourworldindata.org/life-expectancy-globally
For a "real-time" visualization, see https://worldpoverty.io/index.html
We aren't doing as well as we'd like to be, but the world is making dramatic progress.
* ChexSystems, a credit reporting service for bank accounts
* Payday loans, a predatory lending system which takes 4-8% of a person's paycheck to cash it instantly instead of waiting a couple of days.
ChexSystems is designed to identify poor people and ban them from the banking system so that they have to give their round of flesh to shylocks in order to buy food and pay rent. This is one of the more egregious attacks on the poor in the USA, but there are tens of thousands of them to be honest.
I think it's just an unintended consequence of a race to the bottom in cheap, disposable manufacturing. Even then, I'm unsure if on an aggregate level the progress in materials engineering and overall manufacturing processes does not eventually offset this focus on cheapness, resulting on better value than the more expensive alternative.
Even if China produces an absolute number of good screwdrivers, tge deluge of crap ones dwarfs it.
Why is everything viewed in term of us vs them?
Stitching done in Portugal is pretty good too. Of course, you can find good cheap tailors in underdeveloped countries too.
Buying quality forces you to be more conservative: that which you buy needs to look in-place (if not in-style) for many many years. You can’t buy al courant and hope it will look stylish five or ten years down the road.
If by stitching you mean construction quality, you can certainly find that in many places. For suits, England and Italy are famous for it though both places do have lesser-quality vendors who will happily trade on their country's reputations and take your money. I had most of my business clothing custom-made in Hong Kong where the tailors learned from the Brits but are still much less expensive. You have to be careful there, though, because there are lots of guys who prey on the tourist who has heard that cheap custom suits can be had in HK but isn't able to assess quality.
++ on buying conservatively-styled clothes. I'm in my 40s and still wear the suits I bought in my 20s and hope I'll still fit into them in my 60s.
I don't want to be too critical of the tourist-focused shops. It is certainly possible to get a serviceable suit at one of those places that will hold up to occasional wear and fit as well as an off-the-rack suit that's been tailored for you. It can't be top quality, though, when its total cost is less than the cost of the 3 yards of quality wool required for the suit. There's been something of a spike in demand for those guys in the last 10-20 years and their prices have gone up accordingly. As a rough point of reference, the last good suit I had made there cost 1500USD.
Since most don't show a picture of the back of the shirt, also can't tell if they have split yoke. Most quality shirts will have split yoke, especially dress shirts, though it's mostly unnecessary.
One other tell of whether someone takes pride in their shirting is not using synthetic buttons.
The most interesting thing I've found with wearing better quality clothing is that people notice, but don't realize this is what they're noticing. I get comments about my shirts from clients and when I go out in public random people will stop me to say something. Nobody says something about some technical factor of the clothing itself, but they will say things like "that's a nice shirt" or "wow, that shirt is really blue" (better quality cloth tends to have more consistent and lasting color as well).
This is one of those areas where quality isn't just expensive, it's more that quality only comes with being able to judge with expertise. Like most, I am unlikely to ever become an expert in textiles, so I found that having a reputable tailor do work for you was the best way to dress well without breaking the bank. My clothing lasts longer, looks better, and most importantly it feels better, all for a 20-30% markup over going to the mall.
The blog post that's posted here on HN is short on images & video, which I feel like is really necessary here. A visual aid would be extremely helpful.
> Or rather, they're expensive upfront but often turn out to be more economical over the life of the garment.
Okay, but this is assuming that your body composition does not change and the clothes continue to fit you. Your body is more important to how you look than the clothes you wear, so if you are logical then you place priority on continually improving your body composition.
The most salient factor when buying clothing is how they fit you and your wardrobe. Quality is important insofar as an article of clothing does not distort after a wash (washing properly is also important), but you should expect to discard after a season or two. Buying expensive clothing doesn't make logical or economic sense.
Furthermore, fashion trends being what they are, cheap trendy clothing doesn't make sense either, there are many factors but it's a calculus optimization yet again, how can you get the maximum longevity (including fashion relevance) with the minimum cost?
This hardly takes into account human psychology: let's not pretend humans don't communicate through clothing -- as a species we are able to assign meaning to anything including a plastic bag blowing in the wind. Many times the clothing we choose speaks for us and it's not always saying the most complimentary things
All these things considered, for a man at least, a rotation of 8 high quality suits and related sports jackets and accessories is still the best value even if society has strayed from these mores and those who get it get it, those who don't wear crocs everywhere
For real life examples: some undershirts can be itch inducing but those from Banana Republic don’t have that issue; or compare similar fitting generic workout pants to Lulu Lemon ones.
I've had them for two years now and they've helped up well; recently I wear them less because I think denim is more fashionable and I don't need the performance most of the time.
Wool garments, from a small company set up by a Danish ex Jaeger Corps who was aghast with the quality (or lack thereof) of clothes out there when he returned to civil life.
I don't even remember how I got in touch with them, but I was looking for robust, functional yet stylish clothes I could both wear everyday and do skateboarding with. I just remember buying one for the heck of it early in the company life and be instantly amazed by the fit, quality, and how the t-shirt would cater for sports, casual and professional life. I bought about 10 of those, and then their socks and underwear too. I could put up a day-long skateboarding session with lots of sweating, just hang the thing to dry and it would be fine in an hour, so I could wash them once a week when wearing daily, which is impossible with cotton and has a dramatic effect on lifespan. Very breathable, so nice in summer but also keeps you warm in winter.
The upfront cost seems high for "just a t-shirt" but boy have they endured the trial I've put them through over two years. I definitely recommend following their recommendations for washing and drying.
I'm wondering how it'd work with underwear though, as that's probably something one might to wash after each use regardless of material.
I'm not familiar with Loow's products, but since they're wool and people are saying they are of high quality, I don't think $75 is unreasonable.
Costco gets you the best deal, Walmart and the dollar stores only sell garbage at the lowest possible cost, Amazon sells literally everything and has converted over the years from having the best deals to having the fastest logistics, and then there's whatever niche specialist suppliers are left like digikey for electronics parts etc.
Old Navy's clothing has typically been disposable trash. And most of it still is - generally anything they make out of cotton.
But their Old Navy Active line, specifically their "Breathe ON" fabric, is pretty durable and has really kept me cool throughout this crazy hot summer. They also sell tall and extended sizes which I appreciate. Tall sizes are typically so hard to find. These are not heirloom clothing items, but they've shown little wear over several summers.
This is functional clothing, not anything particularly fashionable. And lest this seem like an viral marketing post, let me restate that most of their lineup is still trash.
 I use one of their credit cards to pay for things and the rewards mean I can buy some of this stuff for cost of shipping or less.
The angle at which a piece of fabric is cut can drastically change the shape/fit of the item but "cheap" items are often made quickly and not much care is given to lining up the pattern correctly before cutting. If you've ever had a t-shirt that always seems to twist on you, it's because of the way the fabric was cut. On the other hand, if someone has taken the time to line up the pattern with the selvage, you can just about guarantee they haven't cut any major corners with the rest of the piece.
The fabric "grain" should be parallel to the seam. Take a look at Primark seams and then take a look at Brooks Brothers seams and you'll immediately see the difference/know what to look for. Expensive jeans seem to be the biggest offender in my experience.
Now instead imagine the seam is at the raw edge at the top of the photo. Do you see how the pulled thread of the grainline isn't parallel and will eventually intersect with the line of the (imaginary) seam?
Edit: The inset of this image might help as well. See how the lines marked "warp threads" run parallel to the selvage and the "weft threads" run into the seam at a 90 degree angle? The threads should intersect the primary vertical seam of a garment the same way.
I'm not familiar with either. Which store is supposed to have the better seams?
The shopping experience is often chaotic (clothes strewn all over the place) and quality is generally not thought to be great - stuff might last only a few washes ... but it varies - I have a generic blue hoodie from Primark that cost less than £10 but it has lasted literally years and has some high quality features like the ends of the draw strings are finished in metal (not plastic and not just tied) so have not frayed or come apart. I don't think their quality is any worse than other high street retailers though - often they charge 3x 4x or more prices for equivalent quality.
I will certainly be using this guide in the future to pick the finest Primark has to offer!
Very rarely I leave them in (when they have a contrasting colour that looks nice in combination), but usually it's just two bits of wire that are dangling in the way a lot of the time :)
Brooks Brothers sell quality shirts.
I've personally come to feel cotton is vastly over-rated as a clothing material for anything but cost-saving goals (which certainly is an important factor.) Of course there's the old adage "Cotton Kills", referring to cold weather, but it's also miserably subpar for hot conditions for some of the same reasons: as it absorbs sweat the fibers swell and reduce the fabric's breathability, leading to increased body heat retention. You may be inclined to think a wet fabric aids in cooling but that effect is short lived once evaporation can't keep up with the addition of more perspiration and air movement slows to almost none. And that's before we even get into the resulting bacterial overgrowth, AKA body odor, for which cotton is notoriously awful at mitigating.
So, anyhow, if you have the time, means, and inclination, I highly recommend looking at newer fabric alternatives like lyocell (typically found as the branded names of Tencel, Modal, or Viscose).
And you should always consider merino wool and hemp, which are most often found combined with a synthetic or two, typically for improved elasticity and shape retention, but also for increased comfort since they are both not historically known for their softness. Wool is in many ways the holy grail of fabrics (for reasons which you can find in fantastic detail online) and the relatively new variant of merino only improves on a well-earned reputation. Whereas hemp, despite reigning as the indisputable champion of strength and durability for literally thousands of years in non-clothing applications, has recently seen a resurgence thanks to various factors, notably improvements in comfort. (That said, my personal experience with hemp clothing has shown that it still leaves something to be desired in the area of real world durability, from the perspective of the several various pieces of clothing I've owned--mostly shirts, plus a couple pants--starting in the late 1990s and purchased as recently as 2019.)
Polyester and nylon are underrated in my opinion; they're very durable and breathable, and the odor can be mitigated with a blend, or by careful washing and use of enzyme-based stain treatments. I get frustrated a bit by the trend toward 100% cotton t-shirts, for example; cotton-polyester blends almost always last much longer and are more breathable. I understand the concerns about production of synthetic materials but it would be nice to see recycled polyester be used more often.
My favorite fabrics are wool and linen, but polyester and nylon can be extremely useful.
As a counterpoint to things like modal, viscose, etc. they're very soft but can take forever to dry, which I don't like. They're extremely absorbent but also hold on to moisture for a long time.
I do have some nylon clothes for camping, bit I wouldn’t wear them every day either. Natural fibers are just much more comfortable for me.
FWIW, cotton is very useful as an underlayer for firefighting.
It's very important to not have any synthetic fabrics as underlayers - especially in a wildland/forest fire situation where a flash of heat that might only result in a first degree burn of your skin melts the synthetic fabric to your skin.
For some PPE all you are looking for is no-melt (which would leave molten goo on your skin that would increase the damage)or provides a minimal level of protection, e.g. NFPA 70E PPE level 1 for arc flash, suitable to your expected risk exposure.
merino wool and hemp, which are most often found combined with a synthetic or two
They are made in both summer and winter weights. If you're hiking, doing other sports, or simply spending a lot of time on your feet they may be one of the best investments you can ever make.
A discovered one mistake I'd made was not starting with socks. Once I purchased my first pair of wool blend socks, I felt the same as you.
I have progressively replaced all my socks and boxers with ones made from these fabrics.
Anything with a combination of merino + lyocel (so tencel, modal, etc, there are different branded names) should be good.
It will also be way costlier than a bad quality cotton where you get five boxers for 5$, but it does not have to go to 100$ either.
I own and like :
- I have some tshirts and socks from icebreakers. The tshirts are great for working out too ! They can be great for some hard activities like trekking but you need to know that merino is not great with abrasion, so if you wear a weighty backpack your tshirt might get damaged faster than a cotton one. Still many trekkers still wear these since they are great at temperature regulation, very comfortable and don't smell.
- seagale has great boxers and socks
- ninjasox has merino invisible socks. I had to search for a very long while before finding truly invisible merino socks.
- outlier also carry some merino socks, although they might be costlier than the other brands I have mentioned. I don't think the quality of their socks is noticeably better though (their tech pants are awesome though)
This kind of melange is awesome for any garment in direct contact with your skin. it is very soft and does not keep any odor even if you sweat a lot in them.
my take: Cloths are what people you meet look at. They create a mood in the spectator and leave an impression of who you are. First you have to figure out who you are, who you use to be and who you want to become. Who are the people you meet? they use to be what? who do you want them to be? After doing that you pick cloths that compliment the becoming part without flying to far from who you/they are.
Try wearing a kilt or a lederhose and watch the world around you change.
If you look at today's fashion its like everyone is heading to a funeral. Like they got tired of carrying their soul around then forget where they left it.
May I ask why you'll "never go to one", and perhaps how old you are?
Don't have a big family and the ones that are alive live far away. I'm not going to waste my time to travel for a funeral. Not many friends either to be honest.
And as for myself, I don't think having the crematorium dispose of my cremains counts as a funeral but whatever.
The ones of people who I care about are aware of what I want. I have a chronic and incurable disease where sudden death isn’t that unlikely. I’ve come close once and I don’t remember being scared and it didn’t hurt. Just a thing that happened.
Nobody should be surprised by it at this point. Accept that it might happen and if it doesn’t something else will get me in the end.
> If you look at today's fashion its like everyone is heading to a funeral. Like they got tired of carrying their soul around then forget where they left it.
The fun thing I noticed once I moved away from purely function to wearing fun things, is the number of people who somewhat secretely wished they could also wear fun things but have felt that they would miss out on required societal approval. And yet the reality is the opposite, based on the feedback I've gotten.
Would it not still be lederhosen? Like trousers and not trouser.
Although there is a place called Lederhose, so my etymology might be wrong, but Google isnt giving any trouser based results for Lederhose.
Disclaimer, my German is nearly non existent.
If using the word in English texts “lederhosen” is in a sense correct, though, also when only referring to a single one. This is a case where the loan word was slightly adopted, no doubt to bring it more into line with the convention in the English language of using plural for trousers.
That convention doesn’t exist in German, except when using English loan words („Jeans“, „Shorts“, „Boxershorts“).
BTW the plural comes from each 'trouser' originally being separate and held at the waist with a belt, like chaps.
Now for the fun part, lederhosen are mostly a Bavarian thing and AFAIK in Bavarian you'd say lederhos'n. This is still however the singular form. So it is still this lederhos'n vs. these trousers.
Disclaimer, my Bavarian is nearly non existent.
FWIW here in SF you're on the money: everyone used to dress in motley and calico but these days it's all greys and blacks. I was at the farmer's market behind Stonestown the other day and everyone was in grey and black.
The cars too. My mom has this habit of calling out the colors of cars and she's been pointing it out for a few years now. Cars used to be colorful and now they're drab.
> [...] almost every garment needs a little tailoring to make it fit the contours of our shape.
Honestly never thought about tailoring the clothes I buy in the mall, I always just thought of that as something you do with expensive suits and dresses. Now I have to start tinkering with my clothes...
I've found the two most useful stitches I've picked up are the felling stitch, which is great for hemming and finishing seams that unravel; and darning for filling in holes, because instead of adding a patch you are essentially re-weaving a small area of fabric.
Proper denim jeans are quite hard to mend though even if you know what you're doing, especially if you've worn through/blown out the inner thigh region. Wherever you've sewn will become a new point of stress on the denim and it is likely to just pull away the weave of the fabric from that point.
This happens to every pair of mine, and is always the reason I am forced to retire them. Do you think it'll help if I reinforced the inside with old denim from another pair?
Perhaps we could set up an exchange where we swap jeans for 'wear levelling'.
outlier pants also have this feature, makes biking or just walking around a breeze
Maybe I man-spread too much? :-)
I would love some advice on how to deal with this, since I'm tired of shelling out $100+ for jeans several times a year.
Socks have a hard life really, and cheap nasty polyester (or significant % blends) ones can last much longer than more expensive pairs. Especially because you won't want to wear them!
I agree that a polyester blend tends to last ages. My Uniqlo 100% cotton socks tend to wear out at the sole and big toe quite quickly (those were rubbish), but my military-issued $1/pair polyester socks last me months, and are comfortable enough for daily use.
Maybe I just haven't tried the really good stuff.
Quality is build + aesthetic for me. Some brands i wear include Texas jeans, Chippewa boots, and all american clothing company. The quality from domestic apparel is in my experience massively superior to foreign brands.
Carhartt jackets for winter are incredibly warm and gave great value, but their aesthetic isn't always popular. They last nearly forever.
Another point in quality is how easy the garment is to service. My boots are resoled once a year by a local cobbler, and my leather jacket from legendary leather is also quite serviceable at a local dry cleaner. I try to avoid throwing away jackets or shoes/boots.
My Carhartt clothing is some of the best made and longest wearing I own. You're going to laugh but Carhartt is trying to go upmarket and establish themselves as a fashion brand in Europe! Imagine my surprise to trip across a Carhartt store with a wall of gimme caps / trucker hats on display in Frankfurt, Germany!
Hopefully they expand their profitability by getting their name out there rather than cutting costs on material and quality but I've already seen some Amazon reviews alleging the new stuff is sourced out of China with a drop in quality. If that's actually true and it's not just counterfeits flooding Amazon I'll be looking at Schaefer or Cinch next.
Even Swedish Blåklädar (https://www.blaklader.se/) , which is AFAIK a fairly new brand, seem to have to lines ; a low quality, highly priced "fashion" line, and an affordable, high quality "work wear" line (that actually market to construction etc businesses, and often include safety wear features with appropriate certifications).
It drives me nuts that it's getting harder and harder to find decent "real" surplus military clothing and cheap work wear (maybe especially in Europe?) - while many of the "same" brands are readily available as overpriced fashion wear.
This really became apparent when I figured out that Blåklädar actually have a handful of stores deticated for b2b (vat not included in prices, generally require a business billing address to purchase) - which quite apart from the not included vat, we're cheaper and generally more "functional" than the stuff with the same brand carried by retailers...
Plus the small bit of cognitive dissonance when people see the the sweater and then realize I’m working on some pretty technically intense projects is fun to watch.
Although Wikipedia confidently tells me its a dance.
A high quality garment not only looks good, but it feels good to wear.
I have people ask me almost daily if I'd like to take my suit jacket off, and I explain to them that because my jacket fits properly and it's made of decent materials, it's quite comfortable to wear.
One of the great fashion tragedies was Jos A Banks and Men's Wearhouse making American men believe suiting is an uncomfortable sack which you should strip off at the first possible moment.
Or to borrow from Dion Sanders (American football player who was known for dressing and undressing his kit multiple times before a game until he got it just right):
"If you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you play good."
From my understanding, this is something that manufacturers have been gaming a lot by treating cheap quality wool so it is very soft and does not pill while in the store but after 2 or 3 washes you will realize that it pills like crazy.
While that rougher wool (because it has longer fibers) might be itchy in the store but it will soften up and won't pill.
Same thing with selvedge denim. 10 years ago it was synonym with quality.
Nowadays it means absolutely nothing (when it isn't just a fake selvedge).
Plus I can now say I've absorbed the power of lasers, and am therefore technically super-powered.
It's more expensive, but you use less of it, so each container lasts longer. So it's not much more expensive in the long run by my experience. Especially if it saves you money on shirts.
Undershirts have been a good win as well - keeps the chemicals off my real shirt, and if you get high-end ones, they're light and breathable and don't make me any warmer.
I can't believe antiperspirant continues to exist as a product. Must be working for somebody.
Sweat cools the body via evaporative cooling. In order to do its job, it needs to evaporate.
That is not going to happen effectively if your armpits are buried under much typical "everyday" clothing, especially typical male office attire. You are simply going to accumulate armpit moisture at a much faster rate than it can evaporate. It will eventually get a little smelly thanks to the byproducts of normal healthy bacteria, which (depending on culture) many would rather avoid.
If you are shirtless, or wearing some sort of sleeveless shirt? Or some kind of moisture-wicking shirt? And/or sitting in front of a fan that's blowing air through your sleeved shirt? Then yes.... armpit sweat can help you stay cool, and for maximum cooling you should avoid antiperspirant. That's why i.e. athletes and such wouldn't wear it.
However, for many of life's other clothing situations your armpit sweat won't help you stay cool in any useful way. For these kinds of situations, that "clinical strength" stuff is a godsend to me.
I own formal clothes, smart casual, business casual, but as trends continue I'll probably never wear any of that stuff again, other than maybe some smart casual on dates with my wife.
Lots of people spend all their time at work and home looking like they're dressed for a picnic at the park or are on the way to the gym, so it would be interesting to see an article focusing on that kind of clothing.
I don't mind looking like I'm permanently on the way to the gym; I would like to look good doing so.
What may be lacking is a section on printed garments.
Sportswear is another matter. These are technical clothes, designed for performance, with characteristics that depends on the particular sport. You won't use the same clothes for mountaineering and for weightlifting at the gym.
For day to day wearing, my preferences goes to light hiking clothes. They tend to be:
- Reasonably durable
- Quick drying
- Breathable and/or waterproof
- Not too flashy, acceptable in most settings
- With pockets, often with zippers
- Low maintenance, somewhat stain and dirt resistant
Style is pretty far down on my list of wants. Levi's and a good T-shirt are enough for me, but no so much for my wife. She complains on occasion about my lack of interest in style and status symbols.
The best dressed man I've ever met was the owner of Hennessy Cognac. I helped build custom cars for him and his son back in the `70s. One day I commented on how nice his suits were, and that I'd not seen him wear the same one twice.
He told "I wear a new suit everyday. I have three tailors in Italy making them for me. They send me swatches of material each week and I select those I like."
I commented "You must have a closet bigger than our house." and he told me "No, I give them all away after I wear them. I'd give you one if you were my size." He went on to say he donated them to places where they could help those who couldn't afford a nice suit and needed one to get a good job.
When she first told me she works with Gerber files on a daily basis, I couldn't believe it. I thought those were just for designing PCBs! In fact, I still think that if she could transfer her skills, she could probably get a visa more easily. It's fun to walk around the sewing shops too, which have lots of little blue drawers, quite similar to the electronics stores that I enjoy.
I had a fashion idea once: a tailored shirt with a red hem, so that the white buttons would be reminiscent of the windows in the cheatline on old aeroplanes. It seems the whole industry is built on branding and marketing though, so the technical side is practically a commodity.
Nevertheless, I'm still pleased to see sewing machines in the hackerspace. I often need to fix my trousers - it's great that they have lots of pockets and the thin fabric dries quickly, but they keep ripping in an embarrassing place between my legs when cycling.
When you say hem, do you mean placket?
If so, i like this idea. There are online custom tailors, like Bivolino and iTailor, that will let you customise the placket fabric and buttons (and more) of a shirt, so you could do this. I have a few shirts where i've done just that, although not in your colour scheme - i like a white or pale blue pattern for the base fabric, and then a bold floral pattern on the collar and placket.
The only area I've had trouble with is finding casual, easy slip on/off everyday shoes that last a long time. I wear the same shoes literally everyday and always seem to wear the soles out in less than a year. (Perhaps I'm asking too much here there because I'm on my feet a lot?) Any tips on this would be appreciated.
(Not sure if that also includes the soles. Soles can be replaced if the quality is there though.)
For someone that sweats a lot in hot & humid climates, why does one white cotton shirt show the sweat, and another doesn't? Why do I feel cooler with a thicker cotton shirt than a thinner one?
Visiting HN for a reset after a frustrating meeting, this line is exactly what I needed. Thanks :).
You don't. In fact I'd argue that having access to the details makes you more likely to both choose the wrong garment and rationalize that wrong choice.
> For someone that sweats a lot in hot & humid climates, why does one white cotton shirt show the sweat, and another doesn't?
Branch one of this answer includes all kinds of details about thread count, thread length, thread quality, and all kinds of other details for you to get lost in.
Branch two: don't wear cotton in hot & humid climates.
> Why do I feel cooler with a thicker cotton shirt than a thinner one?
Branch one includes all kinds of wonderful details about the way in which cotton wicks moisture but does a poor job of evaporating that same moisture. (Your thin cotton shirt sucks up your perspiration to arrive at the "moisture traffic jam" much sooner than your thicker one.)
Branch two: don't wear cotton in hot & humid climates. Synthetic, bamboo, and even light merino tee shirts will all perform so much better that the difference between thin and thick cotton will become thermal noise by comparison (pun!).
Seriously, don't learn the details. I can't tell you how many times I've had pointless conversations about the differences between various proprietary waterproof breathable membranes to people who are using the rain jacket exclusively in the Southeastern U.S. (Hint: none of them will do a decent job of being breathable there. So just pick one, unzip the vents under the arms and get on with your day.)
I seriously had to LOL at this. When I first moved to Japan, I was clueless. I live in a particularly hot and sunny part of Japan. During the rainy season, we sometimes have rain every day for a month (like this year :-P). It took having my clothes literally rot on the line before I understood this point. My predecessor (government program rotates foreigners to teach English) was famous for going to events with a shirt stained green from mould.
It's the very first thing I tell people when they come here: don't wear cotton. There are much better natural fibres for this weather. You can also have cotton synthetic blends and they won't rot. The clothes that work well in the UK and most parts of North America can't stand up to 2 months of 30 C plus at 90 percent relative humidity.
Having said that, there are a lot of traditional cotton clothes in Japan and I have found that they are surprisingly comfortable. However, they are expensive. Probably those details you are talking about ;-) Practically all of the cheap clothes I know of are synthetic blends.
I'd give one other small piece of advice: buy clothes in areas that are famous for the weather you want to feel good in. Anybody wants a nice, not-bulky, warm winter coat: buy it in Canada. You want a nice summer suit for 100 degree F weather? Taiwan. You want a sweater for those cold rainy days? Scotland.
That's a nice start-up idea.
I can't afford to travel the world to do my seasonal shopping.
For a summer commute from SF to Sacramento I'll bring a waxed cotton raincoat. After all, that's what all the people wear in that city that is famous for rain.
Or I can take a deep breath, admit to myself that I'm not a domain expert, and forge a relationship with someone who is.
This expert will use clues from the relationship to help me choose a garment. Maybe they find out I'm generally never in the elements for greater than 5 minutes. So they show me this dinky little windbreaker that is so light it can actually fit in my pocket. They explain how it isn't actually waterproof but it has a treatment that makes water bead off, and the ease of shaking it off and small size might be a decent tradeoff given my situation.
So now I'm carrying vastly less weight with a useful garment. I never would have chosen it on my own because my non-expert brain fixated on the word "waterproof" as if it were a boolean. Meanwhile, the domain expert measured the time it takes for water to penetrate the seams and found it plenty long enough to meet my needs.
> Anybody wants a nice, not-bulky, warm winter coat: buy it in Canada.
The current trailblazer is almost certainly Patagonia's micro puff jacket which uses a synthetic fill that AFAICT reaches the warmth-to-weight ratio of down. (Added potential benefit that the synthetic fill would continue to insulate if wet while down won't.)
Patagonia is a U.S. company, so you missed out on the latest greatest by choosing based on country conditions.
I'm being super finicky, and of course there are Canadian-made non-bulky winter jackets. But this thread started with someone wearing cotton in the summer heat. Such a person can just as easily buy a cotton hoody in Canada.
Anyways I don't need the nitty gritty details, but there should be some sort of consumer friendly information that would make it easier to judge things. Not necessarily what the experts use.
For cotton, many of their models are loopwheeled which is a fantastic low tension fabric that ages really well. All they are doing is to copy American techniques from the golden age of workwear and sportswear. In fact, they try to produce perfect reproductions.
Modern streetwear brands like Outlier and Acronym are also really good.
I love Ventile cotton as it's natural and fairly rain resistant. You can find several brands that use Ventile made by Stotz in Switzerland in coats. For pants, if you don't like denim German Ripsmoleskin is fantastic.
Finally, knitwear from Inis Meain and SNS Herning is machine produced but absolutely fantastic. Expensive but not insane prices like some superb Italian brands.
All these brands I mentioned are really high quality. Plus the production process and materials employed are really transparent. There are many others with different styles I would also trust like Merz B Schwanen, Maison Margiela or SEH Kelly.
I'm expecting a reply on the line of "quality comes at a cost" but I've got shirts over a decade old that have no visible signs of wear and cost a tenth of what these cost.
The shorts and pants are where Outlier really shines (okay, and button-down shirts), they’re the best value. the ~$100 Ultrafine t-shirt is luxurious as hell but then you’ll want to wear it every day and it’s pretty delicate, being wool. Their pants definitely uphold the “quality comes at a cost” argument.
Also there are luxury brands with questionable quality that will also sell you a t-shirt for $100 that doesn’t have the same thought into materials or build as Outlier, etc.
We do exist ! Our selection is not that large yet, but we are growing it steadily and slowly, to make sure that the garments we choose work for the product.
We exclusively use the best quality garments we can find(within reason of course) That means only using Supima Cotton for cotton and Merino Wool for wool products. We even get our fabrics knitted and dyed at a place we trust near or production facilities in Portugal.
I'm not totally sure if that part of our business is totally unique, and i'd imagine that many small brands go to the same lengths to ensure the best quality but maybe you should just stop looking at large clothing companies when searching for quality.
Pretty funny reading an article like this on HN :)
Nothing by Loro Piana is bad, lots of the stuff is overpriced but many things are quite reasonable. After the LVMH acquisition they regularly offer pretty great discounts too.
I just bought one of these jackets (in yellow) for 1000 euros, an absolute bargain. https://us.loropiana.com/en/p/Man/Jackets/Sweater-Jacket-FAE...
It still has so many handmade parts in the process and stuff that sound simple when you don't understand it like sizing is actually very complex (and not solved IMO).
To answer your question, even between 2 100% cotton shirts, depending on the density of the cotton used, its type, and the way it is weaved, 2 cotton shirts can be radically different.
Agreed. I read through the introduction before realizing that the fabric descriptions was when I began learning something.
I'll definitely try to remember the quick and easy spot check techniques the article mentioned, e.g. holding cotton fabric up to the light to see how tightly woven the yarn was.
I try to find well-fitting, high quality clothes, but it's getting harder and harder. American Eagle is probably one of the better outfitters out there. I've been finding a lot of luck with online retailers from South Korea - the country has a great sense of style, even for men, and their population is generally slender build which leads to well-fitting shirts.
I’ve arrived at the conclusion that Loro piana, Brunello Cuccinelli and to a lesser degree Zenga provide the very best quality generally available, but at an ultra steep price point. Their designs are conservative, but not boring, and they will last many seasons without going out of fashion.
On the bargain end these days he pickings have become very thin due to the Chinese textile death spiral middle market brands are in. Uniqlo provides good quality on certain items for a great price. But most others are single season junk if that. Middle market brands like Theory and Vince are barely better and not worth the cost. Gap Subsidiaries have also fallen to Zara quality for twice the price. Same for Hugo Boss and similar.
It’s left the average person looking for reasonable fashionable designs and good quality with very very few options. Outlet high end retail is the best ROI today when compared to cheaper new clothing.
Why not go bespoke at this point? I keep asking myself this, laziness seems to be the only reason.
Anything more "exotic" will depend on the specific garment. Lots of adventurous tailors around there, but some items are just fundamentally better suited for mass production.
I don't think you'll need six figure spends unless you want something particularly difficult to make. Everything weird is going to be expensive though, developing a whole new pattern takes a while.
vnapersona bespoke by Maurizio Altieri looks fascinating, I'm not sure how attainable it is though.
But at least it's not Armani Exchange, which is H&M quality at best.