Guide to High-Quality Clothing & What Brands to Shop

Once of the best things to learn about if you want to build a wardrobe you love is high-quality clothing. Specifically, what is high-quality clothing? What are high-quality clothing materials? Can high-quality clothing be affordable?

When I’m asked about quality, most people want a list of brands. I’ll share my recommendations in this post, but I also want to teach you how to identify high-quality clothing on your own. That way, whether you’re shopping online or in store, you’ll have all the knowledge needed to determine if an item is worth it.

Keep reading for my guide to high-quality clothing and 10 high-quality clothing brands for men and women.

How to Recognize Quality Clothing

High-quality clothing tends to be made with natural fibers, be well constructed, and fit well. Here are four things to look for when determining whether something is considered high quality.

1. Fabrication

When determining clothing well made, fabric is a great place to start. The right fabrics are integral to construction quality. Natural fibers like cotton, linen, cashmere, silk, wool, and hemp tend to hold up better over time.

Check the fiber content and percentages on the tag before you agree to the price point. You shouldn’t be paying an astronomical price for polyester or poly blends.

2. Stitching

Stitching can be a tell all when it comes to seeing whether a piece is well made. Take a look at the stitching near the neckline and collar, specifically.

Good stitching will run equidistant to the edge of the fabric, join neatly with other fabrics, and feel taut without creating puckering. There shouldn’t be loose threads or pilling.

3. Sewn-On Details

Sewn-on elements like closure hooks, buttons, beading, zippers, and embroidery are also key indicators of quality.

Hooks and buttons should feel sturdy and be closely sewn, unless the button is functional. In that case, there should be room for the other fabric to fit behind it.

Zippers should move smoothly and be wrapped in tissue to prevent damage to the rest of the garment.

Run your hand over any beads and embroidery to ensure they don’t feel loose, roll, or pull.

4. Fit and Cut

If you’re buying a new brand for the first time, your best bet is to purchase in person. When possible, try on the piece and notice how it fits.

Is it pulling in areas that require the mobility (shoulders, chest, hips)? If the construction isn’t working on your frame, it isn’t worth the money.

Oftentimes poor fit is the result of fast fashion brands maximizing fabric consumption to improve margins. As a result, fabrics are misaligned and cut in different directions, causing seams to twist and move.

How to Find High-Quality Clothing Brands at Affordable Prices

Know When You’re Paying for the Designer Name Tag

The sentiment of paying more usually proves to be true, but we often pay sky high for designer reputations. Unless you have a large budget and a passion for designer clothes, you’ll want to be strategic in your acquisitions in order to maximize spend.

A great question to ask is, at what price are my dollars going toward the reputation of the brand rather than an increase in quality? I’ll give two examples below.

Chanel flap bags have increased at twice the rate of inflation since 1990. This is with no change in the product. In the words of Chanel, “The price of a Chanel bag reflects a sense of exclusivity, and also our values.” In this example, you’re paying for the brand.

On the other hand, Mango is a fast(er) fashion brand that consistently carries well-made clothes under $150. As the prices increase to the $200+ range, we see a greater percentage of natural fabrics in the garments. In this example, you’re paying for an increase in quality.

Buy Off Season

Buying off season is one of the most untapped strategies for acquiring high-quality clothes. Since the fashion calendar has four seasons (spring/summer, autumn/winter, resort, and pre-fall) there’s always a designer sale happening.

If you want to make the most of off-season shopping, I recommend creating a private Pinterest board with your wish list.

Pre-fall/fall items drop in price roughly in March. Resort/summer prices drop around September.

Buy Secondhand

Secondhand sites such as Poshmark and Mercari are great places to find quality items at sale prices. You’ll often see quality brands like Doen, L’AGENCE, Veronica Beard, and more at 50%+ off the original price.

Check the Competition

If you want to make the most of your shopping budget, don’t limit yourself by shopping with only one retailer. Sales are happening all year and retailers mark down at different times.

This could result in savings to the tune of $100+ for the same item.

ShopStyle.com is a retailer search engine and it’s one of the best tools out there for price drop alerts. An account is completely free and you can save your favorites.

Trial and Error

Keep in mind that, even with the knowledge of how to spot quality clothes, building a wardrobe full of them involves trial and error. In particular, it can take time to nail down high-quality brands that match your personal style and your price point.

To make the process easier, buy from stores with good return policies. Nordstrom is my favorite, but Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Bloomingdales are great as well.

Also, read reviews to get a sense of the quality. Nordstrom, Shopbop, Revolve, and Bloomingdales prominently display them.

High-Quality Clothing Brands for Women

Now, onto my recommendations! I’m not affiliated with these brands. This is just my personal opinion as a fashion blogger.

Below is a list of the best high-quality clothing brands for men and women. It includes both high-end designer clothing brands that are worth the splurge and high-quality affordable clothing brands that will help your budget go further.

high quality clothing

1. Mango

If I had to choose one place to shop for quality pieces under $200, it’d be Mango. They have everything from accessories to closet staples, workwear, activewear, loungewear, and fashion forward items.

The quality is good to great. With proper care, most items last 5+ years.

high quality clothing brands for men and women

2. Everlane

As a clothing company with ethical practices, Everlane consistently puts out high-quality products at low price points.

Some of my favorite pairs of jeans are from Everlane, and they’re all under $100.

3. Cuyana

Cuyana’s tagline is ‘Fewer, Better Things’ which goes in line with everything we’re talking about here.

Their designs are simple and all the apparel I’ve purchased here has been excellent, including the hat pictured above, this slip dress (seen here) and this sweater (seen here).

4. Club Monaco

Club Monaco is considered low-end luxury. Prices range from $50 to $500, depending on the item. You get what you pay for in terms of construction, fabric quality, and color, and I love that they carry seasonal basics as well as statement pieces.

5. Banana Republic

Banana Republic took a turn for the better in 2020 and the clothing style and quality has noticeably improved. I recommend shopping in store if you can as the fabrics can be hit or miss, but I’ve had great luck with sweaters (shown above) and dresses.

6. Totême

Totême is a luxury brand known for its limited color palette, minimalist designs, and small collections.

They don’t design according to trends, so these are wardrobe essentials that will stand the test of time.

7. Veronica Beard

Veronica Beard releases pieces that perfectly blend trendy and classic, have rich colors and prints, and are extremely well made.

The craftsmanship of the blazers and dresses is to die for, and I picked up a couple of beautiful blouses from VB this year as well.

8. L’AGENCE

L’AGENCE is another brand that produces seasonless, classic pieces and a few on-trend items.

I think their blazers are among the best items any woman can add to her wardrobe. I’ve also had luck with their silk dresses and camisoles.

9. Theory

Theory makes clean, sophisticated clothes with a contemporary edge. When they do one style right, they really knock it out of the park and tend to bring it back annually.

Tailored separates are where they shine, especially for business casual environments. I have a cardigan (shown above), a camel coat (shown here), and a mini dress (shown here) that I adore by Theory.

10. Vince

I am literally the poster child for Vince. While the quality has become more hit or miss in the last three years, you can find some incredible wardrobe staples if you’re willing to do trial and error.

A few of my favorites include their silk camisoles, silk button downs (featured in this post), satin skirts (featured in this post), and shoes.

High-Quality Clothing Brands for Men

1. UNIQLO

UNIQLO was founded in Japan but has over 1,000 stores worldwide. Google any men’s fashion forum for quality clothing suggestions and UNIQLO will no doubt be on the list. They sell simple, high-quality basics that fit incredibly well for the price.

2. Everlane

Everlane is easy on the wallet for men’s pieces that are traditionally expensive, such as outerwear, sneakers, and denim. A great spot for modernized wardrobe basics.

3. Bonobos

The quality at Bonobos is superb all around. The only downside is that they don’t carry much ready-to-wear in their stores (almost everything must be shipped). Their ties, socks, pants, and outerwear are particularly good.

4. Club Monaco

Club Monaco has great traditional men’s styles that they manage to update with current trends. The clothing is experimental yet simple and extremely well made.

5. J. Crew

J. Crew is a solid option for quality, especially if you’re looking for a discount as they have perpetual sales. I find their warm-weather styles to be better than their cold-weather collections. The men’s shorts, linen pieces, socks, and ties are noteworthy.

6. Banana Republic

With Banana Republic’s rebrand, their clothing quality has gone up across the board. We hauled my husband casual, dressy, and travel clothing for a recent resort vacation and he loved every single piece. The men’s traveler pants are his favorites.

7. Brooks Brothers

For slacks, dress shirts, suits, and sport coats, Brooks Brothers is gold. They have excellent work staples and are known for their footwear as well.

8. Billy Reid

If I had to dress my husband in one brand, it would be Billy Reid. Everything is well constructed and they carry a wide variety of pieces to suit everything from casual work settings to weekend, business meetings, travel, and more. It leans classic American but without much prep.

9. Vuori

I had to throw an athletic brand in here because, with WFH becoming the norm, I’m seeing more men out and about in joggers and dry fit shirts. My husband loves Vuori even more than Lululemon. Excellent quality travel, workout, hiking, and lounging pieces for men.

10. Carhartt

Carhartt is more of an outdoorsy brand, but they have a lock on long-lasting boots (some pairs last 10+ years) and cold weather jackets. When styled well, they can work in everyday casual settings and are great wardrobe additions for those in seasonal climates.