Identifying Quality Undergarments: Fabric and Construction in Lingerie
Today's guest post is by Norma Loehr. Norma is the founder of Orange Lingerie and author of the bestselling book, Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction. She has been sewing and designing clothing since she was nine and has been focused on custom bra- and lingerie-making since 2010. She is based in Boston.
Looking at the quality of a garment may be a new idea for some. But knowing the markers of quality can help you examine a piece to ensure that you are getting the best lingerie that you can buy within your price range. While I have much to say about what makes for a quality garment, at its simplest it comes down to two primary elements: materials and construction.
The materials --- fabrics, laces and any hardware --- are likely the first thing you notice about any garment. Quality fabrics and laces are consistent in their appearance with no snags, pilling or irregularities in the weave of the fibers. The finest laces and fabrics are made predominantly of natural fibers and have high fiber density per inch.
An important test for any material is how it feels to the touch. Recognizing that the fabric of a quality $30 bra is going to feel different from that of a quality $300 bra, you are seeking to satisfy your sense of touch in your price range. You can develop an ability to feel quality by touching garments from many different price ranges when you are shopping. You can also learn more about fabric quality by reading The Lingerie Addict post on Interfiliere Paris here.
Do not forget that if any of the garment materials feel scratchy or stiff to your hand, it is only going to be magnified when it is worn close to your body for extended periods of time. Of course, if you don't plan on that kind of wear, you may be okay with that. Like most things, it all comes down to your use and preference.
When it comes to lingerie hardware, quality fasteners are flat and unnoticeable while wearing, and any visible hardware looks beautiful as well.
The other primary determinant of garment quality is the construction. Any lace or print should be mirrored --- meaning the lefthand side is a mirror image of the righthand side. If the sides are not mirrored (given the motif or print it is not always possible), they should at least be visually balanced so one side does not appear "heavier" than the other. Mirroring and balancing are both markers of quality as they require more material, planning, and careful cutting. Barring a purposeful design choice otherwise, the individual pieces of the garment should also be the same from side to side.
Moving in to take a closer look at the stitching, it should be even and straight with no irregularities in the thread. There should also be no loose threads or puckered material under the stitching lines. All seams should be finished with no raw edges of fabric in sight.
Now that you know what to look for, you will be able to find the best quality garment in your price range --- and know when it is worth paying more for a quality piece that you love!