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The Ultimate Guide to Shopping Quality Anywhere!

Shopping for quality can be very confusing and pretty difficult especially with the intrigue of trends and the enticing nature of clearance & simply just cheap prices!

I know that shopping on a budget can seem like there is no way to buy the "nice stuff" because you can't afford it OR you are not willing to spend the price for what "feels" like the same exact thing. BUT not all items are created equal and knowing how to spot the best items for your buck no matter where you shop is key to building a wardrobe you love and can develop rather than constantly filling it with unintentional floaters.

As a wardrobe stylist/consultant I have conversations organically with friends and in wardrobe appointments about similar issues constantly. One of the biggest issues I see is that people do not truly understand what quality means and do not know how to shop it on their own.

It is actually a very difficult thing to navigate today due to the quick, cheap approach to clothing but it is not an impossible task!

An important thing to be mindful of is that we are literally trained by brands to shop clearance and have become so used to paying sooo little for something that we don't value clothing the way it should be valued (because if it cost less than your lunch or even coffee....there very problematic when you think about how that is even possible)

People think about price before anything else and don't realize that if they just purchased slower, smarter and with a focus on quality over quantity that they would actually save money over time and have the ability to build a great wardrobe.

It is very important to understand quality when shopping (no matter where you plan to shop) because that is where everything starts.

SOOOO, I have put together a list of common shopping places and how to navigate shopping in them. You will see lists of DO'S & DON'TS so you can know when to pull out that credit card and when to keep it in your pocket. Now, this is all in my own humble opinion and of course there might always be exceptions to the rule, BUT I think it is more important to talk about the most likely rather than the "what ifs" so take this with a grain of salt BUT also take it seriously.

I bet you have tons of things in your closet that were "omg so cute" when you bought it but then washed it one time and now it is all wonky or even falling apart.

Use this guide to avoid that!

> > > First things to note when you are shopping anywhere (even places that you may consider to be really nice)


- Stick to mostly natural fiber is ideal ( 70%+ )

- Go for fabric that is meant to be made into that item -

This can be confusing but a perfect example is: A bomber jacket that is made of sheer silky polyester. This is silly because that fabric isn't made to be a jacket and won't be able to handle the pull and tug of constant zippers, hands or phones in pockets etc - They made it to be cute and last one wear (These types of styles are common at places such as Forever 21, Target, HM, Zara, Shein, Amazon etc)

- Sythetics should be left for athletic or outdoor wear - not basics or staples (whenever possible)

- Avoid acrylic at all costs (yes, even if that super adorable sweater is made of it...put it back)

- If an item has a lot of elastic bands on the wrists, collar, waist and hem avoid - lots of elastic finishes like that is a quick sign of cutting corners during production. It is easy to finish like that but makes things "look" or "flatter" okay, but it isn't done with quality in mind - so look for actual finished ends/hems/waists. Of course there are exceptions here, but just a good thing to be aware of

- Avoid flimsy thin fabrics that wont hold their shape later on - sheer when being sheer is not part of the design

- Avoid trendy juniors sections - I know their stuff is cute and they make whats "in" for cheap....but it isn't going to last and the fit is always bad

- Only buy what makes sense for your lifestyle and current wardrobe or wardrobe you are working towards - make sure everything works together!

- Avoid items that are super thin, have loose threads around seams or hems

- Avoid synthetic fabrics that are rough to the touch - This is actually something that people do not notice until I point it out to them (because we have become sooooo used to bad fabrics that we don't even notice how it feels on our skin) // Polyester or acrylic are usually the culprits to this. Start paying attention to the way it feels!

- Pick a color palette for your wardrobe and stick to it! Just because you like hot pink as a color, doesn't mean you have to wear it to appreciate it. Pick and stick to it! I promise this will help your wardrobe so much and help you avoid impulse shopping

- After you buy items take care of them like they are all worth taking care of - DO NOT PUT THEM IN THE DRYER. I know I say this all the time but people think I mean just nice stuff, NO I MEAN EVERYTHING. Buy yourself a little clothing rack and stop putting $h*t in the damn dryer. When you wash - wash with like colors and textures and wash on cold only! Yes cold only!

- Simply stop looking places you know you are going to buy cheap crap: Example: Forever21, HM, Zara, outlet stores, etc

- Unsubscribe from emails - When you are constantly enticed with cuteness it is impossible to think through purchases with intention. Avoid looking at websites that you know are bad news for your closet. It is like junk food - if it is not around to entice, you are less likely to consume.

- Avoid outlet versions of any of these stores. I knowwww I knowww people think outlet is the same as retail, but unfortunately not. It is very misleading and they actually create lesser quality items and sell them to you with the ideaaa that you are getting a deal, but in reality you are really just shopping lower quality items they created to be that cheap but make you think is the real deal for less.

Sorry...I know it sucks but avoid. Better to look for sales at the actual retail store than shop at outlets



- Go for real retail - instead of outlet (Items at outlet were made for outlets, you aren't actually getting a deal)

- Puffer vests/jackets

- Fleece

- Sun dresses - Shoot for cotton or rayon as much as possible - but avoid lots of elastic

- Pajamas

- Shorts

- Sometimes denim - The Rockstar fit is flattering and sometimes they have "real" denim that can be good quality

- Sometimes trouser style pants (avoid ones with elastic waistbands - especially when elastic is exposed - look for legit finished waistbands)

- Sometimes sweaters - when they are 100% cotton or at least 75% and above // DO NOT DO ANYTHING ACRYLIC OR POLYESTER

- Jackets (utility, sometimes blazers - if not acrylic or all polyester, bomber, jean)

- Jumpsuits (avoid ones with too much elastic or flimsy straps or really thin fabric)

- Basic tees (not the rayon or polyester kind but the 100% cotton ones)


- Super thin blouses made from synthetic fabrics

- Flimsy structured blazers or jackets

- Acrylic sweaters

- Fake wool overcoats

- Workout gear ( I know this is not a popular opinion but it doesn't hold up)

- Leggings

- Shoes



- A new day brand (not sweaters but linen items, good thick tank tops or dresses)

- Who What Wear (good for statement items that wont ever really be put in a washing machine or be worn too often)

- Pjs - be careful with this one but can be OK

- Their designer collabs

- Headbands or hats

- Jewelry that is beaded (nothing that is fake gold > it will tarnish)

- Bathing suits

- Sweatshirts (cotton)


- Sweaters

- Jeans

- Leggings

- Basics

- Shoes or bags

- Basics (once and every while you can find a a good tank or something but I wouldn't go here for that)

- Workout gear - can sometimes be ok but I still avoid and would rather invest else where



- Shoes (leather - good finds such as Frye boots etc)

- Sweaters (This is a tricky one! Sometimes you can find a diamond in the rough BUT be extremely cautious and shoot for natural fabrics)

- Jackets

- "Nice" brand items such as Michael Star basics, Free People pieces, Paige jeans, J Brand jeans, Tahari etc

- Perfume

- Robes

- Pjs

- Socks


- Anything in the juniors section (I know there is cute stuff over there and everything is very "on trend" but it is all ill fitting junk

- Workout gear - Every onceeee in a while you can find something great from Nike or Under Armour that is good - but know it is a MAJOR hit or miss and avoid it (It is really worth it to purchase good quality else where)

- Diffusion brands (Such as Micheal by Micheal Khors > Brands like these are basically "knock off versions of their own stuff, made by them and sold at outlet or discount stores)

- Polyester blouses or dresses

- Sweaters or knits low quality/itchy fabrics



- Denim - shoot for real denim without stretch here (I would suggest going for styles that don't have their signature butt detail)

- Unique items like an interesting jacket

- Statement items

- Bodysuits


- Flimsy blouses or dresses

- Acrylic or polyester sweaters



- Go for real retail - instead of outlet (Items at outlet were made for outlets, you aren't actually getting a deal)

- Men's shirts (linen or flannel) for a good quality over sized look

- Toppers like blazers

- Cashmere

- Sometimes coats

- Shoes

- Dresses


- Jewelry (I think the quality does not hold up well at all but again can be exceptions)

- T-shirts (Not always true, but can be often and I know this is an unpopular opinion BUT they can look cheap and flimsy and the length is so long that they can be unflattering - I think there are better options at a similar price point elsewhere )

- Denim - I think there are such better fit options than here. If you like them and they work for you go for it, but just in my opinion I don't like the fit of their jeans



- Graphic tees

- Loose fitting henleys

- Sometimesssss flannels (mens section will honestly probably be better than women's) - Just make sure you are going for 100% cotton or cotton/rayon blend and no polyester cus its flannel and flannel should be cotton!


- If you are over 18 - I would avoid shopping their denim. The back pocket design is so iconic to AE and feels very immature for anyone out of high school. There are better quality jeans that will fit better...I swear. Step outside the box here! I can't stand seeing a women who is looking so pulled together and nice and then she turns around and her butt basically is screaming "I AM FROM AMERICAN EAGLE"...don't do this to your fine booty!

- Aerie: Bathing suits are OK here but I have found anything else from there looses its luster after one wash

H&M or Zara (etc):


- Blazers or speciality items that wont EVER be put into a washing machine

- Occasional items like a "faux" wool hat

- Poplin cotton items

- Some statement items


- Basics

- Anything polyester or acrylic

- Sweaters

- Anything from the Divided line

- Jewelry

- Blouses

- Dresses

- Fake leather items

- Button downs

- Accessories like shoes, scarves, gloves etc

(I know it is easy to like everything at these places and you can get what's "in" for cheap but try to stop shopping here as much as possible!



- Go for real retail - instead of outlet (Items at outlet were made for outlets, you aren't actually getting a deal)

- Cotton sweaters (not anything synthetic)

- Blazers or statement items

- Items that don't need to be washed ever or often


- Basics

- Leggings

- Sheer polyester items

- Polyester dresses



- Jeans (they offer great quality a variety of sizes and fits)

- Leather goods

- Coats + jackets

- Shoes

- Jewelry - They do sterling silver posts on their gold jewelry and they don't tarnish or turn green if cared for properly and they offer good price points

- T-shirts

- Blouses - Silk, cotton or viscose


- Synthetic (such as acrylic) sweaters



- Levis

- Denim

- Dresses sometimes

- Cashmere

- Jackets

- Bralettes

- Basic white cotton tees

- Shoes


- Items with raw edges

- Items with lots of contrasting fabrics (Example: jersey mixed with a sheer polyester)

- Super trendy - flimsy made items



- Bras

- Thongs

- Shape wear

- Leggings (Faux leather ones are great. I have a lot of clients that love the regular everyday leggings as well - I personally prefer Athleta for everyday "regular" leggings)


- Jeans > They fit well and flatter, but for the price point I think you can get better



- Leggings - Love for working out and my go-tos for everyday wear

- Workout gear

- Sports bras

- Outerwear

- Pants

- Tops


- I have personally liked everything I have purchased from here and all my clients have been happy with items purchased here // Great quality and worth the $$



- Yoga pants and workout tights

- Jackets

- Accessories (backpacks, bags etc)

- Tops

- Bottoms


I haven't had any huge complaints - I would say their sizing runs small - I personally think in the armpits (but arms run long) so I would suggest sizing up a size or two



- Shoes

- Designer items

- Good jeans

- Designer items

- Quality good like cashmere

- DON'T:

- Topshop

- B.P

*I say avoid these brands because they are cute, yes, but again they are just very low quality and not worth it



- From PINK > No show thongs ( I haven't personally found an equivalent alternative to these yet so I still prefer these)

- Sometimes bras


- Anything else lol


- Fast fashion places like FOREVER21, HM, Zara (Once and everyyyy while you can find something you can have in your wardrobe for years BUT I wouldn't bank on it! Just avoid it)

- Romwe, SheIn etc - These places are terrible and have zero development in sizing or design or quality

- Those weird discount shoe stores like Shoe Rack or DSW

- Amazon - Now I know this is going to rub everyone the wrong way and once and every while there is an exception to the rule and yea you can find a great Alice and Olivia dress but it should not be your go to place for basics or trend driven items. There are much better options out there.


I say go to secondhand options first and if you can't find it secondhand, then go new retail

If you have an expensive cashmere sweater from Free people on your shopping list - look up that exact sweater on Poshmark or other online shopping apps for much less and a lot of times you can find the same items new with tags!


- Shoes

- Belts

- Silk items

- Cashmere

- Blazers

- Workout gear

- Dresses

- Jackets

- Vintage items or trend alternatives

*Pretty much anything


- Denim ( now this isn't alwayssss the case, but the thing with denim is that it breaks in and basically conforms to our bodies as we wear it and if you are buying denim secondhand you are most likely buying denim that is already broken in to someone else'd body and won't fit you perfectly. It is still worth a try of course but if you run into a lot of fit issues with denim I would not bank on it and I would also just be mindful of this as you approach denim secondhand

- Basics (Unless they are new with tags)

- Be cautious when shopping fast fashion secondhand - It is perfectly OK and it is great to give it a second life but just be mindful and selective!

I hope this was helpful and gave you some insight for your next shopping trip! If you have any questions about finding quality or shopping in general feel free to reach out! Thanks for reading!


Georgia Caroline // RUBA RUBA

#mingyourstyle #rubarubastyle

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