Clothing comes in all shapes, sizes, styles, and prices. The latter, in particular, can be a bit of a head scratcher: Why does one plain white hoodie sell for $25 and another sell for $300? Why do similar black long sleeve polo shirts come packaged with wildly different prices? What’s with the evening gown that goes for thousands? Does it do your taxes after dinner is over?
There are all sorts of things that influence how much a piece of clothing costs. But does a cheap t-shirt translate into high value? It depends on multiple components including:
A Focus on Fabric
The fabric used in clothing plays a role in its cost: A cotton shirt is priced quite differently than Vicuna wool. Yet even within the same type of material lays variations, different elements that influence look, feel, and durability.
Organic cotton, like organic fruit, costs more as well (but it doesn’t taste as good in a smoothie). Going organic offers plenty of advantages to back up the price hike, including a healthier wear and less impact on the environment. It’s even far less likely to cause flare ups in those with allergies or neckzema (i.e., neck eczema).
The Ethics Behind the Brands
The way apparel is made goes beyond the materials; it also considers the most important aspect of all: The people behind the product.
When manufacturing costs very little, it doesn’t make a huge impact on the overhead. Thus, the clothes are cheaper, but at a different kind of cost. Buying inexpensive clothing might mean supporting unethical labor practices, such as those that involve sweatshops. Thrifty threads can also be garments that lack craftsmanship.
On the other hand, high-priced items don't necessarily translate into fair treatment of workers. While some famous fashion brands do indeed pay their factory staff well, they may take advantage of homeworkers, those who sew on an informal basis (many work from home, as implied). These workers are often called upon for detailed items, such as embellishing a dress with rhinestones.
The point is that price - high or low - isn’t necessarily representative of principles. If you want to buy from companies that keep ethics in their forefront, do your research. Look for those dedicated to the seamstresses and tailors and great garment makers.
Versatility for the Victory
An outfit’s versatility is very important from the standpoint of value. Clothes that work for many occasions and match well with other garments give you much more bang for your buck. Black and white shirts, for instance, can be worn repeatedly, with a variety of accessories and layers and to all kinds of events.
In fact, versatility isn’t just a bonus: It’s a necessity. Without it, you’re stuck with a closet full of barley-worn clothes….and probably a family of moths.
When it comes to clothing, value is deceptively complex and it goes well beyond cost. Personal preference plays a role too: A shirt that you absolutely adore will possess more value than the one you use as a napkin when nobody’s looking. Still, the above can offer guidance on gauging a garment and finding what’s most valuable to you.