My quest for quality clothing.... at high street prices? Should I just give up now?

(61 Posts)
RainbowBob Mon 14-Oct-13 20:56:12

I have just bought yet another item from H&M which has, after two wears, come apart at the seams. And before you say "oh, poor woman must be deluding herself she is three dress sizes smaller than she actually is" - it's an oversized jumper and wasn't even vaguely tight... so it's just crap quality. End of.

I am fed up with buying large quantities of cheap, poor quality stuff. So ....where on earth do you buy good quality clothes at reasonable prices? I suppose what I am really looking for is good value....

On my wish list is a slouchy jumper/jumper dress (to replace tattered old H&M one), a coat and possibly a day dress. But just your general opinions on where to get some decent quality garments for under £100 (or even £50) would make me eternally grateful.

duckyfuzz Mon 14-Oct-13 20:57:49

uniqlo and gap are my staples for quality at a decent price

ReluctantCamper Mon 14-Oct-13 21:01:02

I mainly buy in charity shops. my star purchase this weekend was a cord Gerard Darel skirt that would have cost over £100 new for £4. I do it for precisely the reason you give, I hate buying badly made clothes that fall apart, but can't really afford my tastes!

Bonsoir Mon 14-Oct-13 21:01:11

Uniqlo, Gap, Zara all have reasonable quality clothes.

noisytoys Mon 14-Oct-13 21:03:17

TK Maxx or I just buy one or 2 items per year and they last and last. I'm normally bored of clothes before they wear out

ceeveebee Mon 14-Oct-13 21:04:06

I only ever buy clothes in sales. Just bought two jaegar day dresses reduced from £199 each to £60 each. Great sales at Banana Republic, House of Fraser, Phase Eight.

LexieSinclair Mon 14-Oct-13 21:05:44

I second TK Maxx.

novelsituation Mon 14-Oct-13 21:05:56

Bought a lovely teal Clements Ribeiro cashmere crew neck in T K Maxx yesterday for £39.99. Colour and quality are excellent. You do have to search amongst some dross though.

tethersend Mon 14-Oct-13 21:06:49

Sales, TK Maxx and Ebay.

Bunbaker Mon 14-Oct-13 21:10:10

"On my wish list is a slouchy jumper/jumper dress"

TK Maxx. I bought this on Saturday. I haven't worn it or washed it yet, but it ticked all the right boxes for me. I will have to hand wash it, but it is 100% merino wool. They have something similar in BHS but it is 100% acrylic. Both TK Maxx and BHS have loads of knitted dresses, and so does Tesco.

Somethingyesterday Mon 14-Oct-13 21:10:29

What you want (though you don't know it yet) is the sales. And more time. Even with the price inflation for a designer name you will generally find that more expensive clothes are made from better fabrics and not so skimpily cut when it comes to seams etc. Spend a few evenings with some magazines and your laptop. Identify some shops that have the sort of thing you like, which you consider out of your price range but which might be afforded if the price was halved. Make notes in whatever way you like. (Evernote is my constant companion) Sign up to the mailing lists. Wait. One morning, while everyone else is asleep, you'll get an email saying that the sale has started. Wait some more. After the first frenzy is over there will still be a decent amount of fabulous stuff at Top Shop prices. Simple.

In the meantime try Cos. I can't vouch for extreme longevity because I wear their things to death within a couple of years.

ThisIsMeNow Mon 14-Oct-13 21:14:57

I'm not sure you can expect to pay h&m prices and have garments last for years and years?
I think it's called disposable fashion these days. Nothing cheap is made to last.

delasi Mon 14-Oct-13 21:15:47

I'm with Reluctant. I like good quality, my bank balance doesn't grin

I like Gap and Uniqlo for basics (especially if they're on sale), I look out for sales on the higher end stuff too and sometimes get some great deals on lovely items, and the rest of the time I go on eBay. Lots of people buy something, wear it once or twice, and then want to recover the cost. I buy a lot of very good quality skirts and dresses, with little use, for around £5-15 on eBay (around £15 is actually my ceiling price for eBay and I find lots of stuff, I would pay more than that for brand new in sales).

uptheanty Mon 14-Oct-13 21:17:46

Esprit, Zara.

RainbowBob Mon 14-Oct-13 21:18:32

Blimey - had not considered almost all of those suggestions! Thank you. I gave up shopping in TK Maxx when DD1 was born as I did not have the time/patience to sift through all the crap to find gems... but I guess it's worth it so I might brave my local store this week.

ceeveebee - I bow to your bargain-finding talent.... do you tend to shop online or in store?

I was wondering what people make of oasis and Mango these days for quality? I used to shop there all the time in the days before DCs came along... are they any good these days?

trixymalixy Mon 14-Oct-13 21:18:35

Tk maxx. I love tk maxx.

RainbowBob Mon 14-Oct-13 21:29:29

Something - you are completely right in every way. I do need to go sales shopping, and I do need to be more patient. I love your plan for note-making, signing up and waiting for the sales to unfold. I normally just see something I like, panic that it will sell out if I don't buy it now, take it home and realise it's tat after a wear and wash.

Thisis you are also right. I have taken a vow never, ever to buy anything else from H&M again....well, maybe some vests. But not proper clothes.

Bunbaker thank you for the link. That is just the sort of thing I am looking for.... would you say it was more tight or loose fitting?

Bunbaker Mon 14-Oct-13 21:29:32

I know what you mean about TK Maxx. In some branches it is a bit like rummaging in a jumble sale, but it is worth it for the odd gem.

Lexiesinclair Mon 14-Oct-13 21:38:48

Great Plains also great for sales. They have some bargain tops and dresses at the mo.

Laska42 Mon 14-Oct-13 21:41:58

I just bought a fab Clements Ribero knitted jumper dress in Tk maxx for £20 and a lightweight down packable jacket (just like uniqlo) for £30 . Also some navy and grey leather flat knee length boots ( a Spanish make)

Tk Maxx is also brilliant for scarves and bags and footwear .. ( yes its a jumble sale (but fun if you have time and can get there on your own) . basic layers t shirts leggings and camis I do go to places like H&M and good old Marks. White stuff do good basics also (though it is more expensive they do seem to last )

Go 2nd hand .. Charity shops!! ebay and 50/50 dress agencies are always worth a look ( we have a couple which half the money goes to the local hospice.. you can often get some fantastic quality designer labels in those if you have one near you..

I buy just about everything except cheapo basics (Topshop skirts, H&M vests) in the sales - Hobbs, Cos, Whistles are my favourites.

duckyfuzz Mon 14-Oct-13 21:49:24

There are some great bargains to be had at House of Fraser and Atterley road at the moment...

My best work dress and trousers were bought in a Coast sale over 2 years ago and still going strong.

I love bunBakers dress, I'm tempted to try and buy it in all the colours for work!

Somethingyesterday Mon 14-Oct-13 21:52:56


1) Forget the High Street (except Toast and The White Company if they're on your High Street and you like their styles. Toast has brilliant sales. Hold your nerve and wait till they're practically giving stuff away.)

2) Buy a stack of Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Elle. Peruse carefully and then look through the list of shop websites at the back of said volumes.

3) Ignore / neglect any Dp/ Dc/ Ddog while you wade diligently through all the sites that have some things you like. These should not be the dull, boring, invisible-making shops too often recommended here. If you don't become an expert on the current stock of Browns, Colette (not sure about their sales but amazing clothes), Net-a-Porter you're not doing it properly.

4) While waiting for the sales go and try on everything in Selfridges or your local-ish equivalent. You need to be sure of your fittings and figure considerations so that you can be confident of buying online.

5) All this time you will be saving money because you're not wasting it on rubbish. smile

6) When the time comes to buy concentrate on what you wear most often. Coat, boots etc. Decent sweaters. You can buy vests (nothing else!) to layer from M& S.

7) Prepare to be amazed at your beautiful new wardrobe.

ceeveebee Mon 14-Oct-13 22:01:51

Mostly online shopping -I get a lot of links from lurking on these stylish and beautiful threads - but you need to be ruthless about returning things otherwise you end up keeping things that you wouldn't if you tried them on in a shop

RainbowBob Mon 14-Oct-13 23:10:44

What have I been thinking all these years.... Just looked on the Atterley Road website, and cannot believe I have been missing all these gems at knockdown prices.

HoF looking good too from the quick scan.

Plan for the rest of the week is to buy lots of mags (thank you wonderful something) and then trip to TK Maxx for a rummage.

You lot are just too brilliant. Thank you.

SpookyRestingFace Tue 15-Oct-13 01:06:15

Seconding TK Maxx - and don't forget they are also online, so no rummaging grin. I have recently bought three lambswool jumpers for £24.99 each, thick and warm and lovely. High-street equivalents are twice the price and made of acrylic and/or polyester.

Ebay is still good for a bargain if you're canny. I got a lovely full-length wool / cashmere coat this week for £15. Looks unworn.

I also suffer from taste / budget discrepancy blush but there are ways around it!

awaywego1 Tue 15-Oct-13 13:29:18

Another vote for charity shops-unless you are looking for something very specific. Go somewhere with a row of them-and have a good hunt! You can try the stuff on and get amazing bargains-in the last month I've got a phase eight dress, a French connection skirt and a silk/lambswool mix jumper or under 15 quid in total.

UsedToBeNDP Tue 15-Oct-13 14:28:40

Brora has a fair few nice bits of cashmere in the Archive section of their website, quite a few at 50% off.

If budget is a bit tighter, Edinburgh Woollen Mill (I know, but bear with me) has a load of bargain cashmere on their website at the moment. It's not Brora quality obviously, but it is cosy and soft and amounts to about 1/4 of the price of full price basic Brora cashmere jumper. Classic colours in the sale too, not just the weird colours and odd sizes as you that you so often find.

UsedToBeNDP Tue 15-Oct-13 14:30:54

Also places like the Outnet online have designer bargains. Often it's fashiony crap, but I have had some nice bits and bobs from there.

Oh and the Matches and Flannels sales sections on their respective websites are often quite good for decent quality at a fraction of RRP.

Sthingmustbescaringthemaway Tue 15-Oct-13 14:35:23


UsedToBe Don't mid-range high street prices make youthlangry?

UsedToBeNDP Tue 15-Oct-13 14:40:54

I can't believe the prices some places charge for acrylic and polyester [shudder]

UsedToBeNDP Tue 15-Oct-13 14:42:39

don't get me wrong, those fabrics have their place, but fgs, it's daylight robbery to charge those prices for them. That frustrates me.

happyyonisleepyyoni Tue 15-Oct-13 14:45:17

I've just bought a lovely Kaliko dress in HoF sale for £40 down from £100. Beauty of online shopping is u can sort by price, and there is much more stock available.

UsedToBeNDP Tue 15-Oct-13 14:45:33

[glares] at the likes of Karen bloody Millen. £100+ for a 100% polyester top.

[cries with laughter]

UsedToBeNDP Tue 15-Oct-13 14:48:28

Toast makes me look like a bag lady


Sthingmustbescaringthemaway Tue 15-Oct-13 14:58:45

Yup. Karen Millen is a bit bad. And not in a good way. Astonishing prices.

You're buying the Toast in the wrong size. But frankly, if your're hanging out on the Matches and Flannels sites you're never going to be happy in Toast - except perhaps on country weekends.....

UsedToBeNDP Tue 15-Oct-13 20:49:37

Toast is all so flappy and earnest. I need tailored stuff anything boho or unstructured looks a mess on me. I look like a scarecrow in it.

UsedToBeNDP Tue 15-Oct-13 20:53:09

I am <smirking> at "country weekends", I'm not a Zone1 Londoner swanning about in McQueen wink

PottyLotty Tue 15-Oct-13 21:01:06 grin you cant beat them for price and their choice of products is fantastic.

I have a few cashmere jumpers and lambswool jumpers all were priced under £50 each and on occasions they do 2 items for under £50 too.

They are machine washable (yes, even the cashmere is machine wasable) and after having them for over 3 years in some cases they still look new. The colour choices are fab, I really cant rate them highly enough.

Talkinpeace Tue 15-Oct-13 21:01:34

Charity shops - pick your town right and there are real bargains to be had.
Jasper Conran jeans that had never been worn (quality control sticker still in leg) for £2.50 was one of my best. Or the Jaeger skirt for £4 was quite nice.

TK Maxx - can be tiresome, but again pick your shop as they vary massively.

Ebay - but if the pictures and description are not clear walk away

Sthingmustbescaringthemaway Tue 15-Oct-13 21:33:52

Hmmm "Thoughtful scarecrow" is probably the look closest to what I achieve... About as far from "off duty model" as it's possible to be. I adore the things people generally give to scarecrows; frayed Harris tweed jackets, slightly shredded velvet; much prefer rough merino and alpaca to smooth cashmere. I barely look at shoes, other than wellies and mules, unless they've been artfully and expensively aged..... Worst of all while I'm totally, fatally obsessed with individual items of clothing I don't seem to care much about outfits. So I always leave the house looking a bit accidental. Pristine but unplanned. A scarecrow in the field of a very fastidious farmer.

To be honest the labels I recommend here are rarely the one's I actually wear. (Apart from Cos.) Because it's all too haphazard and would never stand up to explanation. But I desperately want other people - even invisible strangers - to be able to enjoy getting dressed as much as I do.

Bunbaker Wed 16-Oct-13 06:38:49

"Jasper Conran jeans that had never been worn (quality control sticker still in leg) for £2.50 was one of my best. Or the Jaeger skirt for £4 was quite nice."

It depends on where you live. We have loads of charity shops in our nearest town, and I go in them regularly. It isn't an affluent area so there are never designer bargains in these shops. You are lucky if you find something from Next.

FamiliesShareGerms Wed 16-Oct-13 06:59:34

I live in an affluent area but have yet to find a real bargain in a charity shop. I buy most of my stuff from TK Maxx (the trick is to go in often as they have a very high stock turnover; get something when you see it (it won't be there next time); have a mental list of things you are looking out for; don't always believe the size labels; don't be afraid to leave empty handed). They have much more in store than online, particularly the red sticker reductions.

Gap, Zara, Uniqlo do good basics. John Lewis does a "proper" sale (I hate those £10 off a £200 dress type reductions).

FreshLeticia Wed 16-Oct-13 07:28:14

Yay! Potty, I rate woolovers too. Wade past the granny styles and there is some fab knitwear in a huge range of colours. I have the merino wrap cardi in 5 colours now and they are machine-washable.
White stuff and wrap do interesting tunics/dresses and have decent sales.

I love Uniqlo. I'm sitting at my desk in a £19.99 men's XS crew neck merino sweater (they don't do proper crew necks for ladies, just stupid scoop neck imposters).

Agree also with TK Maxx, my lovely Calvin Klein wool/cashmere coat was less than £100, and my beautiful navy Vivienne Westwood skirt was sub £30!

If you're after designer jeans, do the Selfridges sale about 5-7 days after it starts. They will be £30-50 by then.

Bunbaker Wed 16-Oct-13 10:14:10

I wish we had a Uniqlo. I have ordered from them online but I prefer to see and feel clothes and try them on before I buy. I probably wouldn't have bought the Uniqlo tops I have if I had looked at them in a shop.

RainbowBob Wed 16-Oct-13 11:22:13

It is clear I have been living under a rock for the last five years.... or possibly even longer. Had no idea Woolovers, Brora or Outnet existed. And as for Edinburgh Woollen Mill, I thought it was all tartan blankets and shortbread.

As for Sthing you are my new style crush.... loving the sound of Scarecrow Chic. My farmer would, sadly, be more futile than fastidious.

What are Woolovers sizes like? I am tempted by their cashmere/merino long V jumper and wondered if I should size up to get a bit of 'slouchiness'?

Thank you for the suggestion of charity shops.... sadly, I am one of those people who not only lives in a crap area (under said rock) but also has no luck when it comes to bargain-finding. So even when I cross the border to the posh areas to have a charity shop rummage, I always seem to miss the treasures. On the plus side, I have seen a few things (top quality, designer) on eBay that might fit the bill so fingers crossed......

RainbowBob Wed 16-Oct-13 11:24:01

Also, forgot to say, I found a Uniqlo t-shirt in my wardrobe which I worked out I've had for five years....... I've been wearing it constantly for the last half decade and totally forgotten how old it was. It has outlived literally every other item of clothing I have ever owned. So might start going there again for my basics.

easypeeler Wed 16-Oct-13 11:35:13

Edinburgh Woollen Mill is great for cashmere. They wash beautifully.

Mynameismina Wed 16-Oct-13 11:42:51

What about This

Sthingmustbescaringthemaway Wed 16-Oct-13 12:17:04


Happy to be of service. If you find anything nice on eBay do please say. I have kept a cowardly distance so far....

In the meantime you might have fun taking a look :



And here

Don't be alarmed! These are places where it really, truly is worth waiting for their pretty damned amazing sales. And, honestly, if you take to this way of life (...) you will never look at your high Street in the same way again. And you won't care what your friends, or school mums, or your colleagues are wearing - because you'll be in your own little wardrobe bubble. (It does help if you don't mind other people occasionally looking at you funny....)

eurochick Wed 16-Oct-13 12:26:24

I have got some lovely things (including cashmere jumpers) from flashsale sites like Vente Privee.

I have recently rediscovered Benetton. I hadn't been in there is years but they had some lovely jumpers for good prices (they have a website if there isn't one near you - lots seem to have closed).

Aquelven Wed 16-Oct-13 14:38:26

Woolovers what they tell you to in their catalogue. Find a favourite jumper you own & love the fit of, lay it on a flat surface & measure it with a tape measure across the back, just under the arm holes. For all their stock they give you this exact measurement, in inches, so you just need to buy the size that measures the same as your favourite. Fail safe grin

Another source of great stuff is factory outlets. Depending on where you live, I live in the north where there are amazing outlet shops attached to the actual mills that sell things they manufacture at a fraction of retail cost. I've bought cashmere jumpers for under £30, woollen jackets, raincoats, allsorts. Best buy ever was a pure cashmere, full length cashmere coat, with a silk lining that had "Harrods" embroidered repeatedly in the design of the lining. That was from a factory that produced garments for top department stores. Another near us sells, just twice a year, fabric by the yard that they make for the top designers, but if course you have to make the clothes yourself.

Fairyliz Wed 16-Oct-13 17:36:37

Ebay, I have just realised that 50% of my clothes are from there. You will be amazed at the number of people who buy things wear once and then sell.

harbinger Wed 16-Oct-13 18:19:11

Aquelven I'd be very interested in a list of the mills that have factory shops (I only know the John Smedley at New Mills, Derbyshire).

Also, as I'm getting better at dressmaking, the fabric mill/sale. I would love to get my hands on some wool/tweed at a reasonable price grin

Sthingmustbescaringthemaway Wed 16-Oct-13 18:27:05

harbinger You took the words right out of mouth.thlgrin

Aquelven Wed 16-Oct-13 18:45:58
Sthingmustbescaringthemaway Wed 16-Oct-13 18:50:06


harbinger Wed 16-Oct-13 20:08:09

Ooh, thanks. Will have a look. smile

jj83 Tue 09-Sep-14 22:56:16

Absolutely right, if you have the skills to make your own, that would be a great way to go. I find these days that i just buy a few less items, but of better quality. I like Adini, I got this the other day and it is really nice quality. ooh, they have a sale on!
I have the same philosophy with clothes for the kiddies. I like to buy nice quality items e.g. Toby Tiger, Kite, Hooligans and Frugi. It is a bit more expensive, but at least it looks smart for a bit longer. I got a really nice hoody for my little chap the other day. He loves it! only problem is he is currently refusing to wear anything else!.

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