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Brand and shopping advice

Four materials you should upgrade

Four materials you should upgrade

When approaching their wardrobes, most men confuse ‘cost’ and ‘value’. The first is the price; the second is whether what you spend is worth the money. Cheap clothes offer great cost, but terrible value. They’re made quickly from poor materials which means they’re unflattering, they’re often uncomfortable, and they fall apart quickly. The average Briton bins around 24kg of clothes every year, largely because they buy things that aren’t built to last.

But paying more doesn’t necessarily mean more value. You could be forking out for a designer name or an on-trend style, neither of which adds to an item’s longevity. Really, value comes down to a simple calculation – cost-per-wear. How much will you pay, how often will you wear it and how long will it last?

Here’s an example. A £20 jumper, made from acrylic, will likely only last six months at most before a seam splits, the fabric rips or it gets ruined in the wash. If you wear it twice a week, that’s a cost-per-wear of 38p. But a pure-wool jumper, which might cost four times as much, will last around eight times as long. Which means a cost-per-wear of 19p, for an item that’s made better and is more flattering.

“Fabrics play a huge part in that value,” says Thread stylist Freddie Kemp. “They’re what gives an item its durability. Look at the composition and make sure you’re getting as high a percentage of premium fabrics, like wool or cotton, as possible. The more they’re blended with man-made fabrics, in general, the worse the quality.”

These four upgrades will make your wardrobe look and feel better, as well as offering great cost-per-wear.

Light denim to selvedge

Selvedge jeans

Photographed: Edwin ED-80 Slim Tapered Jeans (£110); Natural Selection Narrow Arctic Jeans (£160)The Workers Club 13oz Japanese Selvedge Denim Jeans (£265)Edwin ED-55 Relaxed Tapered Jeans (£189)Paul Smith Tapered Fit 13oz ‘Pink Italian Twin Selvedge’ Dark-Wash Denim Jeans (£145)Natural Selection Narrow Pacific Jeans (£160)

What is it? A type of denim that has the edges sealed on the loom, rather than afterwards with a stitched hem.

Why is it more expensive? “Selvedge is woven on specialised machines, which require more skill and attention.”

What’s the benefit? “The seams are bound much tighter, so it’s more durable. This adds to the look, too; the longer you have your jeans, the more personal they feel as they fade in places that are unique to you.”

Best items: “Mostly jeans, but also denim jackets.”

Wool blends to merino


Photographed: M&S Black Formal Trousers (£84); Sunspel Blue Longsleeve Polo (£160)Paul Smith Grey Zip Up Cardigan (£225)Orlebar Brown Navy Sweater (£195)HYMN Colourblock Sweater (£50)Black Sunspel Merino Socks (£20)Navy Sunspel Merino Socks (£20)Paul Smith Half Zip Sweater (£175)

What is it? A very fine wool, sheared from the eponymous sheep.

Why is it more expensive? “It’s a finer, more luxurious material. That means you need more of it to make a garment of the same size.”

What’s the benefit? “Durability. The natural binds of the fabric mean it keeps it shape better and it’s more resistant to holes. It’s also incredibly soft, second only to cashmere, and warm even though it’s lightweight, so it doesn’t add bulk.”

Best items: “Anything that goes against your skin, so knitted jumpers and polos, but also scarves and hats. You can even get suits made from merino.”

Pleather to leather

Leather items

Photographed: H&M Edition Leather Biker Jacket (£229.99)Oliver Sweeney Evry Casual Leather Belt (£69)Paul Smith No.9 Dark Green Card Holder with multicoloured Card Slots (£110)Converse Chuck Taylor 1970s Ox Leather (£69)Larsson & Jennings Lader Watch (£139)Ally Capellino Mini Hoy Travel/Cycle Rucksack (£155); Mismo Large Pouch (£165)

What is it? Animal hide, most often cow, which has been tanned to make it soft and supple.

Why is it more expensive? “A cow’s had to give up its skin. The tanning process is also quite labour intensive.”

What’s the benefit? “It’s durable and hardwearing. Pleather will always peel eventually, but good leather lasts for decades. Which is great, because it ages beautifully. It takes on certain marks and colours that tell a story, and make an item unique to you.”

Best items: “Shoes, of course, but also anything that gets handled a lot – jackets, belts, bags, wallets. In fact, most accessories.”

Poly-blends to cotton


Photographed: MVP White Arbour Mercerised Cotton Jersey T-shirt (£18)MVP Grey Arbour Mercerised Cotton Jersey T-Shirt (£18)YMC Green Breton Stripe Long Sleeve Top (£65)Sunspel Cotton Eyelet Stitch Buttonless Polo (£85)T.M. Lewin White Twill Regular Fit Shirt (£39.95)Smyth & Gibson Bengal Stripe Slim Fit Shirt (£80)H&M Edition Vertical Striped Shirt (£39.99)Fred Perry Green Polo (£60)

What is it? A fabric woven from a fibre produced by cotton plants.

Why it is more expensive? “It’s harvested by hand, which takes time and money. It’s also susceptible to pests and drought, so the climate has an impact on its availability.”

What’s the benefit? “It’s probably the most versatile fabric on earth. It’s soft, it’s breathable, it can absorb water so wicks away sweat. Blends can itch and rarely hold their shape as well.”

Best items: “Everything, but especially your staples like t-shirts, shirts and underwear. It’s comfortable and hard-wearing, so perfect for things you wear every day.”