1. Check the seams
The quality of fashion from discount stores varies dramatically. Big names in discount fashion—like H&M and Forever 21—have greatly improved their quality over the years, and you can find pieces that will last you awhile. The best way to avoid purchasing a dud is to check the seams. Flip the shirt inside out and look at how it's sewn together. Are the threads loose or are they tightly stitched? Are there loose threads hanging off the garment? When shopping online, zoom in on seams to get a clear picture
2. Is it a copy?
Some online stores overseas, especially stores in China and Hong Kong like Jolly Chic and Sammydress, sell copies of the clothing that they advertise online. The dress or purse they show a picture of online may not be the same as the item you get shipped to you. This isn’t uncommon for some international clothing retailers, so I advise you to tread carefully when shopping these stores online. Many of these sites will have reviews that include photos, so inspect the photos carefully and check out YouTube for video reviews. You may still like what you receive, but it may not be the exact item you expected.
3. Read the reviews
When shopping online, be sure to read the reviews! These offer valuable insight as to the quality, fit and sizing of the item you’re purchasing. If a shirt is cut wide, a review will tell you while the photo on a size 2 model may not do it justice. If shoes are true to size or run small, the review will let you know. And if the item fell apart after one wash, you better believe someone will have posted a review of it. Remember, more people post negative reviews than positive, so take them with a grain of salt and look for specific complaints about an item rather than just low rankings.
4. Lower your expectations
Remember that the quality of an $8 pair of shoes or a $3 blouse is likely poorer than that of a $30 blouse. So keep this in mind when shopping, and steer away from materials that would tear easily—like chiffon, or look really fake—like some fake leathers. Painted jewelry can often chip, and thin fabrics will wear faster than thicker fabrics, so stay away from cheap sheer or chiffon pieces. There are many discount clothiers that have talented designers who will create tailored clothes for a small price, but until you’re familiar with the store, you shouldn't expect to find that “diamond in the rough.” When shopping in person, it’s easier to determine the quality of a piece of jewelry, handbag, or clothing item—so when possible, shop in-store for items that you want to look more expensive, such as faux leather or fur.
5. Take your measurements
When shopping online, it’s always best to check the measurements on the item you’re looking to buy and always try items on in-store. International companies will size their clothing according to inches but will often cut wide or narrow depending on the fashion in their country. European retailers that are popular in the U.S. tend to cut their clothes narrow. Some retailers will specialize in juniors’ clothing and tend to have short shirts and skirts, so check the length on these items. Keep a tape measure handy, and if you want a new pair of pants that’s the same length as a pair you currently own, measure the length of the pants as well as the inseam so you can look for the same size.