Clothing pet peeves


One day last week, I posted about this dress on Twitter. It’s by Heidi Merrick and the retail cost is $462. It’s cute and I generally think her designs are lovely, but… THOSE STRIPES. Can you imagine paying $462 for a dress with stripes that almost but don’t quite match at the waist like this?

Ok, I can’t actually imagine paying $462 for any dress myself, let alone for a simple madras sheath, but this strikes me as particularly nuts. It’s not that I think that all stripes always have to match, but these are way too close to look intentional, don’t you think? It just looks sloppy. Of course, I think it’s that flaw combined with the fact that I know the high price tag and that makes me cringe. If I saw this on someone on the street, I’m sure I wouldn’t notice.

Do you have any clothing peeves like this? Little things that annoy you when you see them in the shops? I have a feeling that the longer you’ve been sewing, the more peeves about quality you might have.

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 48


Mine is buttons that never stay on…I really do wish they would sew them on better. I hate re-sewing them!


Patterns that don’t match, like the stripes (all they had to do to style that was use a wide belt; I agree that the price tag is cringe-worthy) but more so. I see this in handmade clothing too and wonder why the sewer didn’t go the extra mile and match the patterns. And I’ve been sewing for a very long time.


Oh dear God yes. why, even before I read the thrid sentence, I thought, “If I’m paying $400 for a dress, the stripes damn well better match up”

that’s what we used to call *quality*.


I detest poorly finished hems. I won’t buy anything without flipping it inside out to make sure that the hem is done well. If the hem is not done well it makes everything else go all wonky. It shocks me how often major manufacturer’s take short cuts in this area. I prefer to buy quality clothes that are an investment rather than something that is cheap and disposable after a couple of uses.

It is a user mistake rather than a manufacturer one, but I can’t stand it when people don’t remove the thread used to sew on a tag. I cringe when I see people walk down the street in black pants with a random loop of white thread where the price tag once was on the belt line.


Wow, this looks like the 1st dress I ever made with striped fabric! No one told me to match the stripes and they ended up off like that.

My pet peeve is navy and black on the same outfit, a few years ago Vera Wang did it and then I saw it in all the mall shops…drove me nuts!


low-rise jeans. Uncomfortable (always feel like they are slipping down), bulge-creating, and indecent when sitting down or bending over. Girls everywhere are showing the world their muffin-tops and bum-crack: at the museum, at the grocery store, bending down to tuck their little baby more safely in the stroller… it’s like we don’t care, like we’ve just given up. Low-rise jeans make me sad…


I’ve never matched stripes while sewing, it’s something I’ve been meaning to learn to do. But I noticed it immediately when I saw that picture. And I have to admit, I wouldn’t spend that much on that dress even if the stripes had matched.

I too hate that buttons fall off after a few wearings – especially on things like coats that SHOULD be designed for heavy, daily wear. (Although maybe that’s my expectations that are wrong? Maybe they are designed to be worn prancing around, unbuttoned, with a chihuahua in your handbag?)

One huge user fail that always makes me grit my teeth is people who don’t cut the hold stitching on pleats after they get their garment home. But that is another barrel of monkeys.

Crystal F

Definitely stripes that don’t match on an expensive dress. I have some madras fabric to make a simple dress with and have been looking for the right pattern so I don’t have to do too much matching. I agree it doesn’t always have to be perfect, but this one is just off a little and it’s annoying.

I also have to agree with Elizabeth about low-rise jeans. I use to wear them (and still do occasionally) but wore a pair of well-made, well-fitted high waisted (regular) jeans yesterday and realized how much better they looked on me (I didn’t have to worry about my muffin top showing through my t-shirt).


Sewing totally changed my approach to clothes-shopping. I’ve always been a “fineschmecker” – checking fabric and stitching quality before buying, but now things like un-matching stripes/plaids, bad buttonholes etc bother me too. Oh, and I always estimate how many hours should it take to sew one :)


Buttons that fall off – why are they sewn on with that flimsy chain stitch anyways? I’m also totally offended by stripes and plaids that don’t match, especially in higher end garments!
Another pet peeve – not a sewing thing – is poor quality fabrics. That’s a tricky one, as sometimes it takes the first wash to realize that the colours run together, or it starts to pill after the first wearing. Or cheap buttons, I ordered a blouse online once, that came with cheapo plastic clear buttons down the front, the kind that are usually on the inside of waistbands for reinforcement! I understand the manufacturers are usually trying to cut costs but I suppose that’s the beauty of sewing, you can spend the extra time or extra money to make it perfect :)


It drives me batty that fabric quality has declined so greatly. And if I do manage to find say, a nice silk dress I like, the lining will be polyester. I will not put a polyester/acetate lining in anything I make and I won’t buy anything made that way.

Twill Jill

I can’t stand unfinished seams, especially when the fabric is the type that *needs* to be finished to prevent raveling. Is it so hard to do a quick serging or overlocking?

A user mistake, to add to Kory’s take, is women who buy blazers and complain that the pockets are “fake pockets”. Um, no, if you take a seam ripper and slash the stitching, you’ll find a perfectly functioning pocket inside there. Even if you don’t sew, at least buy a seam ripper and get your money’s worth out of the garment.


And the tacking at the back vent/pleat should also always be taken out. That drives me crazy. Nice looking girl, nice looking coat, dress, immediately taken down 10 notches with the tacking still in because now it doesn’t lay right and you look ridiculous. I have thought about carrying around a small pair of scissors and just snipping them when i see them.


my pet peeve is the same as yours! I hate it when stripes or plaid don’t match up, it looks sloppy. Im surprised this dress could be sold for $400 when it doesn’t look right!

Mrs Grackle

Oh, brother. Is this model auditioning for “The Grapes of Wrath”? If I’m going to pay over $400 for a dress that isn’t a wedding dress, it had better not look like a wrinkled muslin. Can you imagine what they’d say about this on Project Runway? Ha!

My pet peeve is visible store tags. I always take a seam ripper to the tags in the backs of garments — they itch! I hate it when they stick out the back or you can see them through sheer clothing. The worst, though, is not removing the tags from silk scarves and there is this lovely piece of material with an ugly white tag sticking out. WHY?


I’m sorry, but how can a simple cotton sheath dress be over $400? How?! Is it even lined?


it rather obvious to me why the stripes don’t match up on the dress – they didn’t have enough fabric! See, they only had enough for just one sleeve as it is….

one of my biggest pet peeves in store bought clothing is garments that are made from the wrong kind of fabric. For instance, a summer blouse made from something that doesn’t breathe, or a heavy sweater that’s too itchy to wear without something underneath (and thus making it too warm)

Also, garments that are impossible to wear without giving up on either decency or style – too sheer, too short, too tight, too low cut, etc etc etc.

oh, and knee high socks with too tight bands at the top. not everyone has toothpicks for legs!


Too funny – I didn’t even notice that the dress only had one sleeve!! LOL


Well, tags that are sewn on to a garment so that it will show, and that will make a mark if you try to take it off – not cool.

After I started sewing, the quality of seams and fabrics (or lack of such) is the first things I notice on store bought clothing.

And lining. Lining in general is always badly sewn in store bought clothing if you ask me. Especially lining in clothing made in a sheer fabric. I don´t know how many time I have tried on a skirt in a store, and there´s a big bulk on one of the sides where the tag, the lining and the fabric (and maybe also a zipper) is sewn together. Why do they construct them that way? I don´t understand it. I am really glad I sew. What do other people do? :-)


My biggest clothing peeve involves horrible fit. When I learned what well-fitting clothes felt like, it was a revelation- completely changed how I saw my body and clothes.


Along with stripes/plaids not matching up, I intensely dislike when a pattern is supposed to be featured and isn’t centered on a piece… especially if it’s off by an inch – not only is it so obviously poorly made, it ruins the entire piece and should not be on the rack to be sold!

I am also another person who is sad about the decline of quality in fabrics, and the mismatched way they’re sold for the seasons.

These things are what has driven me to make my own clothes actually!


Ahhh!! This drives me nuts, especially at that price! I am like this with photography too. I saw prints being sold, c-prints, which are color prints from color film, for I dunno $300 for a 11×14. While I am all for supporting an artist and them naming a fair price for their work they didn’t dust their negetives before printing so they had spots all over the place. AhHH! photo 101 ALWAYS dust your negetives. If it was intentional it didn’t seem like it, just like this dress..
I also get really picky about how clothes are finished. I WILL not spend a couple hundred on one article of clothing if the inside doesn’t at least look decent. Like it should be lined or have nicely finished seams and not just serged. Serging is just cheap to me. but I have a problem with having high standards. In my defense I hold my own work to the same high standards.


Wow – I’m with you all the way on both the price tag issue and the badly matched fabric faux pas. But before I wax too alliterative, my personal clothing pet peeves include people not removing basting stitches from pleated skirts. In fact, it seems like a lot of the population doesn’t understand why garments come with parts that are basted in place or what to do when a kick pleat or a pocket is basted. I do a lot of thrift store shopping and I can’t tell you how many unopened pockets and hobbled pleats I have undone! While we are on the subject, it is also appropriate to remove the tags from the cuff of a wool jacket or coat! Okay, ’nuff said…


I have a few pet peeves that continue to plague me:

Poorly sewn or chosen buttons: I’ve sewn the buttons on the jacket I wore today at least 5 times because they were poorly sewn to begin with and they’re brass so the hole in the button loves to cut through thread. Though they look cool, those buttons should never have been used for anything but a decoration.

Items that are too expensive considering the materials and construction efforts involved: Look, I know we all have to make a living but I’m not paying $120 for a cotton jersey t shirt that I could have made in 20 minutes for maybe $5.

Any thread that doesn’t stay where it’s meant to: Whether it’s falling hems or topstitching that comes out within 3 wearings, this drives me nuts. As with many things in life I operate under the rule that if I can do something, someone who does it for a living should be able to do it better. If when I sew something it stays together, it should stay together even better when I buy something made by someone who isn’t winging it and hoping for the best 80% of the time.


Plaids/stripes not matching is a rookie error. There should be no room for it in the competitive RTW market.
Also, unflattering “uni-buttock” pants fit.
I see it everywhere. Drafting pants isn’t easy, but mashing up the end result (ha!) is sloppy to wear and look at.
I have two cheeks. Manufactures take note.


My pet peeve are shells that should have darts at the bust, but don’t and end up with those folds of fabric poking out right between the bust and the armpit. I’m always surpised at how even really expensive garments often don’t have the proper fit around the bust and they just look cheap.


He-he. This dress makes me laugh, b/c this is something I would totally notice on a garment that I make myself (even if I forgot to match the stripes in the first place).
My biggest pet peeve with RTW is expensive wool pants that are not lined. Maybe it’s because I am sensitive to wool and can’t even wear a cashmere sweater w/out a long-sleeve t-shirt or blouse underneath. But, I will never forget seeing $300 wool pants at Barney’s that were not lined — a perfect illustration that you don’t always get what you pay for.


Ooh, I know how you all feel! My pet peeve is when a garment made of knit fabric is just left with an unfinished hem or sleeve (it won’t ravel, so they can get away with it). American Apparel is a repeat offender on this one – I know they’re not exactly high end, but come on! They have some cute (if cheap) knit skirts and tees, but the unfinished hems take them from cheap to outright ratty.


I remember trying on a dress at Saks in this price range – I’d been “window shopping” and had no business trying it on but it really gorgeous, and they had a size 12 for a change, so I did it. It was some sort of sheer black organza over a peachy-pink underdress – very late ’50s looking.

Anyhow, I tried it on, and the seams hadn’t been finished properly and they had less than a 1/4″ seam allowance in any case, and it was like the side seams on the organza simply unzipped. The dress was *not* tight. It was really embarrassing; I called a saleswoman over – she took a look at it and suggested I buy the 14 and have it taken it instead, as it would then have enough seam allowance and *their* seamstress would finish the properly, anyhow. Not likely. That was the worst offender but I’ve seen similar things over the years.

And I do hate having to resew buttons, particularly when they fall off in the first wash or so…

Fourth Daughter

How irritating, and for that price!! I baulk at $15, let alone $400.. but then I always buy from op shops. I used to work in really high fashion though, and you definitely don’t get what you pay for in a lot of cases – clothes that cost thousands of dollars and yet had sequins or buttons falling off them etc. Admittedly they were sample garments that models had worn, but if they couldn’t survive a few photo shoots, I don’t know how those brands thought they were going to work in real life!


i dont like unfinshed edges. it became pupular with some young designers, it can look ok but most of the times it just looks lazy.
once i saw a top with a realy nice and intersting fit and the edges, not just wast finshed, it was t he edge of the fabric, and u could see the spots of glue. they couldnt even cut those 2cm off?
it wasnt a cheep top,too


I never understood why manufacturers (specifically those who make jeans and pants) could never figure out a way (or didn’t want to spend the money) to pre-shrink their fabric before manufacturing a garment. I mean, that is a rule I live by not only if I am making a wearable garment, but also if I am just making a tote bag! Who wants to construct an item only to have it get all wonky after washing? That means I have to intentionally buy pants that are too long – wash them & dry them – then hem them myself just to be sure I am not going to get high-waters when I buy the correct length in the store.

Oh, I also agree with Leigh on the cheap buttons thing. Ugly or cheap buttons can ruin even the prettiest top!


One: I am disgusted at that. I am MORE disgusted that someone will actually buy that. Let’s face it, that’s the only reason these places are still in business.
Two: I could go on and on about this one. My pet peeve is clothing that has been sliced up. And have you noticed the jeans with holes in them and shirts with the slits in them are always more expensive? Blyuck!


Long sleeves that weren’t cut on the straight grain, or straight down the knit. They twist and sprial around your arm after the first wash. Then, you have to struggle with the iron every time you wash them after that to coax them back into a semblance of tidy-ness.


Despite the fact that there are so many WORSE problems I see in the clothes at my workplace (TJ Maxx), my biggest annoyance is t-shirts with side seams that are cut wonky. They twist the whole shirt funny around your body and it becomes more exaggerated with each washing/drying because it continues to shrink in that direction. Agh! It is a t-shirt! It is nothing terribly complicated, like say a cocktail dress or sailor pants.


Thanks for pointing that out. I looked at all her stuff, and I don’t think I’d buy anything from her for the price.

Karen Rhodes

Yikes!!! That looks terrible! I wouldn’t pay $10.00 for it.


What’s more confusing to me is the fact that it appears to only have one sleeve…

Tyro Sewer

I agree, it’s ridiculous and sloppy. BTW, I was reading a draping book and it said a sheath dress was a dress without a waist seam. Whatever.


I’ve seen a sheath defined as a dress without a waist seam, and other definitions that say it does have a waist seam! Who knows. I always just think of it as a very fitted dress (hence the term “sheath.”)


Plus size tops that are short…its like they make wide but keep them short, you’d think they would add a few inches for length.


I have often tried on a dress that fit me nice, but the lining was too small and narrow. I have wide hips and a narrow torso, and finding a RTW dress that fits isn’t easy, so I felt annoyed when lining was too tight on a dress with a full skirt. I sew, and I could fix this problem, but I refuse to buy a garment with a such flaw. I’d rather make my own custom fitted dress.

Cynthia Simpson

I agree with the plus size tops that are too short. I’m long waisted, and most plus-sized tops hit above my7 hips. I’ve also got long legs for my height (I’m 5’5″ and wear a 32″ inseam) and most plus-sized slacks are 30″ or less. It makes me wonder if the clothing manufacturers think that everyone who wears plus sizes is short. I’ve also noticed in one of the catalogs I get that the slacks are the right lengths for the models, who I know are all at least 5’7″ or so, but when I’ve looked at the inseam length in the description it’s 29″. They do have tall lengths, but they cost more. I usually buy tall lengths and hem them myself.

Cynthia Simpson

I’ve actually only got two hips. I don’t know where the “7” came from.

Rita Demarinis

One of the worst things is buttons that fall off before you even wear the garment..Crotch seams in pants that rip out after a few wearings…I’m always resewing the crotch seams in my kids and also their friends pants..With the lack of quality of today’s clothing, everyone needs to learn to sew…


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