Hoodies are casual attire. As such, when people shop for hoodies, they do not always pay as close attention to what they are buying as they do when they shop for office wear or formal attire. But why pay for a hoodie that's going to fit weirdly or look worn after just a few washes? Whether you're buying something like a California Roots hoodie to commemorate a festival or just a plain hoodie for everyday wear, here are some qualities to look for in a good one.
A Low Lycra Percentage
You want your hoodie to be a little stretchy, and that stretch will come from the type of material it's made of. What you do not want, however, is a hoodie that shrinks down the second it hits a hot dryer, and that's what will happen if the hoodie is made with too much stretch. Look for a hoodie that has a small amount of elastane (stretchy) content and the rest a polyester/cotton blend. Too much will increase your risk of shrinking, and any less will make the material too stiff for comfort.
Take a look at all of the stitching, especially along the edges of the sleeves and the hood. Make sure the stitches are straight and even and that none of them are beginning to wear out. If the stitching is made from thin thread, it might begin to rip out of the fabric and fray before the hoodie is worn, which is obviously not ideal. Also, check to make sure the seam is not too close to the edge of the fabric so it won't rub out or start pulling after only a few wears.
Have you ever washed a cheap pair of pants or a cheap shirt with your other clothing, only to open the washing machine and find that everything has been dyed a new color by dye that leeched out of the new fabric? You don't want this to happen with your hoodie. The best way to tell whether the material is colorfast — or in other words, that it won't bleed — is to read the washing instructions. If they specifically tell you to launder the hoodie alone the first time, then this is a sure sign the color will bleed. Look for a hoodie without this instruction; it will hold its color better and will probably be made from better material, too.
If the hoodie has some silkscreened images on the front, take a close look at them. Make sure the plastic-like material is thick and that it is not beginning to crack. You will need to dry a hoodie with silkscreening on low heat to prevent the images and letters from cracking, but you should at least start out with one that's in good shape. Alternatively, look for a hoodie that is embroidered rather than silkscreened, as embroidery tends to be more durable.
Look at the elastic around the cuffs of the wrists and the hood. You want a hoodie with wide elastic bands, not thin ones. When the elastic is too thin, it shrinks more easily in the wash and is more likely to cut into your skin and become uncomfortable. Thicker elastic holds its stretchiness a lot longer.
Hoodies are comfortable, cozy attire that most people like, but that does not mean they should look sloppy or stop fitting well. If you find a hoodie with all of the qualities above, it's a good buy! Before long, you'll automatically learn to check for these details when shopping for new attire.