Tips on picking out high-quality gifts

ByABC News
November 17, 2011, 8:10 PM

— -- Whether shopping online or in brick-and-mortar stores, we asked some experts — including Ira Melnitsky of flash sale site Rue La La and Consumer Reports' "Tightwad Tod" Marks — for advice on buying clothing and accessories as gifts for the holidays.

The key, says fashion and image consultant Mila Grigg, is "buying things that will last."

When it comes to clothing, fashion experts like to talk about "the hand" of the material, or how it feels to the touch, says Melnitsky, Rue La La's chief merchandising officer. The better and softer it feels, the better the quality.

Other ways to search for value:

•Inspect clothing seams. The fabric's pattern should match at the seams, Marks says. A good-quality piece of clothing should also have reinforced stitching around the arms and legs and won't have loose threads, he says.

•Look for lined items. Lining is important, especially if your gift recipient lives in colder areas. If it's not lined, and "you turn it inside out, the inside needs to look as finished as the outside," says Melnitsky. A well-finished unlined item can easily be more expensive than a lined one.

•Opt for department stores brands. This will save money but still let you pick "quality brands," says Grigg of MODA Image Consulting in Nashville. She recommends brands including Antonio Melani for Dillard's and Halogen for Nordstrom.

•Lean toward leather purses. Leather wears better, provides more structure to pocketbooks and makes them "look richer," says Megan Kristel, president of personal shopping service Kristel Closets. She recommends Fossil's affordable "vintage-inspired" leather bags.

•IPhone covers make great gifts. Grigg says they are an affordable way to buy brands like Kate Spade or Marc Jacobs. Your recipient will get "something they will see and use daily," she says.

•Look for at least two-ply cashmere. It is less likely to pill (form little balls), says style consultant Sherrie Mathieson. Many department stores, including Nordstrom, sell two-ply cashmere sweaters for less than $100, Kristel says.

•Try crystal jewelry. It's far more affordable and still high quality, Grigg says. She likes the Nadri line sold at department stores including Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor. Earrings start as low as $38.

By Hadley Malcom and Jayne O'Donnell