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Not all hand-me-downs are created equal.

Clothes of a higher quality and timeless style probably will fare better than trendy fast-fashion items.

Michele Casper, spokeswoman for Lands' End, offers tips for choosing new clothes that have potential to be worn by many wearers for many years:

• Look for durable construction, especially on the knees, elbows and shoulders. Some children's pants - especially boys' pants - have double layers of fabric on the knee.

Double-stitched seams should mean fewer rips or pulls, and some garments are bar-tacked, meaning a reinforcement of stitching on pressure points, especially on shoulder seams where the sleeve connects to the rest of the body.

• Adjustable waistbands allow for more flexibility in sizing.

• Outerwear is a popular hand-me-down, Casper reports. Waterproof fabrics and especially those with dry-off finishes tend to have a longer life because water, which can break down fabric over time, doesn't sit on the garment.

• Garment-washed knits are washed during the manufacturing process, which should cut down on shrinkage.

• Blue is one of the safest color choices because both boys and girls like it, and stripes are a gender-neutral detail, Casper says.

• Don't hand down shoes because each shoe conforms to the foot shape of the original wearer.

Copyright © 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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