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How to be a shrewd clothes shopper

Grease stains. Shrunken sweaters. Snags. Fading. Broken zippers. Static. Vyrene, Cantrece, Lurex, Qiana, Encron. Clothing jargon has become so complex these days you need a short course in chemistry to do your laundry.

Consumers are generally misinformed or uninformed about clothing care and purchasing, says Dr. Robert Springborn, a consultant to Ban Lon Inc.

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Confusing clothing terms, improper labelling by manufacturers, and often high prices for poorly made clothes, he says, can complicate the inflation-ridden task of clothing yourself or your family.

Dr. springborn, a bioresearch expert and management consultant, has developed a guide to buying and caring for clothing. It addresses clothing catastrophes such as:

* Poor construction -- a new "stretch" turtleneck that rips when you slip it over your head.

* Pilling -- balls of fiber seem to grow on your sweaters.

* Inconsistent sizing -- especially for women.

"More expensive does notm mean better quality," Dr. Springborn says. Even in "good" stores, "there's very little correlation between price and quality."

Dr. Springborn suggests the following series of in-store tests the consumer can perform to determine clothing quality.

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* Check underarm and crotch seams -- they should match up exactly for a good fit.

* Read labels. Manufacturers are required by federal law to attach a permanent label to all garments describing fiber content and care instructions.

* Test a garment's construction by gently pulling in different directions at the seams. Quality clothing should survive the test and should be reinforced at stress points.

* Check necks and cuffs of knits. Turtlenecks should stretch over your head easily without losing their shape.

Dr. Springborn's guide to purchasing and caring for clothing, and another guide entitled The ABCs of Label Language may be obtained free by writing Ban Lon, c/o Leigh Infield Associates, 780 Greenwich Street, New York, N.Y. 10014.

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