December 21, 2017
Let’s hear it for the boys
I first started shopping in the men’s department, well actually it was the boy's department of John Lewis many years ago as a student. I bought a pack of boys’ white vests in age 13-14 and wore them constantly. The higher neckline, longer body length, cut of the armhole and high cotton content quality were just too good to be true. Add to all of that the cheap as chips pack of three price I thought I’d discovered a secret world of shopping. From then on, I would regularly haunt the men’s section of any shop I went into.
Fast forward 20+ years and my most recent purchase came from TopMan. An 80% wool camel coat in the sale for £15, size? Extra Small (I’m a size 10-12) Perfect. Shopping nirvana reached.
Kari and I have often extolled the virtues of shopping the men’s department, especially when it comes to knitwear. I prefer the boxier cut and longer length fit and we have both commented on the quality which seems to be superior to any knitwear found in the women’s department. And it seems that there is good reason to believe this; budgets. The range of styles available in men’s clothing is a lot smaller than in womenswear. Saving money on templates and patterns in production means that more of the budget for men’s clothing is spent on higher quality materials.
Here’s our top tips and picks for shopping the men’s department.
A must have from the men’s department. Whether classic white (try the underwear section) or a ‘non-twee’ slogan version. The neckline is higher, the shoulder seam tends to be cut more squarely, closer fitting sleeve and the body length is longer. Also check out the boys' section an aged 14-15 will fit a UK women’s size 12 comfortably plus there is the added bonus of no VAT on kids’ clothes.
I have many a shirt picked up from menswear from flannels, denims and even a white dress shirt. I hate the seams to the front of women’s shirts and prefer the clean flat front of a man’s one. Recent purchases for me came from Primark at around £9 per shirt (size small) in warm winter fabrics. I wear mine over skinny jeans or loosely tucked into my boyfriend jeans.
There are a couple of ways to wear men’s knitwear. Go oversized in textured big knits (Zara is always great for these) or pick out some classic crew necks in various colourways- black, navy and grey are always handy. Our favourites are from Marks & Spencer.
Jackets and blazers are the easiest step into wearing men clothes due to the fact that they look better worn slightly oversized. (If you’re petite try the boys department.) Tweed fabrics to classic navy are always a plenty. Don’t forget to rummage the men’s section in vintage or charity shops too, for higher wool content versions as well as lots of velvet and corduroy styles. Sleeves may come a little long but you can either get them taken up or just wear with the sleeves pushed up. For evening wear a man’s tuxedo worn over a dress, trousers or even your favourite jeans will always look chic.
Boyfriend jeans are now as much of a jean staple as skinny jeans so why not try men’s jeans. The sizings are marked in waist and leg length so finding your size is easy, they may not have the higher waist rise of a women’s version so will look best slung low. If you prefer go up a size and cinch in a little with a belt. This is one area where you’ll really notice the price difference too so it’s worth a go.
Don’t forget to look at the accessories section either. You won’t find pretty little things but you will find belts, hats, scarves, watches and simple good sized bags which make perfect overnight bags. And if you’re a shoe size 6 and above try the shoe department for brogues and loafers.
So, there it is, our quick guide to taking over the men’s department. It’s really about simple, good quality staples to mix in and give a new feel to your existing wardrobe style. Try department stores, vintage shops, charity shops and even the boy’s department to find your gems.
Let us know your favourite menswear pieces and how you wear them by tagging us on Instagram @watsonandwhite
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