Sunday, August 28, 2016

Margaret Howell, Uniqlo, & APC A/W 2016 | Sartorial Study

If I ever smugly claim to be unaffected by fashion trends and aesthetics, slap me sharply and redirect me to this post. It's coming to be that time of year when I start planning out my clothing purchases for the next sartorial season. Autumn/winter and spring/summer in the fashion world seem to have vague, arbitrary meaning, but for me, this season is slightly higher stakes. For one, I'm approaching a period of change in what image I need to present. For another, I will be on the wards or in clinic once a week for the rest of the school year and need to have suitable clothing. For yet another, I am in Boston now, and winter is coming.

All that is prelude to the real purpose of this post: collecting and evaluating inspiration from brands that I am likely not to purchase from. By looking at sartorial inspiration, I am refining my taste stepwise; (browser) window shopping is my way of practicing discernment and keep my finger on the pulse of prevailing fashion trends. Margaret Howell and APC are houses whose aesthetics strongly appeal to me but are far out of my price point. Uniqlo's Ines de la Fressange collections sing to my comfy androgynous inclinations, but I hear that the quality is declining. Anyhow, here are my favorite looks or pieces from A/W 2016 of these labels, and my commentary.

Margaret Howell

Margaret Howell is a British brand whose seasonal lookbooks can hardly be put in chronological order. There is nothing "timeless" about fashion, but Margaret Howell's image is neither dated nor cutting edge. It is a sedate, conservative brand. I am a sedate, conservative dresser.

Here is 1970s revival Margaret-style. I omitted the looks with wide-legged culottes, and many of these lapels are too much for me, but this evokes a diligent but rumpled, comfortable academic lady. This kind of androgyny is more my style, compared to the too-crisp, too-sprezz #menswear-style dapper girls look. She is not too matchy-matchy, not too coordinated or accessorized. The palette and proportions are just right.

Margaret Howell

A few things to note here: I prefer knits to collared shirts if I can get away with it. I like elbow-length sleeves, but it's been years since I've owned a garment like that. The hemlines are a little low for me, but I admire the consistency here. Each of these fits lengthen the model's legs, and almost all define her waist. These are clothes that I would wear.

Lesson #1: I want to "flatter my figure" and stay in touch with trends without seeming like I'm trying too hard -- I want to look effortlessly put together and want well-proportioned clothes to do the hard work for me

Uniqlo x Ines de la Fressange

What am I looking for here? I seek a dark grey or black garment in natural fibers with pockets, heavier than my cardigan or charcoal sweater, that straddles casual and professional, that I can wear regularly in the autumn. It would have to blend in with the rest of my wardrobe, and would take off some of the burden from my black zip-up fleece that I should only really wear at home.

Uniqlo has some pretty nice-looking knitwear this season, and I may try them on. The trousers and jeans are just emblems of items I am continuously looking for, and may not necessarily seek from Uniqlo. I need a scarf and a hat, and do wonder if I should have hopped onto last year's corduroy miniskirt trend. When was the last time I even wore a miniskirt?

Lesson #2: a conservative wardrobe is a versatile wardrobe (sometimes)


APC is a company that makes weird, interesting, unassuming, normal, not weird at all clothing. A friend from college splashed out for their Petit Standard jeans and loved them, and I have often admired their color-organized web store. From APC I derive inspiration for business professional, medicine-worthy dresses. APC has interesting fabrics, interesting cuts, and some of the coolest handbags I have ever seen (I'm definitely not on the market for one, though). These particular dresses, pulled from various 2016 collections, give a little bit of a retrofuturistic, Space Age image. If you don't believe me, look for the high-collared black dress on their website and see for yourself.

Lesson #3: understated, modest clothes can be interesting (and, dare I say? -- alluring)


  1. I really like the Margaret Howell aesthetic, but I'm not sure I would look as cool-girl if I wore one of those exact outfit (I just have a generally awkward bearing which would get in the way). I've never tried any of Uniqlo IDLF range but I've admired that stuff as well. Let us know how the wardrobe planning goes + show us anything you do buy!

    1. These outfits look really cool styled on a Mia Wallace look-alike, but individual elements would do well in my wardrobe, I think. How do I dress so I look like I'm wearing my own clothes and not a costume? I don't really know yet.

      I've never bought any IDLF stuff from Uniqlo either, but their concepts are pretty good for inspiration. I'm a bit conflicted about Uniqlo, but their copy is great.

  2. Ooh in the first row of Margaret Howell, I love that first outfit, and in the second row, I love that third to last outfit. Also loving your Uniqlo picks. I just love Uniqlo :3 -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

    1. I can count on Uniqlo to put out boring clothing that suits my tastes (boring might be too strong of a word...sedate and conservative!) and generally fits my shape. I say that, but haven't actually bought much from Uniqlo, and can't attest to the quality. I do think I fit squarely in their target customer demographic, though

  3. This is so inspiring! I love the post:)