The industrial designer wardrobe?

Industrial designers tend to have a certain look to them. They could look very casual with T shirt and jeans, or dress more business casual with dark jeans and a nice dress shirt. What I think separates designers from normal dressing people are the details. Designers wear interesting shoes and watches, pay attention to how clothes fit, and consider interesting color pairings.

I’m looking to upgrade my wardrobe. Are there any resources where I can get ideas on interesting styles? I’m also 5’7, so its challenging to find clothes that fit too.

Style is a personal matter. But there is never a wrong occasion for an elaborately embroidered Western shirt.

I wear retro skirts/dresses 80% of the time. Petticoats, novelty prints, pin-up esque pieces, retro shoes, and some kinda cutesy stuff too. I find the vast majority of clothing brands/whatever i like through instagram. If you want to hone your fashion style and what you like, I greatly greatly recommend instagram. Loads of people post daily outfits (at least on the women’s side, but I’m sure it’s similar for men, too), which is helpful for seeing how different pieces can work together.

And bcpid is right; just get a closet full of elaborately embroidered western shirts. I’m not joking actually; i quite like them.

I have been a big fan of this site. Not saying everything on here is for every one or should be but there are a lot of interesting looks.

My personal taste go any were from casual outdoor wear to bespoke suites so I am kind of all over the place. I like color and classic patterns I don’t even own the must have designer piece the “Black Turtle Neck”.

Fit is everything, so find a brand where you really like the fit, and don’t be afraid to go to a tailer for a few alterations as well. When yo have good fit in your clothes, they can actually be very basic, or classic, and still have that air of difference. Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss and J Crew tend to fit me really well off the store shelf so I tend to make up most of my wardrobe there. I also really like Brooklyn Industries button down for a being a little more unusual, but the fit is not consistent seasons to season so I need to be careful. Same with Penguin, I like their stuff but the fit seems to vary.

Someone in apparel once told me their personal definition of the difference between style and fashion. Fashion is what the apparel projects at you. It is designed to date and to fit very few people. Style is what you project outward and comes from selecting simple, classic clothes, ensuring they fit you right, and adding some flair here or there with accessories. IE belts, socks, shoes, poker squares…

It seems exorbitant, but you can request a personal shopper at Nordstrom to help you put together a couple of outfits. Those dudes are supper helpful when it comes to fit and they can tailer stuff there. It costs more but if you do a couple of outfits with them you get the hang of it… I’ve done it a couple of times for specific occasions. I know it seems super bushwazee but obviously if you get higher quality clothes that fit you right and prioritize style over fashion, they tend to last a long time.Better than an H&M shirt that disintegrates after the third wash.

One last thing, I travel a lot, almost everything in my closet mixes and matches so packing is easier… always room for some functional thinking.

oh and I second singltrack’s suggestion of checking out the sartorialist. I look once a week. Mainly give me a little confidence, those dudes are taking it out there most of the time.

I would check out this thread:

There are really good resources and suggestions there.

To add to the good advice already given, I would say that finding “your” brand can really help.
I have always struggled a little on the jeans front and finding jeans with the right fit and where I liked the quality and wash.
So a couple years ago I really got into Levi’s Made and Crafted and APC’s Selvedge.
Now I wear these two brands almost exclusively, together with basics from COS.

It takes a little time to find your thing but it is so helpful when shopping, especially online.

bester FTW linking to a 2008 discussion! I love it!

Style is timeless :wink:

The whole (questionable?) Western-shirt thing reminded me of that thread.

My wardrobe hasn’t even changed since then at all actually.
Also I think the latest entry was somewhere around 2011…

Personally, I wear a lot of Arizona State t-shirts.

Nice! I’ll check out those sites. Finding clothes that fit right is always a challenge. Many brands seem to fit bigger on me. Ben Sherman always seems to fit better on me.

AE Strandmoks are pretty hard to beat as far as footwear that can dress up or down.

Over all I would echo those posting before me.

As for myself, I’m more on the engineering side of ID, so in the shop most of the time, so it’s T-shirts and jeans.

Jeans, I have yet to find a brand that consistently fits, so I’m always hunting.

T-shirts, these days they tend to be from either from small ‘local’ companies that I like and want to support so I check out their clothing now and then. Ages ago I even screen printed my own T-shirts using a graphic from a local cycle fabricator. They had a great, simple, ‘martini glass & their logo’ graphic that they only used on stickers. Other T-shirts are ones discovered randomly on the internet. Though available to everyone, I never see them around so they have a semi ‘exclusive’ feel.

When on business trips I like to dress up, more for the fun of getting away from wearing the usual t-shirts and jeans than anything else. At the same time hearing “You clean up nicely” is always nice. Same goes for socializing in general, get out of the T’s, and dress up a bit.

When looking for button down shirts, I look for fitted. It helps that, that style is becoming more prevalent now.

When I was in Vietnam I had a couple shirts (and boots) custom made. Boots are gone, but the shirts are still some of my favorites.

Finally, in the last couple years I have been working on my skill to properly starch a collar. I have become a fan of a crisp collar - ha.

I made the conscious decision about a year ago to exclusively mainly wear black with the occasional grey or navy tshirt/sweater/shirt. It is not a unique thing but for some reason it seems to be working for me and I get compliments on my “style” and to wear anything with colour in it just doesn’t feel right. Even on St.Patricks day I wore a dark green shirt over my usual all black and a colleague remarked I didn’t look like myself.

I too agree with fit though, when something fits correctly it looks and feels right. The only thing I do struggle like Bepster are jeans/trousers. I’m of an average height standing at 5’11" but have the misfortune of having 30" legs so can never buy just “regular” length fitting. As I like my jeans to be a bit more form fitting (not skinny) I tend to need them tailored as when I do manage to find them in my leg length the brand seems to think I must have fat ankles.

90% of my new purchases also comes from COS with APC or Theory when money permits. Pretty much defines my style as “normcore”

Oh, one last thing. I am a huge fan of rebuying things. I’m on my third pair of Nike all black Roshe’s. My big toe always ends up poking through but these are the most comfortable everyday sneakers I have ever owned. I’ve also done the same with jeans/trousers once a pair starts fading after a few washes.

I feel most comfortable in my black shirt and tightish grey pants, black leather shoes.

But, and it’s a big one… I work in a corporate setting. I’d much rather be wearing my weekend uniform which is grey or black jeans and a contrasting arty t-shirt, black and white converse chuck taylor 2 hi’s.

So maybe this is a dumb question…but having spent my career not in corporate, why don’t you wear your regular clothes to work? If you’re hitting your targets and you aren’t facing clients, it sort of seems like…who cares? I would imagine some humorless salarlyman might slap your wrist for it, maybe, or just think you’re a weird designer, but otherwise just can’t imagine any consequences resulting from you deciding to wear your preferred clothes.

Every group of humans forms a destinct culture. In any culture there will be influencers and leaders who will impact the decisions of others. As well as those who are oblivious to that and a smaller group who is intentionally counter to it.

When I worked at Nike of course the culture was to wear jeans and sneakers. The CEO wore jeans and sneakers… But it was about wearing the right jeans (that rare Japanese denim that is thick as cardboard) and the right sneakers, and the right tee shirt. It is just human nature. When I lived in SF, the hoodie and jeans culture of the valley dominated, but a few of us refused and opted for more tailored jeans, buttondowns and fitted blazers. The counter trend started to influence others.

Coming back to corporate, all the execs here when I stated wore slacks (not pants) and baggy dress shirts. Coming into it wearing nice jeans, chucks, bright socks, buttondowns it took about 6 months to influence the rest of the exec team to totally change. As the only design executive I think it is import to influence as many aesthetic decisions as possible, even the subconscious choices of my peers :slight_smile: other staff memeber’s will choose to look more a part of the leadership team or completely not. It is totally fine to wear t shirts and shorts here. I find the psychological aspect of it fascinating though.

What I’m trying to say is, don’t think of it as putting on clothes to cover your unmentionables, think of it as a design project with the potential for social engineering.

Autocorrect, I know. But still…

Back OT, I actually find it a bit curious most industrial designers are not very fashionable or into fashion and apparel design. At best you get guys in decent jeans, an OK fit shirt and maybe coloured socks.

I rarely (but not never) see designers deep into either streetwear (hypebeast-y Maharishi, Kith, Supreme etc. stuff), or more fashion higher end labels (St. Laurent, McQueen, Margiela, etc.) or even more statement dandy/traditional men’s Sartorialist type stuff (per tailored short pants, bowties, etc.).

Not expecting everyone to wear clothing as costume (white suit and pink shoes?), but for a creative profession, IDers seem to be pretty bland. Maybe it’s the practical vs. creative side?


I work in a corporate office filled with 99% engineers (mostly electrical) and mostly men. But, thankfully, I’m in the bay area at a company without a strict dress code and a manager who encouraged me to develop and be free with my personal style.

Despite this, I am careful about how I dress. I take care that what I wear is in general modest (longer skirts, nothing too form fitting, sleeves, etc). I still choose to wear what I want, which is primarily the aforementioned retro/repro styles. I wear petticoats almost every day. I wear heels. I choose brighter colors. I enjoy the aesthetic practice of finding new ways to make outfits with what I own and love finding new pieces to add.

For me, it’s very much a continuation of me as a designer and I also want it to reflect me as a person and how I come off. Plus, it helps people remember me and acts as a good conversation starter for people to approach me with – in my work, this is important. Our team is small and we need visibility. I am, well, very visible.

My favorite compliments are when the other young women around me tell me they now wear the dresses and clothes and makeup they wanted to after seeing me, rather than feeling like they need to hide being women to be taken seriously.

Granted, not everyone has the support to do that or feel comfortable with it (or just plum don’t get the same enjoyment out of it), but I agree that designers should consider their wardrobe and personal aesthetic a design project. Plus, gosh, it’s just fun.

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