Starter Style Review: Urban Outfitters

Editor’s note: Building great style on a budget can be difficult and expensive. This is the third part in an occasional series chronicling great locations to start a wardrobe and buy affordable, good-looking style staples. Catch the first and second parts here and here. Look for more in the coming weeks!

Going underground with a trendier store.
Going underground with a trendier store.

For all the great things about stores that offer classic style essentials, there’s something to be said for brands that, for the most part, turn the entire model on its head. The first striking thing about walking into an Urban Outfitters (if you’re fortunate enough to have a brick-and-mortar location near you) is the explosion of color and pattern, particularly in the men’s section. Oh, and the full-size bear costume (see below). Now, the thing with the entire brand is that they offer a highly unique shopping experience, selling things like nifty housewares and books on how to bake with Nutella alongside, yes, a bear costume. But, if you can get past the store’s relative eccentricities, there are actually some great takeaways. Like those pops of color and pattern, and plenty of eye-catching, wild designs (some of which look strangely wearable in a street style-esque way).. The store leans distinctly younger because of that, but it’s always refreshing to see brands push the boundaries, like with the crazy floral print crewneck sweater below, which, I’ll be honest, I took a hard look at (I have a soft spot for wild patterns and designs).

Well, hello there.
Well, hello there.

The sweater below certainly was eye-catching in a statement piece sort of way, perhaps an item to wear to a particularly ironic college party. However, there are actually some tremendous finds within the store once you can get past some of the more out-there designs, including some wilder-looking tees and, um, unique drape scarves.

Maybe, just maybe, a bit wearable?
Maybe, just maybe, a bit wearable?

A particularly strong point is the store’s collection of nice basic tees, made by BDG. They often sell colorful striped and solid T-shirts in bargain packages, which makes it easy to stock up for casual wear in the spring and summer (a particular favorite of mine). In the warmer months, as long as the shirt has some color to it — and stays firmly away from crazy graphic tee territory — a tee is always a solid and basic style pick.  The selection of henleys and long-sleeve shirts also is a positive, and the shirts are cut slim, another definite plus.

photo-34
Stacks on stacks of shirts.

If you need to stock up on slim jeans or corduroys, Urban Outfitters has you covered here, too. For just under $40 (the price of some Levi’s on sale), you can pick up pants in either the 510, 511 or 508 fit — the 508 fit has a slouchier rise, but isn’t cut nearly as slim through the leg and thigh as the 510 or 511. Cords, black and grey jeans and tan twill pants all were in stock, any of which would be a good buy from personal experience.  Unfortunately, it didn’t look like this particular location had any of the versatile and tremendous 513 — maybe a change in stock or buying practices?

photo-36
A terrific price for some basic jeans or cords.

Urban Outfitters also does a nice job with colorful, yet slightly ‘out-there’ socks — extraordinarily colorful to the point that they even feature ‘colorful’ language on one of the pair’s designs. But paired down with a nice desert boot (as seen below) and some dark denim, they might be a nice talking point for an outfit? The desert boots in question also were offered in a great shade of grey that wouldn’t look out of place with jeans or chinos either.

photo-37
Stumbled upon a classic silhouette in a trendier store.

The biggest takeaway with Urban Outfitters is that, like any store, there are going to be hits and misses. Distinct hits and misses, in fact — like that hilarious bear costume. But scouring the shelves in this case led to some astonishingly low prices (like $39 for a pair of Levi’s), some extremely solid essentials (like the striped and colored v-neck and crewneck tees) and some unique finds (like the strangely eye-catching floral print sweater). As with any location, go in with some essentials in mind, and you might be surprised by what you leave with.

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