When the news came that Topshop's parent company, Arcadia, would be going into administration, the entire team couldn't help but reminisce on the good old days: The memories of our first shopping trips to Topshop as teenagers still feel fresh, and we could all remember what we bought. (Me? A very businessy pinstripe pencil skirt.) But it also made me take stock of what's in my current wardrobe from the high street. I found myself asking, Which items do I wear the most, and which stores do I go back to time and again for decent, affordable clothes? And the answer even threw me: Uniqlo. Upon inspection, it's the high-street label that I actually own the most of. I love Zara as much as the next fashion fiend, I often find interesting pieces at Mango, and of course, there are some Topshop gems in the mix, but it's the Japanese basics purveyor that appears to cover the most acreage within my closet. There are some pieces that date back to 2009 (from the Jil Sander collaboration), and I still have them all hanging up on my rails today, ready to be worn at any given moment.
So I set myself a challenge: to centre every outfit for a week around my Uniqlo buys, past and present. And it was, may I say, a breeze. They're all pretty classic and are definitely well made considering the price tags. (Uniqlo does invest a great deal in fabric technology.) And for some reason, unlike many other brands, they fit my petite frame well. Keep scrolling to see my seven days in Uniqlo and the shopping tips I always use when buying from the brand.
What I'm wearing: This button-through knitted dress I bought a few months ago has had a lot of wear already. It has the potential to be so frumpy, what with being brown, knitted, and actually quite A-line and loose-fitting without the belt, but there's something quite understated and nice about wearing something so plain. Here, I've styled it with a vintage belt, glasses, and some slouchy Vagabond boots.
This dress is no longer available, but there are some similar knitted styles I'd recommend.
What I'm wearing: This clever "3D" knitted dress (can you spy a theme here yet?) has no seams in it! So that means it's really slinky and lovely to wear. It's perfect for the kind of smart/comfortable ratio I'm seeking while working from home. This particular piece has also recently sold out, but there is a very similar version coming through for the new +J collection. Here, I've styled it very simply with some suede Bimba y Lola boots and pearl earrings from Anni Lu.
What I'm wearing: I couldn't afford Lenki Lenki's amazing belted puffer, so I raided the men's department in Uniqlo, bought a puffer jacket a few sizes bigger, and added in one of my plainest belts to get that cinched waist and volume over the hips. I haven't looked back since winter 2018.
The women's down jackets in Uniqlo always tend to be tight-fitting and twee for my liking, so be sure to shop from the boys on this one.
What I'm wearing: You might not associate Uniqlo with jazzy prints, but this matchy-matchy set was, in fact, created in collaboration with pattern queen Celia Birtwell. This twosome of culottes and a PJ-style shirt dates back to 2013, and I'm still convinced it feels current. Right now, you'll find a similar-but-different kind of co-ord via the new Marimekko collection at Uniqlo.
I usually wear this in the summer, as the leg length looks good with sandals and the fabric is quite lightweight, but here, it's combined with gold jewellery and the aforementioned slouchy boots.
What I'm wearing: Perhaps my favourite Uniqlo item of all, I bought this Uniqlo and Lemaire jumper dress back in 2016 in both navy and bright red. It was the precursor to Christophe Lemaire becoming the brand's artistic director. As a designer who specialises in minimalism via top-quality goods, it's no wonder the label continues to please me!
Here, I've styled the dress with a snake-print belt from Banana Republic and my new trusty boots again. They are so comfy.
What I'm wearing: First things first, I have to admit that this does need a steam and probably a dry-clean, but in the name of time-saving and completing this article, I had to bung on the fab Carine Roitfeld x Uniqlo coat as is.
I have always loved the French editor's waist-nipping Prada coat (that I'm pretty sure she modelled this on), so it was a no-brainer to purchase. Timeless, even though I got it back in 2016, I styled this as Roitfeld would—with pull-on thigh-high boots.
I also own a similar double-breasted style from the first +J collection with Uniqlo in 2009. It's more lightweight than this one, so it's better suited to autumnal months rather than a cold snap. Unfortunately, the brand doesn't currently stock anything of a similarly sculpted fit at the moment, but there is a great khaki coat from the JW Anderson collection which has a few sizes left.
What I'm wearing: Uniqlo's U collection (created by Lemaire) keeps me well stocked with jumpers each winter. I've got this black ribbed mock-neck and beige and red crew-neck cropped styles, all of which I wear on repeat.
This style is a fine-gauge knit and therefore pretty good to tuck into high-waisted pieces, like these Mango faux leather trousers I've just purchased. I would suggest trying both your normal size and a size smaller when it comes to all Uniqlo knitwear pieces, as they can occasionally run big.