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The Strategist Guide to Shopping at Uniqlo

Photo-Illustration: retailers

Anyone who has shopped at a bigger-box store knows it can be hard to figure out where to begin. There are dozens upon dozens of options that all seem as worthy as the next, but the reality is that products from any given brand are not all created equal. When you shop as regularly as we do, you learn that many brands just do some things better than they do other things. Uniqlo, we’ve found, is one of those brands — its massive inventory needs to be carefully picked through to find gems like expert-recommended undergarments, affordable layers to buy in bulk, or celebrity-approved jackets. Here, we’ve corralled every single piece of clothing from Uniqlo for men and women that our writers and editors — as well as fashion editors, celebrity stylists, Alaskan cruisers, art directors, actresses, and other cool people like Chris Black — have recommended on the Strategist. One other thing we’ve learned from all our shopping at Uniqlo: Its website can be a bit wonky, so if you click on a product and it appears to be out of stock, be sure to check all colors and sizes before taking the website’s word.

For men

According to Chris Black, two photographers, and one cool guy who works in coffee, Uniqlo’s simple and affordable Supima cotton boxer briefs are superior even to Calvins. “I wore Calvin Klein for a minute, but at this price and comfort level, I can’t pass up Uniqlo,” photographer Sam Schmieg told us. “They’re soft, breathable, and keep their shape well even after many washes.”

When we asked a bunch of cool guys about the best men’s socks, Phillip Wong, the co-founder and creative director of Hawthorne, told us he always heads to Uniqlo to stock up on this affordable, stylish pair. “They’re medium height and thickness, so they’re versatile for many different outfits and activities,” explains Wong, who adds that the socks “come in a wide range of amazing colors, so depending on your outfit, you can have a nice tonal moment.”

Publicist Jon Salas also “lives and dies” by Uniqlo socks, telling us that this “no-show” pair is one of his favorites. “They’re supercomfortable, durable, light, and breathable. And you just can’t beat the price,” Salas says.

When Salas isn’t wearing his low-cut socks, he told us he wears Uniqlo’s Supima cotton ones, which he says aren’t “super-bunchy or thick but still manage to keep you warm.”

SLT instructor Patrick McGrath likes to lounge at home in these tank tops. They’re made from a thick cotton-poly blend that, crucially, isn’t “totally see-through when you go outside, which would be a deal breaker,” according to him.

For our list of the best yoga clothes for men, Yuuki Hirano, the studio director and co-founder of Dou Yoga in Brooklyn, recommended this machine washable T-shirt because the material is thin, breathable, comfortable. It also “dries really quickly,” he says.

Photo: retailer

Whether in black or white, cool guys we talked to swear by Uniqlo’s Supima cotton crew tee as a wardrobe staple. Matt Schonfeld, a creative marketing manager at Rowing Blazers, bought two of the “light and breathable” tees in black about seven years ago — and told us they’re still in his weekly rotation. And Chris Black has recommended the white version for the man who works in a creative field and mostly wears jeans to work.

Photo-Illustration: retailer

This third — and less expensive — Uniqlo T-shirt is ideal for any guy hoping to save a few bucks without sacrificing quality. Brandon Stinchfield, the deputy director of foundations and grants for a nonprofit, wears it and told us that he can’t tell the difference between the packaged dry T-shirt and the Supima cotton T-shirt. “They’re light, durable, and no frills,” he says of these tees.

Photo-Illustration: retailer

Another cool-person-approved Uniqlo tee is its short-sleeved U crew neck, which Mickey Pangilinan, an art director at Apple, is a fan of for its “weighty material and nice texture.”

Back in the Before Times, Chris Black pointed a reader to this Uniqlo suit when that reader asked for help finding a sharp interview outfit that costs less than $200. Chris says the pants are “quite breathable and functional and look nice, too” and that the blazer “will dress the outfit up.” The fabric, he assures, is “summer-appropriate, so you won’t show up drenched in sweat.” As for what to wear with the suit, Chris suggests the U crew-neck T-shirt above, to avoid looking overly buttoned-up.

This Uniqlo Oxford comes recommended by two stylish guys for its affordable price and pretty perfect fit. Griffin Funk, a designer at Apple, told us he prefers this shirt to the Maison Margiela Oxford he also owns, while writer Alex Frank says that Uniqlo has perfected the “starched-white-shirt look” and that he always reaches for this when he’s trying to look professional.

Photo-Illustration: retailer

According to illustrator and co-founder of NYR Comics Lucas Adams, Uniqlo’s dry-tech sweatpants are “cut sleekly,” and made from a durable fabric that he says has held up for years. Part of their sleek cut, he told us, is that, unlike other sweatpants with ankles that are “unflatteringly loose,” these ones have hard-to-find cuffed ankles. They’re made with a sweat-wicking poly-cotton blend to withstand high-intensity workouts (or hot days lounging at home).

Writer and comedian James Folta is “not a big sweats guy,” but makes an exception for Uniqlo’s Dry-Ex Ultra Stretch Active Pants, which are also stretchy, lightweight, sweat-wicking, and tailored in the leg and ankle. The pants, which have breathable, mesh-lined pockets, don’t make Folta feel like he’s “dragging around a blanket,” as he puts it.

Photo-Illustration: retailer

In order to make his wardrobe work-from-home friendly, city correspondent for the New York Times Alex Vadukul opts for these black drawstring pants made from a summer-appropriate French terry instead of his usual pair of black jeans. They’re the “same color” as his jeans, he says, and keep him looking put-together even from home. “I haven’t deviated from my uniform” by wearing the sweats, he says. “I’ve just kind of loosened it.”

Photo-Illustration: retailer

When a reader wrote in asking about ways they could zhuzh up their boyfriend’s wardrobe, Donnell Baldwin, a former style director for Mr Porter, directed them to this affordable pair of Uniqlo jeans. According to him, “Uniqlo typically has pants with a little bit of stretch to them, which is perfect if you’ve got thighs or a butt.”

From $10
Photo: retailer

Nicolas Lazaro, a community specialist at menswear platform Grailed, told us these are “the best under-$40 chinos you’ll find anywhere,” promising they rival most luxury options and that their mid-weight fabric softens with age — making them a great alternative to sweatpants when “lounging at home.”

When it comes to the best outerwear for cuddly guys, Baldwin recommends this lightweight bomber jacket from Uniqlo, which runs up to a XXXL. It’s breathable enough to wear on a chilly summer night (or day), and “can be paired with many looks,” according to Baldwin, who adds that, because it is so versatile, the bomber “is perfect for someone trying to develop more of a capsule wardrobe.”

Another summer-weight layer from Uniqlo is this linen “sack jacket” — or blazer with a roomier fit in the waist and shoulders — that comes recommended by Strategist writer Louis Cheslaw. It’s a slightly more polished option than the bomber above and, according to Cheslaw, “the linen is breathable, so I don’t sweat when I wear it.”

A third lightweight layer, this washed jersey work jacket comes recommended by Chris Black. Made from a stretchy cotton blend, he says it is “done in a classic style with a slightly oversize fit.” The jacket comes in an impressive color range, so you can “pick your poison,” as Chris puts it.

Tyler Gaul, the founder of skin-care brand Protocol, calls Uniqlo’s Blocktech Parka “an ideal, old-faithful, grab-and-go water-repeller.” The lightweight jacket’s shell is water-resistant and wind-proof, and its interior features a moisture-wicking lining — all of which work to keep you dry inside and out.

Chris Black also told us he buys two or three of Uniqlo’s cashmere crewnecks every year. “It’s well priced and fits like it should, not too tight but not too baggy,” he says of the style. Due to seasonality, stock is spotty — but now is the time to scoop up any cashmere in your size for next season.

For women

Strategist writer Lauren Ro bought the Beauty Soft Wireless Bra at 16 weeks pregnant and found it to be “so comfortable, you barely notice you’re wearing it.” It kept her boobs “supported and look[ing] natural” both during her pregnancy and beyond, according to Ro, who says she now slips into the bra while working from home, because its contoured, full-coverage cups have not lost their shape (even after months of use). It’s “just so easy to wear” she concludes.

Ro also recommends Uniqlo’s Airism Relax Wireless Bra, which she’s been “wearing a lot while working from home.” This bra is just as good as the one above, she assures, but features a more seamless design and broader straps that are invisible under clothes. “It’s what I reach for on those days when I can’t put on anything more than a hoodie,” she says, “but still want some support.”

Fashion stylist Valerie Halfon told us about these seamless hip-huggers in our roundup of the best expert-recommended clothes to hide sweat. According to her, they “use the type of [moisture-wicking] technology found in activewear,” meaning they’re ideal to wear to that next hot-yoga class (or any other sweat-inducing activity).