Whenwas pitched to me, I was skeptical. I go to Amazon when I want to purchase Tom’s of Maine toothpaste in a three-pack in two days, so how much can the company really have when it comes to fashion?
I initially thought there would be a ton of no-name, ill-fitting knockoffs that would fit like a vacation t-shirt, boxy and thick, and I’d have to send them back, a John Kerry-quantity of greenhouse gasses emitted over the whole waste of time. Well, approaching a week of trying clothing that runs the gamut, I’m shocked to report that I was completely wrong. And if Amazon wants its items back, it can peel them from my cold, well-dressed back. (But they’ve already got my credit card information, so the joke’s on me).
Launched in 2018, Prime Wardrobe allows shoppers to select up to eight eligible articles of clothing, which range from jeans and pants to t-shirts, jackets, button-downs, and shoes, and then try them out in the comfort of their home for seven days. At the end, throw whatever you don’t want back in the box, seal it up, slap on the included label, and drop it off at your nearest UPS, paying only for what you keep. T0 clarify one of the many, many points on which I was wrong, it’s not no-name makers. Amazon flexed its muscles, establishing relationships with just about every major fashion brand including Ray-Ban, Levi’s, UGG, Lacoste, Danner, AX, and many, many more. All told, the company claims hundreds of thousands of men’s styles across more than a thousand brands. The best part? If you’re already an Amazon Prime member, you’ve already got Wardrobe.
I started out wide-eyed, looking for the first thread on which to pull to make my picks. For people like me who don’t exactly play jazz with their wardrobe, Amazon makes it easy. While you could just tap on the “Delivery” filter and select “Prime Wardrobe Eligible,” getting smacked in the face by hundreds of thousands of options, I selected from one of four curated men’s style silos, which include Casual, Sporty, Cool, and Classic. I’m a neat-whiskey, black-coffee kind of guy, so I went with Classic, perusing around 150 items loosely based around the theme. Distressed denim, leather jackets, classic sunglasses silhouettes, and well-tailored basics were all mixed together.
Like I said, there are plenty of brands available that I already like, but I have a few pair of Levi’s, so instead of staying conservative with my picks, I elected to try only Amazon house brands, which include Goodthreads, launched the year before Wardrobe in 2017, and its Essentials line. (With my vacation t-shirt assumption in tatters, I could at least trash the company if I ended up looking like I came out of a discount department store.) I selected a fitted t-shirt, a slim pair of stretch jeans, an M65-like field jacket, a button-down Oxford, a thin Italian merino V-neck sweater, and a buffalo-check plaid shirt — you know, the basics you’d wear every day during a work-from-home life. I worried that they wouldn’t, couldn’t, be too great, because they were pretty affordable compared to other basics makers. But once again, I was pleasantly surprised. All fit good-to-great, with some options, like the Oxford, in the excellent category.
(A word about tall, skinny men like myself: When buying a button-down, unless you’re talking super high-end, usually you have to select either a slim fit in the chest or sleeves that extend past mid-forearm. You cannot have both. All praise to Goodthreads, which makes a Medium-Tall that’s slim in the body and goes past the wrist bones. Jeff Bezos is a genius.)
The beauty of Wardrobe is that unlike my usual one-off purchases of items, its eight-article policy allows you to select entire looks. The name, therefore, is not far off: The program is more of an overhaul than a supplement, major surgery rather than triage, making it the perfect upgrade for the changing of the seasons or your own personal Queer Eye rebranding. And as a bonus, its house brand articles are a fraction of the cost of others while usually coming in a rainbow of options, which allows you to select multiple colors of items you’ll wear a lot.
There are some things I wish were better. Even within the style silos, some colors or finishes of items aren’t uniformly available through Wardrobe. For instance, my current Clarks chukkas are on their last legs, so when I saw the company’s name on the list, I selected a fresh, beeswaxed brown option. I could not get it in the Wardrobe cart, no matter how hard I tried. Later, I’d discover that at least one of the chukka model colors was available, but not my preference. I’d never been so close and yet so far, which can be frustrating when you’re assembling an entire look.
The other question mark was availability. I made my picks during a peak shopping period, and many colors were sold out in my common size. (I’m not saying I don’t love my new navy field jacket, but come on, everyone knows they’re traditionally O.D. green.) Fewer sold-out options would have been nice, but I made do.
I think I’ll return a henley, which was described as “washed black,” but in person seems something more Affliction than American Apparel. But I’m wearing that Oxford at my desk now, its well-fitting sleeves unbuttoned and rolled like a real man-of-the-people, Mayor-Pete look. And I’ve worn the jeans since the day they came, rediscovering the joy of stretch when compared to my normal selvedge.
There’s one more thing.
While seven of my eight items were all Amazon house brands, that eighth was all for me. As the days get longer and the sun finally breaks through the clouds, I’ll be shading my eyes behind a brand new pair of polarized, gold with the traditional green lenses, a real Joe Biden look. Sure, I could have reinvented myself with Wardrobe. But classics are classics for a reason, and you don’t mess with a good thing.
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