Though I normally tend to shy away from brand evangelism—I am too often let down or turned off by some aspect of the marketing; one brand that has never disappointed me and that has remained consistently excellent throughout the years is Theory.
What Theory does best is stylish, modern clothing that incorporates subtle trends with a classic American style that makes nearly ever item in the collection infinitely wearable. In this sense, they are similar to Banana Republic, but are ultimately more chic and fashion conscious.
Another thing that makes them so fantastic is their attention to detail. While most of the pieces themselves are simple in design, a shirt pattern or material used will be the factor that makes it stand out against a sea of low-cost, mass production retail chains.
Theory is all about clean lines and modernized classics; they eschew the ephemerally fashionable; you won’t find any buffalo check plaid or corduroy pants on the shelves.
Since all the pieces are understated and refined, it’s a great label to find both clothes for the office as well as some casually cool items for everyday wear. Trousers are mostly either straight leg or relaxed fitting but are so without being vulgar or too loose. The best items they make though are their dress shirts, which are easily some of the best off the rack sport shirts one can buy. Besides being fitted so that they won’t bunch up like a balloon around your waste, the designs are always in good taste: no garish colors or tacky patterns. This dotted shirt ($195) offers a good example of how ingenious their designs are. While close up, one can easily discern the pattern of large and small dots; from afar the shirt looks like a textured and sophisticated light blue.
The pricing is expensive, but not unreasonable if you consider that these are items that are not only high quality, but also will not be outdated when the next season comes around. Rather, many of the clothes can be worn for years with impunity since they make great staple wardrobe items. I still wear the first dress shirts I bought from Theory when I ‘discovered’ them few years ago.
An interesting feature they added to their website called “In Theory” allows you to drag separate tops and bottoms from their runway pieces to create new outfits.
Theory has its own stores in large cities and is also sold in high-end retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Barney’s and Bergdorf Goodman.