As a woman, it’s hard not to look at men’s wardrobes with a sense of envy now and then. How nice it must be, you think, to have a uniform. Not to face down each day with that open-ended question: What should I wear? And yet, more often, women envy one another for the playful variety of their clothing options. This uniform-versus-variety circle was the one Thom Browne was trying to square last season, as he proposed his own Monday-to-Friday looks for gals. Here, he elaborated on the idea, which seems less like a seasonal concept than a solid modus operandi for his brand. Pre-Fall found the designer extrapolating menswear tailoring, as is his wont, into feminine shapes, with the focus on two silhouettes: a loose one based on the classic sack suit, and one sharp-shouldered with a nipped waist. Both achieved their finest form in Browne’s luxe outerwear—a mink-tipped tweed Chesterfield coat, on the one hand, and belted cashmere or jacquard coats on the other, their trim waists flattered by natty belts and a skirt-like flare.
Elsewhere, Browne’s cardigan-inspired shifts nicely fulfilled the uniform brief—they had a no-brainer sense of ease. Ditto his excellent broadcloth and oxford shirting, a category the designer is keen to emphasize. Suit jackets paired with high-water trousers or A-line skirts of “awkward length,” to quote Browne, had a narrower, more eccentric appeal. The real fun of this collection, though, was its fabrics and, relatedly, its flourishes: That was the variety side of the equation, in effect. The tweeds here were pretty extraordinary, especially the ones woven with threads of paper or rubber, and the tie jacquards had the kind of weight one associates with the royal vestments found in museums. Same goes for the silk braid trim, one of this outing’s key embellishments. Still, the overall tone was restrained, a quality reflected in the collection’s mainly neutral palette. Browne is known—and celebrated—for his flights of fancy, but his strategy of designing a weekly uniform seems to have grounded him in a good way. These clothes didn’t feel basic—the usual outcome of designers approaching uniformity. But they did feel real.