Looking for affordable, quality clothes in Toronto
October 16, 2016 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Toronto-specific question: I need to buy some new clothes for work, particularly white shirts, but I don't know where to look.

What I'm looking for:
- white and off-white/light striped button up / collared shirts - business casual
- prefer unisex/gender-neutral, but they also need to fit a DD cup bust and look appropriate when not tucked in, so most men's shirts don't work
- cotton or linen a must; synthetics feel awful
- affordable ($20-40 per shirt? is that unreasonable?)

Where I need to find it:
- in Toronto, Ontario - must be accessible by TTC and preferably closer to downtown than not
- willing to shop online if there is a very good return policy (no questions asked, full refund).

I know that for trousers, I have gotten good ones at H&M, but they are a bit too casual and fast fashion for the kinds of shirts I would like to find. Then I think of the Bay, and they are far too expensive, and just as likely to sell the same cheap polyester that Walmart does only for $80 instead of $20. I've also bought trousers I like at Muji, but I didn't notice any appropriate shirts.

What are some of the other possibilities for clothes shopping in Toronto, particularly the downtown core?

And - holy grail of all - are there any stores that will organize their clothes by fabric content? If I could find a place which was All Cotton, All the Time, that would be awesome. In the world of yarn, you find places that will only carry natural fibres, but it doesn't seem to have caught on in clothing.

I traditionally shop second hand, and I'm fully willing to continue to do so. I usually go to the Value Village at Lansdowne & Bloor, as it has a good balance between price and organization/cleanliness - and maybe I'll just end up there again -- it's hard to beat $5-10 for a good quality shirt that you also know that you are saving from the landfill. The main drawback to second hand is that selection is (obviously) limited, and you can't chose between sizes (what you find is what is available).
posted by jb to Shopping (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There are a few choices in The Bay's sales shirts which are below $40. Search for the colour white, but expect weird patterned shirts in the results.
posted by blob at 9:47 AM on October 16, 2016

I think $20-40 for a work shirt of at least moderate quality might be unreasonably low.
Sign up for Banana Republic's email list. They typically do a 40% off sale once a week or so, and occasionally even more. Looks like they are doing that today, and at 40% some of their options are down to $51.

There are BReps at the Eaton's Centre and on Bloor. Never ever pay full retail there at any of the major retail brands. They always have sales.

Maybe also Winners?
posted by Sleddog_Afterburn at 10:34 AM on October 16, 2016

Best answer: Old Navy had 100% cotton white button downs for around $20 last year, they are fairly thin and wrinkle easily after a year+ of weekly washing but I still recommend them and wear them all the time at work.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 10:46 AM on October 16, 2016

Best answer: Forgot to mention the Old Navy shirts are cut generously, don't have feminine styling details, and came in other colors/patterns.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 10:48 AM on October 16, 2016

Winners, for sure. The College and Yonge Winners has a decent officewear selection - lots of dress shirts from mainstreamish brands. Out of what they sell I'd suggest Tommy Hilfiger, which does mediocre-to-good quality dress shirts depending upon the cloth used.

I would caution against placing too much significance on fabric content. Places like H&M and the Gap sell many, many dress shirts that are 100% cotton and will wrinkle if you look at them. Conversely, plenty of higher-end manufacturers use polyester, nylon, etc, to strengthen a shirt or make it non-iron. Given the choice between a 70/30 shirt from Brooks Brothers and a 100% cotton shirt from the Gap... Well.

I'd suggest focusing on things like handfeel and weight rather than content.
posted by ZaphodB at 12:18 PM on October 16, 2016

posted by Miss T.Horn at 3:18 PM on October 16, 2016

Best answer: You should seriously just ask my mom to take you shopping. She would love it to shop with someone who actually wants to shop and she'd be outraged if you paid $20 for a white shirt. The Bay is one place, you just have to know which Bay and where in the store. Ditto Marks. Sears. All the stores owned by Reitmans. And she'll drive you.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:49 PM on October 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: the fabric thing isn't a quality issue; I feel like I'm wrapped in plastic when wearing polyester. Blends might be okay.
posted by jb at 5:20 PM on October 16, 2016

Best answer: I would definitely recommend Uniqlo shirts given your requirements - I have a DD cup bust and their size medium shirts fit fine without weird gapping. Fabric quality and construction will be vastly superior to shirts from, say, Old Navy.
posted by needled at 5:46 PM on October 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you to everyone, especially for ideas I hadn't thought of (Old Navy), hadn't heard of (Uniqlo), and for offering your mother as my personal shopper / chauffeur. (Does she know you're telling weirdos on the Internet she'll take them shopping? it would be really awkward, except that I have actually met her. Tell her N and I say hi).
posted by jb at 7:47 PM on October 16, 2016

I left out the internet part, but yes.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:22 PM on October 16, 2016

Mod note: Final update from the OP:
Old Navy is amazing. I bought half my work wardrobe there. I have no idea how long these clothes will last, but they actually carry my size (16 - too large for regular, little too small for most plus-size stores). And they sell cotton-linen blends. Thank you!
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:22 PM on November 8, 2019

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