in the fitting room: uniqlo x idlf

I didn't know that a Uniqlo x Ines De La Fressange collection was happening, until I passed a Uniqlo outlet that had a cheery summery display near their entrance, featuring said collection.

I went in more out of curiosity than anything else - I've been told more than once the IDLF clothes are very "me" (probably because there's lots of navy and white) but actually, nothing from the previous collections grabbed have me, probably because I already had many of the same basics.

But flipping through the racks this time, I found myself wanting to try quite a few pieces, so much so that I decided it was worth doing a review of the collection. It has a rather different vibe from the first collection - more “weekend in the countryside” than "city", which I suppose is what I want right now.

I was particularly drawn to a series of cotton-linen shirts in stripes and checks, all cut in a cropped, boxy style with a schoolboy feel - very Margaret Howell.

My favourite was this one in a cotton double-gauze - the material is soft and tissue-like but not fragile. The inner layer makes a nice contrast when you turn up the cuffs and collar.


I also liked the layering possibilities of these shirts – they're are cut almost like jackets and below I'm wearing a stand-collar one over my own sleeveless shirt. They also have cropped sleeves that hit somewhere between my elbows and wrists.


I also rather liked the boat neck linen blouse I'm wearing above - perfect for the hot weather here and the cropped length (just below the belly button) feels fresh and the little eyelet trim is cute without being too girlish. It has a trim, tidy feel that I prefer over the longer, tunic-style shirts in the collection. It's also not too sheer.

I'm wearing the large size in all the pictures above. For the record, I am a UK 12/US 6-8/EUR 40, and it should be said that I am broad-shouldered, broad-hipped, narrow-waisted. Also, I'm about 1.79m tall.

I wasn't optimistic about the trousers - I tried the cotton chinos last year and they were very narrowly cut and were the least flattering things I'd ever seen on myself. But I saw a navy pair in a beautiful cotton-linen herringbone, tapered and cropped, and I thought it was worth a second chance. And I ended up loving them. They're perhaps lower rise than what is currently fashionable but they sit high enough to look respectable (just below my belly button and covers my hipbones) and fit my non-supermodel hips and thighs superbly. I didn't get a good picture unfortunately, so you'll have to take my word for it.

The quality is also impressive - I challenge anyone to find a better made pair of trousers from a mass-market brand. These had a wonderfully constructed and solid waistband, and although they are unlined, the material is substantial and doesn’t at all look like the flimsy crap out there in the same price range (these are S$49.90). They also passed the crumple test (me clutching a handful of fabric in my fist). Given it’s the same price as the blouses and shirts, I think this is actually the best deal of the collection, in terms of workmanship. I also thought it was better made than the other trousers in the collection. According to Uniqlo's somewhat confusing sizing for bottoms, I take the 67cm waist in these, which is the largest available size for this style.

The cherry on the icing is the matching herringbone jacket. It doesn’t look like much on the hanger and I wasn’t sure what made me it try it on. But after I did, I didn't want to take it off. I usually prefer longer jackets and have always found cropped styles ridiculous on me, but this one worked. It's the opposite of a sharply tailored look - it’s more of a sport coat perhaps and has that schoolboy feel. But it has just enough structure to look polished and I thought the quality was great – cute striped lining on the sleeves, an inner breast pocket, everything was nicely finished. It's partially lined at the important places - sleeves, shoulders - so that it slips on and hangs nicely but still works for the warm weather here.


At S$99.90 it was the most expensive thing in the collection, and although it took serious willpower for me to put it back on the racks, I did anyway, suspecting it will end up on the sales rack (jackets often do in Singapore). I'm wearing a large in the picture and it fit well - no pulling and I could move with ease.

There were other unlined blazers in the collection that felt more like shirts which I am not to keen on.

I tried this retro Italian housewife tea dress more as a lark than anything else. I suppose if I wanted to dress up as a WWII-era nurse, I would come back for this dress, which also comes in black. It has a generous full skirt which make it fun to swish around in and the linen material is weighty and more substantial than the linen skirts in this collection. I thought it was quite nicely cut - the shoulders, waist, lapels all sat nicely - but perhaps it's more suited for a tall person. I’m wearing a large here.

I actually really wanted this dress when I saw it, but felt in two minds once I tried it on. I like the vintage nightgown feel - and it is comfortable as pajamas - but I don’t really like things cut high on the waist. After dithering around a bit, I decided to pass, but I'm still thinking about it. I'm wearing a medium here - this one runs on the large side.

There were also these nice striped cotton-linen midi-length skirts but alas, I looked frumpy in them. If I were a more straight-hipped person I would have a field day - this is the stuff that evokes long drives in the Tuscan countryside, or strolls in some pretty European town with honey-hued walls, cobble-stone streets and bougainvillaea spilling out of balconies.

I bypassed all the floral print items because they looked cheap and the material used for them certainly felt so. There was a cute navy short sleeve knit with red piping but it wasn't very well-made - it felt cheap and sagged too much. In fact I would give all the knits a miss, including the cotton Breton pieces - they didn't stand out for me. As for the hoodies and sweatshirts, I couldn't tell what made them different from the usual Uniqlo offerings. I would also pass on the silk blouses - they felt cheap. The oxford shirts from last year are still around - they're nice, so now's the chance to grab them if you missed it the first time.

And I skipped the jeans because I was lazy to try them but they feel more substantial to the touch than Uniqlo's own jeans. Yes, doing a review post is tiring - I went to the store twice in two days (granted it's on my way to yoga). Never have I worked this hard for a post.

Overall, it's 50-50. The aforementioned cotton-linen shirts, and the cotton-linen herringbone jacket and trousers stood out for me, in terms of quality and thoughtful design. The dresses and the midi skirts, on the right body type, are nice buys too - they stand out in the sense that there isn't quite anything like that design-wise in this price bracket, and look nice for the summer.

But there's also items in the collection that are either duds (the cheap-feeling florals, the knits) or mediocre (the sporty jersey pieces). Also, a lot of it is linen which rumples easily and this might bother some.

Despite the shortcomings, the collection exceeded my expectations where “high-low” partnerships are concerned, but due to my own prejudice my benchmark for these things are pretty low in the first place. And I've never paid close attention to such collaborations so I’m not the best person to charge.

In the end, I bought the double-layered gauze shirt and the navy trousers. I felt the boxy shirts were the most interesting design-wise - they're unlike anything you see in stores at the moment. The trousers, apart from being great quality, actually fit me well, and I think such things shouldn't be passed on too easily. I was tempted to buy another one of the cropped shirts in striped linen, but held back since I have lots of shirts. And of course, I'm still thinking about the blazer. Perhaps it's time for my first pantsuit...

*I'm writing like the Uniqlo x IDLF fall collection didn't happen, because I never actually took a good look at the pieces when they were in stores, so can’t make any comparison where those are concerned.


Shutterbug K said…
Those 3/4 jacket-like-double gauze shirts look great! I like the lighter colored graph paper looking one.

If the '50s dress fits you well it's going to be a sack on me. I'm short. The IDLF dresses are cut for tall women. :(

Thank you for the comprehensive review Lin!
A├»ssa said…
Thanks for the thorough review! I was at Uniqlo last saturday and fled after about 10 mn. It was too scary and intense for me to endure. Never will I understand the transformation some people undergo -for the worse when shopping. Anyway, I glimpsed a few interesting pieces (tops, midi skirt) and now with your feedback, I'll also look for the linen/cotton pants. Ijust have to go very early! :))
spockcookbook said…
Thank you for the detailed review, double gauze shirts look tempting. And they look great on your slim frame. Do you mind sharing info on your bracelet?
Anonymous said…
I was eyeing on that trousers and the jacket too. And your review is very helpful. At least now I can be assured of their quality and workmanship, as it is just too risky to judge that from the desktop screen! It helps that today the online store offer 10% discount! I like that linen blouse too, pity that this piece is not listed online. And I agree, when the trousers fit, it is better to grab it than regret! - I Ying
Xin said…
Very helpful review! I've found myself looking at this IDLF collection a few times at the Uniqlos in NYC (but the items sell out so fast that I probably won't end up being able to get anything).
Vanessa said…
I love all these pieces! The "vintage nightgown" dress looks very nice. It's true that they have a Margaret Howell aesthetic to it.
Natalie said…
I really like the IDLF stuff at Uniqlo. It has a bit of a timeless feel and tends to be decent quality.

I tried the shirt dress on in navy with white trim and had the same feelings - lovely dress, good quality, decent price, nice fit but too much like I'd stepped off a 1940s movie set.
miss sophie said…
i checked out the first idlf collection last year and wasn't impressed; the materials def felt cheap and the designs looked blah in person. good to know this one has some winners! :)
Anonymous said…
excellent review! i love the shirtdress on you. wish i had more of a waist -hard with a tree trunk profile to wear anything cinched. i will check out the collection for the jacket especially!
Caille said…
I have a striped tunic from the IDLF collection that I love (first season I think?) but nothing has sparked my interest since. What has: the J+ Uniqlo collaboration that they redid this fall (very good quality for Uniqlo -- lined wool pants, thick cashmere, etc). and I just read that Christophe Lemaire is doing a collection with them this fall. That has me VERY excited.

You look great in the "vintage nightgown" dress, but feeling comfortable is the most important part. Enjoy your new shirts!
lin said…
shutterbug k: thanks! should clarify that the graph paper one isn't double-layered, just regular cotton/linen! lovely all the same it was kind of difficult to put it down and walk away...

aissa: no one is buying them in Singapore! the shop was empty and the racks were full. let me know if you want anything and i will bring to you when i visit :)

spockcookbook: (how awesome is your profile name) the bracelet is from Miansai, it's actually on loan from my sister. love it and rather tempted to buy one myself..

i-ying: the uniqlo website isn't especially helpful, i agree. glad you found it useful!

xin: it's amazing how no one really cares here...i guess her name hasn't travelled even though i think her book did quite well here.

vanessa: the MH vibe is why i like it so much!

natalie: i'm actually rather hoping a 1940s/50s theme party happens sometime soon

miss sophie: i remember wanting an cotton twill shirtdress but that one disappeared in my size rather quickly! this collection has its duds too but the nice pieces really stood out.

anon: i hope you're not disappointed!

caille: i only got one shirt, although i don't rule out returning for another - they're very cute.

jamie-lee said…
I've been without internet (and still am -the joys of moving house!) so it's taken me SO long to get to reading this.

Thank you so much for doing such a detailed review. I'm loving that first shirt on you, the boat necked blouse, and the BLAZER! I hope that it makes it to sale, as it looked excellent on you.

I'm thinking I might have to check out my local Uniqlo - crossing fingers that the Sydney store has gotten this collection as there's quite a few pieces that I have my eye on.
Joy said…
The nearest UNIQLO to me is in Berlin! Goddamnit.

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