7 Day Fashion Challenge: Borrow From the Boys

menswear challenge

WHO: One Manhattan gal.

WHAT: With a limited budget for new items, I must incorporate at least one piece of menswear into my ensemble every day for one week.

WHERE: Shopping locally in Manhattan: thrift stores, department stores, chain stores — wherever a man's walking in, I'm walking in after.

WHEN: All week long!

WHY: This is all about taking the menswear trend as literally as possible. One woman, one mission. Wish me luck.




For the last day of this challenge, I enlisted the help of a professional: Designer Andrew Buckler. With eponymous stores in SoHo and Meatpacking, Buckler is an in-the-know New York male's go-to destination for all things style and quality. As of late, they've branched out with a custom suiting line, and it was this new addition to the Gansevoort St. store that beckoned me — and polo star Nic Roldan — late one afternoon.

Nic was being fitted for a suit to wear to the amfAR gala and I, well, was there to watch. After describing this challenge to Andrew, he quickly got to work pulling merchandise from hangers and we settled on this very Empire Records-esque ensemble. Being in the company of several gentlemen (including our close friend, photographer Chiun Kai-Shih, using his "Chunky" Hipstamatic lens app, natch), I kept my slip dress on under the white tee. Next time, I think the oversized men's piece is the perfect length to wear just as is.

Zig Zag Box T ($95) and Cap Hat ($95) by Buckler,

day 7

Photos: Chiun Kai-Shih




day 6

On the heels of yesterday's rather preppy ensemble, I felt a craving to take today's into edgier territories. A throwback to Avril Lavigne, right? I left the tie undone, a John Varvatos black-and-white seersucker style. The lighter fabric feels season-appropriate, but I layered a heavier chain necklace on top and rounded things out with a flat boot (a la Sk8tr Boi.)

John Varvatos seersucker skinny tie, similar styles available here.

Paired with my new fave 2Xist men's undershirt (see Day One), chain necklace from Express (a bazillion years old), cotton mini from Free People (a gajillion years old), and ankle boots from Urban Outfitters.



day 5

The oversized cardigan long ago made the leap from elderly grandfather to key piece in fall collections. Variations of the classic aren't hard to find (texture, fabric, length, etc) and nearly all CAN be found in… the women's department. Moseying over to the other side, however, led me to find this number. With. Elbow. Patches.

I shrieked in store — I LOVE IT. With the sleeves rolled up and the shoulder seams drooping almost to my elbow, the overall look is one of a casual "Oh, just grabbed this quick from my boyfriend's closet" type of vibe. Effortless.

Gray merino wool cardigan with elbow patches from H&M, $29.99

Paired with black silk slip dress (no label), my Banana Republic black mesh peep toes and blue handbag from BCBG Max Azria.



Julie day 4


I knew I had to make a men's button-down work in SOME way for this challenge and, initially, I thought I'd just buy an oversized shirt, slap a belt around my waist and call it a day… that was, until I had dinner at my uber-stylish friend, Laura's, apartment. Laura was always my main inspiration for this challenge: the girl rocks bow ties and tuxedo jackets like no one else and, when it comes to men's shirts, she takes HER cues from Mr. Alexander Wang.

Since I'm assuming most of you don't have $400 budgeted for slightly eccentric pieces like this (albeit innovative and perfect-in-every-way), Laura taught me a DIY version that's as easy as it is adorable. Don't you agree?

Thomas Pink Slim Fit Button Down, $185

Paired with a simple tank from H&M, leather belt from Gap, Cole Haan wooden heels.

To DIY this look yourself, just unbutton the first couple of buttons so you can slip the shirt on over your hips. Then tie the sleeves around your waist. I tucked the sleeves into the waistband and cinched it with a belt!




A murse!? That's right, ladies and gentleman, but not just any man bag: a gorgeous pebbled leather envelope messenger from John Varvatos. To balance the look, I wanted to pair this with something more feminine, yet casual. For a Saturday afternoon brunch followed by more men's department shopping, flat sandals were a must. The silk dress is one I scored from my roommate, who thinks it makes her look pregnant (note: she is crazy, but her loss is my gain).

John Varvatos leather men's messenger from last season, similar style available here.

Paired with my crazy roommate's dress (label says "Hawks") and braided leather sandals by Aldo.

Stay tuned for my look tomorrow: a creative way to wear a men's button down…



When I first took on this challenge, I knew one of the biggest hurdles would emerge from the bottom up. It's simply a numbers game — where would I find a waist size that worked? The answer came in the form of a drawstring — oh, H&M, is there anything you can't do? With ties at the waist AND the ankle, I fell in love with these cargo pants the second I laid eyes on them (and you cannot beat the price!) Challenge or not, run into your local H&M men's dept and seriously snatch up a pair for yourself.

H&M army green drawstring men's cargo pants, $19.99

Paired with my fabulous new black mesh peep toes with wooden heel from Banana Republic, Arden B cap-sleeve trapeeze top and silver cuff (from my grandmother Mimi's jewelry box).



Julie Bensman - outfit 1

Not sure if y'all have heard but it was HOT last week in New York. And even though the weatherman SAYS this week will be much cooler, I'm still in the mode of wearing as little clothes as possible (a decision I'm sure I'll come to regret later today). But here's to taking chances…

Not exactly ideal weather for the shrunken wool blazer I scored in the little kids section of my neighborhood Goodwill. In lieu, I'm busting out TWO menswear pieces to kick this challenge off with a bang.

1) Blue suspenders from American Apparel ($18). Because the waist on these shorts isn't high enough (obvs)…

2) 2xist men's undershirt ($18). My best bud Tara first told me about these shirts and the cult following of ladies who've been snatching up the small sizes because, well, they're amazing.

Rest of the outfit includes H&M shorts, Marais USA sandals and scarf by Moschino.