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Fashion & Style

10 stores to buy quality basics in Toronto

Posted by Bianca Venerayan / May 15, 2012

quality basics TorontoQuality basics in Toronto may not be everyone's cup of tea. For the most part, higher quality clothing items are at a higher price point, and basic clothing items in general are no fun to buy. I've had my fair share of foolish decisions to purchase unreasonably impractical garments over well-made staple pieces, so at the ripe age of 20 I believe I'm finally wise enough to properly balance the two. Since basic shirts, cardigans, tanks, t-shirts, etc. (the list goes on and on) are worn way more often than - for example - screen printed palazzo pants, they're worth a little splurging.

Here are some places to get quality basics in Toronto.

As a boutique with a "functional over trendy" attitude, Woodlawn stocks clothing and accessories for both men and women that are less "out there" and more low key. Boasting over two dozen brands known for their simple styles, everything from jersey tanks to perfectly fitting oxfords can be found in the quaint, minimal space.

Dalston Grey
Dalston Grey is one of the most fashion-forward boutiques on strip-on-the-rise Dundas West, carrying both handpicked vintage pieces and contemporary brands. While the vintage selection offers wallet-friendly silk shirts galore, the quality fabrics and timeless cuts of brands Gat Rimon and Amour Vert are well worth the extra spend.

Lost & Found
Lost & Found - a peculiar breed of a coffee shop and a clothing boutique - prides itself in providing a welcoming atmosphere as well as garments that are sustainable and/or high quality. You can sip on a latte while browsing through Unis trousers and handmade Creatures of Comfort silk shirts. What's not to love?

Oliver Spencer
Predominantly a menswear boutique, Oliver Spencer offers pieces that fall exactly between modern street wear and traditional tailoring, with a huge British influence. Though the prices are... well, pricey, they're made up for with meticulous stitching, exquisite fabrics, and overall obvious timelessness of everything from their jackets all the way down to their socks.

Jonathan & Olivia
I do realize that Jonathan & Olivia is way up there on the list of boutiques that carry trendy and elaborate clothing, but their large collection of T by Alexander Wang pieces serves as a wild card for being considered a "basics" retailer. The luxurious, graceful drape of the cotton t-shirts, tank tops, and dresses can only be described using corny words such as "luxurious" and "graceful."

American Apparel
Some may argue that American Apparel shouldn't be considered a "quality" clothing retailer, but I personally can't ignore the amount of available basics for men, women, children, babies, and dogs - which all come in every colour and style possible. With half a dozen locations in Toronto, and decent, affordable clothing that can be styled a million different ways, American Apparel had to be put on this list.

As one of the most coveted menswear boutiques in Toronto, Nomad is bound to offer a well-picked selection of must-have wardrobe staples in addition to their fashion-forward pieces. The supple cotton of their Wings + Horns striped t-shirts, the unique detailing of their Robert Geller Seconds sweaters, and the expert fabrication of their Engineered Garments oxfords adds just the right feel to either a put-together outfit and a lazy, laidback look.

Philip Sparks
Though only recently opened as its own freestanding location, Philip Sparks has already made a good name for himself in the local fashion scene through years of pop-up shop action. The tiny Ossington boutique makes up for its size in oodles of men's and women's basics made to last, including flawless raw denim trousers, flattering shirtdresses, and blazers tailored for royalty.

Although Aritzia started in Vancouver, the boutique-style retailer thrived in Toronto, opening a store in almost every notable shopping destination in the city. With well-fabricated womenswear garments including ultra soft tank tops by Wilfred and Citizens of Humanity's staple denim, it was hard not to include the popular store on this list.

Stollerys has been on the corner of Yonge and Bloor for over 100 years. The key to the store's long-lasting success is - you guessed it! - their British and European basics made to stay in one's closet for a lifetime. Far from casual, the ancient retailer offers luxury men's and women's clothing such as tailored shirts, classic-cut blazers, and cashmere cardigans.



KitCat / May 15, 2012 at 11:39 am
American Apparel... how original
Alex / May 15, 2012 at 11:59 am
Does quality mean long lasting, or just nice? I have had a very difficult time finding basic women's t-shirts for wearing to work that are not see through. I understand we want cool light clothing in the summer, but if it's so light I have to wear a tanktop under it, then it just defeats the purpose of being light in the first place.
Jamie / May 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm
Aritzia quality is good, I've washed my stuff 20x and it still holds.
Steve Billinger / May 15, 2012 at 12:14 pm
Can't go wrong with Uncle Otis in Yorkville. Not cheap but always the best designers and editing of their wide selections - not so hip it hurts either, and great customer service and staff. Always something good there and often fantastic sales.
marlon replying to a comment from KitCat / May 15, 2012 at 12:24 pm
try not to be so irritable...
McRib replying to a comment from KitCat / May 15, 2012 at 01:00 pm
whining on the original
bonezone replying to a comment from KitCat / May 15, 2012 at 01:36 pm
oh look, someone who doesn't like American apparel
asa / May 15, 2012 at 01:41 pm
the title should be over priced plain products.ive been to 4 of those stores listed only a fool would pay those prices for such plain boring clothing
KitCat / May 15, 2012 at 02:22 pm
If you want quality "basics" go to Walmart. Their plain white tee's last just as long as a $80 one is my point.
Alex / May 15, 2012 at 02:54 pm
I don't get the American Apparel ads. They put the ugliest clothes possible on people, how does that sell clothes? I've never shopped there because I thought all their clothes were just awful based on their ads.
dyzz / May 15, 2012 at 02:56 pm
Are you kidding me with Stollery's. I purchased a Barbour jacket there during a sale in January and swore I would never go back. The staff obviously hate their jobs and each other. They wouldn't sto with the hard sell on items I clearly wasn't interested in looking at. I was happy when the mac store rumours surfaced as this place is well past its best before date.
Diatribe Called Quest replying to a comment from KitCat / May 15, 2012 at 04:55 pm
Well, maybe. But they're not cut nearly as well as the better-made ones. And don't feel nearly as good on the skin. I hate a thick cotton tee, personally.

BTW, if you're paying $80 for a plain tee at AA, you're doing it wrong.
Brian Cauley / May 15, 2012 at 09:23 pm
Lost & Found's coffee is seriously good. haven't yet bought their clothes.
Dubs / May 16, 2012 at 11:31 am
Hey BlogTO, nice article. This is great information, if youre a normal sized person. Have you ever considered doing a feature on clothing for freakishly tall people? Im 6'7" and my armspan is almost 6'10". I know its not exactly a huge audience, but it would really help a brother out.

dubs replying to a comment from KitCat / May 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm
the fact that your using "quality" and "walmart" in the same sentence pretty much disqualifies your opinion, in my mind.
Jerry / May 16, 2012 at 03:06 pm
I actually agree with nearly all of these.
Gabe replying to a comment from Steve Billinger / May 16, 2012 at 10:52 pm
Uncle Otis For basics!!!!- Are u 4 real? Try Walmart at Dufferin Mall or Winners they have great basics! Haynes - Michael Jordan endorsed - Dex Bros. - Joe Boxer
Annie / May 16, 2012 at 11:52 pm
American Apparel is good in terms of range for basics but their quality is subpar. For the amount I'm paying, I wish my t-shirt wouldn't have a hole after six months.
Keith / May 17, 2012 at 09:17 am

But really though their stuff is overpriced and really just generally not cut well unless you fall into a very specific category of body types. I'm not saying Wal Mart is the next best choice but to be honest most department store basics are probably a better value than American Apparel for what you get
Toronto Ted / May 17, 2012 at 11:02 am
Danke for the namecheck for J+O. We do also sell basics such as Wings+Horns, EG ...

Thanks again, appreciated.
Shelley / May 18, 2012 at 06:14 pm
I buy all my boyfriend's basics from Over the Rainbow. Great selection of Alternative Apparel and the expensive stuff (Splendid Mills, Wings + Horns, Velvet) was incredible quality. Other stores were pricey, they couldn't explain to me why they were so $$$. At least the guy at OTR gave me a reason for the high-end stuff...
Colin / August 7, 2012 at 07:56 pm
Stollerys definitely has an amazing selection of quality brands and some great sales every so often, but the staff is probably the pushiest in the city.
Oya replying to a comment from KitCat / June 19, 2013 at 02:07 pm
Mark / June 19, 2013 at 03:14 pm
Mark's work warehouse. Now just "Mark's", I think. Basics, good quality, decent prices.

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