News & Runway

Shopping for Men the Easy Way: Closed Set with Julie Bensman

I grew up sandwiched between two brothers, and for the most part, life was filled with Lego sets, Nintendo controllers, and Nerf guns. While my friends with sisters were sharing clothes, learning how to apply makeup and playing Girl Talk, I was…doing no such thing. My saving grace amid all the testosterone? Shopping trips with my mother. It was one of the only times we both knew we couldn’t PAY my brothers to accompany us. The mall?! Might as well be church.

Bottom line: boys hate shopping (at least, the Bensman boys, and I’ve learned they’re not the only ones). Which is why Chicago-based Trunk Club is such a genius concept: guys are paired with personal stylists, who make suggestions and ship clothes (for free!) right to one’s door. Guys keep what they like and send back what they don’t (again, for free!). Not only did Goldman Sachs just include Trunk Club on its list of up-and-coming startups, but since its launch in 2009, the site has gone from an annual revenue of $200k to a projected $15-$20 million (with a 20k customer base) for the end of 2012.

Because numbers (and sizes) don’t lie, I caught up with Trunk Club stylist Teresa Boucas to learn more about what she calls “total dude shopping utopia."

Julie Bensman: Who is Trunk Club’s typical customer?

Teresa Boucas: A career-oriented man with either an active social life, busy family life or both. Our clients understand the concept of quality over quantity. We charge full retail prices and our merchandise never goes on sale. So, while they can't find a 3-for-1 deal over here, we work with them to pick up one shirt instead that’s versatile, serves multiple functions, and stands the test of time. 

JB: What are some of the brands you carry? Which brands are most popular in different areas of the country? 

TB: Since we’re still in our startup phase, we’re constantly making agreements with new vendors to keep our merchandise selection interesting. Current brands include Jeremy Argyle, Eton, and John Varvatos; Jack Spade shirts, J Brand jeans, and Bonobos pants… When packing a trunk for my East Coast guys, I gravitate towards Jack Spade’s classic/colorful prints and AG Khakis. For my West Coast guys, I go for colored J Brand Slim Kane and Life after Denim or Gant shirts. Truthfully, our clients across the country are so open and receptive to the styles we choose for them, I like mixing it up: I’ll turn a preppy East-Coaster a little edgy and a hipster LA producer a little more classic. It's great to find what works best, but you need to have a couple wild cards in your closet for when you're feeling feisty! 

JB: What's the biggest mistake guys make when it comes to dressing?

TB: Guys can have the greatest outfit from head to ankle, and then they forget about their shoes! A great shoe can make or break even the best of outfits. Some basic rules: 1) Sneakers should never be an option outside the gym. 2) Having an eggplant-colored driving loafer doesn't mean you're trying too hard. 3) The best way to extend the life of a shoe is to have a rotation going.

JB: And your best piece of style advice?

TB: Become best friends with your tailor. Manufacturers don’t make clothes that fit perfectly off the rack. My clients with athletic thighs need to buy a pant size up and then get the waist taken in. Men with a shorter inseam need to get their pants hemmed to the exact right length. When buying quality clothes, this extra step to achieve a perfect fit should be a no-brainer.


If you’re a guy and reading my column, a) Thanks! and b) Email Teresa to get started on upgrading your wardrobe ASAP.


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