For any city commute via bus, metro, bike or skateboard, men can find a plethora of workwear options readily available. Locating functional and stylish items for women can pose more of a challenge. Thus, designer Colleen Monroe has created Untucked Workwear to resolve her personal quest to find the apparel she has been looking for. Launching on Kickstarter today, the brand’s aim is to create clothing that works as a kind of practical and stylish commuter uniform.
“The commuter clothes out there for women are functional, but the options are few and they tend to look either too casual or too corporate,“ says Monroe. “Untucked Workwear is for the city commuter, who doesn’t need to wear the most technical fabric.” Monroe set herself the goal of designing something that offers flexibility during the day and a polished enough look to wear out in the evening. “As creative professionals living in the city, we have such fast-paced lives and often don’t have the energy or time to meticulously plan out outfits every day,” says Monroe. “We want something that looks and feels good from the moment we open our closets to the closing of our laptops, so we can focus on excelling in our jobs, creating, and genuinely encountering the people around us.” For a polished transition between all the moving parts of a workday, she pairs the Flex Trousers made in stretch twill with the Everyday Blouse made in 100% sustainable Tencel, and the Pocketed Smock coat in durable cotton duck canvas.
Creating the Flex Trousers posed a big challenge. “While I was commuting by bike and public transportation to an office job, I would sketch and make design notes during those commutes about what I needed in the perfect pair of pants,” says Monroe. For more than a year, she obsessed about the details of pants she saw in public. “Any time I saw someone with a nicely fitting pant or cool design feature, I didn’t shy away from asking if I could take pictures of the details and ask where they were from. I’d then go to those stores and research what kind of fabric was used and look inside and see how they were constructed.”
In all Untucked pieces, pockets have become one of the most important features. “I never understood why menswear always had the deep reinforced pockets, when women needed them just as much. That’s why I made them deeper than normal to keep your things snug and secure and added double-stitching for durability,” explains Monroe. “I absolutely love being able to reach for my essentials quickly on the job—cell phone, pens, keys, credit card for a quick coffee run, lip balm, safety pins, floral snippers. Having to rummage through a tote just isn’t always practical.”
In addition to launching Untucked Workwear, Monroe continues to freelance as a florist and take on styling and costuming work. Each day she can test out her designs in real world work situations. “I’m often at the flower market in Downtown LA, pushing around big industrial carts whilst reaching and bending to pick up product or installing at an event. I also work on film sets and photoshoots. You’ll find me racing around to dress actors or models or pushing a long rolling rack with lots of clothes and accessories.” Monroe wore one overly complicated prototype to work and realized it was too rugged. After testing out several other options, she decide to make the Flex Trouser fabric in stretch twill from Pacific Blue Denim in Los Angeles. Next she plans to work with a textile engineer to develop a unique blend that is performance-driven, durable, and sustainable.
Working with a small factory in Vernon, California (southeast of Downtown Los Angeles) in an industrial area, Monroe has been conscious about who is manufacturing her designs and how. “Starting Untucked Workwear for me is more than just about creating cool designs. It’s also about actively participating in the conversation around ethical fashion and taking specific and positive steps to improving the working conditions of garment workers and educating consumers about the stories behind their clothes.”
Images courtesy of Untucked Workwear