Five years ago, I had a deep frustration with my apparel that moved me to create Bluffworks. I needed pants that could keep up with my life. I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t apparel that looked good enough for me to wear to work, yet was as easy to care for as the travel clothing I always reached for.
But those pants didn’t exist. So I made them. And soon after, other products too.
Now, after years of requests, we’re expanding to do the same thing for women. The reason I waited so long was because I wanted to do it right.
So back in April, we did a survey to learn more about what a line of stylish travel clothes for women would look like. We received over 500 responses from women who want essentially one thing when it comes to travel outfits — the ability to take on the world and still look great.
Here’s a recap of what we heard from you, and where we’re going as a result.
What We Learned
We asked women about their lifestyles, how they like to travel, and what’s missing from their ideal travel wardrobe.
The Bluffworks Woman primarily lives in big U.S. cities. She’s on the move a lot — about 75% of our respondents travel several times a year to once a month. These trips last for up to a week at a time and are both for work and vacation. Her travel bucket list includes New Zealand, Ireland, Japan, Italy, Greece, Australia, South Africa, Thailand, NYC, and Morocco. And whether she works remotely or in an office, she wears business casual clothing pretty often.
A small percentage of our women live outside the U.S. and for them, the biggest difference in their travel habits is that they go for longer — often a month or more. Even more reason they need a better option when it comes to travel clothing.
We learned that what women want in travel clothes isn’t rocket science. And it became clear that when it comes to what's available on the market, women have been underserved for a long time.
This quote from one of our respondents really connected with the sentiment of so many women:
“Broadly speaking, women's clothing has always reached for form ahead of function, and women are simply expected to narrow their actions and expressions to the limitation of their clothing. Sometimes it feels like women's wear is specifically created to restrict freedom of movement. High heels? Hobbles. Skirts and dresses? No running, lifting, or sitting wrong! Purses (because there are never any pockets!) are like hauling around a ball and chain. I want comfortable clothes that fit me and fit the places I want to go.”
Special thank you to Amber C. for her insightful and well-said summary of women's clothing challenges.
Frankly, the disparity in women’s clothes drives me crazy, too. I watch my wife wrestle with insufficient apparel. And do you know how many times I’ve had to carry her phone??
She should be free. She’s busy. She has important things going on in her life. She wants to look great and just get the hassles out of the way.
Women want products that fit well. They want garments that are flattering, but don’t always show skin to be attractive. They want pieces that are versatile enough to wear to work, when they travel, and at play. Pockets? Yes please. Sweat? No thank you. Machine-washable and wrinkle-free? Always.
In terms of what’s wrong with specific items, women told us:
Pants. They wrinkle. They’re often dry-clean only (especially for work). They don’t hold their shape well and aren’t very durable. The fit and sizing is a challenge, and where are the usable pockets? More than anything else, women are looking for that ONE pair they can wear for both work and travel.
- Jackets. Style-wise, women’s jackets and blazers are either too stiff and boxy, or too seasonal and trend-based. They’re usually too warm and lack sweat and odor control as a result. Fit – especially across the chest – is a challenge.
- Dresses. Women don’t like wrinkle-free travel dresses made with a clingy fabric. Styles are often either too restrictive or too revealing – it’s hard to find a dress that strikes a balance between a flattering fit and the coverage levels that each woman wants. It’s also hard to find an elegant dress that packs and travels well.
- Shirts. Fabric is the biggest factor. Women want a material they can wear that is breathable, not sheer, resists sweat stains, has odor control, is wrinkle-resistant, and doesn’t need dry cleaning. The fit across chest has to be spot on to prevent gapping in a button down shirt.
A few themes that came across most frequently were requests for mix-and-match pieces to create a capsule wardrobe, clothing with pockets, and comfortable travel dresses that look good.
Not too different from our guys, right? These are the same principles that led me to create my easy care travel clothes from the beginning.
Which leads me to -
How will we tackle women's travel clothing?
Overall, we're working on developing products that women can wear to work and on the weekends, which may include a few variations of pants, a jacket or blazer, dresses, and a blouse.
Here’s what it means to be a Bluffworks product – for both men and women:
- Elegant look and feel
- Breathable and doesn’t show sweat
- Comfortable, often with stretch
- Functional pockets, some hidden and zippered for security
- Versatile, adaptable, and durable for all situations
- Professional aesthetic
- Fitted for all core body types
Just like we do for our men’s line, we started by looking for the best fabric for each item. The first samples are just in our hands, and our goal is to launch our first women’s products early next year.
With luck, the great unveiling will happen at the New York Times Travel Show at the end of January in New York City.
For first crack, sign up here to be the first to know when they go on sale.
Here we go!
Once I get my mind set on a problem, I find it hard to let go. With a little empathy, and attention to detail, there’s no reason that designing great products for women shouldn’t be possible.
I’m excited to take it on, and dying to hear what more women think. I hope we ultimately deliver products you love, that bring you freedom and joy.