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Launched in 1997 by well-known fashion executives Andrew Rosen and Elie Tahari, Theory began as a women's collection. The brand's original mission was to make modern clothing that was both comfortable and sexy. It placed a premium on fabric quality and fit, and it sought to merge the craftsmanship of luxury European fashion houses with the merchandizing savvy of American companies. Theory "stretch" fit pants became the company's signature item, and the brand quickly developed something of a cult following. By 1999, Theory had become so popular among women that it expanded to also manufacture a men's line.

Theory LLC was acquired by the Japanese company Link International in 2003 and formed Link Theory Holdings. Under new ownership, the brand was better able to grow globally. Theory established a new headquarters in the trendy Meatpacking District of Manhattan in 2006--with a flagship store on the ground floor and four more floors of corporate operations offices above it. Today, Theory owns and operates several retail boutiques in major fashion market across the country in addition to selling products via luxury department store chains like Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, and Barneys New York. The company's philosophy is devoted to the entrepreneurial spirit and committed to creating a fashionable future for its customers.

Women's Merchandise


The Theory women's collection offers runway-inspired luxury apparel in a number of popular categories. Dresses feature unique takes on classic styles such as shift dresses, shirtdresses, wrap dresses, v-neck dresses, and more. Blazers and jackets offer a dignified look for work or special events. Knit tops include tees, tanks, camis, and henleys. You'll also find blouses and tunics in a number of different styles. Sweaters and cardigans are perfect for mild weather, while outerwear options like trenches, utility coats, and leather jackets are better for the cold.

In terms of bottoms, trousers are available in both flowing and form-fitting styles. You'll find slacks in a variety of colors and cuts to perfectly match your preferences. Skirts feature intricate patterns and are made from luxurious materials like leather. Many of the most intricate dresses and skirts are actually laser-cut to create patterns that wouldn't be possible if they were made by hand. The Theory + line is the brand's activewear division, and options include sports bras, athletic shirts, yoga pants, leggings, sweatsuits, track jackets, and more. Apart from regular apparel, Theory also makes shoes (mostly heels) and accessories like bags, belts, and scarves.

Our rating

Theory is the epitome of a luxury line in that it takes relatively simple designs and then adds runway-inspired accents so as to make them truly unique. The brand's collection rotates with the seasons, but it always features a small number of garments in each category. Whereas some brands are designed to be form-fitting and accentuate the wearer's natural silhouette, Theory clothing tends to be a little looser--which is one reason why it has gained a reputation for comfort through the years. The average woman certainly isn't going to be able to afford Theory's newest styles. Most clothes start around $200 and top out over $1,000 (especially if they are made from luxury fabrics). Even the Theory + workout line is undeniably expensive. If Theory is within your budget, however, you'll never be disappointed with the quality of the clothes. We give Theory 4 stars out of 5.

Theory logo
  • Established 1997
  • Luxury fashion-forward apparel
Sold at:
Theory boutiques, Theory outlets, major luxury department stores, online
Types of items:
Dresses, skirts, blazers, jackets, pants, trousers, tees, tanks, camis, sweaters, cardigans, trenches, coats, blouses, tunics, activewear, shoes, accessories
Related brands:
Elie Tahari, Helmut Lang, Theory Luxe, PLST
Our rating:

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