Lulu Graham of Outfit Dissecting & Wells

I recently spoke with Lulu Graham, the founder of Outfit Dissecting and Wells, about her personal style, her all time favorite piece of clothing, and a few of her inspiring projects. 

If you aren't already familiar, I highly recommend checking out Wells' retro, camp-inspired garments as well as the Outfit Dissecting project which has recently been adapted into a column in Harper's BAZAAR.

Let's start with a fun and perhaps impossible question - what is your all time favorite piece of clothing that you own? Why does this piece hold such a special place in your heart?

For the last year or so, my favorite piece of clothing has been a 50s era sweatshirt that belonged to my grandmother. Last March, we were going through some of her old clothes and she pulled out this perfectly folded Champion sweatshirt. It's bright white with her high school crest in black ink. There is a running joke that I've somehow managed to find every antique in the house, so when I come across something new, it's a magical feeling.

I'm incredibly sentimental and if I'm traveling with this sweatshirt, I always wear it on the plane or put it in my carry on because the thought of losing it makes me weepy. Yes, I could just leave it at home but that makes no sense to me! I think you should wear clothes, no matter how special; that’s the whole point! 

For those unfamiliar with your work, can you give a brief summation of a few of your projects such as Outfit Dissecting and Wells?

Outfit Dissecting started as a school art project. I made this little book where I "dissected" the outfits of different types of people. I've always been fascinated by how personal style is developed and after moving to New York City I started chatting with friends about their style. The conversations were so exciting I wanted to find an excuse to have them with more people. I love learning about the items and memories that influence people's style.

Wells is a clothing brand inspired by vintage camp and gym uniforms. I love 1940s/50s womenswear, specifically casual and athletic pieces. They usually got so ratty that people threw them away - my favorite examples are uniforms. For years, my mom and I had been dreaming of a shirt inspired by a gym top that my grandmother wore in college. After I spent a summer working in the Garment District and learning about production, I decided to make a few shirts.

In regards to Outfit Dissecting, how has this project impacted your personal style?

I think hearing stories through Outfit Dissecting made me more aware of the items and experiences that influenced my own style. When I started doing the interviews I was constantly going “oh wait me too!”

Before OD, I didn't fully know that there was such an amazing community revolving around vintage, fashion history, etc. Meeting like minded people in the community gave me more confidence in my own style. I've always loved playing dress-up, ask anyone that knows me, but Outfit Dissecting gave me the confidence to take the outfits that I made in my bedroom - that maybe I felt were a little too much - out into the world. 

To me, Wells draws from a vocabulary of traditional, ivy league, and camp aesthetics. 

Totally! Wells is everything my grandmothers wore when they were at summer camp in the 1950s. I’m a big camp girl; I went for five weeks each summer growing up and loved it. The camp I went to had the same uniforms from when it started in 1919. When I started Wells I did a deep dive into the history of camp uniforms. My own camp even let me into the archives to see originals! There is a bit of Ivy League and traditional in Wells but for the most part those two are just remnants of the camp aesthetic. Camp aesthetic is just a tattered Ivy Style; crisp khakis were cut into shorts and probably had paint on them, and it was okay if your loafers were scuffed and unpolished.

How would you summate the visual and lifestyle inspiration of Wells?

Wells is the early days of summer camp when girls would go hiking in madras tops and jeans. A time when leisure clothes weren’t made from polyester and printed with logos. To me, there is something so effortlessly chic about that style.

In the 1940s my family had a diary company with an incredible logo, the “Wells” font is inspired by that, and the girl is an illustration of me designed by one of my favorite illustrators (and Atlanta native!), Margaret Elisabeth McNair. My sister's middle name is Wells, an old family name, and I wanted her to be a part of the project. 

What do you look towards for design, style, and lifestyle inspiration on a daily basis?

Old family photos are my main source of inspiration for not only style but also design. I love recontextualizing pieces that I see in old photos so they fit into my daily life.

I also get lots of inspiration from the people around me. My friends and family constantly push me to try new things, step outside my comfort zone, and give me a reason to create! 

Who are few of your style icons? 

My parents have always been style inspirations for me. They both mastered the look of outdoorsy with a touch of prep. My dad calls it “backwoods prep”... Patagonia shorts with beat-up oxfords and Birkenstocks. My mom followed the Grateful Dead; so she has always had a touch of that coming through in her outfits. She’s put together but has this ease about her. That balance to me is perfection. 

On an average day, what are you thinking about when you are "composing" your outfit?

I like for my outfit to be able to work in any given scenario. If I end up at a nice restaurant, I want to have no issue, and if I somehow end up needing to do something active, I want to be able to participate. It’s all about practicality! 

Moving forward, what can we expect from both Wells and Outfit Dissecting? Do you have any other projects on the horizon that we can look forward to?

Outfit Dissecting has always been and will continue to be, a place for me to try out new projects and write about what I love. Moving forward, I want to open up the platform to others and give them a space to be creative. I’m working on some cool new projects, getting more people involved, working on a few new merch items, and of course, continuing to talk to people about style— and more about music, which I also really love.

Same with Wells, I’ve got some new items in the works. And then some projects about the history and inspiration behind the brand that I’m super excited to share!

So, lots that I’m looking forward to from both projects! 

Check out Lulu's work!

Photos via Lulu Graham. Interview by Damian Munoz.

Damian M.


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