Dear J. Crew, I’m annoyed with you

Many items in my closet are from J. Crew. I wear the wool cafe capri pants to work, the Blythe silk blouses to work, dinner and brunch, and most recently, I purchased plaid pajamas for Christmas with my in-laws. Unfortunately, after washing the pjs once, they shrank and now look vulgar. My husband owns a button down from the retailer and we recently sent it to a tailor to switch out all the buttons as they had chipped or broken (he rarely wears the shirt). The button on my black pair of cafe capris became very lose about 2 months after I bought the pants.

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[Photo from Jcrew.com]

J. Crew as a brand resonnates with professionals my age and older. Its appeal stems from its iconic leaders (think Jenna Lyons and Mickey Dressler) and its bright, young, happy ethos. Every month, I scour their stores/ website to see what’s new and what might be a great addition to my wardrobe, once it goes on sale.

But, after chatting with my husband about our J. Crew struggles, we came to the conclusion that J. Crew’s quality simply doesn’t justify the price (not that we even pay full price for the items we purchase). Beyond the quality not justifying the price, it just seems like buying J. Crew mechandise today is simply wasting hard-earned money. The J. Crew linen blouse that I’m wearing today has a button that won’t stay closed (I should have done a QC check before leaving the house).

Moving forward, I think I’ll stick to Gilt, TJMaxx, The Outnet, Barneyswarehouse, and Nordstrom for my shopping needs. The enchantment is over; I think I’m done with J. Crew.  Well… we’ll see how long this lasts.

Have you bought anything disappointing from J. Crew recently?

G

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Shop Smart

Now that the holiday season is fully upon us, I have begun my search for the perfect gifts for my family, in-laws and friends. To commence this daunting task, I either request top 5 lists or shop online. Now, I consider myself an avid online shopper. In one day, I can receive up to 40 emails from stores informing me about their deals of the day, new products or diminishing inventories (sure I should unsubscribe, but  I like to be informed). The one main thing I have noticed about my online shopping experiences lately, is that I get overwhelmed when I have too many options. Perhaps it’s a shopper’s case of too long; didn’t read. For the past few weeks, I have been searching for a gift, within a certain budget, for two of my girlfriends (no point in going in the red over gift-giving). I have a general idea of what I’m looking for, but don’t want the gifts to turn out to be lemons. Since I’m shopping online, I won’t be able to test any products first hand. Also, I don’t have a lot of time to spend looking at every single possible option on the market.

To address my concerns, I resort to filters and expert opinion via reviews or curated lists. In my view, any online retailer that doesn’t have some combination of these features risks loosing my business!

Take Yoox.com for example. Having bought a pair of durable rain boots at a discount, I can attest to the value the e-tailer brings for deal conscious fashion-lovers such as myself. Unfortunately, for the past month, every time I try to browse the site, I end up having to sift through too many pages of products (even after choosing my filters).  Usually, after 15 minutes, I select an item or two, add them to my cart and close the tab. Enough for me. Shopstyle.com is another similar site that has so much potential, but ends up presenting too much stuff.

Recently, I have noticed an increase in fashion start-ups with the concept of a top 10 list at their cores; some retailers have also started having their editors and buyers create curated lists of products. Rank and Style, one site that comes to mind, presents lists of many things women might shop for. The site also explains how products made it to the list and why it ranks items higher than other. The site also offers a “request a list service” which is perfect for people like me who 1. like lists and 2. like efficiency. Keep.com, a site that pulls products from all over the internet, has guests (usually fashion bloggers and editors) create lists for shoppers. I can quickly skim the list, find things I like and get on with the rest of my day. These sites suit me well because, as a young professional, I have many things to think about at once (my career, relationships, socializing, traveling…the list goes on!)

Bottom line: When it comes to gift (and soon perhaps general online) shopping, I may just leave the picking to the pros to save time and energy!

G

Everlane

Like a lot of shoppers, I’ve  been searching for the perfect basic tees for many years. I currently own two scoop-neck tees by James Perse (via TJ Maxx) and two v-neck tees from Madewell. The James Perse tees are very soft and have lasted for at least two years. My only concern with the style I chose was that since it’s very slim, I don’t have much room to be bloated/ out of shape. Obviously no one plans to be bloated, but when it happens, I still have to wear clothes! On the other hand, the Madewell v-neck tees were very soft and long, but I already have holes in the pair I purchased about 4 months ago.

So recently, I decided to test out the domestic start-up retailer, Everlane.  At $15 a pop, I figured it was worth the try, especially since the tees are made in the USA. After reading reviews on other blogs, I settled on the xs white v-neck and xs grey v-neck. I usually wear size small or size 2 in most brands, size 0 in stores with vanity sizing (J Crew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor), so based on my measurements and the Everlane sizing chart, I went with an xs.

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The verdict: I really love the fit (tight up top, looser on the bottom) and the fabric (100% supima cotton) feels soft yet strong. I have broader shoulders, but the shoulders of the tees measured about 14.5 inches between the sleeve seams. So far, so good! I hope these last for as long as my James Perse ones have.

Check out the brand, Everlane! I haven’t bought any of their other items, but I would suggest reading more reviews before you buy.

G

P.s. This is not a sponsored post.

Gilt Sale and Recent Purchases

The Gilt Groupe Warehouse sale from a few weekends ago was a really unique experience. I’ve never been to one before but I’m so happy I did!

Here’s what we found:

Gant Deck Jacket
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Jack Spade Sweater

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Thakoon dress

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Something fun 😉

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My sample sale shopping tips:

  1. Don’t make a list, but do have a budget. I made (and posted here on the blog) an extensive shopping list. This turned out to be a big waste of time since I didn’t really know beforehand what I would find. I do recommend having an idea of the maximum amount you’d like to spend for the event. This way, you can shop and buy with a clear mind.
  2. Wear tall shoes. I felt bad for the shorter girls, but having height definitely helps you spot items over people’s shoulders and sift through far away clothing racks.
  3. Wear form fitting clothes. The room will get packed and you will knock into your neighbors, so minimize your impact by wearing clothes that won’t get caught by hangers, etc.
  4. Eat breakfast. Working a sample sale requires a lot of energy. You don’t want to be exhausted or slow when shopping in a room full of crazed deal-seekers. You need to be alert and quick!
  5. Arrive early. Ok, we may have overdone it by arriving at 7:30am for a 9am event, but the line builds quickly and if you’re competitive like me, you’ll want to get first dibs on everything inside.
  6. Don’t drink too much Prosecco. If you do, you may need to waste critical shopping time waiting in line for the restroom. Don’t do this to yourself. Stay focused and grab drinks when you’re done perusing the room 2-3 times.
  7. Don’t shop with friends. I brought my fiance with me to look for guys clothes, but as soon as we got in line, we agreed that we should split up. We were both on missions and didn’t need distractions! This plan worked out quite well because there’s no way we could have browsed both men’s and women’s sections together within the allotted timeframe.
  8. Know your size in different designers and which silhouettes flatter your body. This one is tough because sample sales often expose shoppers to items they may not have access to on a regular basis. However, if you know that you generally wear a certain size in certain designers and that straight and narrow shapes don’t flatter your curves, this can help you quickly separate the maybes from the no-ways!

Other recent purchase

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I also bought a book for the spring as I work on my resolution to read more this year. I’m currently wrapping up a book on consumer behavior called Consumerology and can’t wait until I get started on this one.

G

Gilt City DC Warehouse Sale

I absolutely live for sales! As soon as I got the invite to the Gilt Warehouse sale, I had to sign up! They advertise 90% off retail prices and I’m waking up early next Saturday (probably around 6:30am), and skipping my yoga class, just to see if they deliver.

Here’s what I’m shopping for:

  • an iPhone case for my new phone
  • Actual skinny jeans (not jeggings)
  • Wedding shoes
  • Wedding earrings
  • Sweaters and L/s tops
  • A full black skirt
  • Short black leather boots
  • Leather belts in all widths and colors
  • A shorter wool coat (so I can drive and stay warm)
  • Vacation dresses (for our winter honeymoon?)
  • Strong leather sandals
  • Everyday earrings (I lost a pair I purchased in Chicago)

I missed the sale in last summer/fall and I didn’t want to make the same mistake again. Fingers crossed that I can find all these things for amazing prices during my 2-hour shopping time frame.

G

African Love

London-based Nigerian designer Duro Olowu is coming to JC Penny this spring! I love the looks below and will definitely be checking out his line. I usually don’t shop here and lately JCPenny hasn’t been doing too well in the market. Hopefully moves like this will help the retailer recover.

This last print is insane!

Duro’s known for his wild prints, feminine silhouettes, and vintage 70’s inspiration. This collaboration is great because his clothes usually retail at high-end stores like Barney’s and Yoox.com. Also, as a Nigerian, I can imagine how hard it must have been for him to start a career in fashion (Nigerians love machismo). I see this as an opportunity to support change in my community.

Will you be checking this line out?

G

Holiday Shopping

Finally,

Halloween is over and stores have released their holiday gift guides. I’m a huge fan of Madewell and have listed some items I’d want, to help you build your own lists. I love the scarves they make. Though I have yet to actually buy one, they;re reasonably priced for the quality (wool/silk). I also love Bond no. 9 parfum and will be buying the New Harlem scent this winter!

G

P.s. My big announcement is coming soon! Hopefully I’ll post about it this weekend =)