to shop / recent online shopping insights (and woes)

Update: Joe Fresh pictures and a gross F21 moment added on November 22.

This might be my wordiest post to date. Today’s post is a recap of my recent online shopping at J.Crew, Madewell, Gap, Macy’s, Forever 21, Ann Taylor, Free People, Kohl’s, Anthropologie, American Eagle Outfitters, Zara, and Land’s End/Land’s End Canvas. Yes — I’ve been out of control (ooc, as my coworker and I like to call it) and I blame it on stress. Props to my roommate for putting up with me and my entourage of boxes. I really need to stop online shopping, especially since I’m going to Paris tomorrow!

In addition to carrying every single order up six flights of stairs, I had to spend a few hours this weekend trying on everything, returning them to the store, or packaging it up to return. USPS and UPS will be paying visits on Tuesday and carrying everything downstairs will be equally fun. There were more than a few orders I wish I never placed. I am somewhat efficient so for retailers that are easy to access in person, I targeted the lower Fifth Avenue area to make my returns — AEO, Free People, Ann Taylor, Madewell, and J.Crew all reside there — and dropped into the new Joe Fresh on lower Fifth Avenue, and also checked out Anthropologie. On a related note, I am also mentioning UPS’ new feature, My Choice, which I highly recommend for anyone who doesn’t have a doorman.

1) J.Crew

I’m sure I’m one of many who can’t help but look at J.Crew once in a while, especially when I really don’t need anything. It’s that time of year again… when J.Crew is nearing year-end, rolling out great promotions, and sale items aren’t final sale yet! At least not online. The best way to tell if something is final sale is by looking at your shopping cart.

I’ve been working through my love of polka dots lately and have concluded that only classic polka dot pieces are worth keeping. Ask yourself, can you see yourself wearing it in 2 years? If not, it’s not worth keeping. This silk polka-dot tee in sand dune is an expensive doppelganger of the Zara top I purchased in Barcelona, which I recently sold on eBay. I love the nude tones and polka dots, but it just didn’t fit in my wardrobe, reminded me of the 80’s, and the cut is too boxy. I couldn’t help but order the J.Crew version, free shipping and all. It may be surprising to you, but not to me, that I was able to sell the Zara top for more than what I paid for it!

Whenever there is a J.Crew sale, I always search for the J.Crew collection pieces first. Some of J.Crew’s pieces are sourced from the same factories as other major luxury designer brands. I remember taking a pair of wool slacks to my tailor in Shanghai once to repair the lining. He said the lining was made of such quality material that it was worth it to mend than replace. I picked up the Hayward trouser in pinstripe Italian wool in light grey pinstripe for close to 75% off. The wool is beautiful and rightfully so, as it is Loro Piana wool. They have a super flattering fit and I was able to size down from my usual size. The only tragedy is that this style does not come with a matching blazer.

2) Madewell

I ended up returning the both clutches I blogged about here. Clare Vivier‘s clutch quality beats them 1000x, even though it’s more expensive. I think it’s ok to go cheap for some accessories, but in this case, I rather drop $100ish for Clare Vivier. Leather isn’t created equally and in this case, Madewell didn’t do the cows justice. I also ended up returning this supercute spot dot sweater. It runs big (size down) and is in my favorite neutral colors… but the supersized polka dots are too trendy and I confirmed with a few friends that it’s not my style.

3) Gap

Gap’s leather jackets caught my eye last winter and I’ve collected two so far. I’ve been eyeing the textural leather jacket in caramel that went on sale online. I’m not sure if it went sale in stores yet, but I resisted despite the 40% off and 60% off promotions for Gap cardholders. I did some market research a while back so I have some idea what major stores in the country should have them in stock. But, I repeated to myself: I don’t need it.

My friend, Albert, asked on Facebook why it matters if these promotions are good for phone orders. You can call Gap’s 800 number and ask them to search for availability based on the item number. This is particularly useful when something expensive and/or highly coveted goes on sale. Gap leather jackets typically retail for $300 and c’mon – I don’t pay retail for Gap or anywhere close to it! Consider how the Texas market demand for leather might be lower than, e.g. NYC. The 800 number may not fully get you there. You also need to rely on the kindness of the Gaps you’re calling to do another local search for you. During the 2010 blizzard, I got bored and decided to find the “sold-out” leather motorcycle jacket. I eventually found a stash in a Chicago Gap’s backroom that was marked down $50 more than the other stores I called! At that point it was 75% off. I also used the same method to find ballet flats… If you have a Gap Silver card, shipping from the store is free.

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to shop / retail whirl (j.crew, gap, macy’s)

1) J.Crew

I’ve been on the J.Crew bandwagon ever since the traveling warehouse sales. Two pairs of wool pants for $25? Dressy wool coats for $40? My eBaying career took off around then. I’m traveling for work this week and could not resist crossing the street to check out the J.Crew. Especially since there is an additional 30% off in stores and no sales tax.

I encountered a hoard of the Quincy Tartan shirt that I’ve been stalking online for ages (to no avail, as it sold out quickly), on sale. This is the first shirt I’ve tried of the Boy Shirt cut. It runs big. I’ve got a few plaid shirts from J.Crew and Trovata; I would say this one “rounds out my collection”. I’ve worn gingham to work a few times, but I guess this tartan threw my coworkers off kilter. “Wow, you’re not wearing black!”

I also saw a bunch of the Streetscape Cape on sale for $70. What a big, quick drop from $198. I’m not sure if I love it yet, but seeing it on Ms. Hutton makes me want to keep it. Thoughts? It also runs big. For those who opted for the icky Ann Taylor Loft lookalike, the quality of this one is so much better and closer to ATL’s retail price.

I also saw the Silk Scarf Tank in Floating Rose and am so glad I didn’t order it. In addition to worrying about getting sick of the print next season, the cut is not flattering, unless you are a ruler.

2) Gap

Continue reading “to shop / retail whirl (j.crew, gap, macy’s)”