Cintra Wilson used to think of Ann Taylor as “capitalist burqa” or “corporate office submissive.” However, in her Critical Shopper column in the Times this week, she can’t get enough of its clean lines and high-quality stitching. Though she had felt blinded in the past by the label’s “vanilla,” items in the Madison Avenue store now remind her of designer pieces by labels like Dior, Prada, Lanvin, and Balenciaga.
Clothing companies, when they panic, tend to go rococo. They get flashier, busier and more disposable by slapping on bigger logos and more useless bows and frippery. Ann Taylor must be commended for choosing less clutter and better details that aren’t always: the finished seams inside a little faille opera jacket; the velvet ribbon inside the waist of a peplum coat; the Italian three-season wool.
She even bought a $175 bat-wing sweater, calling it the “best looking and least expensive” option of what she had been looking for.
I’ll wear it every second until it dissolves into lint, but I also wanted to vote with my dollars and applaud a job well done. Ann Taylor’s office-wear may still be 98.9 percent edge-free, but it is concentrating on the right values: timeless lines and longevity. Other chains would be wise to follow in the plucky working girl’s conservative (yet spike-heeled) footsteps.
Someone’s become a little more open-minded after a certain JCPenney review.