Back To Basics: My Eileen Fisher Favorites

A few of my favorite pieces from Eileen Fisher over the years... details at une femme d'un certain age.

Investing In Basics

Whether you’re just updating your wardrobe or starting over from scratch, I’m a firm believer in focusing first on your wardrobe basics. They’re the foundation that you’ll build upon, and are key to never having another “nothing to wear” day.

It’s no secret that I’ve been a fan of the Eileen Fisher brand for some years. They’re my go-to for wardrobe basics and travel-friendly clothing. The clothes hold up well and I love the company’s strong commitment to environmentally sustainable, ethically produced clothing.

That said, they’re not the least expensive brand out there. Some of you have asked which pieces are most worth investing in, so I wanted to highlight those I’d recommend, both in terms of ease-of-styling and cost-per-wear.

Stretch Crepe Pants

Eileen Fisher stretch crepe ankle pants. Info at une femme d'un certain age.

These are an EF “fan favorite,” and are almost always included in my travel wardrobes. They’re comfortable in a wide range of temperatures, are lightweight, don’t wrinkle and can be hand washed and line dried if needed. While they were once only available in black and white, now some styles are offered in more colors. (If navy is your preference, check out the color Midnight.)

slim ankle (misses / petiteplus) | straight leg (misses / petiteplus) | bootcut (misses/ petite / plus)

Ponte Knit Pants

My travel wardrobes almost always include a pair of these black slim ponte knit pants from Eileen Fisher. Info at une femme d'un certain age.

During cooler months, when I’m not wearing jeans I’m wearing these. They’re comfortable, polished, washable and work brilliantly in a travel wardrobe. (Tall gals: I find these tend to run a bit long, you may want to give them a try.)

slim leg (misses / petite / plus) | straight leg (misses)

Silk Tanks And Camisoles

silk jersey tank top from Eileen Fisher. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Most days I’m wearing one of these underneath my sweaters or tops. They’re lightweight, washable, and last for years. They’re great for travel, too.

tank (misses / petite / plus) | camisole (misses / petite / plus) | tunic (misses / petite / plus)

Travel-Friendly Jackets

Gorgeous tuxedo-style jacket from Eileen Fisher. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I’ve collected a few EF jackets over the years, and have rarely parted with any of them. The silk and stretch crepe jackets are fabulous for travel, and for warmer climates. Above: a silk tuxedo-style jacket. I’ve seen this one up close and it’s gorgeous. This is a good time of year to find lightweight jackets that will travel well.

silk velvet jacket (misses / petite / plus) | lightweight stand collar jacket (misses / petite / plus) |
classic collar tweed jacket (misses / petite / plus) | water-resistant anorak (misses / petite / plus) |
stretch crepe one-button jacket (misses / petite) | stretch crepe long jacket (plus)

Jeans

aged indigo boyfriend jeans from Eileen Fisher. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I like both the boyfriend and skinny styles. They’re well-made, good-fitting jeans without distressing or gimmicks. And they’re made from organic cotton, a more environmentally friendly choice.

boyfriend jeans (misses / petite / plus) | skinny jeans (misses / petite / plus)

Linen

Eileen Fisher linen shirt. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Last summer I embraced the Easy White Shirt, and a collared version from EF from a few seasons ago was my most-worn pick. I’ve also been a fan of the knit jersey tees and tanks.

linen tunic (misses / petite / plus) | linen tee (misses / plus) | linen tank (misses / petite / plus)

Shoes

Eileen Fisher Anise suede bootie. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Eileen Fisher shoe fits have been hit-and-miss for me but I tend to do well with sandals and open-toe styles. Above, this gawjuss little number is actually quite comfortable.

This sandal-that-thinks-it’s-a-sneaker has been fabulous for warm climate travel. It’s walk-all-day comfortable.

This metallic open-toe bootie looks as though it’s on the same last as the one above. Cute! And on sale…

For those who are working with limited budgets, check out Nordstrom Rack, Neiman Marcus Last Call and  Saks Off 5th. And ebay and Union & Fifth are both great sources for pre-loved Eileen Fisher pieces.

Do you have a go-to brand for wardrobe basics?

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63 Comments

  1. Susan D.
    January 11, 2018 / 3:11 am

    I’m about 5’8″ and find the ponte knit pants to be quite short for my long legs. I do wish Eileen Fisher would make their pants longer—pants can always be hemmed, but not lengthened.

    Another tip–My black sllk EF pieces sometimes fade. I now use Woolite detergent for dark fabrics to keep them looking new.

    • January 11, 2018 / 6:17 am

      Yes. I have the same problem. The regular lengths are ankle length on me. The ankle length barely covers my calf. The only style I can wear now is the bootcut stretch crepe pant which has a 32 inch inseam. She used to do some styles in Tall. Those were the days…

      • Susan D.
        January 11, 2018 / 12:24 pm

        Yes, It is extremely frustrating. Maybe the pants seem long to Susan as she is petite, but for others the pants run very short.

    • Violeta Kelertas
      January 11, 2018 / 9:07 am

      I find Woolite to be hard on colors, but Nordstrom’s light liquid version is really easy on clothes.

      • Susan B
        Author
        January 11, 2018 / 9:29 am

        I agree, and also use the Nordstrom “Delicates” wash on my silk pieces. Also, I’ve found that adding a 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse for dark items helps prevent fading and greying.

        • Susan D.
          January 11, 2018 / 12:27 pm

          The Woolite I use is called Woolite Extra Dark Care. It is not regular Woolite detergent. I had been so disappointed in the rather expensive Eileen Fisher black silk items as they greyed quite quickly. That has stopped with the Woolite Extra Dark Care. I only use it on my black EF silk items.

          • LaQuita
            July 21, 2018 / 9:23 am

            You should try The Laundress delicate wash -it is wonderful, smells great and I wash all of my silks in it, never had a problem with fading

  2. Jennell Peteranecz
    January 11, 2018 / 4:09 am

    I’ve used ThredUP to buy Eileen Fisher. I can’t afford her even on sale…

    • Adele Miller
      January 11, 2018 / 4:47 am

      Occasionally, I find EF pieces at very good prices in various stores, and if you sign up online, you’ll receive notice of promotions, discounts, etc. Plus, birthday coupons. Over time, I’ve been able to buy some nice basics and have to say they wear and last beautifully, for years.

      • vtaloni
        January 11, 2018 / 6:32 am

        Adele, I don’t see where one can sign up on the EF site?

        • Kelly
          January 11, 2018 / 11:46 am

          I use “Shop it to me” and select the stores & brands to be notified for sales on – Eileen Fisher is one brand. I’ve bought some lovely used pieces from Grechen at slowre.com – online consignment for sustainable brands! (no conflict of interest for me -just a satisfied customer and one of her blog readers 😉

    • Sandra S
      January 20, 2018 / 2:51 pm

      Have you tried checking the items on http://www.EileenFisher.com/Renew? It’s an EF run website where they sell previously owned and fully refurbished EF items … very consistent with their earth friendly initiatives.

  3. BethS
    January 11, 2018 / 4:42 am

    I have to mention Talbots—-they seem to be going through a phase with tons of embellishment but their basics are terrific. Good quality, lots of size options and consistent fit. (Im a petite and the struggle is real) They always do navy. I especially like the “signature ” jeans & chatham pant.

  4. Kim
    January 11, 2018 / 4:57 am

    I am completely redoing my wardrobe b/c of weight loss (which is liberating on a couple of levels). Because of your suggestion, I think I’m going to give the stretch crepe pants a try. I also have been wanting silk tanks, so will be checking these out. I see there is only B&W, may get white and try dying. I have to define what *my* basics are, as well.

  5. January 11, 2018 / 4:59 am

    Yay I’m so glad you wrote this review Susan! I’ve been back & forth on whether to buy from Eileen Fisher for some time. Like you I’m a firm believer in spending on quality basics & I love their ethics but I wasn’t sure about their range. Not knowing anyone who shops there wasn’t helping matters. Now that I’ve read your post I’m going to start by getting the white shirt, something I’m in dire need of anyway.
    Not sure about the shoes though. I’ll wait to see if you do a follow up on those. Thank you xx

    • January 11, 2018 / 6:30 am

      I’m a convert to EF after reading Susan’s blog for a while. I find the washable crepe pants smart enough to wear for work in a professional services office, with a matching or coordinating jacket. Worn in temps up to 30 Celsius. No creasing, stays smart all day. I’ve also now worn on holidays, ranging from -5 (with thermals) up to 30. I agree they wash well in the sink if required. I have also bought the silk jersey tops in various styles over the past 4 years, and my go to tank is an EF black viscose one which has been worn for everything from the Aussie school run to semi formal dinners. I haven’t had as much success with the linen jersey – I think it’s the fabric itself rather than EF as I’ve had the same issues with other brands. I do like the linen/nylon though, beautiful in summer, even in Qld!

    • Queenie
      January 12, 2018 / 9:33 am

      I too have purchased EF based on Susan! I was very hesitant to spend the money. I found a pair of the stretch crepe pants at a consignment store; black and they were my size $37.00. I now have 2 back, midnight, ivory, olive and surplus. None bought full price. Nordstrom does price matching and the colors do go on sale. Got one of the pairs on eBay. I was on cold gentle. Line dry. They are definitely a staple and versatile. Have 2 jackets that were end of season great deals. 1 linen dress that was on sale. Did also get the sport platform sandal on sale; very comfy. I want my clothes to last and be multifunctional. So far so good except for the ponte pants. The waistband got all baggy and loose.

  6. Karen
    January 11, 2018 / 5:08 am

    I purchased two EF linen/cotton blend tees on sale. I was shocked when they quickly developed those annoying pinholes right at the belt line. I fully expect that kind of wear from an inexpensive tissue tee, but I presumed that an expensive garment from EF would last longer.

    • January 11, 2018 / 6:20 am

      Have you contacted customer service? If they won’t issue a refund, they do repair garments for free.

    • Cynthia Bestall
      January 11, 2018 / 12:58 pm

      What is it with these little holes lately? Seems almost every lightweight top I wear develops them? I don’t wear a belt or even jeans that much, usually EF elastic waist pants.

    • Chris
      January 11, 2018 / 4:43 pm

      Pinholes at belt line can be due to fabric rubbing against granite in your kitchen and/or batheoom. It’s strange but I’ve gotten them on many types of fabrics.

  7. JB
    January 11, 2018 / 5:44 am

    I have to echo Susan D. I am 5’8”and need a 32” inseam. I love the quality of EF but only very occasionally buy one of her tops and only on sale. Her system doesn’t work for me since I can’t buy tops and bottoms. I am suffering through this trend of cropped/ankle length pants which I think are a ploy by manufacturers to sell more clothing, by convincing women that their pants don’t need to cover the length of the leg, even though that would make our legs look longer! I try all kinds of tricks, such as buying Tall J Jill ankle length pants to get a full length pant. This is especially important if you live in a climate with a real winter and don’t want your ankles to freeze. Thanks for letting me sound off.

    • Susan D.
      January 11, 2018 / 12:30 pm

      I also buy the Tall J. Jill pants but find I am in between sizes!!! So frustrating!

    • Jill Ann
      January 11, 2018 / 1:04 pm

      I’ve also ordered Tall size ankle length pants (from Banana Republic), in order to get a full length pant! I’m ok with ankle length for casual pants & warmer weather, but for dressy pants and in colder weather, no! Probably the most flattering silhouette, IMO, is a wider leg pant that’s very long and worn with heels.

  8. Jeanne
    January 11, 2018 / 5:46 am

    I bought the crepe knit pants on line in a moss green (size S/P) that’s no longer offered, and they couldn’t be more comfortable. Unfortunately, they look like cheap polyester, and I wear them only in the house or for exercising. At the same time I bought a pair in midnight, and they’re more discreet but I still prefer wearing them with tall boots and a long top. My advice is stick to black with these. And I do think they are overpriced.

    • Susan D.
      January 11, 2018 / 12:32 pm

      I agree that the black crepe knit pants and the ink look a LOT better than the other colors. I actually have a beef with EF fabrics (and I own a LOT of Eileen Fisher) as they do not always hold up well. I do love the vicose jersey as it is VERY comfortable and I think it looks good–but it almost always pills. My J. Jill jersey items hold up much longer before they start to pill. Go figure!!!!

      • April 1, 2018 / 10:51 am

        Yes, I have noticed that, as well. So, I went back to J.Jill. They were, and are, for my lifestyle (first in education, now retired) more durable. I have pieces of J.Jill that are well over a decade old and have gone through a lot of wearings, washings, and even accidental tossings into the dryer–and they still look good, while a lot of EF fades and just starts looking out of shape. So, I’ll keep the “survivors” of EF, but stick to J.Jill for the most part.

  9. Jo
    January 11, 2018 / 5:46 am

    Love, love, love Eileen Fisher and have been wearing it for years. Agree that the pants need to be longer. I understand that one of the designers at Eileen Fishervnow works for J. Jill. You can find good basics there as well, including some that have the same look as Eileen Fisher. And if you live by an Eileen Fisher Company Store (their outlet), you can get some amazing buys.

    • Kathleen Ludgate
      January 11, 2018 / 9:00 am

      I agree about JJill. Be sure to try on as their clothing tends to run large.

  10. Nancy
    January 11, 2018 / 6:05 am

    My travel wardrobe always includes EF, mostly purchased at Rack or on sale at Nordstrom or Dillard’s. I feel comfy and elegant in her pieces. I also appreciated that she designed for plus sizes even though I have lost weight and can wear misses now.

  11. vtaloni
    January 11, 2018 / 6:35 am

    Thanks so much for this post, Susan. I purchased the crepe pants last year on your recommendation and love them.

  12. Elizabeth L
    January 11, 2018 / 7:22 am

    I’ve found the best prices for EF are in Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale every summer (July/Aug)- I try to pick up a piece or 2 every year. I’d add a shout out to Eddie Bauer Passenger Ponte skinny pants – I dislike the rest of EB’s line but these pants are the best, especially on sale (much less $ than but similar to EF)- I prob have 6 pair & they travel, wash & wear beautifully.

  13. January 11, 2018 / 8:02 am

    I jave a closet full of EF. Some are better than others. Crepe pants, unless you have slim thighs, are clingy and i agree the fabric is somewhat less than elegant. Mine wrinkle as well. Much apcare is needed on washing and drying EF silk tanks and tees as they shrink up by several inches if they are dried even on cool and they wrinkle if hung.
    That said, my go to tops are EF silk tanks and tees, cardigans, wool short coats, and tunics. Her scuba silk is brilliant but i never see it anymore. Polished, no wrinkles ever, perfect travel jacket in short and long.
    Thanks Susan for all your hard work. Best style and living blog on the net!

    • Susan D.
      January 11, 2018 / 12:37 pm

      Wrinkles don’t show much in the black and ink EF crepe pants, but my white(really ivory) crepe pants are a disaster. I can’t even get the wrinkles out with ironing!!! I really should have returned that pair.

  14. Patrish
    January 11, 2018 / 8:49 am

    EF quality is not what it once was….I was a huge fan. Fabric quality has gone straight downhill.
    And, who wants boxy tops/jackets anyway????? Tops do not have to be ‘fitted’ to be flattering but boxy does nothing for anyone. A dart or seam here and there does wonders for everyone.
    I really don’t understand the constant endorsement of EF. Buy less, buy better.

  15. January 11, 2018 / 9:09 am

    Am I the only one between sizes? I can’t find a good fit in EF and I tend to agree with Patrish above that many of the styles are so boxy and unflattering especially those long linen sack dresses. That said, Susan, you look lovely in them and show us how to mix them with accessories and other pieces to enhance their appeal.

    • Susan D.
      January 11, 2018 / 12:38 pm

      I don’t buy the boxy items either. WHY do they keep making them??

      • Susan B
        Author
        January 11, 2018 / 2:21 pm

        I keep asking the folks at my local EF store when the silhouettes are going to shift. The collections weren’t so predominantly boxy a few years ago.

  16. Sharon Lynaugh
    January 11, 2018 / 9:28 am

    J’aime Eileen Fisher. Quand se suis jeune fille et maintenant—une femme d’un certain âge.

  17. Katharina
    January 11, 2018 / 9:35 am

    When I find an EF item that fits well, then I seem to wear it endlessly and am so happy I made the purchase. I try to find the sales treasures but it seldom works that way for me. So if it fits, and its a basic, it is really worth the cost per wear factor. I am 5’2″ and struggle with fit proportions in pants wear, so I am really happy about the pants length inseams usually.

  18. elizaduckie
    January 11, 2018 / 9:39 am

    For EF on sale check out Garnet Hill.com I agree some of the quality has gone down. I have a basic pull on lightweight wool and nylon textured chocolate brown sweater from years and years ago that hasn’t worn out, or changed color or shape. Snagged it on sale and I doesn’t owe me anything. Cost per wearing must be down to zero by now. Most things are too shapeless for me.

  19. Francoise
    January 11, 2018 / 10:32 am

    The outfit in the middle with the white shirt, jeans and woven bucket bag is probably my all-time favorite. You looks so fresh and pretty. White looks great on you!

  20. Janet Maher
    January 11, 2018 / 10:52 am

    Hi Susan, Recently discovered your blog and can’t wait to see what you have to share each day! I, too, have been wearing tho EF stretch crepe pants for years and agree they are great for travel. However I have yet to find a way to pack them that prevents wrinkles. I prefer no creases. What’s your secret?

    • Susan B
      Author
      January 11, 2018 / 2:22 pm

      Hi Janet, thanks! I usually roll mine and haven’t noticed any issues with creasing.

  21. Kay
    January 11, 2018 / 11:32 am

    Try ebay. It’s possible to find good EF pieces there, some brand new. My EF items have been mostly good investments (except for a sweater that snags if you look at it wrong.) My new favorite is the Tencel fabric. It’s soft and washes well. I can’t wear the shoes at all. They just don’t fit. I guess my best investment was a reversible raincoat with a hood. I get lots of wear out of that one.

  22. Susan D.
    January 11, 2018 / 12:43 pm

    I don’t mean to be overly critical of Eileen Fisher garments. After all, I wear a lot of them (have two on right now—ponte black pants (a bit short though) and a vicose jersey turtleneck. BUT, I have to say this—it is getting harder and harder to find items that work for me. I won’t buy boxy and I won’t buy flowy and I won’t buy dresses that are too short (wrong proportions for my body). AND, I get tired of so much black. From time to time, I find really great pieces and are a bargain after you compute price per wear. That is what keeps me going back. I do like the black crepe pants except for the length issue. They are great for warm weather travel. I am wary of loosely woven sweaters of any fabric/yarn from EF as they are expensive AND snag easily. And then, there is the fading black silk. But, if you are patient and keep going back, you can find wonderful things. It helps that there is an Eileen Fisher store in Dallas and I can try things on. If I had to depend on internet orders, I would not be shopping with them. The sizes are not uniform throughout the styles.

  23. Emily Bryson
    January 11, 2018 / 12:54 pm

    Don’t forget Talbots for basics…..They came out with good quality basics in black and navy this year. Nothing works as well for me as black as the basic color, white and red!! We live in North Carolina, with most of the population from the North and ladies tend to so at Talbots, Neiman Marcus, and Eileen Fisher.

    • Susan B
      Author
      January 11, 2018 / 4:57 pm

      Hi Kristi, thanks and yes, it’s the jacket you see in the top photo on the right. I’d say to take your normal EF size. The color is hard to pin down. It looks different depending on the light, and what else you wear with it. If I had to describe it, I’d call it a greenish bronze.

      • Kristi
        January 12, 2018 / 8:57 am

        Oops – sorry – that was dumb. I don’t know how I overlooked that great photo!

        • Susan B
          Author
          January 12, 2018 / 9:35 am

          No worries. 🙂

  24. Phyllis Meckler
    January 11, 2018 / 5:18 pm

    I have a whole closet full of EF and it’s taken a lot of ordering and returning to get the fit and quality I want. I recently ordered a silk blouse that looked beautiful online but in person the silk was very poor quality. Back it went. Then I ordered two washable wool crepe kimono dusters in black and sea salt that were on sale, and I was delighted with the fit and quality. They can be worn with all the other EF pieces I have in my closet, and I know they will serve me for many seasons. EF is hit or miss but the beautiful pieces are worth the hunt.

  25. Jean
    January 11, 2018 / 5:45 pm

    Hi Susan, I concur! Eileen Fisher is the best basic for travel and for everyday. Since I own 5 pairs of the stretch crepe pants, they have become a staple in my wardrobe along with the pointe pants you show for winter. I often wear the tops and tees along with a sweater or jacket and accessories even for dress up occasions. Being petite, it is good to have a manufacturer that actually fits my 5”2” frame. They wear quite well. When EF pieces are no longer useful, I take them back to the EF store. They give you a card good for $5 per piece toward a future purchase. Like many others have commented, they are rather pricey and I only make several purchases a year, often on sale. A good trick is to simply ask the sales associate for a Family and Friends card. It entitles you to 25% off every purchase for a year beginning in March. You might want to check out the lightweight viscose jersey a-line tunic for spring. It’s already an essential piece in my wardrobe! Also, my very casual wardrobe has lately come from Target or Old Navy. Here outside of Philadelphia, it is very cold and I like to bundle up with the less expensive but cute brands and, yes, I wear Uggs when I am freezing!

  26. SuD
    January 12, 2018 / 6:32 am

    Some of EF clothes are too boxy or shapeless for my petite frame (I have to definitely try stuff on), but I love her crepe pants. I own 2 pairs that I bought on sale in black and navy, and they wash and wear well. They are a 3 season pants for me except on very humid days in summer (I usually never wear jeans in summer). I almost purchased the bone when it went on sale, but was disappointed that it was rather see through. So, my hunt for a soft white light weight pants continues.

  27. Kim Dinardosmith
    January 13, 2018 / 1:21 pm

    Eileen Fisher clothing has always been my wardrobe workhorses.I have a fold over waist pencil skirt,pants,silk camisoles,& linen dresses I have worn for years.These pieces are the base when I get dressed most mornings.I try to always buy on sale but when I find something I love know it will always be worth the money.Invest in classics & quality.P.S.Eileen Fisher is now offering free returns & Nordstrom always has free shipping both ways.

  28. Karen
    February 9, 2018 / 6:06 pm

    The EF mandarin collar white linen top is on sale at Nordstrom Rack, both straight and plus sizes, up to 52% off! I just bought the plus-size one here: https://www.nordstromrack.com/shop/product/2149776/eileen-fisher-organic-linen-shirt-plus-size?color=WHITE
    Straight size is here: https://www.nordstromrack.com/shop/product/2312736/eileen-fisher-mandarin-collar-button-shirt?color=WHITE
    Not affiliated with either Nordstrom or EF, just tryin’ to help a sister out!

  29. February 13, 2018 / 11:43 am

    Who makes the cute bag in the photo with the white linen tunic and jeans (bucket with net bag)?

  30. Cathleen
    March 7, 2018 / 9:07 am

    Why are you models not “of a certain age?”

    • Susan B
      Author
      March 7, 2018 / 9:21 am

      Hi Cathleen, I assume you’re not referring to the 3 photos at the top of the post. Those are photos of me, and at 61 I’m definitely “of a certain age.” 😉 The rest of the photos are from retailers’ websites, and unfortunately I have no control over the models they use.

  31. Marta Suarez
    April 28, 2018 / 5:58 am

    Excellent post. Thanks!

  32. Carrie
    August 20, 2018 / 6:41 am

    Love the open-toed mules in the very first photo. Where can I find those?

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 20, 2018 / 6:43 am

      Hi Carrie, are you referring to the orange ones I’m wearing, or the taupe in the product photo with the black pants?

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