Another retailer gets a makeover

So yesterday while at the mall to pick up some birthday cards, I passed by a window that made me do a double-take. In a good way. “Isn’t this where Ann Taylor used to be?” mused une femme. To my surprise, the window still belonged to Ann Taylor, but a very updated Ann Taylor. This retailer lost me a few years back when they decided to throw their lot in with a younger, thinner customer looking for (as the parlance goes) more “body conscious” styles (e.g. tight and skimpy). Any item with more fabric than a spaghetti strap was either a snorefest or just too “debutante-wannabe” for my taste.

But (can you hear une femme’s Hallelujah Chorus?), they are under the influence of a new designer, and look at some of what they’re offering for fall!

This tweed jacket looks GREAT on! The collar can be worn open or buttoned up, works either way.


A flattering pencil skirt cut at a perfect length!


I was sorely tempted by this cardigan in grey (color available in stores, doesn’t seem to be online).

If I were more of a blouse person, I would have been all over this ruffled number, c’est tres chic!

I need this scarf for Paris. (In the “Woodberry” color, s’il vous plait.) Content is 99% wool, 1% spandex.

A positively Chanel-esque necklace.

These heels are a bit too high pour moi, but love the shape and the tweed.

And that topper pictured at the top of the post…stunning!! I came home with the pencil skirt, and may go back for the tweed jacket and the scarf….
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29 Comments

  1. September 3, 2009 / 12:51 pm

    Very nice! One problem with those pants – notice how they pull across the crotch area. You could not sit down in those pants without getting horizontal creases across that area.

    I have a topper very similar to the first picture, in a camel color. I got it from a thrift shop last spring, Neiman Marcus for $10.

  2. September 3, 2009 / 1:06 pm

    Liked that scarf so much I went on the site but they do not tell you what the fabric is! I liked that the sizing goes up to 18 but still think they are not friendly to grown up women when most skirt lengths are 18 1/2″. I am tall so even their longest length, 23″) is too short for me.

    The tweed jacket looks great; its wool/rayon nylon blend good for overheated offices. At $195 well-priced; wonder how it will wear. Please buy and let us know 🙂

  3. September 3, 2009 / 1:15 pm

    I happened to click on an online display ad for AT recently and was also pleasantly surprised. I’ll have to check out the store to see what the sizing is like.

  4. September 3, 2009 / 4:03 pm

    These looks are helping me adjust my attitude to fall (not sure how that would work in your climate!) — just about ready to pack away all the light, over-worn cotton and get into something like that gorgeously ruffled cardigan.

  5. September 3, 2009 / 5:18 pm

    Back in the early ’90s I was positively devoted to Ann Taylor.

  6. September 3, 2009 / 5:37 pm

    One more problem with the pants – they’re no longer lined. I love(d) Ann Taylor as one of my last refuges for relatively up-to-date professional styles for a pear-shaped shorty (i.e. petite). Went in to the store recently, excited about the updates and tried on the pants. Nice wool fabric, not unexpected $130 price tag, but NO LINING. I can get my unlined updated styles in wool at the GAP for 1/2 the cost (and all of the itch).

  7. Maravonda
    September 3, 2009 / 5:44 pm

    Pseu! You SO NEED to get that sweater in grey, and the pretty scarf, and show us the photos. You have the best taste in things, I look to you for a lot “pulling together” of pieces…I have always had to stick with dresses as my mix and match skills are pretty limited. And we are a bit alike physically except I wasn’t blessed with your bosom (I would happily work with a “problem area” like that! I am still so excited about the new Talbots line I can’t stand it! What fun!

  8. September 3, 2009 / 5:53 pm

    Rita – I didn’t try any of the pants on, as I’m still well set with my Banana Republic light wool trousers. I love toppers, and hope we start seeing more of them. The collar on this one is really flattering.

    Duchesse – wish I knew, and they don’t seem to have the scarf in the store yet, either! I may take the plunge and order one, will let you know.

    Nancy – from what I tried on, seems to be pretty consistent with Talbots (although I think AT’s jackets are better tailored, not as boxy).

  9. September 3, 2009 / 5:56 pm

    Belle – I’m seeing lots of ruffled/ shirred scarves for fall. Love ’em!

    Sher – yes, it is your color, think you must get it!

    Couture Allure – I had good luck with the sizing yesterday, after many years of finding items cut too narrow in the bust and hips.

  10. September 3, 2009 / 5:59 pm

    Sal – they’re not on the inexpensive side, but the items I looked at were definitely worth a try-on.

    materfamilias – unfortunately it will be months before we hit jacket weather, but will wear them well into spring here.

    WendyB – I can picture that, and you’ve also done well with your Ossie devotion.

  11. September 3, 2009 / 6:04 pm

    Tanya – yes, that’s a bit much for unlined pants. As I mentioned to Rita, I’m a hard-core fan of the BR Jackson trousers which fit me quite well (and are lined). The pencil skirt I tried on *is* lined, BTW.

    Maravonda – oh, you are too kind. I’m probably going to pass on the sweater for now, as I’ve accumulated a few grey sweaters over the last couple of years. But I will recommend it, as grey goes with everything.

    I’m glad some of you are finding good items at Talbots! I hope voting with our wallets will encourage them to keep the designs stepped up.

  12. Rubiatonta
    September 3, 2009 / 6:32 pm

    Isn’t it funny — I can’t STAND lined trousers. (In fact, I’ve been known to drive my dressmaker nuts having her removing linings!)I live in New England where one needs an extra layer at times, but in cold weather, I’d rather add a pair of silk long johns. And yes, I have unlined wool trousers. No armadillo skin on my legs, either.

  13. Katriona
    September 3, 2009 / 6:45 pm

    Oh, yeah!! I am beginning to look forward to fall, what with Talbots, and now this. I lurve that jacket w/ the stand up collar– and the cardigan! “Just when I thought I was out– they pull me back in!” You’d better get that ruffled scarf… it’s fantastic!

  14. September 3, 2009 / 9:32 pm

    Just checked in at my local AT store, and the scarf is 99% wool, 1% spandex. It’s very soft and light. (They didn’t have the color I wanted in the store, so I’ll probably order.)

  15. Sher
    September 3, 2009 / 3:09 pm

    Love the scarf…and it’s my color 😉

  16. September 3, 2009 / 10:09 pm

    I really like their new collection too. I stopped in a store the other day after seeing some of their new advertisements. I like the colors, the jackets and the abundance of tweed items.

  17. Couture Allure Vintage Fashion
    September 3, 2009 / 3:25 pm

    Their print ads are shouting about the new changes, too. I’ve never been able to wear Ann Taylor, but it looks like they’ve overhauled their sizing too, so I’ll give it a try. BTW, I went into Talbot’s the other day based on your recommendation and ended up buying quite a few pieces!

  18. Sal
    September 3, 2009 / 3:58 pm

    I’ve been getting e-mails and snail mail from AT about their makeover, but haven’t gone for a look-see. Now I’m curious!

  19. September 4, 2009 / 12:46 am

    D.P.,

    Great stuff and your choices are brilliant.

    I really, really think you should get the sweater. Look at those details. Does it come in black? (I’m afraid that’s my first question about just about everything, so just ignore me. But I’m thinking: black sweater, black skirt=little black dress? Or a version thereof. . .)

    Black skirt, excellent move.

    As the queen of scarves it’s not surprising your going back for that one AND you can probably figure out a way to tie it to create the ruffled neck business that’s so big now.

  20. September 4, 2009 / 1:57 am

    LBR – I guess in these economic times, everyone is stepping up their game, eh? All of these meet my “wear-it-in-Paris” standard!

    Bonjour Madame – we are Sisters in Tweed. I gravitate toward the stuff like a toddler to electical outlets.

    tishjett – yes, they have it in black. The last thing I need is another black cardigan, but this one is special, non? They’re holding one for me to try tomorrow. And check out tomorrow’s post…something about scarves and the ruffled collar trend. 😉

  21. Frugal Scholar
    September 3, 2009 / 7:06 pm

    i like the scarf too. Like Duchesse, I wanted to know the fabric. I called Ann Taylor and was unable to get through! I tried again and the phone system had a meltdown. I was going to email Customer Service, but it takes a day for an answer.

    So the new Ann Taylor seems to have customer service issues.

  22. La Belette Rouge
    September 3, 2009 / 9:38 pm

    Ann Taylor needed a makeover. The last several years it was just not speaking to me. These pieces are saying to me “come into Ann Taylor”.

  23. September 4, 2009 / 5:11 am

    I really WANT that cardigan and scarf! Was this at Century City?

    Ann Taylor used to be one of my standard stores as the sizing was consistent and it meshed well with everything – and then they got weird, as you noted.

    Glad that they are back from the abyss.

  24. Frugal Scholar
    September 3, 2009 / 11:42 pm

    Thanks for scarf info. I was so annoyed with AT phone issue tht I wrote a post on it. BTW, the scarf looks a lot like a new Eileen Fisher scarf. The EF is a more “luxury blend,” but is also about twice the price.

  25. September 4, 2009 / 12:44 pm

    hollarback – the Century City store closed a while back. There’s still a (much smaller) store at Westside Pavillion.

  26. bronwen
    September 4, 2009 / 6:03 pm

    I was wondering if you could do a post on tweed? I’m kind of new to it. For example, what would you wear with a tweed skirt? Would a cotton sweater be too casual? I live in the deep south and work in an office that is a constant 73 degrees year round, so I shy away from clothing that is too warm, but I am loving the look of tweed.

  27. September 4, 2009 / 11:35 pm

    Karen – I did try the sweater on this afternoon, and wasn’t bothered by the sleeves, but found this wasn’t cut for me…too small in the bust, even the L, and then it’s too big everywhere else. So small-busted ladies, you’re going to love this sweater!

    I came home with the scarf in the Woodberry color (and it’s in my color palette, yay!) and the tweed jacket (which I LOVED just as much when I tried it on again today).

  28. Karen
    September 4, 2009 / 10:50 pm

    I asked about the “new fit” at Ann Taylor, since the ads have been piping them up, but the salespeople had no clue what I was talking about. It all fits the same, they say. That sweater is great except for the billowy sleeve at the wrist. Ruins the whole thing when it’s on.

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