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Summer is upon us in the DC Metropolitan area. While I write this wearing a light sweater and looking at rain outside my windows, we’ve had several days above 80 and even 90 degrees, and plenty of humidity. I’ve switched out my closet for my warm weather gear, but had a few holes to fill in my wardrobe for the season. J. Crew and J. Crew Factory are hit and miss retailers for me; they sometimes fit great and provide pieces I wear to death for years while other times everything fits like crap or is made from crap. And that’s when I don’t flip through their catalog or scroll through their site and furrow my brow wondering what Mickey Drexler is smoking to approve such pieces. J. Crew is going through transition – they’re lowering prices, trying to return to their classic style, and Jenna Lyons left the helm. Their fall catalog got me excited for this change, but this spring and summer… well read below:
I was looking for some interesting pieces to spice up my summer wardrobe basics. I also have a few staples getting worn and were looking for replacements.
Striped Boatneck T-Shirt – Ivory/Navy, XL
I already own this shirt, and it’s not the one getting worn out (you can see me wearing it in this post). I don’t know how I made this mistake… yes I do. I have a ton of striped shirts, all with different purposes. Heck, I’m wearing this same J. Crew striped tee as I type this! And I'm not used to J. Crew keeping the same item for more than one season. This one is a classic – I like the stripes a hair larger but it’s not bad. Good weight, nice fit, a style I wear often and one of my favorites. Such a favorite, I own two. So while this is really nice, I don’t need another one.
Seaside Pant in Chambray – 16
I will wear shorts in summer, but I don’t feel very polished in them. Super lightweight pants are great for backyard barbecues, sightseeing, and times when it’s hot, but I don’t want to have it all out there. These pants looked cute and breezy and the type that would still look chic when creased and crumpled. And they may be, but not for my figure. These pants are not made for someone with a juicy booty and wide calves. They were a bit loose in the waist, loose in the front but skintight over my bum, loose in the thighs and then got tight in the calves. In summary, they looked like crap on me. But they’re well made and if you have a straighter frame they could be great with a linen tank, breezy camisole, or a voile tunic. Miss.
Off the Shoulder Chambray Top – 14
So I thought this top this with the Seaside Pant would give the look of a jumpsuit but let me pee. This top is terrible. It’s really short, I could hardly tuck it in, there’s no room for boobs, the sleeves puff out weird, it’s just all in all bad unless you’re 17 and all bones. Miss.
J. Crew Wrap T-Shirt – Fiery Sunset, XL
I love wearing full skirts in summer, but have a hard time finding tops to go with them that don’t hide my shape but don’t show off too much. This t-shirt looked utterly brilliant, no need to knot my tees and it would look more polished too. And it is exactly like that in person. If you order it, it’s going to look completely cray when you open it, like a pair of longjohns. But you wrap it, knot it, and it has room for arms, room for breasts, comes to the perfect length where it will cover enough of your waistband to not show skin but not so much it looks bulky. The only problem is… I have nothing to go with it. I don’t know what I was thinking, none of my summer skirts go with red. I just liked the color so much I was blind to this fact. And it’s a gorgeous bright red with a hint of neon or orange to it, and a gorgeous weight. The XL had plenty of room, I could have possibly gone down to L if I wanted a more fitted look. But I returned it because it’s not practical for my current wardrobe. But don’t be surprised if you see me wearing it later this summer in a different color. So hit?
Arty Sculpture Earrings
These are super cool looking, super lightweight, but were a bit too yellow of gold for my taste. And I don’t really need them. But if you don’t have any statement earrings, these are a great choice and will have people giving you compliments all day long.
Vintage Cotton V-neck T-Shirt – Black, XL
Reader Jennie emailed me asking if I’ve found a good replacement for the now-discontinued Old Navy Vintage V-neck tee which was the BOMB. And no, I haven’t and that is why I ordered this to see if this v-neck tee could work. It doesn’t. It’s really soft stretchy fabric, the kind that clings and stretches out on curvy frames. It looks a bit heathered or distressed in the picture but in person it just looks old. The neck is HUGE, and that says a lot for a gal who has no problem showing off cleavage. It’s really long, and it looked faded in the way that it’s an old shirt that needs to be donated, not in a cool way. I found this to be a major fail.
Muscle Tank Top with Sequin Palm Trees – XL
This embellished tank is clearly a hit, I wore it last week on the blog and have worn it twice other times in real life. It’s cute, and it launders well (I put it in a lingerie bag inside out so the sequins wouldn’t catch on anything). I like that it’s a pretty seasonless color and pattern so I can even wear it in winter with black and darker denim.
J. Crew Factory
I find each summer I have solid tops and solid bottoms that end up requiring accessories and styling to make an outfit. I always wish I had more interesting tops so I could throw on a top and a bottom and look put together. And speaking of bottoms I needed at least one more pair of shorts for the season.
Palm Leaf Collector Tank Top – XL
This printed tank looked cute. The print wasn’t too twee, and I thought I could wear under blazers to work but also style it with denim shorts and sandals as well as boho long skirts. I wasn’t sure if the grey one from J. Crew would be too sparkly. This top looks cheap. It’s more of a cream color than ivory and it fits terribly so my bra shows under the arms and all of the straps in front. Miss.
3” Linen-Cotton Boardwalk Shorts – Ivory and Warm Cerise (16)
I mentioned before how much I love the J. Crew Factory Boardwalk Shorts. My navy pair is starting to look worn… main reason is because Karl also wears them when doing yoga at home and such. The hem has fallen and they've gotten a bit faded after two years of consistent wear by two people. I can’t be the only one who has the same waist size as their partner! I prefer the 3” length so I ordered in two colors, figuring the ivory would be a good basic and dress up nicely and the warm cerise is a nice contrast to neutrals, chambray, and all my navy striped tees. While my navy ones are 14 and are fine, I decided to go with 16 this time so they wouldn’t be so snug on the rear and thighs. The 16 is a bit too big, but not so much that they fall down. The cerise is great, it’s a coral-red color and is exactly what I hoped (wearing them as I write this with a navy and white striped tee). The ivory is terrible. Somehow the same fabric looks weird and cheap in this color plus they are ridiculously sheer, like see the seams on your nude underwear sheer. So a hit and a miss.
Kay Nguyen says
I always notice a significance difference when it comes quality by outlet and regular store! You think it’s a bargain but you still get you pay for, sometimes you get a deal but only SOMETIMES. Love your blog <3
Love these hits and misses posts! Went to order the wrap tee and the sequined palm tree tank, but the palm tree top is no longer available in that color combo and as others have mentioned, the wrap tee is gone except for white, backordered until September. Bummer! But please keep these posts coming, they have become one of my favorite features on your site!
oh how I miss that Old Navy vintage tee! wish I’d bought several at the time, but I bought only one.
Hope Springs says
Just to add to your list, I tried the vintage cotton T’s with the Marcel George watercolor T and the print was darling. But the white fabric was so thin there was already a hole in the sleeve. The gray was a bit better because of color only, but not as cute. Meh.
I do, however, have two of the striped T’s and love them.
Allie, I love when you do these reviews–thanks! J Crew Factory has pants similar to the Seaside pants you tried, but the Factory pants are not joggers & cuff at the bottom. I bought mine (chambray) last summer & love them–and I am not tiny & I have large calves. I went back this spring & purchased the white linen version–same great fit (comfortable & loose) but totally see-through–ugh! Had to return them but am eyeing the olive green version.
if you’re looking for sort of flowy, breezy, lineny draw-string with elastic waist pants, Target has had them for the past several seasons. They run super LONG, which long-legged me loves but you might find them too long. I have them in chambray, a tannish linen, and a chambray stripe. They work great for me as casual summer pants. They wash up great and cost about $30.
I had passed on all those wrap tops not sure that I needed them and now you have me rethinking them! I have been doing pretty good with JCREW factory skirts this year. They have been remaking some of the main line items from last season that I missed in all cotton so I totally snapped them up.
Lisa McKuin Neihouse says
Gosh that wrap tshirt is gone online -except for the white which is backordered until Sept. I love that top.
I ordered the boardwalk shorts at your suggestion and they’re working out for me so far. I got black and pink/rose. I’ve been wearing the black pair non stop!
Have you been peeking in my closet? I have an entire drawer of striped tops and my favorite is still my very old Gap striped T that has been washed and worn for maybe 12 years with no signs of wearing out. I just wore it yesterday and last week in France. We’re not alone in our love of stripes. The seaside town of Honfleur, France is wall to wall shops selling mariner style striped Ts every size down to onesies for the well dressed bebe..
And those chambray pants; I bought it’s near twin last year and maybe wore once or twice. So not flattering. It’s been donated. Not going to make that mistake again. No doubt I’ll find new ways to make me look bad while trying to look chic.
But thanks for the tip on washing embellished tops. I’ve been hand-washing and that gets old real fast.
Lisa McKuin Neihouse says
Hey Patricia – we going to Europe for a month at the end of June. A week in London, a week in Paris , then Frankfurt, Switzerland, then Florence and Rome Italy. It is our first trip to Europe – my husband, my 15 year old son and me. Any tips? We are staying in VRBO apartments in most places. Got a Eurorail pass to travel within Europe.
We were traveling with a group in France but in London we were on our own. Most amazing thing I did was a trip to the British Library near Kings Cross tube station. Their rare manuscript collection room is mind blowing. You just walk in, no appointment needed. I saw Jane Austen’s teenaged notebook with partially completed novels as she was learning to be a writer along with her tiny spectacles. A letter Michaelangelo wrote to his nephew on how to choose a wife. The earliest copy of Beowulf. Manuscripts with author corrections from numerous authors from Oscar Wilde to Noel Coward and many others. The Magna Carta is in a small side room. These are all original documents, right in front of you. Blown away doesn’t begin to cover it. I thought my brain was going to explode.
We did a London Walk (walking tours led usually by actors in between acting gigs) on Darkest Victorian London all about the slums and many sites referred to by Charles Dickens in his novels. You can find more at http://www.walks.com/
The Victoria and Albert has “Balenciaga: shaping fashion” running right now and their jewelry collection is stunning. Most of the museums in London are free but there’s a fee for the Balenciaga show.
Your family will probably want to see Windsor or Hampton Court Palaces. They’re fascinating. Also the war museum and Churchill’s war rooms are interesting too.
Hope this helps. The subway system in London and Paris is fantastic. In London, you buy an “Oyster” card and pre-load it. And at the end, you can collect any unused fares. They’ve got people in the larger tube stations to help you figure this out. And in Paris, buy a carnet or booklet of metro tickets. It’s cheaper that way.
Also anywhere in France you ALWAYS greet the shop staff “Bonjour Madame (or Monsieur). They’re much happier to help you that way.
I live in London (and was just in Paris for the weekend) so happy to help out if you need any recommendations!!
I live in England and visit London regularly. The V & A is my favourite museum and it’s generally not hideously crowded. Your 15 year old might like the rather creepy Wellcome Collection. You all might enjoy hiring a paddle boat on the lake in Hyde Park, or just admiring all the waterfowl. To save money, buy sandwiches, water and fruit from small supermarkets instead of spending £10 a head in cafes like Pret. In Paris, I’d say give yourself a couple of goes at the Louvre. It’s soooo big. I like normal churches more than the very crowded Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur as they’re nearly as pretty and much more atmospheric. Some areas of Paris are pretty dodgy, especially after dark. Frankfurt’s fairly dull but there are excellent dinosaurs at the museum. I haven’t been to Switzerland, Florence or Rome. Generally, Europe is closed on Sundays, especially the morning so factor that in. In England, have Sunday lunch in a pub. Also, I think you’re going to be pretty tired with all that travel so I’d say build in rest and don’t try to pack too much in. I’ve found that French people really like you to try a bit of French but pretty much anywhere else you can generally get by in English (with maybe ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ in the local language). Have fun! 🙂
I LOVE that knot-tie T-shirt! I have like nineteen maxi skirts and it would go with at least four of them, haha. But I totally feel you on the “This is gorgeous but I literally have nothing I would ever wear with it” moment! I do that all the time!
Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen says
Glad I’m not the only one! And yes, this top is perfect for maxi skirts. It looks like a v-neck, but I found it more a traditional T-shirt neckline but without the thick collar.