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I was going to add this to tomorrow's Weekend Reads but since it's based on shopping I decided to share it here. A story about Ross Dress for Less and what it meant to the author, as well as the history of the retailer. (Jezebel)
Growing up, we were bargain shoppers. For most of my childhood, toys, clothes, and homegoods were acquired at yard sales and the occasional thrift store. When our family had a bit more money, we upgraded to TJ Maxx and Marshall's. There was a TJ Maxx in Bowie, Maryland that was our JAM. We knew what day deliveries arrived and would shop that, to get the best selection.
Guess jeans, Champion sweatshirts, Estee Lauder fragrances, Calvin Klein coats, even a trench from Barney's were all found there and kept me looking “cool” even if I didn't have cool kid funds.
Since I live on the East Coast, Ross arrived later than Marshall's and TJ Maxx… and at least in this area, was never as good. While you could find nicer department store brands at Marshall's, the brands at my local Ross were more similar to what was found at Kohl's or even K Mart. That didn't stop me from hitting up Ross all the time when furnishing college- and post college-apartments. I bought so many colored bottles and planters I swore I'd love and use for decades… I think most of them ended up at my mom's house as my tastes and places of residence changed.
Maybe my tastes kept changing, but I have found in the past few years that none of these stores have the selection they used to. I know in the Wardrobe Oxygen Community on Facebook we've discussed how Nordstrom Rack, isn't the treasure trove it used to be, but I think with online shopping, these stores have taken a hit with selection. From Zulily to Poshmark, there are so many online ways to save.
When I started this blog, I regularly shared my scores from these retailers. Now, I just find workout leggings for less than $20 that may or may not be awesome and plenty of heavily discounted Le Creuset in every size and color I don't need.
Do you still find the scores at Marshall's, TJ Maxx, Ross, etc. that you did in the past? Do you find you shop such retailers as much now that you have the internet to search for sales?
Boden has 20% off full-priced items through Sunday. No need for the promo code, as soon as you visit the site they will add it to your cart. Selection is low in sizing, so don't get your hopes up. I ordered this top in the color Chambray, this dress in Ivory Exotic Escape, and this shirt in the red, white, and navy stripe (every July I wish I had something that was patriotic without screaming ‘Murica and this is subtle enough to wear year-round). I almost bought this dress even after discussing the color brown in the WO2 Community thanks to this article from Vox. I guess I should be grateful so many pieces were out of stock in my size… at least my wallet is grateful!
Boden is available up to size 20/22 and has petites up to size 10. I am a 14 in Boden, though I would benefit from having their petite range go up to my size. I find the pants and jeans to be too narrow for my solid legs and curvy rear, but have had great success with their structured and knit tops and dresses.
Shop My Picks from Boden:
The Equilibria sale continues through May 9th. I was a bit confusing with my wording before; the Signature Boxes at this link are 30% off. If you are a first-time customer use WARDROBEOXYGEN at checkout and get an additional 15% off your order. If you are shopping for Mother's Day place your order TODAY to ensure it arrives in time!
When perusing Nordstrom for my shoe posts this week, I saw their link to markdowns up to 40% off. I clicked thinking it would be winter clothes but no… it's some good stuff! Lots of Beauty, it's like they're competing with the Sephora Sale. Even my beloved NARS tinted moisturizer and concealer are part of the sale. So is the Vitamin C serum from Kiehl's that got rid of my sun spot!
But the sale also has fashion: jeans from Good American, Madewell, and Kut from the Kloth, clothes from brands like Madewell and Eileen Fisher, and lots of shoes from popular brands.
They also have homegoods, technology, fitness, and accessories. If you're into that trendy Always Pan, it's on sale. Want those popular Bala weighted bracelets for workouts? Nordstrom has them on sale. It's totally worth a look, just use the filter system on the right to narrow it to what you need and the price you are willing to pay.
Shop my Picks from the Nordstrom Sale:
The Nécessaire sale continues through this Sunday where you can get 10% off your entire order (even on the discounted sets) with promo code WARDROBE_OXYGEN. I really appreciate the quality ingredients Nécessaire uses – they are facial skincare level, but I also appreciate the brand's commitment to sustainability and transparency, which they delve into at this link.
What I Bought and What I Thought
I still have boxes of denim in my bedroom to shoot and review. I just haven't been in the mood to do so. Vaccine shots, period, and nice weather where my husband is working at the garden and in the yard just make it the last thing I want to do. But I am still loving and wearing these jeans from Gap I featured in this blog post.
They are the High Rise Cheeky Straight from Gap, I am wearing a size 32. They are available up to size 35 and come in petite, tall, and short. They have been washed several times and even gone in the dryer and I still love them. For “traditional” denim (there is 1% Spandex but they feel more like standard, not stretch jeans and are heavier in weight) they're quite comfortable. There was a break-in period like most traditional denim, but after that first wear they've been amazing and have molded to my body.
The specific color and distressing I have is sold out in a lot of sizes, but below I've shared all the jeans from Gap in this silhouette as they have them in a variety of washes and several are on sale:
Shop Gap High Rise Cheeky Straight Jeans:
Soma has this new RESTORE collection of sleepwear, loungewear, and accessories that is infused with aloe and they were nice enough to send me some to review.
Infused with aloe… that sounds nice and Soma says it is to help RESTORE your body… but what the heck does that mean? The Soma site and the marketing that came with my gift don't offer details.
I did some research and the website Startup Fashion shares this about aloe-infused fabric:
“To create a textile that is soothing to the skin, fabric can now be infused with aloe vera ‘capsules.' These capsules are microscopic, airtight, and waterproof. They open to release the gel only when the fabric is touched or rubbed. Essentially, every time an infused garment is worn, the aloe is applied to the skin. In addition to the skin benefits, aloe also adds a few interesting features to the fabric itself. It is naturally anti-bacterial; and so not only does it keep clothing cleaner, it also combats body odor.”
Okay, that sounds super cool, especially for sleep and loungewear. Who doesn't want happier skin and clothes that stay clean and smell-free longer? The thing is, some folks have an allergic reaction to aloe vera (Healthline) so this may not be the best for them. I don't have a reaction to aloe, so I wore all this stuff happily.
The Soma RESTORE Cotton R&R Robe looks like a really luxe white Turkish cotton robe. It's very plush and thick and soft but when you put it on you realize how it is far softer and silkier feeling than a standard robe.
However, this robe, even infused with aloe, is still just as absorbent. I have the L/XL (it also comes in S/M and XXL; I'd say mine would fit up to a 16) and it's plenty roomy for me to have everything covered, even if I am sitting. There is a grosgrain ribbon inside for an internal tie to keep things closed, and the self-belt cinches tight even if you don't knot. It's a very well designed robe.
I also received the Soma RESTORE Aloe Knit Sleeveless Top and Knit Shorts in Gray Ink, size Large (they're available in XS-XXL). First glance, these look like slightly faded activewear, but again it's all about the feeling against the skin and dang, I love these.
The fabric is like typical cotton jersey, but there is this non-creepy silky feeling. Maybe I am not the only one who finds silky fabric to sometimes feel creepy, especially when it's hot and humid, but it's this icky feeling like something is wet or greasy even if it's not. I often get that feeling from cupro and sandwashed silk, and especially with synthetics trying to be sandwashed silk. Anyway, no creepy feeling with this set.
The shorts are 4″ length which is cute, but isn't long enough for me to keep my thighs from sticking together on a sweltering summer night. But I do like them for lounging, and the pair together is very cute.
I wish I had sheets in this fabric. Soma has pillowcases in this fabric, and I wonder how that would do for my curly hair compared to a silk pillowcase (or the Ettitude bamboo one I use because silk pillowcases are my jam in the winter but you guessed it, feel creepy once it gets warmer).
Shop Soma RESTORE:
If you're looking for hand weights and are struggling (because if you're not aware, weights have become this year's toilet paper in regard to scarcity) check out Best Buy. We found the TRU-GRIT brand of weights there in stock in every size and even on sale! They ship free via UPS and arrive in less than a week.
Shop Weights at Best Buy:
I've found I've shopped Best Buy more in this past year than I think my entire life. Sure, they have TVs and dishwashers, and game consoles, but Best Buy also carries makeup mirrors, toothbrushes, light therapy lamps, hair dryers, composters, bidets (I have this one and can't recommend it enough), and much more. Seriously, use Best Buy as Google and you'll be surprised how much they have there (and how less likely you'll need to shop Amazon).
Here is a record of the political donations made by Best Buy. (Open Secrets) Best Buy also suspended donations to lawmakers who challenged election results. (The Hill)
I have been in love with FARM Rio for a while. A sustainable Brazilian fashion brand, FARM Rio plants a tree in the Amazon for every purchase made (and this is on their site or other retailers that sell the brand). By May 2020, FARM Rio was able to donate 50,000 trees to be planted. FARM Rio has supply chain transparency, is certified eco-responsible, and has reduced water usage and emissions by 50% while incorporating more responsible fibers for their collection. All this and FARM Rio has the most colorful and joyful fashion!
Only thing is FARM Rio only goes up to size XL, which is a US size 16. And it's not cheap. And the larger sizes sell out FAST. I have been crushing on their dresses and when I went to their site to look for items for a blog post I saw this dress. And I ordered it in Large because friends have told me that FARM Rio runs large and based on the single Rent the Runway order I had with FARM Rio, I agreed finding it roomy even in the bust and shoulders.
This dress was awful. It was too big, too long, and the fabric so stiff I looked like a circus tent. That being said, the fabric was nice quality, the colors saturated, the stripes lined up at seams, the little details made it an incredibly special piece. Like the kind of thing you'll wear for years because it's not trendy and it's so whimsical and fun. But it wasn't for me, and I immediately packed it up and sent it back.
But then I saw this top and I was like… this is more my scene and likely would be worn more. I could wear it half-tucked into my Gap jeans seen above, or fully tuck it into my high-waisted flared jeans from Talbots seen in this post. And I could wear it untucked with denim shorts or white shorts or navy shorts. And I could wear it in the fall. I saw it was available at Nordstrom and I had a store credit so I ordered it in Large.
I love it. It's lighter-weight cotton but still opaque; it's the kind of breezy top with sleeves that you can comfortably wear on a summer evening. I have plenty of room in this top, but it's not oversized.
I love the pops of color and the beaded tassels; like the dress, it has such special details that make it… well worth the expensive price tag. Because FARM Rio isn't cheap. But honestly, their prices are comparable to other sustainable fashion brands and I find the details and construction stellar.
I'll likely style this and have it in an outfit post soon, but I liked it so much I had to share it now!
Shop FARM Rio:
As always, the comment section is open to share sales, scores, and warnings to others of what isn't worth their valuable money. Have a great weekend!
I have 90s nostalgia for Filene’s Basement, both the one on Connecticut Ave while at GW and where I grew up in New England.
You might remember I used to be a TJMaxx mega fan. I rarely go there now, but if I do, it’s to walk around and clear my head. I look at jewelry, which is still a good selection, and housewares and leave. I haven’t shopped clothing there in so long: ditto Marshall’s. I am pickier about what I’m putting into my closet because I don’t want a huge wardrobe.
Ross was never much of a clothing go to because the quality around here, as you noted, was always lacking. I liked it for low traffic home accessories but after awhile junky knick knacks also bothered me. So in short: I don’t shop them anymore.
But I still do HomeGoods and Home Sense, which are owned by TJX. I like them for clearing the head browsing but also to buy basics like towels and sheets or replace a throw pillow or lamp. Quality is much better than their brethern.
Apparently I had a lot to say on this. 🙂
Well said for TJMaxx. I like to calmly look at pretty things during lunch breaks. Most of what I buy are clearance items for kids or gifts. We have TJMaxx and Belk in my town, otherwise it’s 50+ miles to other department stores and Target.
Ann Marie says
I still shop at Marshalls and T.J. Maxx but it has gotten harder to buy things there as I have gotten older. Like another commenter, as I have gotten older, I need better quality shoes, in a wider width and with good arch support. I also don’t buy cheap bags anymore. With that said, I still think there are plenty of things to be found there and it really depends on the location of the Marshalls or T.J. Maxx. The one down by my job in the financial district often had better items then the one by my apartment, for example. Before the pandemic, I would often browse there once a week during my lunch, especially if the weather was bad. Sometimes you would find a treasure. That is half of the fun of it.
I’ve never had the patience to shop at Ross, Marshall’s (is that still around?), or TJ Maxx. Nor DSW (I never find anything there, though my sister has). But for some reason, I’ve had the patience to shop Nordstrom Rack. In fact, NR can be dangerous for me. I’ve had such great finds there — James Perse pants, Natori and Wacoal bras, Hue socks. Also, random Vince tops and sweaters. I guess, because it really does seem like NR gets a lot of the regular overstock from Nordstrom? Real brand name stuff?
Joy Anzalone says
The Farm Rio prints are gorgeous! I also ran into issues finding my size. I’ll try again another time.
You look great in that Farm Rio blouse, Aly. FR is my favorite brand rn as I’m sure you can tell from my Instagram stories. I’ve even written them to ask them to go larger than an XL but no luck yet.
Marshall’s and TJ Maxx may have more competition for apparel these days, but they have made up for it with housewares.
Last Spring with the big lockdown I was busy reorganizing my cupboards and wanted some bins, and a new pan or two.
Marshalls’ beat whatever I was going to order from Amazon by at least half, and sometimes more.
I’m still shopping there, just sometimes for different things.
I tried the Gap jeans in my usual 31 size, and I could not even begin to button them up (I also didn’t realize they are a 5-button fly, which I’m not crazy about). I wonder if they sent me a mis-sized pair? Gap usually runs large if anything.
And Alison, how do you feel about trend versus what works for you? For a long time, I’ve embraced dark denim because it is more flattering to my figure. Not sure the really faded wash is my friend.
I still shop TJMaxx but I do agree it is not what it was in the past. The TJMaxx in Bowie was the JAM..I lived around the corner from that store many moons ago. I still enjoy walking around searching for the fun finds, you can still score great earrings and things for the home! Love the Farm Rio top..keeper for sure!
Giuditta Reppi says
Alison, your hard work is paying off; you’re looking fantastic!
I love Farm Rio but nothing I’ve ordered has ever fit me right. Either a giant tent or, in the case of a lovely jumpsuit I recently tried, camel toe hell. I want to love them but I think they are not cut for me.
Has anyone ever shopped from the Poetry catalog? I receive these frequently (I think its a UK brand?) but have never taken the plunge. Alison, you need to be the guinea pig!
The TJMaxx in Bowie was also my favorite place to shop growing up and a great way to find the more expensive brands of shoes and clothes at a reasonable price. I still occasionally shop at my local TJ, but agree that it is very hit or miss now. I find they carry some of the clothing and jeans brands that I like… but the pieces always seem to have some weird detail or sizing quirk which is probably why they landed there in the first place. I treat a trip to TJ more like thrifting now; it’s a fun way to kill some time and maybe stumble on a unique or fun find, but not likely a place to buy all my wardrobe staples anymore. Although with COVID it has been a LONG time since I’ve been browsing in any retail stores.
I logged many hours at the TJMaxx in Bowie! I lived in Crofton in the early 90s. TjMaxx used to be almost exclusively where I shopped for me and my kids but I agree in recent years I rarely find anything and so much of my shopping is done on line, watching for sales at my favorite stores. Most of my shoes were from TJMaxx and I shopped there weekly. As I aged I moved to shoes that are better from my feet. I miss those trips to TJs but it just doesn’t work for me anymore. Love that boho top! It looks great on you!
Honestly fast math will tell you that there will be few real bargains at TJMaxx/Marshall’s/Ross/Rack/Off 5th etc. As best as i could google this morning there are around 4,000 stores in the US. On the other hand, i would only count about 1,000 Department stores, excluding Kohl’s & JC Penny’s. Even including them i only got to 3200 locations. So that means that there is no way these “off price” stores are selling leftovers and over stocks, and must be selling merchandise produced for that channel.
Alison Gary says
Yup, it’s just like outlet stores, which used to have leftovers but now they just make cheaper merch and sell it instead. People buy for the brand but don’t get the style or quality the brand is known for.
Anthropologie (I know there are issues with this brand) occasionally has a few Farm Rio pieces in plus sizes. They also tend to sell out quickly. I purchased a hot pink cheetah maxi last year and it’s awesome, and the 2x fit perfectly true to size.
Alison Gary says
I heard a rumor that Anthro was also reducing their plus selection (J. Crew too… WTF brands!) and that they had a special plus collab with FARM Rio and it would be ending. I am devastated, and the current plus selection of the brand on the site shows this may be true? https://bit.ly/332cvSD two dresses (one short, one long), two bathing suits, and a cardigan is all that is available now. I know this time last year there was far more selection!