Burberry Trench Coat
Style, Wardrobe

Looking Beyond the Labels

Going through the process of identifying the holes in my wardrobe and searching for replacements, I’m finding myself stumped on where to find good replacements. I’ve been a longtime shopper at several stores that boast classic style, but lately, when on their websites, I’ve found myself turned away. A particularly egregious example is one I stumbled across lately, where a well-known retailer whose name is synonymous with classic pieces was proudly selling, and I kid you not, stretch sateen cargo pants.

First of all, that would be appalling from any retailer (though I suppose to each their own–there must be a market out there for these). But from this particular retailer I was very disappointed. I’ve noticed that their branding has been all over the place lately, and it’s getting harder and harder to find good pieces from them. When I do see a good piece, the quality that I valued isn’t necessarily there any longer.

So that begs the question: when do you stop buying things from a particular brand? And where do you go to shop when the stores you’ve always shopped at no longer have the same quality of your vintage pieces from those stores?

I’ve been trying to shop at smaller retailers–one, because I believe that the world should get smaller, in some ways. I love the town where we live because I know so many of the people who run the shops here; I like being able to step into the bookstore, for instance, and speak with the owner, exchange news about the people we have in common. I like having the shop around the corner not be a Fox Books (#ifyouknowyouknow, though honestly I’d give a lot for Fox Books over the big-A retailer)!

The problem with the internet–one of several, at least–is that there is so much out there. It’s impossible to winnow your way through the thousands of wonderful small retailers out there. I rely on the word of friends and trusted influencers (Nan Philip, Muffy Aldrich, and Amy Stone, for instance!) for my recommendations. I’d also like to hear from you–where do you find your staples nowadays? I’m eager to learn!

4 thoughts on “Looking Beyond the Labels

  1. This is such a major challenge: Brooks Brothers, J. McLaughlin, J. Crew — all absorbed into bigger brands. I still find great quality and choice at J. McLaughlin. Brooks is hit or miss. Like you, I’ve been trying smaller retailers. My trusted source at the moment: Fewer and Better Blog! THANK YOU!!!!

  2. I’ve had good luck with Poshmark, as I don’t mind consignment. Once you know what size you wear in a particular brand, you can find many almost-new items for a fraction of retail cost.
    I’ve purchased some wonderful vintage wool blazers, older Bean khakis, and JCrew sweaters there in the past year, and been delighted to find quality, cuts and styles that you can’t find in stores now. I also like that it doesn’t add to the buy-and-throw-out cycle of fast fashion.
    I’m a big fan of Muffy Aldrich too!

    1. I don’t mind consignment either, though I have to limit my Poshmark scrolling as it’s a bit too tempting…! I think consignment, and vintage clothing, is wonderful on so many levels, not least of which is avoiding the fast fashion cycle.

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