Spring hits, fails, and near misses

In my search for spring/ summer items to refresh my wardrobe, I've come up with a few hits, many more fails, and a few question marks. I'm sorry I don't have photos of me wearing any of these items but I'll give you mini-reviews. 

I won't discuss footwear (yet). 

The Clear Wins (all from J. Crew) 

Collection Silk A line skirt in nightfall freesia. I read the reviews and sized up (which was good since I needed to). It is silk but it has pockets, which keeps it from feeling precious. And it goes with almost every top in my closet and both my denim toppers. I think it's a win. Nice change of silhouette. Replaces my VC striped skirt which had pilled from constant wear over three years. 

Linen boatneck tees -- these were a no-brainer for me. I already own a navy, a white, and a cobalt one. Despite being delicate they have lasted for three summers with a lot of wear. (I wash them in delicate and lay flat to dry). They're a summer staple offering coverage without sacrificing coolness. They replace several worn out tees. 

Striped crewneck sweater -- more of a spring item but since our weather is still freezing I have already worn it about 5 times since it arrived a week ago. Nice quality. Fluid, slightly boxy fit. 

Slim chino short -- nice fabric, a bit like a BF short, easy to wear. Some show through in the pockets but this is not a deal breaker for me in this not-tight style. I may cut the back pockets out. 

The Fails  (Aritzia and The Bay) 

Wilfred Octave blouse -- way too cropped even for short-waisted me, and snug in the bust. Back they go. (I knew they would be cropped but not to the extent they are.) 

Trompette dress -- in the same size as the blouses, loose rather than snug, with no possibility of wearing a bra and if I went bra-less (which I wouldn't) I would be exposing my entire side-boob. No. Just no. 

Free People tank -- ugh. Wrinkly, too big in the body, too short. 

The Maybes

Theory Wendell top -- I love this style and this is in a trans-seasonal modal fabric. Fits great, looks great, on sale (and gets rave reviews). But it's rather on the short side (do you detect a theme here) so I am not sure whether I'll keep it. I need to experiment in the closet a bit first. 

1 State peplum blouse -- this one is prettier in person than in the photo. I don't usually do V necks but was hoping I might get away with one since I've gained a bit of weight. It is really lovely but rather large for me in the smallest size, not so much at the front (I do fill that out quite well) but at the side body. The armholes manage to be fine in depth, and the pattern helps disguise the extra side fabric, and I have to admit that looseness might be an advantage in high summer. I'll try to get a photo to show you this weekend. 

Sevres blouse -- I might try this one a size up. I think I might be between sizes. The bust feels a bit snug. (Yeah...the bust. On me!!) I also think it is on the long side for me -- there is something about the cut that isn't quite right. I fear that the next size up will be too low under the arms. However, might be worth a try. Pattern and fabric are nice. 

The moral of the story? It appears there is a reason that a good half of my wardrobe is from J. Crew. When you're confined to online shopping for the most part and you find a brand that pretty consistently fits, it's hard not to get a bit dependent. I do sometimes yearn to branch out a bit from the preppy vibe, but again -- when the skirt (or tee, or sweater) fits....

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Ledonna N. replied 5 years ago

    This is a very through and detailed review. Thank you for sharing. Are you going to stick with the peplum style?

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    A good run, Suz. J.Crew can be all that and more. I LOVE THAT SKIRT for you. Your second A-line midi. Quite the '90s look and retro in a way. Fun. Nice wild card. 

    I was just saying to Inge that these days - sizes and quality are more inconsistent than ever. You have to be a lot more patient with the privilege of shopping online. So you REALLY did well here.

    I ordered three blouses from H&M last week and the fits were laughable. They hung on me in the smallest size - which is weird since H&M often runs small. Yet the H&M Victorian blouse I bought last year was a perfect fit. And so it goes.....

  • replied 5 years ago

    You did well.  Buying from retailers that "get" you is just smart.  

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Thanks, Sterling. Yes, it makes sense to buy from those who "get" our shape. But as Angie says, it's not always predictable. Unfortunately, the Bay and Aritzia don't really have reviews on their sites. (The Bay does in theory but items rarely get reviewed). I did look elsewhere for reviews of those items but didn't find anything noting the issues I mentioned. 

    Angie, it really is getting hard to estimate fits. I wish I could predict. I do own one Aritzia blouse in the XS and it is a tiny bit snug in the arms (it has short sleeves) which is sort of bizarre since my arms are hardly big -- but it fits elsewhere so I thought I would be safe with this size in this brand. No such luck -- it's either too big or bordering on too small. 

    Ledonna, I'm not sure I will keep that peplum top. I'll try it out on the weekend with some of my bottoms. 

  • UmmLila replied 5 years ago

    It does make it easy -- if more consistent than one might wish -- to have brands that usually work.

    J Crew is my fallback for fall and winter, with its sister brand, Madewell, filling the spot for summer. And on a bit of the higher end, I can almost always rely on Rebecca Taylor (even if I have to sew the v-necks up about 2 inches).

    But those aren't my only choices -- I'll try anything from a brand or store with a good returns policy.

    I know you're more limited in Canada, Suz, but see if you can check out the Madewell pieces that are available to you too. 

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Thanks, Lisa. For Madewell to qualify for free shipping I need to spend $175 and then there are no free returns. Plus I have to pay the exchange. But it's definitely worth checking out. Are the fits similar to J. Crew? 

  • UmmLila replied 5 years ago

    I find them very similar, and they have fewer tailored pieces so it's a lot of S M L (except for dresses and pants).

  • replied 5 years ago

    I bought the Sevres blouse too, in that same colour way, (I have three others in that same cut) but ended up returning it. It is indeed a little long, and was a tad snug across the front on me too. I wear an M in this one. (I was going to keep it, because it's totally wearable, and because I bought it for the colour (to wear under my blue Smythe jacket) but enacted a YLF rule and decided I really did not need it, and it would only take away from wearing other things I already have. )  My others in this same cut are not too snug, leading me to think this one may have been made from a different block in a different factory.....?  Aritzia is as unpredictable as BR , I find. Just seems to be the name of the game with these mid-level brands. The Wilfred trompette dress is intended to be layered over a bustier or tank.......

    I'm really intrigued by this skirt - not for me, but to see it on you. Get your phone out and take some shots of it!!   

  • replied 5 years ago

    Suz - Nordstrom in Canada now sells Madewell. Not all of it, but some pieces.  Might make it easier or more palatable for you to order .

  • Tanya replied 5 years ago

    Yep, the sizes are all over the places, aren't they? And I love all the items that did work out, so I think you did very well.
    I am also considering the silk J Crew skirt as I will be doing an internship in a business casual office this summer and wondering about the sizing. You mentioned sizing up - did you end up with a 0 or a 2 ( we are usually the same size as I remember). I do not have too much experience with J Crew bottoms but recently tried both the Teddie and Minnie pants and strangely need 0 in both.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Tanya, I actually sized up to the 4 in this skirt. I usually wear a 2 in their bottoms and a 0 in their shirts. The reviews all said it fits snug. And I am up a bit in weight and nowadays weight goes to my waist. This one works for me (even though the shorts fit in the 2).  If I lose weight again I think this will be fine -- it will just sit a bit lower on the waist. You might want the 2 in this if the regular bottoms fit you in 0. Your waist is much more slender than mine. 

    Congrats on the new internship, by the way! 

    Lisa, that's good to know about Madewell at Nordstrom's. I still haven't been to a Canadian Nordie's store as I never get up to Ottawa. But once the Toronto store exists I'll check it out. Interesting what you say about the blouse -- it just goes to show you that the sizing is all over the map everywhere these days. I think I'm returning this one, too. Alas...

    Too bad about the Trompette dress. On the version I saw online the model was wearing it without anything underneath. I wanted it for it's cool (as in temperature cool) but if I have to wear something underneath it sort of defeats the purpose. Onwards!!! 

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    YES. I sized down in the Teddie, Tanya. It runs a size big it seems. 

    Suz, the linen striped dress below runs soooo big that I have gone from ordering an XS Regular to an XXS Petite to get it to fit. The length in the petite is similar to the length on the model, so that's okay in a roomy shirt dress silhouette. And I NEVER buy petites because of severe length issues at 5ft 6. Sizes are quite the guessing game these days. 

  • krishnidoux replied 5 years ago

    Lol Suz I thought your title referred to the actual behavior of Spring (season) in our corner of the world. It hit, failed, and is now, with freezing warnings, near missing. 

    Nevertheless your roundup is most interesting. I really like your JCrew items. They correspond to a perfect preppy, casual yet pulled together look that we need in this season. I especially like the skirt. It would look great with cognac footwear. I think the stripped sweater must be very useful too. 

    I am not surprised about Aritzia being a fail. I have a hard time myself with this brand for the same kinds of reasons as the ones you describe here. Free People, which tends to be extra expensive, is always a hit or miss with more misses than hits. 

    About the Maybes: my guess is that by next week, you won't want anything to do with the Theory Wendell top: they are forecasting temps in the 20's and even high 20's. The 1 State peplum blouse, on the other hand, sure looks like a keeper. The other Aritszia tank looks cute, and, you have to admit, is right in your coloring. tough choice!

    You know, about your JCrew, I am so with you. For me, the equivalent brand I found is Talbots. I know, a lot of their things are too boxy but this is where I get a lot of durable basics. Me too, I have a lot of "winners" from that store in my closet, so I ask myself why change? We don't have that much choice in Canada unfortunately (sigh).

  • celia replied 5 years ago

    Sizes are very unpredictable these days but I am glad you found such great items. The skirt is especially fabulous.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Thanks, Celia. The skirt was a superb deal, for a Collection item, on extreme sale the day I bought it. So even if I only wear it a few times it will earn its keep. 

    Krish, you made me laugh out loud. You are SO RIGHT about our weather. I am getting well and truly fed up with it!! So interesting you have found something similar with Aritzia. Something about the cuts feels off...I am sorry, though, because the colours are nice and the simplicity of the styles appeals to me. I will have to check out a B&M Talbots next time I'm in a city. Perhaps I will find some luck there also. 

    Angie, you bought a petites dress? That is shocking!! It sounds as if you may have had the same problem I'm facing with many of the tops -- they are cut way too wide in the "side body" for want of a better term. The shoulder fit is fine, and even armholes and bust are okay, but along my torso from the armhole down there is tons of extra fabric. This works okay in a linen knit or a woven silk where it becomes "slouch" or "fluid fit" (especially with a semi tuck) but in a stiffer cotton or really anything else it just looks ill fitting! 

  • Tanya replied 5 years ago

    Thank you for the answer  about the skirt size, Suz!  If I decide to try it I will certainly go for size 2. And thank you for the kind wishes on my internship, too - the business casual dress code is going to inspire many forum posts from me in the near future.

  • shevia replied 5 years ago

    Well I am of course disappointed that there are not pictures of you modeling, and eagerly awaiting the shoe report, so I will distract myself by commenting on sizing. I recently became focused on a certain high end Israeli designer who has been around long enough to be thriftable. I have accumulated at least three of her dresses that more or less fit. They are three different sizes. And we are talking about very drapey dresses. The one with the highest number size is too small and the one with the smallest fits perfectly. Apparently the numeric size is just a mind game or perhaps an obscure design detail. Or gematria?

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Haha, Shevia, I like your theory. It must be that. Or maybe they consult a Ouija board before they assign a number...or the Magic 8 ball. 

  • JAileen replied 5 years ago

    These are some cute things. You're lucky you like JCrew and it likes you back. I like it, but nothing fit me. I finally gave up even looking there. :(

  • Firecracker replied 5 years ago

    Good reviews! I wouldn't settle for just okay, so with the way you feel about the v-necks and the fit of the 1.state top, I'd be inclined to let it go. But you can show us, anyway. I bet we'll love it on you. Anyway, sleeveless tops are especially hard to fit; with a sleeve sewn into the armhole, there is a lot more leeway for something to look good even if it's not perfect.
    The Sevres blouse looks so pretty, but even on the model, those armholes look low!

  • Glory replied 5 years ago

    Suz a wonderful recap of your purchases. Do you order online from J Crew? We have an outlet here but in my two trips there I haven't found very much. If you do order is it shipped from Canada or from the US?

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Hi, Glory. I do order online. I have to. I tried shopping in the Toronto stores but they rarely have my size in the items I want. I can count on one hand the number of times I've been able to buy there in store.

    It comes from the US but the prices are all adjusted on the site so you see exactly what you are paying up front. It's getting expensive so I pretty much only order sale items; otherwise (with the exchange) it's prohibitive. They used to charge the same per item in US and Canadian $$, but now they charge 30% more in CAD. 

    Shipping is $12 but they often offer free shipping and returns and I tend to watch for those sales. 

    The first few times I ordered I had to send a lot back. It didn't fit, or I didn't like it. Then I started getting wise to what might work on me and I read the reviews more carefully. I only order when I am almost 100% convinced the item will fit and work for me. So I tend to use the store for wardrobe essentials, knits in winter (much more forgiving) and the odd wild card if on super sale. 

    Sharan, thanks -  I'll show that top. I have a feeling you'll like in person; I'm tempted to keep as it was a really good price and I'm struggling to find any tops I like this season. 

  • Lisa replied 5 years ago

    A nice collection of items here.  I also find spring clothing hard to shop for, so I was nodding my head when I read that you had more misses than hits.  The same thing happens to me a lot.  And indeed I find that once a brand strikes my fancy, I will quickly accumulate a lot of pieces from them.

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    Exactly, Suz. Lots of items are cut too big for my frame these days, and I can't size down. (Although I'm glad they're making XXS's at J.Crew, Madewell and Ann Taylor so that I can). I do fine eventually, and find lots of fab stuff.  

    I tried the dress on in stores in that size by accident. It was sitting in the regular size dress dept and fit very well. I thought it was an XXS. But upon closer look - saw that it was a petite. SHOCKING. 

  • Beth Ann replied 5 years ago

    Ha!  I was just in J. Crew and, as I was browsing, I thought, "This looks like Suz!"  Of course, the fits rarely work for me there, but I still toodle through every few months when I'm in the mall, because I find some "practical inspiration" there.

    Will you be taking classes this Summer?  Or traveling?

  • Joy replied 5 years ago

    You did well and your analysis of your items is a great idea.
    The silk skirt. I think that you will love it. I bought a silk Classiques Entiere skirt in a similar shape but black with white polkadots a few years ago. It stays in the closet year round and packs nicely for trips. It can take on very different looks with heavy sweater or sleeveless top, leather jacket or denim, boots or sandals or even sneakers.

  • lyn67 replied 5 years ago

    Wow, very cohesive buys either fits(flight drape) and color wise(signiture blues)-would you post some outfits, too? I wish I could shop JCrew (too expensive  and not  at all represented in my neck of the woods), they are really the best:-))

  • LaPed replied 5 years ago

    I have to say, if I had better luck with their fit, I'd be in J Crew at least half the time too. There is nobody else on the market right now doing deep, bold, saturated colours the way J Crew does! Nice choices -- this looks like a very cohesive capsule.

  • Colette replied 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this, it's very helpful. The sizing is just so frustrating and it really puts a damper on my shopping enthusiasm when I need to return so many of the items I order because the sizes are inconsistent.

    I was going to suggest a top I love but on second thought I don't think it would work for you. It would probably be too big as I need the xs. But it is the perfect length and trapeze style you are looking for.

  • Kim replied 5 years ago

    Suz, I'm interested in the JCrew linen, but all the reviews say that the tanks and long sleeves are VERY see through this year.  Is that your experience?  (I'm in Ottawa, and as you know, humidity makes wearing another layer for modesty impossible at times.  One bra and one linen tank is about all I can stand in the dog days of summer! LOL) 

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Kim, I don't think the darker colours are too see through but then again, I am not wearing to an office. If I were, I might be more self-conscious. I got the light grey and the cool-dyed blue this round and I can wear either without a camisole. I do always wear a tank under my white one, however. I just use a cotton tank. 

    The modesty factor might feel higher in any colour in a sleeved tee like I am wearing, though. It isn't exposing skin in the same way a tank is. Know what I mean? But honestly, these are the only sleeved tees I will wear on a hot day. 

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Colette, I am wondering if that is the very same tank I tried -- it was also Free People. I'll look it up. On me it was too short and too big, both....sigh...

    Joy, thank you -- great styling suggestions for the skirt! 

    LaP, yes, J. Crew does some lovely colours. Sometimes they are too intense for my low contrast colouring but the blues and some of the berry tones usually work for me. 

    Beth Ann, I am writing this summer and may be taking a libretto course if I am admitted to it. Thank you!

    Lyn, you are always so kind. I'll try to show some outfits when I get my camera back. DD is using it for a course. 

  • Aziraphale replied 5 years ago

    Actually, you did pretty well. There are more hits than misses. I really like those JCrew boatneck tees, and the skirt is very feminine and pretty. 

    Aritzia is geared to women not in our age group. I love their subdued colours and drapey styles, but I like to try things on in person. Many tops have too-large armholes for my taste (you're supposed to wear a bandeau underneath, but that only works for itty bitty titties!), some fabrics are too sheer, and some tops are too cropped even on me. I typically take ten things into the change room, and come out with nine nays and one yay (which I normally buy two of). :-)

  • dakotacheryl replied 5 years ago

    Suz, I loved the capsule photos, such dreamy colors and patterns...I also can't wait to see you modeling the keepers.

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