Where I Shop and How I Do It!

A few posts back, our friend Nancy made a comment.  She wanted to know where I shop. It was funny because I also received a couple of emails asking me the same question.

So, here goes–95 percent of my wardrobe comes from J. Crew.  I’m very brand loyal to this company.  Think back in retail history ladies.  Way back. Before online shopping.  Back to the days of mail order.  Remember those days?

I would eagerly wait for the mailman to deliver my favorite catalogs. Chadwick’s of Boston, Tweeds, and the mother of all catalogs—the J. Crew catalog!

This is from the Spring 1987 J. Crew Catalog. Some things never change.  The clothing is pretty much the same. And that is why I love J. Crew!

I’ve been a customer since 1983.  There have been years where the pickings were slim and years when I wanted everything and anything I could get my crossed-eyes upon.

And Jenna Lyon’s vision of the edgy catalogs of the present day gets on my last nerve. But I still love the clothing that J. Crew and J. Crew Factory have to offer.

Yes. Jenna Lyons drives me up a wall. I’m sorry but those pants are ridiculous looking.  The news of her deciding to leave J. Crew did not make me sad. At all.

Crew’s clothing is my style.  It’s my comfort zone.  It’s what I feel good in.  And, for the most part, the quality is good.

One of my favorite looks from J. Crew–head to toe!  A black Tippi Sweater, Stewart plaid pants–and one of the few J. Crew pairs of shoes I have. Dulci kitten heels. 

I stick to the basics. Nothing outlandish. I love the Pixie and Marti pants. I am not a fan of J. Crew’s jeans however.  I love the sweaters although there have been seasons of lesser-quality goods.

Some of my Pixie, Marti and City Pants from J. Crew. There’s a lot more too!

I love the cuts of the blazers from Crew.  I’m a fan of the button-down shirts and the turtlenecks—except the flimsy cotton ones that stretch out

Some of the blazers I have collected from J. Crew over the years...

…and more–Lady Jackets and plaid. What’s not to love??

I’m also a fan of the striped fabric when the cuffs are turned up. It’s little things like that that I love!

Three guesses as to where my costume jewelry is purchased!

But I know and am familiar with J. Crew’s clothing.  The J. Crew Pencil skirts fit my body well.

See what I mean?  Scarf from J. Crew, sweater and pencil skirt from J. Crew. The Number 2 Pencil skirt is one of my faves!

I’m not one for fussy dressing. I like my solids. They are easier to mix and match.  I’ll do stripes. And we all know that I will do plaids on any occasion. But I tend to stick to a more classic look.

With shoes, I’ll stick to shops other than J. Crew.  My foot is too narrow for most of the brand’s shoes.

Here’s a bit of what I have from J. Crew.

An sampling of button-down shirts–the striped tunic is Tory Burch–how did it sneak in there?

One of two draws full of sweaters. All from J. Crew.

No. It isn’t sheets. It’s the white dress shirts I have from J. Crew.

Printed Campbell pants and a roll-neck sweater 

My other favorite plaid pants and green Tippi Turtleneck..

OK–this is the last one.  I love this leopard skirt too.

Nordstrom is another store that I shop.  Surprisingly, I don’t buy many clothes there. I’ll stick to shoes and boots and bags.   I make my good boot purchases during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.


If you have the time, a couple of hours spent purusing Nordstrom Rack can produce great buys!

I have better luck at Nordstrom Rack. Especially with jeans. The variety of jeans at Nordstrom Rack is terrific.  I purchased quite a few of my beloved AG jeans at Rack.  And quite a few pairs of shoes too!

This leather Longchamp bag was my deal of the century at Nordstrom Rack a few years back. I saw it and ran up to the checkout. It was about $100. I wear this a lot!!

Two more Nordstrom deals. The bag is from Nordstrom. Rebecca Minkoff. Someone returned it and it went over to the sale table. I grabbed it!  The shoes are from Nordstrom Rack and were the second deal of the century. I actually fell in love with these shoes when Susan from Une Femme d’un Certain Age posted them on her blog. They are Paul Green and at $350 were out of my price line.  I happened to be at Nordstrom Rack one day and the shoes were there. In my size.  I think they were $107. and I had a $50 gift card. Great day in the mornin’!!

In all honesty, as much as I enjoy shopping, I love to make my purchases during sales. I don’t buy at retail prices.

I don’t buy luxury brands either. I am very much aware of my budget and what I cannot afford.

Leather Longchamp bags are the closest to luxury that I will buy.

OK. Bonaparte may have given me the red Longchamp bag for my birthday last year, but he made the purchase at Nordstrom!

And when we travel to France, I’ll keep my purchases purely to bags, shoes and my beloved Rondini sandals.  My body is just way too curvy for a European fit—so I avoid clothing for the most part.

Two examples of shopping during traveling. Rondini sandals and Repetto ballet flats. Every trip to France during the summer months means another pair of sandals. The price is great because the sandals are custom made and last forever.  BTW, the shirt is J. Crew and the jeans are AG! But look–this is an outfit that I can wear till I’m 85!

When it comes to buying clothing, it really helps to really know your body type and what works for you.  Boyfriend jeans and cargo pants look horrific on me.  Skinny and legging jeans work better for my body.

Old Navy is great–great for basics like plain tee shirts and lets hope their iconic t-shirt dresses are never disontinued..

Best $15 I’ve ever spent. This t-shirt dress from Old Navy can be worn all year.  I have five of them–just in case it is discontinued!

I’m not having a good Gap year. I purchased a pair of jeans but the offerings were better in the past.

And then there’s Lilly for the bright summer dresses. But I think I’m going to check out the consignment shops for a bit of her brightness this year. I don’t want to pay full price!

Surprisingly, the outfit I wore today —I loved!!  And I didn’t wear one item from J. Crew. My skirt was about four years old from GAP, the sweater was a cardigan I wore backwards because I liked it better that way.  The scarf was one I stole from Oona—she purchased it at Target a couple of years ago and the denim jacket was from Kut From The Kloth. I purchased this jacket when I was heavier. It’s a size Large. But it fits great due to the amount of stretch.

Today’s OOTD. And not one item from J. Crew!  The skirt, from GAP, is a great fit–it’s a stretch fabric and fits the curves beautifully.  I don’t have a white crew neck sweater so I wore this cardigan backwards. I don’t know what it is that makes me love this outfit so much. Yes I do. It looks great on me. And ladies! Admit when you know an outfit looks great! Don’t be shy!

And that is also why I try everything on. In multiple sizes. One brand’s size 6 could be another’s size 8 or 10.  I don’t pay much attention to the numbers on the tags these days.

I don’t get rid of a lot of clothing simply because what I do have really isn’t trendy—the styles last for quite a few years.

Online shopping for me?  Sometimes.  I shop J. Crew online when I am absolutely sure of the sizing of the item—such as Pixie Pants and blazers.  I’ve taken my chances once ordering on Zulily and was lucky.

My one-time online purchase from Zulily. $29.99 and I was very pleased with this tunic. I don’t wear it often –although I should wear it mor!

I took a chance recently with “6PM“—I purchased a pair of AG Jeans and they were fine—I know my size in AG.

A coupla pair of AG Jeans. These are GREAT jeans–but shop around for the best price!

However, I’m better taking the time early on a Saturday morning, wearing comfy clothing and good underwear and spending the time in stores. It can take me four hours to find the right shirt. And that’s ok because when I take the time, I know that I’ll make a purchase I’ll have for a long time.

Going shopping? It’s serious business so dress for comfort!  Wear comfortable shoes too!

Shopping for clothing should be treated seriously.  After all, when you are dressed in clothing that you love and that you feel great in, it makes your day a lot better.

Don’t you think?  How do you shop?  Where do you shop?  Malls, small boutiques.  Share your tips in the comments—it’ll be fun!

Sometimes shopping can be challenging if there is a really great sale going on. People pushing and shoving–it’s a real jungle and the song that plays in my mind is by CCR “Run Through The Jungle”!!

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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35 Responses to Where I Shop and How I Do It!

  1. LA CONTESSA says:

    I wrote a great comment AVATAR wouldn’t allow me to sign in………… SORRY…………I will have to skip back issues of your BLOG and re set password………HONEST TO GOD! I have to do the dinner thing NOW!!! XO THEVINTAGECONTESSA.NET

  2. Deborah I Malinoski says:

    Thanks so much for providing this information—it must seem strange to some people but for some of us, this stuff does NOT come naturally! Any advise, tips, pictures, information, etc., that I can get helps me on this path to figuring out: WHAT THE HECK DO I WEAR TODAY???!!!!!!??

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Deborah! You are quite welcome! Oh…I don’t think it is strange at all. Not everyone likes shopping and it does come naturally to some of us. Sometimes it helps to plan what you are going to wear–but factors like bad weather can make you change your mind! That’s part of the fun!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  3. Momcat says:

    I have purchased from Zulilly ( a couple tunics) prices are great and the quality is surprisingly good. I found the sizing a bit off though. I hate shopping in malls but have scored some fabulous bargains on line ( 300.00 boots for 75.00) in January! They are all doing inventory and want to get rid of the winter items. I’ll check out shoes at Nordstrom’s ( yes Unefemme makes some great suggestions so does Jennifer at Wellstyledlife) Nordy’s is too $$$ but I’ll check the same shoe out on Amazon or ( better) the mfg’s website, saved $100.00 on a pair of sandals that I saw on a fashion blog…I live two hours from Montréal some excellent, stylish bargains to be had there. You get the European style but made for our biere and poutine scarfing hips. Tons of warehouse outlets there too.
    I went to a J.Crew store in Toronto Wowza…priceeee! That Nordstrom Rack at KPM ….thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I visited two years ago. Secret of maintaining sanity while shopping bricks and mortar? Go during the week or EARLY Saturday, go ALONE (no husbands,kids or friends) go comfortable but with the right underpinnings.

    • Catherine says:

      Hey Momcat.I think Zulily has great, great tunics too. But that’s the thing with some brand’s sizings–they are so inconsistent. Even J. Crew has bizarre sizing sometimes. Yeah. Nordstrom is expensive but the sales are great if you can catch them.
      You just hit on a very important thing. ALONE–it’s so true, when you need to shop seriously, going solo is the best way. It allows for you to take as much time as needed!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  4. hipchick66 says:

    I KNEW you would be happy about Jenna leaving J. Crew! I loved this post and I love that you know your own style so well, and wear it well! I agree about GAP, some things are great and others not so much. Same with Old Navy. My wardrobe consists mostly of GAP, Old Navy, and a lot from Victoria’s Secret…and I’m so angry that they decided to stop selling clothes! I used to buy my work pants at New York & Co, and I recently purchased a few work pants from Susan Graver on QVC and they are fantastic! Stored them away for the day I can finally go back to work. Oh, and I’ve also found some great, inexpensive tops and cardigans and shoes on Amazon.com. My handbags are mostly Coach, and mostly purchased pre-loved on eBay.

    • Catherine says:

      Hehehe. Lori. You know me well!!! Yeah..GAP has gone a bit off track lately. I haven’t seen anything in a long time that strikes my fancy. Old Navy is going through a bit of a slump right now too. I remember buying quite a bit of clothing from the Victoria’s Catalog back in the day.
      I’ve heard good things about Susan Graver’s clothing. I’ll have to check it out!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  5. Q.D says:

    I feel like if we had J Crew here, I would be obsessed! Can I be rude and ask how much a leather Longchamp retails for in the US (because here in Oz we can be talking thousands of dollars)? So I want a $100 Longchamp! But then almost everything is absurdly expensive here (considering I live the the 2nd most expensive city for cost of living in the world!).

    I gave up on Gap curvy jeans a couple of years ago and now buy all mine from Country Road (and Australian fashion retailer), excellent price point, they fit well (and look good enough that I get away with wearing them to my corporate dress code job), and loving they are home grown. Actually looking down at myself, every thing I am wearing is either an Australian brand or Uniqlo (Japan).

    • Catherine says:

      Hey Q. Longchamp leather runs the gamut from about $500 on up. But with sales you can get a great deal. My red bag was $540 and was a birthday gift. The brown leather bag was a friggin’ STEAL at $157. Nordstrom made a mistake with the pricing during the anniversary sale and had to honor the errored price. I have a couple of pairs of GAP jeans with the stretch but they stretch out too much. I actually have a pair of white jeans from Uniqlo and love them!!! The fit is fantastic. Do you have Loft? The curvy jeans by Loft fit very well!! XOXOXOXO!!!

      • Q.D says:

        No, we don’t have Loft. My problem is that I am petite, with an arse, so it it hard to buy jeans unless they are stretchy, and yes, that is exactly why I stopped buying Gap jeans.

        Your red Longchamp from this post would be three+ times the price here (seriously), I love them, I just hesitate with those prices.

  6. vavashagwell says:

    I’m not sad to see Jenna leave, either. Most of my wardrobe is J. Crew as well!!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Vava! Yeah…and perhaps the person who takes Jenna’s place will pose with her feet with normal placement instead of the pigeon toed pose that Lyon’s is always photographed in!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  7. Renee in Northern California says:

    I mostly, shop Ann Taylor (even with the diminished quality, like so many other brands they’re not what they used to be) and the Loft: The clothing fits and I tend to stick (and keep) with what works. I have a few things from j.crew and recently scored a nice top from White House/Black Market. I’ve lucked out with buying Paige jeans at T.J Max at a great price! Like you, I tend to buy shoes and bags and Nordstrom…the clothing not so much. I loved that blue pencil skirt and reversed cardi on you…I’m gonna steal that idea!!. thx

    • Catherine says:

      Renee–OMG YES!! I used to shop at Ann Taylor years ago but the quality diminished greatly and the sizing got really weird. I like Loft but will only shop during sales. White House/Black Market doesn’t give me a lot of love. That blue pencil skirt–I also have one in black. I was in GAP at the right time during a sale and both of the skirts are so well made!!! Steal away my friend, steal away!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  8. JulietC says:

    Loving all the details and advice, I am happy to admit I am sartorially challenged – I can see what suits other people but am never quite so clear about what works on me, coupled with that I now have short white hair – everything is different. So many things I own no longer look right, I feel kind of like I am now having to reinvent myself and my image. I do know that soft blues suddenly look good and most greens sadly don’t, still we live and learn

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Juliet! Hey. That’s part of the fun–to reinvent yourself! With your short white hair, I’ll bet you can rock a bright red or bright pink lipstick!! And you can work an entire wardrobe around soft blues!!!! Hey. Green has never been my “color” but I’ll wear it anyway!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  9. Yvonne says:

    I mainly shop on-line on sites that have free returns. I like Crew mainly for jewellery (earrings), ASOS, Matches, Warehouse. I would love to have narrow feet. My feet are broad and horrible so I cannot wear pretty sandals etc. I have found some great bargains at Nordstrom Rack. I very very rarely pay full price for anything.

    • Catherine says:

      yvonne. I’ve seen so many great things on ASOS but Im unsure of their sizing. i’m going to check out Matches and Warehouse!!! XOOXOXOXO

      • Yvonne says:

        ASOS has free returns so you can buy multiple sizes and return. The US site uses US sizing. Matches is high end but great great sales and no tax. Free delivery and free returns

      • Catherine says:

        I’ve checked out ASOS in the past and really like their offerings. But I’m so weird about ordering when I’m not sure of the brand’s sizes. I need to check out this Matches place!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  10. maidsdayoff says:

    Chadwick’s of Boston! That’s a blast from the past! I spent A LOT of dough on clothes from those catalogs back in the day!

  11. Nancy B says:

    Hi Catherine–
    I loved the post–and I say thanks for the details! Love the info about the stores, the product lines/quality, and the pics! I admire your taste. Going to check into J Crew more–I haven’t ordered from them in a while but now I wonder why not. I did love the blazer and sweater I got from them years ago…
    Thanks and have a swell weekend.

    • Catherine says:

      Nancy. Keep checking out J. Crew daily because you will find that the sales change from day to day. I just scored a dress for $35.00!!! XOXOXOxo!!!

  12. doodletllc says:

    Many moons ago, I was a tried and true Loehmann’s shopper…remember them?!…bet you were too. I just noticed that they have an on-line presence…will have to check that out. I always liked J Crew, but thought they were too pricey…will have to look at J Crew again based on your recommendation. Living Out West, I miss my NYC connections but I have TJMaxx and try to work with them because the prices are good and the quality can be decent…you just need to be a good shopper. Love this post, Catherine, you Fashion Maven, You! 🙂

    • Catherine says:

      Jeanne. There was a Loehmann’s in Bay Shore where I grew up. It was epic!!! What about Alexander’s on 59th St. in NYC? Or Mays and Orbach’s on 34th street? the original discount shops!!????!!! XOXoxoxo

  13. mareymercy says:

    I had some AG jeans at least 10 years ago that were amazing, then I forgot about them! Need to check them out. And it’s funny you wrote about Lyons leaving J Crew. For some reason an article lamenting her exit came across my Twitter feed the other day and I read it – I had no idea how ‘edgy’ her looks were or how she approached her tenure. it was interesting read and the author was sad she was stepping down, but even that write acknowledged that her ship had sailed and her approach wasn’t working for the brand anymore.

    I am also very brand-loyal; not sure why as I don’t do it consciously. I think I once I get to know a label and know how it fits and how they make their clothes I feel more comfortable buying from them, especially online. Right now Nordstrom and Free People are my big go-to’s. I do like Oh My Gauze a lot, but buying from them means I have to take a lot of things to the tailor since they run big, so I’ve learned to shop from them less. 🙂 Why is writing about shopping so fun anyway?!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Cynthia! Yeah. I never cared for the “edge” that Lyons gave J. Crew. It really turned many older customers off. I am not a fan of pretense and I think she was a rather pretentious fashion person. Oona is a huge Free People fan. I stick with the classics more–In fact, have you ever read the blog The Vintage Contessa? OMG. You would LOVE Elizabeth if you don’t read her already. She’s got taste in clothing that I would never wear–she even mentioned in a comment on her latest blog post that I’m a conservative dresser and she’s so correct! But I love her so much!!! She rocks her look and it is hers and it is fabulous. You HAVE to check her out!!!!! XOXOXOXOXO

  14. Nancy says:

    Hi – I somehow missed this post that I requested. I agree that JCrew may return to its earlier glory with Jenna gone…hope so. I unfortunately cannot fit in many of their clothes…I am an XL and their idea of an XL does not always fit me. I do like their accessories. I would say until recently (they have really missed the mark in the past 1.5 years) my favorite store was Anthropologie. The pretty cardigans, fun jackets, etc…now way too boho and way too pricey, espec. given the fabrics, etc. As many of you have said I find Nordstroms just too pricey unless its Anniv. Sale time. Due to horrible feet ( P. Fascilitis and bone spurs) I can only purchase pricey ugly shoes…ha so do buy those there as well as handbags and makeup. I feel like there isn’t a dept. for me at Nordstroms…I don’t want rhinestone jean jackets, too old for the teen dept.and TopShop, no need to buy nor can I afford the pricey dept. that carries Vince, Kate Spade, etc…even Point of View …not impressed, skirts often too short for me in early 60s…Nordstroms…where is my dept????? I don’t feel like I have a store right now, sometimes Loft, once in awhile A. Taylor but the colors are usually off for my coloring..weird that it almost is always the case for me at this retailer. Have never heard of Matches and Oh So Gauze…are they both US retailers? Any hidden gems out there on line that I can check out?

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Nancy! I think many people are happy that Lyons is leaving J. Crew! But it’s funny what you write about Nordstrom–I was thinking along the same lines. I really only purchase during the Anniversary sale and I don’t know what hast happened to Nordstrom over the past couple of years–it seems that the quality of their pickings has gone downhill. Many of the clothing is over the top. I won’t spend the prices on clothing that Nordstrom is asking. There IS no normal woman department anymore–and that goes for so many stores.
      I used to LOVE Anthropologie and I went into the new Anthro at KOP mall about two weeks ago. I could not believe how expensive everything was! What is this? Are stores catering to the one percent–or is it that the credit card usage has gotten out of control. I was really disappointed.
      I’ve never heard of Matches or Oh So Gauze either. I’m not a fan of the gauzey look on me–its too too boho!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

      • Nancy says:

        Hello again – Just wanted to follow up to your comment above. I am glad that I am not the only one who is disappointed with Nordstrom’s clothing options. Maybe its always been this way & I just didn’t shop there enough to notice or has it changed in recent years? I feel like its either super expensive or too young and trendy/cheap fabrics, etc…while I am on a list of shopping woes…briefly my shoe issues ..sorry, I whine often about this…after many many years of wearing cheap high heels 24-7 it caught up with me and now have P. Fascilitis…very painful…had surgery to repair and remove huge bone spur and its better but I still need shoes that are not super high, good arch support, depending on the brand, wide width …I want attractive and fun shoes and there are not any brands that meet this criteria except some Munros . I so wish I could just walk into Nordstroms and try shoes on …the pricey, ugly ones I am forced to buy are barely carried in any stores…I seem to spend my life ordering and returning, ordering and returning. For awhile I could find the European brand Fidji and they were/are cute and were wide enough in reg. width for me but they have pretty much disappeared off the radar …Nordies still carries 4-5 styles but not the fun ones they used to. OK, done with complaints for now. hahaha..Have a great day Catherine.

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