"We are what we believe we are."
C.S. Lewis

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Poppy Says

Poppy Says don't settle.
 I spent this past week going through closets and cupboards and managed to get together three bags and one large box for the Children's Wish charity.  They came to pick it up yesterday, which left me to do some final organizing.
As you may know I have a storage closet for my out-of-season clothes in my third floor office.  It is not a huge closet by any means, but it does let me organize alternate seasons in a way that I can understand: and by that I mean visually.  I think many of us find that when we store clothes in bins or boxes they sort of disappear.  When clothing gets to that point in my house I tend to think it is better off in a new home.
I do have some boxed-up storage right now, which goes against my own rules.  It is a temporary situation: I'm going to have a look at spring and summer and rifle through things I own in lieu of buying something new.  On a budget and all that, but I also think it is better to rehabilitate what we have once loved and worn, it helps us to wear what works for us individually rather than succumbing to some pretty trend or "must-have" new basic.
You must remember Poppy, she is my fashion friend with the button dress, made by my younger daughter at "Fashion Camp" last summer.  She sits on my desk and in all her confidence is a trusted advisor.  She was there as I evaluated my last J Crew order (which contained that Botanical Dress as well as the Quilted Denim Jacket, see last week's posts).  Her strict advice on that day: Don't Settle.
Canvas and Leather Belt J Crew
I wanted to give this belt a try as an option for my full-skirted cotton shirtdresses.  They wait in my storage closet for warm weather.  I thought the belt had a slight nautical flair, yet was wide enough to do a proper cinching.
 In real life it felt a bit flimsy and wasn't wide enough, at less than 2" wide it doesn't have quite the cinching oomph I was looking for.
Poppy gave it her steely gaze, shook her head no, and demanded it be wrapped back up.

I thought I'd give a basic silk blouse a go, with a short sleeve and a plain neckline.
Silk Short-Sleeve Blouse J Crew
 To tell the truth I didn't even slip it on.  Poppy said why bother.  It had a boxy, short-ish shape that doesn't do well on my figure.  We must remember what suits our own particular figures!  It was also quite sheer, show-your-brassiere-sheer.
There you have it, the last of my J Crew reviews.

What do you say, are you done with settling for almost-good-enough?
xoDani

47 comments:

  1. I have a similar review process, I have to love it or it doesn't stay. But because Poppy is not here to advise, I have to bring the item home and scrutinize it myself to decide whether it stays or goes. I don't want anything hanging unworn in my closet and I am getting wiser and more particular about what I let stay.

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    1. Hi cate, it's too bad that I can't order online anymore as I don't have time to drive all over and shop for things. I'll have to restrict shopping to vacations or weekends away. Online ordering is very convenient but it stops being convenient when 75% has to be returned!

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  2. I keep hearing my American friends saying how unhappy they are with JCrew these days. Long gone are the days of quality pieces coming from there.

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    1. Suburban Princess, yes I think it's a combination of us moving on and their target market changing. If they would put a little bit more into their Collection pieces that would be sensible, and those pieces would be on my list!

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  3. I was done with settling for good enough, long ago. And yes Suburban Princess, as an American who long ago bought most of my clothing, and shoes from there - it's all over between me and J.Crew - with the exception of their collaborations. Sad.

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    1. Kathy true and I did like their collaboration with Goldsign, love those jeans.

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  4. Dani - a with you! I got those green silk tie pants the other day and went "bleh". Every time I am putting something on these days if I don't think "yes!" I either relegate it to donate, or if it is casual, is relegated to cleaning clothes! No ifs ands or buts. Poppy is very wise. Nigel simply gives me his monkey eyes...

    I am like you on the visual - out of sight out of mind. I have to see and touch my things!

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    1. Be careful of the "save it for cleaning" category; I got rid of about 12 T's I was "saving for gardening", never used for such. Mr Lane "saves for painting"--OUT!

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    2. Lane and WMM I also donated several items I was "saving for cleaning/painting". I don't know why as I just wear my regular clothes with aprons and I own a painting smock as well.

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  5. Your disappointment with JC is growing by the day, Dani. I'm with Poppy, don't settle for less than best!

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    1. Hi Sulky, Yes I'll still be watching to see what they come up with. Of course I watch to see what Stella comes up with too! ;)

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  6. You read my mind this morning. I'm also organizing "off season" closets and giving away items that we can no longer use. I am no longer settling for dresses and skirts that are a bit too short for my height. Quality is also key these days. It is no fun finding tiny holes in my tee shirts or having a hem fall down when I am rushing to get out the door which has happened more times than I'd like with my J Crew clothing. I've been slowly replacing these flimsy items with Brora and Boden basics. One of these days I will splurge on a Brora cashmere sweater and winter coat.

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    1. Hi AmW, I wear my Brora knee-length tweed coat every day, I love it. I bought a black dress and coat from Boden for a special event I'm attending next weekend, I have pictures to share this week, I really like the outfit!
      I have 3 dresses with fallen hems to take to my tailor, funny you should mention that!

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  7. That Poppy is a wise friend. I got one bag out of the closet to GO yesterday;unfortunately, I messed up my knee and now have to sit with an ice bag when I could be cleaning out more. You have very lovely quality things, and I have been looking at some Brora, too.

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    1. Lane hope your knee is not serious and mends soon.

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    2. Thanks, hopefully just a dumb fall on the ice and nothing "internally deranged", as we say.

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    3. Yes Lane I hope your knee is mending up quickly, that sounds painful.
      I love my Brora for winter as you know, and their silk pieces are also excellent.
      I'll continue to look for new brands that will pass the Poppy tests!

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  8. When I first saw Poppy, I thought, "Gee, she looks like she could be Maxine's niece!" (You know, from those Maxine cartoons)...ha ha

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    1. LR, who knows who Poppy is related to, I wouldn't be surprised if she were royalty!

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  9. Poppy is a dear and very astute indeed. This Spring I will do the same editing. I hate to say it,, however another store I used to love for separates is Talbots and I have been unhappy with their quality the past few years.

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

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    1. Hi Karena, I am not a fan of Talbots I have to say, I've tried a couple of items and I have been in their stores as well.
      It seems we are a large demographic not being lured in very well anywhere these days!

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  10. Dani, in the rest of my life it is a 2013 goal to let go of perfection and aim for consistency and joy. BUT, the one place that doesn't apply is the wardrobe. I have spring/ summer clothes tucked into (i.e. hidden in) an old piece of furniture while we save for the perfect bureau we've tracked down. So I have to find a way to get those items into our one spare closet for now(condo life.) I also have to deal with a few sentimental clothes I can't discard (band tees, wedding shawl, my first back-in-Canada jacket.) The final pain, finding good homes for a couple of mis-buys that are barely worn (J. Crew short trench with blingy zippers I'm eyeballing you) and frustrate me each time I spot them.

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    1. GF, I think we all need a place to store the sentimental. I have an old chest of drawers in my study I use for this purpose, one drawer is devoted to my wedding gown, another to summer frocks that I don't wear but were special at one time, the other to the same frock-category, winter edition.
      Blingy zipper trench! Do tell!

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  11. Brilliant, Dani!
    I found myself staring at stained chinos and tees this morning, wondering whether I dared escalated to drops of straight Clorox from a toothpick... oh, no, life is too short to spend it doing remedial laundry. A bunch of things with hidden holes is being thrown out "as is," because people shouldn't have to dress funny just because they're poor.

    I have read that officially closing a charge account somehow adversely affects one's credit rating, but guess which black card is going to wither away? Sometimes things just run their course.

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    1. 'Remedial laundry' - love that!

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    2. wff, I love this term "remedial laundry" as well. I closed my J Crew charge account last year though I haven't yet closed my online account. I want to make it NOT easy to shop the darn final sale. That silk blouse above? One of the colours is already on final sale! It's true!

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  12. I took several bags to the Goodwill on the morning of New Year's Eve (have to squeeze in that tax deduction!). I've learned that there are a number of categories I simply need to scratch off my list: Pastels, sheer, ruffled, too short, etc. And even button-front blouses--I never wear them, as for some reason they look frumpy on my figure.

    Although I don't have Poppy I can confidently say that I made fewer clothing mistakes in 2012, as I've tried to imagine a similar little advisor--mine is more of a Maxine, LOL @ LR. I did buy some candy when I should have stayed with the sartorial equivalent of fresh veggies and whole wheat.

    It's interesting how many of us who met through JCA ("the Mothership, as Gigi would say) have fallen out of love with J.Crew. At work yesterday one of my colleagues was struggling with a typical J.Crew "office" suiting dress--too short and too low-cut. I didn't know whether to suggest the tailor or the garbage.

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    1. Hexicon, I'm always thankful for the JCA community, one I continue to be interested in despite my fizzled enthusiasm for the brand. I have met the nicest people on the Mothership!
      Funny I chucked a ruffled-front J Crew dress the other day into my charity bag, I was keeping it because it was linen and then I realized it looks ridiculous on me.
      Oh I know the discomfort of wearing one of those dresses!

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  13. Hi Dani, Poppy is very wise. I think 'don't settle' is a very good motto for the new year.

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    1. Patricia, I'm going to keep Poppy by my side, she has a good eye! ;)

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  14. My Poppy is my little girl who has turned out very wise indeed. Whenever I try something new & she ignores me, back it goes. I think it just means it looks the same old, same old and I don't need to buy it. Frankly, Jcrew's recent design, price & quality direction has made it easy to say no. I just bought one item last Fall/Winter 2012 and I am becoming increasingly confident I can limit myself to one extraordinary item this Spring as well. There will always be nice clothes to look at but they don't need to end up in my closet.

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    1. Marie this is a perfect attitude to adopt. Your little girl sounds like she has quite the sense for style! I'm not ruling out buying anything at J Crew this year but I'd like to see it in person first if I do!

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  15. Good for you, Dani! Like Kathy, I was done with settling for good enough long ago. Now I only buy quality items that I absolutely love and stick to my wardrobe shopping lists that I make out each season. Not only have I not been spending as much money, but I am much happier overall with my wardrobe since doing so. I also find that I am much more content having less items that are excellent quality, than I ever was having more items of inferior quality. :)

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    1. FFM thank you for giving me your list strategy, you've done me a tremendous favour. It's fun to make the list and fun to look around for the items on it.
      It's been difficult for me to find things I like as I don't live in an area with much shopping, and I don't have time to travel into the city just to shop for myself. This is why I've relied on ordering online (and I could afford J Crew, so I often went there). But boy I have been burned by final sale and expensive returns too many times. It's a problem!
      There is an article in this mornings NYT Style section about a young woman in NYC who has started a new online shop geared towards the over-40 set: Halsbrook.com. I had a look and while the site is clean and pretty I find the clothes expensive, and some things too specific to the season (especially considering the "investment level" prices). I'd be curious to know what you think of the site!

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  16. You know the wonderful feeling when you put on something that you absolutely love, is undeniably flattering and makes you smile as soon as your raise your eyes to the mirror? And you have that feeling from the first time you try it on through every wearing after that? That's the feeling I'm going for in every item. I am SO picky. Good enough is never good enough. I want to dress in the morning and know that I look wonderful, and not think about my clothes the rest of the day, save the unconscious confidence I derive from the outfit I know I look good in.

    I buy less and I buy things that fit well. Having said that, I don't mind having to do a little tailoring on a garment I love that only needs a tweak to be perfect. That small investment can be worth it when I wear the item dozens of times.

    Good job on returning the good enough. That Poppy is a smart cookie.

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    1. Hi DF, I'm planning to tweak some items I already own to get them to the place I want them, I'm looking forward to this project very much. I do have a short list of "buying new" for the year but I'll be very picky about it, and I think I'll be looking to buy the items in store, ordering online is not working for me anymore!

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  17. Hi Dani-I love your decision not to settle anymore-there is strength in numbers so hopefully we can all encourage each other. I am so glad Ms Poppy is such a stickler. Sometimes I try to imagine what my grandma would think about some of my prospective purchases, and I can just imagine her rolling her eyes.

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    1. David, though I think my Grandma would have been a great blogger (she was always writing personal essays that were incredible) she too would be rolling her eyes at me all the time. She never liked it when I concerned myself with anything superficial, she'd have my hind now I'm sure.
      Anyway this is our outlet for thinking about clothes and the other things that bolster us in small ways. Me too, I'm glad Poppy is a stickler, time is not for wasting! Hope you are well darling!

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  18. Hi Dani! I love your little Poppy, everything about her down to her name just brings a smile, doesn't it? Keep her forever...

    So here's my problem. In the last year, because I have accumulated so much in the past 20 years (the years when I have considered myself a grown up), I have actually stopped buying anything for myself unless I love it. I have cut out those "cheap but cute" buys that I know I will wear only a couple times, I never buy final sale unless I know I will love it.

    The problem is, buying and keeping only items that you love still leaves an AWFUL LOT of stuff. Take oxfords -- I LOVE them. I have them in almost every color. Collectively, they take up a lot of room, especially given that for day to day, I generally wear boots in winter and ballet flats in summer. But I cannot bear to get rid of any of them. And coats. They are mostly JC with a few Kate Spade, Anthro, and Boden thrown in. And again, I LOVE all of them and they take up a LOT of room. But over the years, I have amassed a collection of about 40 coats. Yet, there are none that I never wear and there are none that are duplicative. A friend of mine told me I just have to pare down -- I just don't know how. Any advice?

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    1. audreys, funny you know I love to organize closets etc but I am not necessarily of the mindset that paring down is the answer. I'll tell you why: when I pare down I tend to then collect up to the same level, which in the end might not do me any favours. I mean if you love what you have just keep it!
      I am getting rid of less these days, I have two daughters, one fits into my clothes and my youngest is nearly there, the migration between closets is pretty fun. I actually wish I had kept more of my things over the last two years.
      I say keep your wardrobe but maybe organize it in a way so that it doesn't overwhelm you (or anyone who might see it!) An alternate closet is a friend indeed. Boxes can work, especially if they are labelled with a detailed list of contents (so no forgetting of what is inside, they don't work for me as my memory is not the best).
      I would love to see your collection! Anytime you'd like a closet-organizer-person let me know!

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  19. Hi Dani,

    As always, your posts are very thoughtful and thought provoking. In the past two weeks I've been thinking a lot about the issues you discuss. How much am I willing to pay for clothing? What is reasonable, price-wise, for my family's budget? Do more expensive brands really deliver a product that will make me happier in the long run?

    My conclusion? At this moment in my life, JCrew is fine by me.

    I honestly believe (with the exception of their t-shirts, which by and large are cr*p), that no other brand delivers the style and yes, quality, that JCrew does for the price.

    I think the secret to being happy with JCrew is being able to shop in a big-city store that carries the gamut of items that you can see, feel, and try on. I think a lot of disappointment and frustration can come when you are buying online and the item doesn't meet your expectations of color, fit, style, quality, etc. I also think that it helps a lot to buy when stuff is deeply discounted, because I absolutely agree that their stuff is initially overpriced. Are there quality issues? Yes, sometimes. However, every time I've had a quality issue with JCrew stuff, they have bent over backwards to fix it for me. Add to this my superhero PS, and you have a brand from which I rarely stray.

    With the exception of my collection of Hermes, one of my Barbours, and one pair of La Canadienne boots, there is nothing in my closet that was purchased prior to 2007. And although I am sure I will keep my gorgeous Brora sweaters for as long as they last :) , I've realized I am on a 5-7 year closet cycle--styles change, my tastes change, and quite frankly, I like having new things. I like the fun of fashion, and JCrew allows me to keep it fun by keeping it affordable.

    I know you and others have good reason to be over JCrew--I'm just not there yet, as I haven't found a brand that fits me--in all aspects--quite as well.

    With your lovely taste and very discerning eye, I know your closet nirvana is just around the corner ;) Thanks for keeping us posted, as it is very fun to peek in your cupboards!









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    1. Amy, you've described how I feel about J. Crew too. I was trolling eBay recently. I concluded that while there are some amazing items from J. Crew of Yore, much of what they made was kind of crappy, bland, and/or lacking style. With some exceptions, I think J. Crew is magnitudes better now than they used to be. J. Crew is my best fit financially, too, when it's marked down enough. I can't buy La Canadienne or Kate Spade or Brora etc except for possibly once in a blue moon. I don't want my clothes to fall apart while I'm wearing them (!) or pill etc but I don't need them to be top quality either. This is not to negate my first comment here, because I do have to love it or I won't keep it, but what I love is usually J. Crew :)

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    2. Amy I have often wished I was close to a store, it would make all the difference. I still love J Crew and I'll be watching the brand very closely, but as you know very well from my complaining, ordering online and then returning by post is a big hassle. If the Canadian store would take returns I have to say I would develop a PS relationship at the store and then make returns on my little visits. But alas it is not so and what a pain! I returned about 75% of what I ordered this year. They must hate me in the returns department. I am planning to restrict any " ordering and trying on" to when I am in the US at my Dad's house, I can then return at his local mall. What a life, how much do I wish I lived there!
      I agree though that there is no other fashion brand that I can afford and that fits the bill. I can save up for a few high-end things (Hermes, Louis Vuitton bag, La canadienne boots, Brora for sweaters and tweed) but for frocks, weekend wear, casual items and party-wear (which I love as you know) I'll never be shelling out the cash for Lanvin or Chloe, even if I had the money, J Crew fits that bill.
      I do wish they'd take Collection label seriously again and finish the garments with nice linings, pretty packaging etc.
      Love your comments always, I appreciate your take on things as you know!

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  20. Poppy's a wise woman! I've been living by the "If it isn't perfect leave it" rule for a couple of years now...I stumble now and then, but it serves me pretty well. I'm lucky when it comes to J Crew because, let's face it, these days, very little of what they're offering qualifies!

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    1. Sue these are excellent words to live by!

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  21. Poppy is so right!!! I tend to forget this wise thought sometimes when I shop and I WANT to find something... Because I am out there for shopping and I cannot come back with empty bag... But all those buys always, always end up in the same way. They stay in the closet, and after a few month go somewhere else. So I try really hard to give better and realistic thoughts when buying new things. I am caught less and less with nearly good enough, but it still does happen...

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