On the fairly rare occasions I've wandered into Ann Taylor Loft (usually suckered in by a big sale), I've often left feeling underwhelmed. The clothes were never horrible...just "eh". Once in a while I'll pick up a necklace or something...but overall, I saw Ann Taylor Loft as a place to be bored. Nice basics, nothing exciting, nice prices, nice sales, but nothing worth a trip. Yawn.
So I was very confused, the other day, when I happened to glance over at the Ann Taylor Loft window displays. For a moment I thought I was looking in J. Crew's windows. But no - it was good 'ol ATL. But this time...the clothes were cuter, somehow. A bit...dare I say it? Trendy? (UPDATE: Ann Taylor Loft, in addition to their new look, is updating their name to just LOFT.)
I suspect that the same re-invigoration that happened to Ann Taylor is also filtering down to the sister, LOFT. In any case, there are certainly lots to love in LOFT's new Spring line. But beware - not all of the kinks have been worked out yet, and there were several items that fell short.
Top Row, Left-to-Right
1. My favorite way to wear this bright Flower Pin, $14, is to pin it to your jeans, almost as a belt embellishment. How perfect for Spring!
2. I love the unexpected color combination of dark red and bright lavender on the Briolette Necklace, $44.50.
3. The Outline Blooms Scarf is currently on sale for $24.50. This blue would look amazing against any neutral color, especially a faded green or classic white.
Second Row, Left-to-Right
1. I'm a huge denim snob, but I do like LOFT's version of the Boyfriend jean. All are good, and all walk the fine line of destroyed-but-not-too-much perfectly. Pictured are the Dark Wash Relaxed Boyfriend Jeans, $79.90.
2. The Layered Woven Trim Tank, $24.50, has an unfinished, chiffon trim. I like the slightly sexy neckline and the chiffon elevates the look a bit. The ballet pink (pictured) is my favorite.
3. The ballet pink Chiffon Petal V-Neck Cardigan, $59.50, sold out online in the time it took me to write this post, but they do have a gray and a black version in stock. Many of LOFT's other attempts at petal appliques ended up looking cheap, but this cardigan was the one exception.
4. The Floral Shell with Rosette Collar, $44.50 takes a page right out of the J. Crew catalog. However, the price point is roughly half, and the fabric is a more mom-friendly cotton. This is a gorgeous and easy way to update a basic t-shirt & jeans look.
Third Row, Left-to-Right
1. LOFT has several great takes on the classic trench, but their Cropped Trench With Ruffle Collar, $98, is far-and-away my favorite. A seriously great way for moms to add polish to the basic tshirt & jeans combo.
2. I'm dying for the Ankle Wrap Wedges with Braided Trim, $98. I love the color, the braids, the wedge. LOVE.
3. Any of LOFT's Button Downs With Rolled Sleeves, $39.50, are cute, but the print in this slightly ballet pink is my favorite. I like the slim fit, the rolled sleeves and the slightly puff shoulders.
Bottom Row, Left-To-Right
1. Another J.Crew style top, the Box Pleat Split-Neck Top, $49.50, is half the price and is a hand-washable cotton-silk blend (unlike J.Crew's dry clean only silk shells).
2. Again, the Floral Bursts Shorts, $39.50, are another J.Crew look-alike at half the cost. I love the 4" inseam. I'd wear these now with rain-boots and the army green parkas we featured in last week's mom uniforms post.
3. I love taupe statement necklaces. It sound weird, but they always look chic and go with everything without veering into matchy-matchy territory. The Bauble Necklace with Twill Ribbon Tie, $34.50, is a great price for a fab necklace.
4. I heart everything about the Giant Paisley Oblong Scarf, $29.50. This is the kind of scarf you wear all Spring and Summer, and again in the Winter to perk up your outfits with a shot of color.
I know LOFT loves their "Art Inspired Collectible Tees". They are even offering them at 30% off. But while I realize that these t-shirts are very much J.Crew inspired...they are lacking both the inspiration J.Crew lends to their embellished tees and the craftsmanship. In short, these t-shirts look cheap. They come in a wide range of colors, and with every possible embellishment under the sun: petals, flowers, bows, knots, bohemian swirls, etc. LOFT would've done much, MUCH better if they had simply designed three or four really great t-shirts and offered them only in the colors that look best with the chosen designs. It's too bad, really, because the fit isn't bad. (If you must, buy a size or two larger to get the best drapey fit).
With their boyfriend jeans being the obvious exception, I don't love any of the other pants at Ann Taylor Loft. These cropped cargos are the worst. The hit at the widest part of the calf, they make even the model look short, and at $49.50, they look like something that one could get at Old Navy for $10.
The Petal Bib Top (pictured bottom right) and the and Petal Front Cardigan (not pictured) are both good examples of a nice idea poorly executed. In both cases the petals look like they are made of paper, and instantly made me want to reach for the scissors.
But overall....I really like the new and improved LOFT. It's like a much more affordable version of J. Crew.