Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WWWF Grudge Match: Nordstrom vs. Banana Republic vs. Ann Taylor

Ah, remember the days on the internet of WWWF Grudge Match? I miss those humorous head-to-head imaginary smackdowns. Time to resurrect them, with a fashion twist. Introducing not WWD, not WWW, but the WWWF (World Wide War of Fashion) Grudge Match! Today's combantants:

Nordstrom vs. Banana Republic vs. Ann Taylor!

THE SETTING:  St. Louis in early September. A sunny day off, and the chill of autumn wind provides perfect shopping weather. A solitary bargain-hunting fashionista sets out in need of a new pair of black pants for Fall. Her search leads her to three Workwear Giants: Nordstrom, Banana Republic, and Ann Taylor.

Which one will have the best pair of lined black pants for Fall?

THE COMMENTARY: First up is Ann Taylor. It’s pretty empty in there, but there is lots of beautiful clothing, including a large selection of work pants. I stop at their color-blocked scarves, which I had admired on the internet. What are these, scarves for giants? My duvet cover is smaller than these. I make a mental note to un-bookmark them.

I begin my rounds, approaching each pair of black pants I see, turning up the cuff to see if there is a lining. The first four pairs or so, I strike out. They are beautiful pants, and if I wasn’t so intent on that lining, I would have tried some on. Then, the sweet rush of success: I find lined pants!

That rush gets shut down when I see the price tag. $168. I am a professional, but I’m not a lawyer, I don’t speak publicly, and I don’t currently travel for my job. The price and quality are unnecessary. Suffice to say, I walked quickly out of Ann Taylor empty-handed.

On to Nordstrom. Pants, pants, pants. I walk all over the large store looking for some that have a lining. They’re all spread out, so when a sales associate approaches me, I simply ask her, are there any lined black pants here?

Her reply: “Oh, I haven’t seen any lined pants here in the past two years.” What!?! She tries to sell me on a pair of unlined, not-black, lightweight wool pants, pointing out their quality and construction. I tell her they need to be lined to prohibit them sticking to the knee-high trouser socks I usually wear underneath. (I don’t tell her that the lining also prevents static cling, panty lines, and provides a layer of warmth.) I say, “Ann Taylor has some, but they’re like $160.” Her reply: “Well if we carried them, they’d be around $200.”

OK then. Goodbye.

On to Banana Republic. It wasn’t on my list of stores to visit, but I was desparate. Full disclosure: I don’t like Banana Republic. There was a time in my life when I shopped there regularly, but their boring clothes, vanity sizing, and association with Gap (shudder) turned me off. I haven’t purchased anything from them in years.

As I walked in, the store greeter told me everything in the store was 30% off. I look at some pants. They are all lined. The navy ones, the grey pinstripes, and --look!-- black pants, all lined, in a couple of different cuts. I look at the pricetag: $98. Normally more than I want to pay, but if they’re 30% off, very doable.

I tried on the Martin, which has a trouser cut, and the Logan, which has a straight leg. They both have belt loops and hit below my navel. I tried them on with the black shoes I’d brought with me, and swooshed happily around the dressing room. The straight legged Logans were perfect. Sold.

THE WINNER: Banana Republic 

Though I had visions of Nordstrom coming out on top, since I bought a nice pair of summer black pants there last year, I was very disappointed. (On a side note, the blue Franco Sarto sandals I’ve been waiting to go on sale there, haven’t. More disappointment.)

The Workwear Giant Ann Taylor needs to offer a mid-priced lined black pant for us non-lawyers. They’ve got a pretty website and great branding, but at the end of the day, I care about the product. Banana Republic, the longshot in this race, wins by a landslide!

If you liked this post, please also see my first WWWF Grudge Match: TJ Maxx vs. Nordstrom Rack

1 comment:

  1. Same thought as you. I only buy professional clothes at BR.


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