I just wanted the monogramming
July 23, 2011 1:42 PM   Subscribe

I've never paid $20 for a plain t-shirt before. Is LL Bean worth it?

I only meant to buy a canvas tote, but LL Bean's description of their amazing wrinkle free, no-fade shirts and the rave reviews led me to consider buying some of their clothing. I don't tend to buy pricy everyday wear, so it's hard for me to justify spending that much on a regular ol' shirt. I'm having trouble finding reviews that aren't directly through the company's site, though. The reviews also seem to come from an older and possibly heftier customer base. I'm petite and in my 20s, and no one I know shops at LL Bean. Am I just unaware of the younger crowd that's cruising the Bean aisles? Were you satisfied with the clothing you bought there? I know people buy winter coats, boots and travel gear there, but I'm more interested in their day to day clothes. Thanks for your input!
posted by therewolf to Shopping (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Any clothes you buy there will probably outlive you. However, their clothing is cut fairly loose. They do have a great return policy though, and their customer service is excellent. You can always call them up and ask them about the fit of a particular item.
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:55 PM on July 23, 2011

Their clothing is very high quality, yes, but as a size-0 type person, none of it even comes close to fitting me, so depending on what you mean by "petite" it might work for you.
posted by brainmouse at 1:55 PM on July 23, 2011

I am in my 30s, but I have been buying clothes from LL Bean since I was in my 20s, they may not be cool, but their stuff is well made and I'm tried of buying things to have them only last a couple months. I quite like their stuff and they do have a petites section, but not being petite (or hefty in my opinion) I can't say to how they fit, but it is easy to return. (and their totes are quite good as well)
posted by katers890 at 2:01 PM on July 23, 2011

Best answer: LL Bean has never fit me. I'm a slim 20s woman--maybe a size 1-2 in Gap sizes, and it just doesn't run small enough. If by "petite" you mean that you're the type of woman who often still shops in the juniors section to find stuff that fits, I don't know if much LL Bean stuff will be cut for you.

I have a hard time justifying buying expensive shirts for their durability because I never have to get rid of shirts because they wear out; usually it's because they got stained or torn or such.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:15 PM on July 23, 2011

As a Mainer, who doesn't agree with the Bean family's political ideology...


You will never, ever regret buying something from them. They honor their warranty, they make good producst (even when outsourced to China), and they treat their customers as well as you could hope.

That $20 shirt will literally last the rest of your life.
posted by pla at 2:18 PM on July 23, 2011

I echo what others have said about their so-called "petite" sizing. If you don't want to spend a lot, I have found a lot of sturdy everyday wear at Goodwill. I have polo shirts that retailed for $30-40 and I paid $5 - you seriously cannot tell the difference.
posted by desjardins at 2:20 PM on July 23, 2011

I'm petite too. I still own LL Bean things I bought 30 years ago. The quality is remarkable. Buy the classic stuff you want to wear forever there.
posted by bearwife at 2:21 PM on July 23, 2011

I have to disagree a bit, I got some skirts from LL Bean and they all tore or shredded after about a year of regular wear. OTOH, I could have gotten them replaced for free under the warranty but they were kind of ugly so I didn't bother.
posted by phoenixy at 3:14 PM on July 23, 2011

Supposedly things from their Signature line are supposed to have a more "modern" fit, ie. things fitted closer to the body. I can't vouch for that since I've never purchased anything from that line, but I can vouch for the excellent quality of their apparel. I have quite a few shirts and sweaters that I bought from one of their outlet stores years ago when I lived in upstate NY and they're still in excellent shape.
posted by katyggls at 3:15 PM on July 23, 2011

Seconding Goodwill; I buy everything but underwear there and walk out with upscale clothing just broken in. Takes a little longer to find just what you want, sometimes you just don't, but I regard the whole thing as recreation as well as shopping.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 3:21 PM on July 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I also have been buying things at LL Bean for > 30 years. Historically, their stuff is very well made and very durable. As I type this, I am wearing a yellow polo shirt I bought circa 1981; as much as I don't wear it that often, and there have been years when it sat in its drawer, it will probably look and wear like it does now in another 30 years.

On the margin, I think the quality of their clothing was better before overseas outsourcing. Back in the day, if something needed, say, a zipper replaced, you just mailed it up to Freeport, and it came back replaced. Now, they just replace the item or give you a credit.

In recent years, I have noticed a slight diminution in quality like cotton fibers losing their "stretch recall" (my term) in knit sweaters. In addition, with women's clothing, there is more turnover in the styles on offer, which can be a pain if you want to add to your collection of something. However, my only major complaint involves the fading of a pair of black cotton pants to a vague, greenish tint: this will be the first time I plan to call Bean's for a refund due to a quality problem (although I have no other complaints about the pants).

As to sizing, I suspect that Beans is doing what other labels seem to be doing with off the rack clothing: changing the shape to accommodate the growing average girth of Americans. I was, and remain, slim, and have noticed in the last couple of years that the architecture of pants seems designed for people with waists nearly as large as their hips. So I seem to be having more trouble with fit than in the past (generally, not just with LL Bean).

Overall, however, LL Bean remains a pretty good bet.
posted by cool breeze at 3:22 PM on July 23, 2011

I've bought piles of T-shirts from LL Bean. They've almost all been great, and the ones that were too boxy I returned.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:20 PM on July 23, 2011

Still wearing Bean shirts I bought in college 25+ years ago.
posted by hworth at 8:29 PM on July 23, 2011

I recently bought a couple of their t-shirts and they are great quality. Their shipping is now free, but in my experience the free option was quite slow indeed, so if you want it in a reasonable amount of time, you should pay for the faster shipping.
posted by marble at 8:35 PM on July 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

My family has been buying LL Bean for years; I still have some stuff I bought in high school and I'm 29 now. People aren't kidding when they say they will replace anything, at any time, for any reason, even years later.

My mom is a petite woman and while I wouldn't say LL Bean is crazy stylish on her, it seems to fit her fine. (Though she does wear rather loose-fitting clothes .)
posted by Rocket26 at 6:49 AM on July 24, 2011

They have been running a special - spend $75, and get a $10 coupon. They have stopped charging for shipping, which is really nice. Buy a t-shirt from Eddie Bauer and you'll pay a handling fee, plus shipping. I specifically like their women's t-shirts, and have a couple that I've worn for maybe 8 - 10 years that still look quite good (heavy cotton w/ some spandex). Get on their e-mailing list; they have occasional great sales. I live in Maine, don't always love their politics, but they are a terrific corporate citizen and employer, and they do a good job of fair treatment of workers in overseas factories.
posted by theora55 at 4:41 PM on July 24, 2011

The LL Bean Canvas line (which I discovered thanks to an AskMe question) has more petite-fitting stuff, and it tends to be a little more interesting/modern/cute than their main line of clothes. I've bought a number of things there recently and have found them all really well made. However, virtually all the shirts I tried are cut pretty large; I think the dresses and skirts tend to fit better. I've had to return most of the shirts I bought there. I'm a petite XXS or 0. The reviews are helpful in determining the cut/actual size of any particular item.

Fwiw, my dad lives in LL Bean, and his stuff lasts forever.
posted by min at 11:58 AM on July 25, 2011

The trendier LLBean line is called Signature. The Canvas brand is Lands' End, which is quite similar.
posted by coolsara at 8:54 AM on August 17, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone, for your helpful answers! I waited so long for a follow-up because I placed my order a few days after this post and JUST TODAY got the final portion of my order (the monogrammed tote).

As an H&M medium, the LL Bean XS was hilariously large on me. Thanks to katyggls for the recommendation of the Signature Line, where I found a nice silk scarf. I am excited to start using that tote and will return the top soon. I can't see myself buying their clothes again any time soon. Thanks again for the advice!
posted by therewolf at 10:44 PM on September 2, 2011

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