Looking for a J. Crew time machine...
September 8, 2013 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend U.S.-based websites selling women's clothes like those from J. Crew circa 1993?

I'm probably revealing my hopeless fashion sense here, but I'd love to find an American website offering women's clothes for fall like the ones I used to buy from J. Crew in college.

Specifically: corduroy or heavy wool jumper dresses, cute wool minis, heavy (but not necessarily bulky) sweaters, cable knit tights to wear with boots, etc.

I used to find this stuff in spades back in the early 90s. Unfortunately, all the sites I am looking at now are either very ladylike (more delicate fabrics/cuts with girlie embellishments) or just too matronly (skirt lengths too long, cuts too boxy). I don't know if the sites I used to shop on have just rebranded, or if the stuff I'm seeking is just too far out of fashion - though it seems like it would be fairly timeless.

Sites I've tried without luck: J. Crew, Gap, Banana Republic, Athleta, Coldwater Creek, Garnet Hill, Woolrich, Boden.

In case it's relevant: I'm 5'9", about a size 12/14, with long legs and a short torso (though I don't wear any special sizes/cuts).

Any ideas? Thanks!
posted by justonegirl to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
LL Bean (especially LL Bean Signature)?
posted by oinopaponton at 7:44 AM on September 8, 2013

Lands' End, maybe. I admit to knowing nothing about fashion, but I buy my mix-and-match shirts/pants wardrobe here.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:48 AM on September 8, 2013

Maybe HannaAnderson.com. They have a women's clothing section. Right now they are showing more warmer weather clothes (lots of jersey). I'm thinking they will have more sweaters and heavier dresses later in the season.

Pendleton might be another option although a lot of the stuff could be classified as matronly.
posted by Fairchild at 7:55 AM on September 8, 2013

A lot of people who are disenchanted with J. Crew seem to like Madewell. Have you tried J. Jill?
posted by 41swans at 7:58 AM on September 8, 2013

Ah, high school barn jacket rollneck sweater flashbacks:-O

OK let's see...in addition to Lands End and LL Bean and J Jill, maybe Eddie Bauer? Brooks Brothers? Talbots? Vineyard Vines?

Or check the brands on this fabulously faux preppy blog.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 8:22 AM on September 8, 2013

I second giving Land's End a try - especially Land's End Canvas. A lot of the regular Land's End stuff is going to fall into too matronly, but they do have some very nice classic pieces. And I think the Canvas line is supposed to appeal to exactly you - it always reminds me of what I liked about J Crew in the 90s, too.
posted by Sabby at 8:32 AM on September 8, 2013

In the early 90s you could get a wool skirt at a mall store for maybe $40 (on sale, depending on the store) -- it might have not been the most wonderful quality, but it would be 100% wool, and it would have a lining. Now the same stores have absolute junk fabrics, and it is rare to find decent sewing and good fabrics cost a fortune. You don't see good thick wool sweaters much because good thick wool is pricy and few people are buying; they're buying disposable rayon-modal-blecch instead...

That rant aside -- why not just shop vintage? Try Etsy and eBay to start... You can get skirts in lovely fabrics in awful cuts in thrift stores; bring them to a seamstress and get them cut down to a nice fit, and you're still out less than the cost of a new skirt of inferior quality.

"Woolovers," especially the British wool section, might appeal.
posted by kmennie at 9:05 AM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

You might have some luck with:

Next Direct

Ralph Lauren is still preppy.
posted by xo at 10:13 AM on September 8, 2013

I can't think of a go to place for this style in general but for some of the individual things:

Sock Dreams has tights in lots of different textures and styles, and they have free shipping on all orders in the U.S.

Maybe check back at J Crew and J Crew Factory periodically, if you haven't in a while? They do have wool mini skirts and wool pencil skirts sometimes.

Etsy, as recommended above. It can be hit or miss and definitely takes more time to weed through all the things that are very far from what you want, but searching for something like "corduroy jumper" should bring up some results.
posted by treese at 10:54 AM on September 8, 2013

Also, maybe try Sierra Trading Post. A lot of what they have is athletic or outdoorsy type clothing, but they also have some more regular clothing (skirts, sweaters, etc.) in heavy fabrics.
posted by treese at 11:06 AM on September 8, 2013

The "lifestyle" stuff from outdoors brands like LL Bean (Signature), Athleta, Ibex, Woolrich, Carve, Icrebreaker, Prana, Kuhl, Horny Toad, Columbia, Royal Robbins, Lole, Smartwool, Eddie Bauer etc tend to be simple lines and nice solid fabrics. The winter stuff hasn't hit the stores yet though so there's not a ton of heavy wool yet but there will be in a couple months. I think you should revisit several of the sites you mentioned in October and I think you will find the wool, corduroy etc. It's a mite too early in the season for mainstream retailers to be stocking that stuff.

Some examples here, here, here and here. Sweaters, sweaters, sweaters. This skirt is so 90s that's probably Jennifer Aniston wearing it.

Sadly proper thick wool tights seem to be a thing of the past. If you find some let me know.
posted by fshgrl at 11:57 AM on September 8, 2013

Eddie Bauer has lots of corduroy pants right now. You can buy them straight, skinny, or boot cut, so perhaps you could avoid a matronly look with the right style.

They also have a corduroy skirt.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:16 PM on September 8, 2013

Title Nine has some of what you are looking for. Lots of wool dresses and skirts and tights.
posted by munichmaiden at 12:20 PM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just drove by Brooks Brothers and some of their fall stuff reminds me of 90s era J Crew.
posted by joan_holloway at 12:50 PM on September 8, 2013

Nthing eBay. If you have your old catalogs, you can look up specific items easily on eBay.

If not, this Pinterest board has scans from older catalogs, and a quick eBay search by brand with the term "vintage" pulled up these skirts. I didn't search other types of clothing, but it looks somewhat promising.
posted by nobejen at 6:14 PM on September 8, 2013

Maybe Toast? It's British, but international shipping is available.
posted by peripathetic at 11:31 PM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Boden does a lot of fishermen-type jumpers. White Stuff (not sure if they ship to the US) do cable-knit tights, though their knitwear doesn't last long at all in my experience.

Next Direct is sometimes criticised for doing quite 90s styles here, but the fabrics are not what you're looking for - last time I looked for a coat in there, all were polyester. Though as others have said, companies are using cheaper fabrics than they did five or ten years ago.
posted by mippy at 7:46 AM on September 10, 2013

« Older Termite or flying ant or something else?   |   Fabrics that work with cats: do they exist? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.