Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thursday, in which Wendy wonders: is J Crew starting to be ironical or is it just me?

I felt myself crossing some great divide this morning as I looked at the J Crew rollout.

Oh there were some lovelies, but nothing that made me think "Oh my - I need THAT" or "I hope I find THAT in my stocking!" And I dodged a bullet in that the velvet kikis were navy....

I understand retailers go up and down and chase trends and lead trends and one can never stay at the front of the pack forever.

I found myself joining the chorus of those who wished for other days and other Christmas rollouts...

And for me, the sweaters were ground zero.


Alpaca ribbed "V" sweater

Lambswool tassel sweater

Pre-order Collection cashmere double diamond sweater


See, here is my problem: if I saw these at the Sally Anne I would think "my oh my, someone got themselves rid of some ugly-ass sweaters."  Why, for $5 I might buy them and wear them to an 80s night.

Now before I offend EVERYONE, a confession:

I lived through the 80s, the Bill Cosby sweater years:

 

And I get it that young people like to take old stuff and make it fun, as in "this sweater is SO ugly, now it's cool."

But then I wondered - maybe these sweater are actually nice and I'm the one getting older, getting plainer? Could it be? 

Or has J Crew so adopted Jenna's cool girl granny vibe and institutionalized it to such an extent that the results are disastrous, making her look less edgy and leaving the rest of us looking like, well, crazy cat ladies or Cliff Huxtable?

And do people really want to spend that much $ to be ironical and cool?  My kids buy this stuff at the Sally Anne for $5.  They move on quickly to the next thing.  Tonight my son brought home a workman's coveralls from Mark's Work Warehouse.  He plans to wear it to school.


Oh we laugh, but he is cutting edge cool and I tell you - others will wear this stuff - he is what Malcolm Gladwell terms a "maven" - a cultural style setter.  These are the folks that wear grandpa's hush puppies and then all of a sudden, hush puppies are back in style again.

Jenna is a maven.  But the thing is, you can't develop a whole brand around the cult of a maven, I don't think.  The high-lows, the boy-feminine, it was all so cute a few years ago. And then you realize that you've been there/don't that and that you are dangerously close to becoming a fashion victim.

We can't find affordable dresses and skirts at J Crew now because that's not who they're trying to dress now.

I want my old j crew back.  I don't want to start wearing coveralls and cliff huxtable sweaters.  Leave the $3000 coats to Stella McCartney, please and thank you.  Come back J Crew - I miss you!

I know I'm not the only one pining for the old days.  I guess it is time to move on!

Have a great Thursday and stay safe out there!

75 comments:

  1. Oh Wenders well said! Those sweaters are hideous but I've been thinking that maybe it's because I'm not cool and I did live through the Cosby sweaters... but guess what they're still hideous!
    JCrew made some pretty clothes in nice fabrics at one time, they were not designer priced but they were beautiful and fit well, and that's why we loved them. I look at my Ischia dress with the silk lining and I think it's amazing how far the brand has drifted. They were a cool mall store, remember the thrill of shopping there while on a trip to the US?
    For me the biggest failing of the brand is the use of poly combined with Collection prices... I mean it's a joke.
    And yeah I dodged a bullet with the navy velvet Kiki's as well, now if they had been dark green we might be having a different conversation...

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    1. You said it Dani, hideous is exactly what came to mind, and nope, they are not so ugly they've become cute. And I don't take Collection seriously anymore since that is no longer consistently collectible.

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  2. I hear you! For me it's the giverny dress - sigh...

    I have green velvet cole haan loafers bought two years ago - just love them - very luxe! I need a new mid-priced brand!

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    1. So true Dani, Tiffany Rose and Wendy. They gave themselves a downgrade with an upcharge at the same time.

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  3. no must havesfor me this time either:(
    I am going to sit out the freeship and wait for the
    rices to drop- as they always do.

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  4. It's a shame about JCrew. I almost never go in there anymore. I've been on the hunt for a replacement, and for me it won't be J.Jill or Lane Bryant:-/. I like to think if myself as too "cool" for them. Why are retailers abandoning us? We have the money to spend!! Infuriates me.
    Just for a hoot, my husband still has several of those Koogi sweaters from back in the day...but he knows I won't be seen with him when he wears them!! Sometimes I think he holds on to them just to drive me nuts, and I need no assistance with that.

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  5. I know! I love some of the euro brands, but exchange/shipping makes them the exception, not norm. Start your own brand Jennifer!

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    1. Great idea Wendy!! Want to help with the designs?

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  6. I haven't like a lot of their trendy stuff for a while - and your Cliff Huxtable parallel has made me laugh!
    I was looking at the Boden catalogue, and thinking that the collection was really a lot like what JCrew used to produce - classic, flattering clothes. No one is going to look to keep one of those ugly sweaters for 10 or 20 years that you've pictured. Not to mention the quality (let me complain about the t-shirt that has developed a hole after 2 wears) xx

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    1. Hi Heidi - I would love to try Boden. I wish the US SITE SHIPPED To Canada - the uk prices and shipping are so high and makes it not worth it. But I do like so much of it - Dina always looks so awesome!

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    2. Boden is a weakness for me. I have a decent amount of J Crew stuff (especially from eBay) but it's never "spoken" to me the way I think it does for a lot of people here. Boden is a completely different story. The US site is so much cheaper than the German site, and that's been keeping my hot little fingers off the keys. What's interesting to me about Boden is how it kind of spans 1-2 aesthetics and they are quite different from each other. There is the highly-patterned-jersey-tunic-y type stuff (which does not work on me AT ALL) and then there is the highly-tailored-but-sometimes-with-fun-colors-and-patterns stuff that sings right into my ear (really dresses). There are at least 2 holiday dresses on the site now that I desperately DO NOT need but want with a kind of uncontrollable yearning.

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    3. Thanks for this endorsement, monty. I really should try as they have tall sizes, praise be. I like the plain tailored stuff in the catalog; at first I was put off by the sizing ( no way am I going to order a 12 or 14-- silly), but now they've adopted our sizing.

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    4. Lane, have a look at the online garment measurements as well. I find Boden does not do the same type of vanity sizing that other retailers do. I typically take a 0 in Ann Taylor and a 0/2 in J Crew (depending on the item) and a 4 in Boden (disclaimer -- have never had a Boden skirt or pants, only their dresses, tops and cardigans). If you skip over to Dina's blog (My Superfluities) or Lou's blog (What Lou Wore 365), there are a lot of helpful photos and reviews.

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    5. I agree - I love Boden's pieces so I usually have to troll eBay for them....sigh....why do Canadians always get the shaft? And when a product is available here, we are charged big-time for it. It angers me. Don't get me started on Laura Mercier not shipping to Canada but then Canadian Sephora can charge astronomically more just for having the product here. sigh....

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    6. Wendy, if you order through Boden's UK site, they ship to Canada. I have ordered a number of things from them. Shipping does take a bit longer (about 10-14 days average) and it comes via Canada Post. Great thing about Boden is that all of the product measurements for every size are listed, so finding the correct size is fairly easy.

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  7. Sorry Wendy but I really love the green one. It is too $$$ but I love it with the scarf and sweater from the fall 2013 runway show. As a mostly blond, I have always loved chartreuse. Will you still be my friend anyway?

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    1. Sc - will always be your friend and I do know that pretty blondes can wear colours others of us can only dream off! And btw - love the chartreuse shantung pants!

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    2. I like those pants too. I may have to check them out as the cafe capri selection has been dismal this year. WHERE are the cute thick wool lined capris? Thank God I bought every pair they made last year.

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  8. Well said Wendy! I saw that Anchor Pom Pom Sweater and went huh? And I really don't want zippers and buttons on the sides of my sweaters. I want as little cold air reaching my skin as possible. And thought I'm all for wearing items different ways I don't want to wear my sweaters "frontwards and backwards". Sigh

    After visiting the stores, Madewell and C. Wonder have peaked my interest as alternatives to J-Who.

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  9. I loved your recent posts on those! I think I will check out madewell for possible Xmas options. I love c wonder - they weren't shipping to Canada before but maybe now!

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  10. I love it! You're absolutely right; those sweaters are awful!

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    1. HI Sandy! They do leave a little to be desired! I can do loud, but I struggle with odd or ugly! Although I do recognize that is in the eye of the beholder!

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  11. It's very good for my self-imposed shopping-free period that:
    1) it's summer here and I don't need wintery clothes
    2) as you say, many of the new items are either dull or ugly

    Having said that, I still yearn for the tile sweater that I know many of you hate!!

    J Crew is having a bit of a blah period at the moment, not that I'm an expert, being a neophyte compared to some of you!

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    1. I actually kind of like that tile sweater! It makes me think of Kaffe Fassett! I think I will just be sticking to the very basics for the next little while and see what happens. We have a high street shop, SMart Set, which is actually showing nicer stuff. Sure it is cheap, but you are paying cheap. I would rather buy very trendy from a place like F21 or Smart Set at a fraction of the price if I really like the trend. I just remember when I would have placed a HUGE Christmas order yesterday!

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  12. *snort* at those sweaters.
    I'm actually loving J Crew factory more these days. Prices are more affordable, there's usually always a promo, and well... I can't complain. Except for the fact that my wallet is a lot lighter...

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    1. Laura - it is funny - they are recycling their hits of last season there and I think doing well at it = you would think that would send a message...

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  13. Husby is happy. I spent the past 30 minutes going through the new stuff with a puzzled and pained face and utters of "that is hideous," "I can't decide which color combo is the ugliest" and "somebody designed it but several people had to approve it, were they all on drugs?" I was kind of excited about the handknit fair isle sweater until I got to "mercerized" in the description. As I said on WFF's post, mercerized means a treatment to the fiber to add luster and does not mean to blend with acrylic. Think it might have to be Collection prices for true mercerized wool to happen there, learned that last winter. And what's with the heavy dose of acrylic/polyamide/viscose, even for Collection? I've been shopping the brand since the 80s (when it was j-who without sarcasm) and I've tried to keep up with the "good intentions" mission of my blog but I cannot stand it much longer, I feel a scathing post coming up. Even if no one reads it, I need to let out a scream.

    As a friend of mine said, JC is totally hosting the ugly sweater party this season. A big thank you because it will go toward saving for a comfortable retirement.

    Thanks for letting me vent a little.

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    1. ha! That's my issue - they want us to pay a lot for poor quality! I am going to stick to the odd basic or fun shoe, but am now setting out for a new love that ships to Canada!

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    2. TR, the mercerized thing is outrageous! Totally agree.

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    3. Lane, to be fair, I don't know if that's how they're doing mercerized wool for that sweater this year. All I know is it was wool blended with acrylic they called mercerized (the description just says mercerized wool, no mention of other ingredients) last year on a regular label sweater and only properly mercerized 100% wool for a Collection sweater. I can only assume they didn't decide to do mercerized correctly with this new batch of stuff but I'm not interested enough in that sweater for me to bother to find out.

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    4. I'll read it! I have a feeling it may mirror the way I feel about this topic.

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  14. IT's for young trendy girls now, it's so British HIgh St, nothing there for me anymore. I used to want it all and be so excited especially at this time of year.

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    1. I may have to start saving for Marissa or Emerson Fry...

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  15. I don't go to j crew mainly due to location although they just opened here. I won't be going as I heard quality has gone down. But also with most mavens I think maybe Jenna is drinking her own kook aid and forgetting what made the brand popular to begin with. No one has the knack of just selling sschmatty for designer prices which I think she thinks she can get away with...

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    1. CSW - I think you have hit the nail on the head!

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  16. I think Jenna believes her own hype, and has been for some time. Remember the show where the models were wearing her nerd glasses? And I also think that she's surrounded by sycophants and wanna-bes, so she's not gonna get a reality check any time soon. I know the JC rule book calls for adding a statement of how much the writer loves dear Jenna to any hint of criticism, but you know what? I'm not loving the clothes, I'm not loving the quality, I'm not loving the befuddled administration, I'm not loving the prices, and I'm not loving Jenna.

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    1. I wonder if that's in the playbook for getting big as well - you lose all track of reality and your base? I returned 4X what I kept this year, although to be fair, I have returned 100% of the BR stuff I ordered - I am depressed about their quality as well. My rampant consumerism may be squashed!

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  17. J crew is definitely losing their way and if not careful will find themselves like The Gap ten years ago. The Gap was THE store and then lost their way and their customers for many years. Now, for basic everyday clothes it is back on track. I do believe Jenna is so wrapped up with the brand it will be difficult to fire her…I do wonder what the stock price would be if they had not gone private last year?!

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    1. Oh, the only thing I saw was an antique white infinity scarf for Em. I am so vanilla.

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    2. I liked that scarf too! Some of the basics are still quite nice - I bought the heaher grey cashmere T a couple of months ago and am very happy with it. I just miss the neat skirts, the cool trousers, the pretty patterns. But you are right - Gap has turned around. Isn't it now being run by the former CEO of J Crew?

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  18. This is my 2nd year off the crewlade. I thought last year's collection was ugly, well this seems to be another year of that, but more expensive ugly. They went private to give free rein to Mickey and Jenna's "creativity" and I think it will prove to be a very costly experiment. I haven't seen so many promos and items on sale. Eight to seven years ago, 30% off would seem manna from heaven. I would probably call in sick and click away. Now 40% off and I don't even bother.

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    1. I hear you! I think you are right on Marie. I think they are believing their press and that the cult of Jenna is strong enough that people will buy this stuff. Maybe they will, but it has been so knocked off now that I am not so sure/./

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    2. Dear Leader took the company private for the money. The ensuing bad decisions - pushing clothes made with less yardage, cheaper fabrics, offshore standards of quality, cutting corners on so many things - are also $-based. And yes, the bad decisions have not led to good fashion.

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    3. I was looking at old catalogues last night and there is seemingly no connection at all...

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  19. Maybe we should all just enjoy being desire-free this season? So far, I am. Slim velvet pants-- that's all I need to replace the bootcut ones we were supposed to look good in forever but don't suit me anymore. Not looking to JC for these.

    Love the BCosby photos-- wasn't that a great show?

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    1. I loved the Cosby show!!!!

      Slim velvet pants are a thing of wonder! I have been looking for them around here and no luck!

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    2. Sundance Catalog has some velveteen jeans. Black, burgundy and mauve (that looks brown). I should be good with the velvet matchsticks I bought last year, but I am perplexed by the Toothpick mania this year. Where are the rest of the pants?

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  20. WMM, your typo (or Freudian slip) summed it up for me:

    And then you realize that you've been there/don't that and that you are dangerously close to becoming a fashion victim.

    been there/don't that - LOL

    Welcome to my side of the great divide. J.Crew has veered off in a tacky weird direction and the crewlade soured for me a long time ago.

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    1. hA! I missed that completely, xoxo!

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  21. Completely agree with everyone, the clothes are boring and way overpriced. Collection doesn't mean a thing anymore, everything is collection now. I hardly bought from them this year, most of my rare purchases have been from the factory. I have been watching saks, nordies and neimans for sales and buying 1-2 quality items that I Love instead of shabby lookig stuff from j that looks bad or rips in a few wears. 40% off and I don't even want 1 thing.

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    1. A - I just need a good Canadian substitute, I find the shipping and duty awfully fierce from those shops sadly

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    2. Save up what you'd spend on shipping/duty, get a cheap flight down to the States, and do a shopping tour where you stay over with blog-buds and shop to your hearts content! You're always welcome in DC, Wendy!

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  22. Those sweaters are completely hideous, but the Cosby show was awesome. I still watch reruns on TV!

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  23. You're totally right, I have been thinking for a while now that the designs are steadily becoming more and more unflattering and the quality is going down the tubes. I have bought some of the more classic pieces from J. Crew but none of the trendy stuff. What is frustrating is that the classic items are getting more scarce and are often only available online. I honestly don't think Tom Mora is a very good designer. Club Monaco is getting most of my money these days. There is some poly, but there are still a lot of natural fibres, and the quality is good.

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    1. I must go see their holiday offerings!

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  24. It's not because you're getting older. J.Crew has gone completely off the rails! I used to order at least once a week... now it's more like one item, once a month, IF THAT! Those sweaters are horrific, and the worst part is that someone at J.Crew approved them and thought, "Yes, this is a good idea, people will want to buy these!" NO!!!!!!

    eBay has been my best friend lately. I have scored a bounty of items from 2004-2008 and I think that is where most of my wardrobe will continue to come from. I also have branched out into other brands via my eBay travels. Secondhand is the way to go, I am thinking, for getting quality at a reasonable price. But I know some people aren't into that.

    At least we still have the Kikis. Those are a bright spot in the dark landscape of Cosby sweaters!

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    1. Oh my god - I was thinking of Christmas 2007 and could weep....

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  25. The dollar has spoken, you are not getting your old J. Crew back, unfortunately! The bejeweled and bedazzled and Cosbying must be quite profitable. J. Crew does not seem concerned about its aesthetic, it seems that they just want to sell a lot of clothes. Which I understand, it's a business, but I wish there were more middle ground.

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    1. Cate, I am afeard you are right.....

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  26. I have never known the brand as there are not really represented here around Luxembourg. And neither close... Probably in Paris (where I never go)... I don't think there are in Brussels... But if I had to judge the brand by the pictures you post here, I would scream and run away...

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    1. Steph - you made me laugh out loud!

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  27. The Wendy World Tour!


    Not sure if I should start or end in California with Janet? Probably start so she would make me more zen and then I would forget the shopping and just visit!

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  28. Replies
    1. Whete is the Betty ford clinic. - may need that by the end of the tour! Do you think Danielle will get me in to see mrs. O?

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  29. I keep seeing these sweater - many of them on Net A porter and hundreds of dollars and wondering why why why. That one with the arrows is sort of Prison Break meets Boy George when he was sweeping streets doing his time. (Thanks for your lovely words and advice today on my blog. Having a very bad week but not as bad as that green sweater, hahah!)

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    1. God I miss boy George.....I may have to do a post on that! Parenthood is not for sissies that's for sure!

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  30. So well said. And such a waste of time and resources. There is no concern or admiration for good design and implementation anymore. Retailers just want quick and untried to spearhead yet another rollout, regardless of the result.
    Happy birthday Barry! Enjoy your weekend WMM!

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    1. Thanks Knityarns!

      I am more and more convinced that the answer is a move back to homemade and craftspeople - something I believe you would agree!

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  31. oh i'm late to comment here and i did not read all the comments above me but i will say that my #2 son, the style maven of our family and i used to call j.crew...j.crap. that is long before i had a blog and those are supposedly their good years. i was never really impressed with their offerings but once i started reading all the style blogs out there i kinda jumped on board. i'm in agreement with the recent rollout. nothing in it for me. but i'm old and it's to be expected i guess. but anyway, as much as i love fashion, these days i just want it to be simple. i'm strongly attracted to basic neutrals and it feels better than ever. that was my 2 cents.

    also, happy birthday to your handsome husband!!!

    xo
    janet

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    1. thanks Janet! There is a group think about a lot on the 'net, isn't there? Human nature I believe!

      I was just saying above that I think that I am convinced that the key is to find well-crafter craftsman pieces and maybe it's time I learned to sew again or had some things made!

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