After a game of fashion musical chairs brought Ann Taylor a new designer, Cintra Wilson decided it was time to reexamine the label—long a "corporate office submissive" look designed to "attract a nice tax attorney husband." She ate her words after checking out the new line (and buying a $175 gray silk-cashmere sweater she'll wear "every second until it dissolves into lint"). The line brings "less clutter and better details," from "the finished seams inside a little faille opera jacket" to "the velvet ribbon inside the waist of a peplum coat," Wilson writes in the New York Times.
The new Ann Taylor strategy comes down to "the honest injection of real quality bang for the buck," she continues, having been pleasantly surprised at finding a Lanvin lookalike silk shell for $70 and a Balenciaga-inspired skirt for $80. Her conclusion: "Ann Taylor’s office-wear may still be 98.9% edge-free, but it is concentrating on the right values: timeless lines and longevity. Other chains would be wise to follow in the plucky working girl’s conservative (yet spike-heeled) footsteps."