For many years, Ann Taylor was my go-to source for work wear separates in petite sizes. Even after I stopped wearing suits to the office, I still loved their modern classic aesthetic, the "Margo" fit pants and variety of jackets and sweaters offered. There were two stores nearby; my favorite was quite large, with a deep and well-stocked Petites section. But over the years, the Petites area gradually shrank until it occupied a small dark corner of the store like a child on time-out, and then that store closed entirely.
In the last few seasons, AT seemed to shift their focus away from work clothing, veering into an aesthetic I referred to as "Debutante Aspirational," apparently chasing a younger and more leisure-oriented demographic. Ruffles and embellishments, splashier prints, satiny fabrics, frilly party type clothes and skin-baring styles squeezed out the more classic and ageless separates. So they dropped off my radar for work wear, even though at times an item in the window would catch my eye.
I don't know what propelled me past the doorway of the remaining, much smaller local Ann Taylor store last Friday while I was out running lunchtime errands at the mall, but having come to the realization that I needed to shore up my summer work wardrobe, it seemed worth a quick perusal. No stone unturned, and all that. I was pleasantly surprised.
While there are still plenty of more casual and "party" type clothes, it did seem that the selection of suiting and work separates was occupying a larger percentage of rack space than in recent seasons. Right away I found a nice pair of beige linen trouser pants on the sale rack (Signature fit, the updated Margo, this particular pant not shown online, though they have others). Encouraged, I grabbed a few more items to try, including this skirt...
|Pencil skirt in cotton/lycra, $98.|
I remembered that earlier I'd received an e-mail from Vogue and Ann Taylor announcing an event Saturday afternoon at their South Coast Plaza store, and that all full-priced items would be 30% off, so decided to wait on the skirt and take a trip to The OC the next day. Definitely worth the fifty-minute drive and dealing with the crowds! In addition to the skirt above, I also found these lightweight pinstripe pants,
|Chocolate brown pinstripe trousers, $138|
The event, it turned out, was the grand opening of the first Southern California Ann Taylor Concept Store, which I assume means they'll be getting the newest and best selection of styles. They were having quite a party at the store!
|Cute guys passing out champagne, what's not to like?|
|Fun jewelry, all at 40% off.|
|Swanky decor, and a sizable Petites section!|
I tried on this jacket above, and while I appreciated the fit and the 3/4 sleeves, I ultimately decided that the bows on the back of the sleeves were a bit too precious for me, so passed this one by. (They're ribbons run through a casing around the sleeve which has faced openings, so not easily removed.)
|This dress isn't my style, but saw a couple of women try it on and it looked great.|
I'm thrilled with all of these pieces, as they mix well with items already in my closet, and will help me to look polished at the office even during the warmest months.
Is your work wardrobe ready for summer? What are your favorite summer pieces for work?
(This post was not solicited or compensated in any way by Ann Taylor, Vogue or anyone else.)