So the results of our little contest are in, and let me start out by saying that you ladies brought the goods. Judging was not always pretty, nor was it fun, but it was deeply educational—I now know where all of those kittycats-playing-around-the-Christmas-tree sweatshirts come from, for instance. Because you sent in so many entries, I’ll be doing eliminations in rounds: a new group every day, going from least to most challenging. You wouldn’t want to take it all in at once. The mind reels.
L.L. Bean: Couldn’t be simpler to find something here—I’d probably even welcome an L.L. Bean gift card and spend it on a ton of their indestructible weekend totes. But I’ve also been toying with buying a pair of these classic duck boots literally since I was 17 and saw how cool all the hippie/preppy girls at boarding school looked in them. Those same girls have all grown up, and they still look super-chic as they clomp around Manhattan in the rain and the snow in them every winter.
Talbots: If LL Bean personifies all that is the Maine and outdoorsy about the New England sensibility, then it’s safe to say that Talbots has Connecticut covered. It’s modest but not dowdy; more Laura Bush than Barbara, and nobody’s definition of sexy. But this little pink sheath is just as wearable as it could possibly be.
Vineyard Vines: “Whale belts and critter clothes galore,” pipes in commenter Erika, and this does kind of sum up what Vineyard Vines is all about. It’s the go-to spot for the girl who wants to make double-sure people know that her look is PREPPY, and in a way that skews kind of prissy and sorority girl: seersucker skirts; polo shirts; totes with little crab prints. I did manage to find this cute pintuck top, however, which is not entirely unlike this little number.
Victoria’s Secret : “Clothing,” specified commenter Danielle. “Even in their non-lingerie department, it is totally boob city over there.” Not everything, Danielle. My friend Liz has been swearing by their cotton and cashmere wrap cardigans for years. This one is super-soft (and comes in black and grey too). And it’s really cute: You’ve just got to try very hard to recontextualize what you’re seeing and imagine the sweater separate and apart from the image.
Sundance The Sundance catalogue fascinates me: its aesthetic seems to be middle aged Santa Fe lady as focus-grouped by a bunch of 16 year-old girls in the Valley. Which means things can go very, very wrong. Super-wrong. But I’ve got friends who consistently weed out great stuff there. Like this embroidered belt, which is just the thing to give a nice bit of pop to your same old boring summer khakis and white t-shirt.
NEXT UP: Chico’s, Midnight Velvet, and far more excitement than you can possibly imagine.