Outlet stores aren’t what they seem*, and after a few too many purchases from J.Crew Factory that left me with garments that shrunk, got holes or otherwise fell apart, I swore off outlet shopping pretty much altogether.
Until recently, when I saw this skirt at J.Crew Factory that I really thought I wanted.
Before I launch into this not-very-positive review, a bit of back story. I have a favorite skirt. It’s navy and pleated, falls a few inches above my knees, and I wear it a few times a week. I got it at J.Crew about three years ago. Since I’ve had it for awhile and have worn it so much, I’m always a bit nervous that it’s going to fall apart soon or that something bad will happen to it, and then I’ll be out of a favorite skirt. And sad.
So, I’m on the lookout for a backup favorite skirt. Which is how I came to order the Factory pleated wool skirt the other day. It’s very similar to my favorite skirt in several ways. It’s navy. It’s pleated. It’s kind of short, but not too short.
Over at the blog Into-Mind (which is fantastic blog about personal style and smart shopping), there’s a Cheat Sheet for assessing the quality of garments. One of the things the cheat sheet recommends looking at is the stitching. Another is the fabric quality and a third is the fit.
To get a sense of fabric quality, it recommends holding the fabric up to the light. You shouldn’t be able to see things clearly through it. When I held the skirt up, I could see shapes and make out some details through it. Not exactly what you want from a winter skirt.
Additionally, the skirt’s construction isn’t so great. There are lumps and bumps on it at the seams and pleats and it just isn’t stitched together all that well.
OK, at this point you might thinking, stop whining. You get what you pay for, after all. And, this skirt was cheap (I got it for less than $30, including shipping). But here’s the thing. Factory claims it’s valued at $88, which while that isn’t earth shatteringly expensive, it also isn’t exactly pocket change.
Here’s the other thing. I’m pretty annoyed because I know that the quality isn’t there at Factory, and yet I still let myself get roped into buying something because it was cheap. So, really, I’m not annoyed with the skirt or with J.Crew. I’m annoyed with myself.
Fortunately, I got the skirt before it went on final sale, so I am able to return it. Though, I guess if I wasn’t, it would be a $30 lesson in remembering to always be cautious and conscious when shopping.