Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Just Say No to Old Navy?

Let’s talk about Old Navy today, shall we?

I can still remember when I first had regular access to an Old Navy.  Back then, it was a treat and a thrill to have a new mall store filled with cute clothes that I could afford on my modest paycheck.  I was working in the one-hour photo section at Target during the summer before college.  My mornings were spent at the store, feeding film through that giant machine and retrieving orders for customers.  It was easy work, but damn, it was boring.  Being able to browse Old Navy after work made life happier.

As a teenager, I thought Old Navy was great.  Good quality, good prices, the thrill of spending my own money on stuff for me—what’s not to love?  I even still have a jacket I bought from them, a light blue (and slightly too big for me) windbreaker/raincoat that I wear when it’s raining and I want some protection.  My favorite thing about that coat is that it’s lined with super soft grey fleece.  Looking back, it seems that fleecy apparel was one of Old Navy’s signature categories, and oh, how lovely and warm it was!

Old Old Navy Coat{10+ years together!  Quality!}

I shopped at Old Navy on and off through college.  In grad school, I discovered the Gap, which happened to be in downtown Evanston and approximately halfway between the lab and home.  Gap and I quickly became best friends.  I discovered that I love their sweaters, and they make great jeans to fit my curves.  I do get my jeans hemmed by a professional, but at my height (5’1”), that’s to be expected.

Living in the Chicago area for graduate school, I still shopped a bit at Old Navy, especially at the impressive multi-story location in downtown Chicago.  (It seems that since I left Chicago, the State Street Old Navy has moved into the old Borders building…and people are NOT HAPPY.  Yikes.)  Anyways, once Gap became a more convenient shopping destination, my Old Navy habit tapered to a minimum.

Then I moved to Texas, and my shopping options changed dramatically.  No more local Ann Taylor Loft, and my local Gap closed not long after I arrived.  So sad.  So what’s left here?  Old Navy, Target, Kohl’s, and for secondhand options, Plato’s Closet.  There are other stores, of course, but those are my main squeezes.

Here’s my question for you: has Old Navy’s quality really declined since I started shopping there in high school?  Or is this a figment of people’s imagination?  Reading style blogs and people’s commentary on quality has got me wondering (and worrying!) about shopping there.  I was in the store a few weeks ago and found a beautiful coral sundress on sale for $10.99.  When I felt the thin (and snaggable?) fabric, I thought, This isn’t going to last.  And when I tried on three tops from the clearance rack, I couldn’t bring myself to buy any of them because I got paranoid about buying cheap clothing.

And yet… 

Favorite Pink Shirt

I bought this pink top last summer from Old Navy and love it so much.  A short-sleeved pink top is a closet staple for me, and I’d been without one for too long.  Feeling a bit desperate, when I found this one for $6, I decided that if it only lasted the summer, I was okay with that.  It’s lasted me almost a year, and I still love it.

And then there’s my denim pencil skirt.

Denim Pencil Skirt {Sorry this photo is kinda fuzzy!  Cameras, how do they work?!}

I bought this one while shopping with my sister in December 2011.  She had given me an Old Navy Groupon for Christmas (yay!), and we went shopping for gifts and for ourselves.  I wear this skirt a lot in the warmer months, and it’s pretty easy to ride my bike while wearing it.  Quality-wise, I’m very happy—I imagine this skirt will last for several years, and it fits really well.

I suppose my shopping method at Old Navy is mixed: I either embrace the “this might not last” mentality (as with the pink shirt), or I can see and feel that the quality is good (as with the denim skirt).  But I wish I could shake the feeling of paranoia that other blogs have instilled in me!  It’s kind of unfair, the way that a negative feeling can dominate your experiences.  I haven’t told you at all about the mistakes I’ve made at Old Navy—buying ill-fitting jeans, for example—but it doesn’t seem fair to blame the store or the brand for that.

This post was a bit of a ramble, but I think that’s how it goes sometimes with thoughtful consumerism.  So now I ask you: what’s been your experience with Old Navy?  Do you like shopping there?  Or do you avoid it at all costs?


Raquelita said...

I pretty much stopped shopping at Old Navy in 2003 when I bought a pair of jeans and some tops there that fell apart after two washes. I am considering buying a couple of pairs of men's shorts, though, there for the summer....

Rosiecat said...

Gah, that stinks! Those are the kind of complaints that a lot of bloggers have made, so I believe it happens with Old Navy clothes--I just haven't had it happen to me.

Are the men's shorts for you or M? I bought a pair of shorts back in 2010 that have lasted quite well--I plan to wear them this summer too! I have some photos here:

Just some simple olive shorts :-)

Chrissy (The New Me) said...

I have a lot of clothes from Old Navy, and I think they're hit or miss. I always buy jeans there, because I have a rather large bottom for my frame and ON is the only place I can find pants that look and feel comfortable. I also love their five inch long shorts - I own them in five different patterns/colors and live in them during the summer. And I like their workout gear - I have a pair of compression capris that have lasted nearly three years now and are still going strong.

I also have that same pink shirt! It's so bright and cheery. :)

I guess most of the stuff I buy has lasted just fine, but I think that's because I put back the things that seem flimsy or poorly made. Their clearance rack can also be a nightmare - they tend to mark down items that are ripped or irregular, instead of fixing them or stating the issue outright on the tag.

Raquelita said...

The men's shorts are for me. I like them because they have so many pockets. :)

Rosiecat said...

Chrissy, you are a well of knowledge about how to shop smartly at Old Navy! I'm tucking your advice (particularly about the clearance rack) into my metaphorical back pocket for my next Old Navy visit.

That's awesome that we have the same shirt! It is very cheery :-) I feel like it was a great deal, too--hard to beat the price, for sure.

Raquelita, fun! I will look at them the next time I'm at Old Navy, just to check them out.

Vj Kimmel said...

It's definitely true. I shopped at old Navy in the late 1999-2001 and had some of the best quality clothes! I gave most of them away when I could no longer fit into them thinking if I lost the weight I could just buy more. Well I did and when I went to buy more I realized the quality sucks and I miss my old clothes lol had I know the quality would decline I would have held onto them. I too have a jacket and fleece left that are almost 20 years old so I know something has changed. Oh well, such as life. I usually wander to the clearance racks and have found deals for around 99 cents for sweaters! That is usually when I will shop there now.

Anonymous said...

ON is OK. It is cheaper than the GAP.. Most of the clothes I have bought there are ok.