Recently, I've been trying to buy only a few items, investing in what I need (winter shoes are on that list) or items that are so special and so wearable that they will revitalize what I have and last for a long time. On those counts, the J Crew Teddy dress was near the top of my fall shopping list. It looked warm, had bracelet length sleeves and could be dressed up or down.
I was obviously not alone. Fellow bloggers Marti and Joyce both singled this item out as a must have and it sold out very quickly online. I've noticed that J Crew takes a while to get new items in store (even in New York, they can be up online for a month or more before making it into what are supposedly flagship stores). I would rather buy in person for a number of reasons, notably fit, but also because bodies differ in their angles and lines, making the flow of a garment change from person to person--I'm also not a 18 year old model who has had top stylists tweak the fit of an item first, then photoshop their pictures. The Teddy dress was also in a wool crepe--and I have an allergy to lanolin so a lot of wool items are totally out for me.
Finally, I heard that the Teddy dress was in stock in Manhattan and looked at it on Thursday after acupuncture. What a disappointment. It looks boxy and a little matronly not young and slightly 1960s retro (in a good, mod way). The neckline is trimmed with the same fabric and has a raw edge which just looks a little cheap. The color isn't saturated and looks very slightly faded and, most importantly perhaps, the fabric feels rough--so much so that the unlined arms would make me break out into a well known rash (one I've successfully avoided for years by refusing to wear woolen sweaters).
I'm not disappointed though. I feel I dodged a bullet and my money is safe. I'm going to try and invest in a few of the Lyell pieces but even if that doesn't happen, I feel I'm the winner.
It also reminds me, yet again, to be skeptical of J Crew's styling. Sure they do have some nice long sleeved t-shirts and sweaters, and I've got a couple of decent skirts from them, but the stock in stores is never quite as chic or interesting as the catalogues suggest--remaining boxy and a little bit too safe.