Monday, March 19, 2012

Comparison shopping - Banana Republic versus J.Crew

I used to shop at Banana Republic all the time. I have probably about 20 button down shirts and at least 10 pairs of their Martin fit pants in my closet. My trench coat, one of my favorite cashmere sweaters, my everyday messenger bag, my navy striped t-shirts, one of my favorite jersey dresses, are all from Banana.

But in the last 5 years I have not been shopping there much. They don't offer many fun colors or prints. The basics are still great, and their pants fit me better, the quality is about the same as J.Crew but J.Crew seemed more fresh, more youthful, more fashion forward and simply more fun.

However, if you are looking for basic colors, I think Banana has some viable alternatives at much better price points, especially that there is always a promotion going on. I pass a BR store on my way to J.Crew and recently their displays were catching my attention, so I decided to step in and check out a few items.

Colorblock short trench

This trench appears to be sold out on US site at this moment, but you can view it on Canadian site HERE. My store had it in all sizes, so if you are interested, definitely try calling the stores.

Colorblock Belted Mac

IRL:

Subtle colorblock is a nice touch
Casually belted

$130 100% cotton
I have very good experience with Banana Republic trench coats. This is my favorite spring coat:

Banana Republic trench (old)
I think it is very comparable to  J.Crew Icon trench.

This year's J.Crew version
Classic trench
I know Icon is a favorite of many and it is definitely a great coat.  Banana trench is smoother fabric and it drapes better in my opinion. And of course, the price on BR was so much better. I paid under $100 for mine (i think about $97). I have it for three years and I have been wearing it constantly.

Of course J.Crew does a better job at styling, and the coat does look more appealing on the model with sunglasses. But irl I would not necessarily picked J.Crew version, even if the price was the same. 

What do you think?


Metallic trim striped pullover



Sweater body 100% cotton, trim viscose and 2% metalic
This is not new at all but I liked this sweater a lot. On website, this color is full price but in the store it was $29.99. I think the fit is great and the trim adds a nice touch. The crewneck has just the right scoop. The trim did not feel scratchy to me and the drape was nice.


Compare it to Cotton V-neck sweater in stripe from J.Crew:

I don't like the shrunken boxy fit

Now I am also intrigued by this sweater and have to try it next time:

Metallic trim crewneck


How do you like those sweaters?

Sateen crop pants



Pants $69.50, trying size 4
Compare pants to J.Crew CafĂ© capri at $89.99.  They fit very similarly. I personally like BR pants fit better, not only for these pants, but in general, but that's my body type. You cannot see it here but especially in the back BR fits me better.

Here is the outfit with sweater and pants together:


Sweater size Medium on sale $29.99
And here are J.Crew cafe capris in foulard print for comparison (also trying size 4):

Basically the same fit

I think it is a question of color, because J.Crew of course have many fabulous colors and prints, but if you need a basic color I would consider Banana since their price is much better, especially with the 30% (or more) discount.

The Mad Men� Collection lace shell



$49.99, 68% cotton, 32% nylon, lining 100% poly

I like the fit

I like the lace
Compare to J.Crew ultra Eyelet Shell


In red

J.crew concept seems better, more interesting shape and lace pattern. But the execution? I think J.Crew top is shorter and boxy and requires a long slender neck. It actually felt bulky and restrictive even if I had plenty of room around the middle. I also don't like the shadows that are forming in between lace and the lining. 
It is also 100% cotton, which might have actually work against 'drapability'. Banana top has 32% nylon and poly lining, but it actually felt better on. It also looked much better with jacket over it.

If I was looking for a white lace top I would go with Banana.


***
Do you shop at Banana Republic?
How you you think those pieces compare to J.Crew?

For tomorrow I have reviews of some Banana dresses that I also tried.
Do you like those comparison shopping posts?

28 comments:

  1. i have been very impressed by banana recently. i pretty much strictly shop at j. crew, but am slowly being won over. with their recent promos i have been able to pick up quite the haul at a fraction of the sticker price. i bought the mad men eyelet shell and know i will wear it to death. i also snagged the navy and white striped blazer and love the stretch material.

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    1. Stacy, I really liked that shell. I also just posted a review of two Mad Men collection dresses from the same fabric.

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  2. I have that metallic striped pullover and I love it. I hope that you got it. Thank you for the reviews. I love br pants too. They are great for work.

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    1. the sweaters just went on additional sale and they are $19.99. What a great value!

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  3. I'm with you, once I got all the basics at BR I found them a bit boring. JC makes up a good portion of my wardrobe but BR is my source for pants, coats and even bags. I snagged a large leather tote a few years back for $39! Great post, thanks for sharing!

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    1. you are right CC, BR is not exciting but they have some great basics

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  4. These BR clothes look great on you! I especially like the short trench. Thanks for the reviews....I think BR has had some wonderful items this spring, also, and the promos have encouraged me to buy. I recently purchased their classic trench, similar to yours, which I got for a great price on promo. I just could not stomach the cost of the Icon...and I am really pleased with the quality of the BR trench!

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    1. The short trench is very cute and the quality seems great!

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  5. wow i love that short color blocked trench on you. the color blocking reminds me of the beautiful emersonmade coat.

    these clothes seem to fit you better. you are right, a lot of the j. crew seems boxy to me.

    i have not been in a br store in years and i'm new to j. crew so i really enjoy seeing the comparisons.

    i'm reviewing the icon trench on weds. i've never done a review for a piece of clothing before, i'm kinda scared!

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    1. jsnet, I just bought something from Emerson Fry (they changed name), I will review next week.
      And don't worry about your review, if you can review Viking you can do the trench, it is just your perspective and I find it actually more interesting when it comes from non-crewlade-intoxicated person :)

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  6. What a coincidence, I just bought the BR colorblock coat a few days ago during the family and friends 50 % off sale. Love it. Very impressed with the quality and style. I am a big fan of J Crew but haven't bought too many pieces lately. Feel the spring items are way overpriced.

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    1. Like I commented on your blog, it seems like we are buying and checking out similar things :)

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  7. Interesting comparisons. I used to shop at Banana for pants and I have three pair of the Martin fit. They are really flattering and comfortable, I like them better than J.Crew pants. I have a few tops and sweaters too but I stopped shopping at GAP brands a couple of years ago because I don't agree with some of their business practices. Now it's one of those stores that I pass by without even noticing.

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    1. Hi xoxo, I don't really like the fit of most J.Crew pants, but I am hardly ever satisfied with fit of the pants, skirts are so much easier...

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  8. I was just thinking about some of the similarities between the two stores when I was shopping at BR this weekend! This was a very timely post!

    We don't have J.Crew where I live, but I do live within less then 2 miles from BR so I tend to shop there quite a bit over J.Crew. I don't have a ton from J.Crew, but I do feel like I get the same quality from both stores. I think the styling in the catalog and online makes J.Crew more appealing at times, but convenience aside, BR runs much better promos and has much better sales than I've experienced at J.Crew. With BR's latest 50% off Friends & family promo I was able to snag a dress, 2 shirts, and a headband for less than $100 and all of those items were new arrivals. I feel like finding deals like that at J.Crew would be almost unheard of!

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    1. Miss August, ITA about the promos at BR, they are unbeatable!

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  9. I was just in BR on Sunday to buy a pair of their Ashley bow flats which are truly wonderful. Haven't been in there in years. I've wondered about their trench coat, but so many of the reviews state that the BR trench from a few years ago is superior to the 2012 trench that I'm really worried about the quality. I'm happy to see it comes in a Tall size because J Crew's Icon does not, but I'm still unsure about the quality.

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    1. st, I never tried BR shoes. I actually checked out the 2012 version o the trench. I like the buttons and the buckles on my 2009 version better, and mine is lined in striped cotton, sleeves in acetate. Also mine does not have epaulletes. Quality of the fabric and the fit seems very similar, mine is also more camel that 2012 which is more khaki.

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  10. I like BR for some things but J Crew has been getting more of my money lately, too. I will have to look at the BR cropped pants, because the J Crew Cafe Capris are my all-time favorite pants, they fit me perfectly (why their Cafe Trousers don't fit as well is a mystery), and I prefer (on me) a quieter color in pants.

    I am looking forward to your post about BR dresses. I tried them last year when Banana came out with their first Mad Men collection. I wanted to love them, but the dresses fit so terribly on me. The dresses with short sleeves fit all wrong on top, even after trying a range of sizes. I had to return it. I did buy a sleeveless dress from them around that time and it was a much better fit. I wonder if they made any changes to the fit in their dresses in this year's Mad Men collection.

    I also have the Banana trench, it is really nice. They had a really pretty pink one this year too.

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    1. hi cate, those capri pants are worth the look, I think they are similar fit and quality of BR is the same if not better.
      I just posted about the dresses and I included two from Mad Men line.

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  11. I really like this post!!! I never shop at BR, but I am stalking their pink silk pintuck shell. I love that they have talls. I guess I will have to stop in next time I am at the mall. I did go to the BR outlet last weekend but like the J.Crew outlet, it just isn't as good as the "real thing".

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    1. thanks JCrewJD, you should check them out, especially for work stuff. I never can shop at outlets, I went to JC Factory a week ago and could not find one thing to tak eto the fitting room, I guess I don't have an eye for it, because I know others are finding treasures.

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  12. I bought the 2012 Banana trench for about $120 on promo, and I think it's very nice. It fits me better than the Icon. . . JCrew sleeves are too long for me, but I'm too long waisted for petites. The quality of the BR trench looks good. I think the color, too, is a bit more flattering on me than the Icon color is.

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    1. I love my BR trench! That year I checked out the Icon and while I loved it in black I hated the khaki version and BR trench was fitting me much better. 2012 is a little different, as I replied to st above, but still very nice.

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  13. ALL of these BR items really look great on you, and for the comparisons you did, definitely seem to fit better than JC. For me, I find that BR sizing is even more inconsistent than JC -- e.g., I have always fit a 0/P2 bottom in JC, but at BR, sometimes I'm a 0, or a 2, or sometimes even a 4, or a 25, or a 26... you get the idea -- and since I do most of my shopping online, that often dissuades me from ordering BR -- I don't mind ordering 2 sizes to see which fits better but it's a little ridiculous to order three or more sizes (even with free shipping, which I get on every order at Gap/BR/ON -- an awfully nice perk).

    I did get in to the store to buy that striped sweater in pink when it first came out w/ a 40% off coupon, but I popped in today and the striped ones were $20 (final sale) and the solids were $22 so I picked up a couple more. I love these -- works for three seasons in the east where I live.

    Thank you for the reviews!

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    1. Oh that's too bad about the sizing audreys, I feel your pain. Why can't the retailers stick to the measurements or at least provide measurements, model heigth and size they are wearing so we can judge better?
      And yes, I saw that the sweaters went on deeper sale, yay!

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  14. Drats! I walked past BR when I was in London and didn't bother going in. I love your picks particularly the striped jumper and red cropped pants. Off to check out their website now.

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  15. can anyone help on the sizing comparison? i wear a 4P in BR, just wondering about j crew sizes when ordering online. thanks!

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