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It’s a question I’m getting quite often lately — people who used to love Anthropologie want to know, where else can I shop to find items like the ones I used to love so much at Anthro? This question recently came up in the comments again meaning it’s way past time to cover this important shopping topic in its own dedicated post!
Spoiler alert: there’s no one answer, unfortunately. No one store has taken up the mantle of what Anthropologie used to be. So instead I’ve created this post to be a living document that people can continue contributing to as new stores and online options develop. I’ll start with my suggestions and then community please fill in the gaps with your input in the comments!
I’ve purposely stayed towards the middle market here, leaving off low-end and high-end retailers because I see Anthropologie as squarely in the middle.
Why it reminds me of Anthropologie’s great era: Back in college I used to greatly admire the tucked, darted blouses, perfect silky camis and long pencil skirts Anthropologie carried. I dreamed of working in NYC at a fashion magazine or a prestigious newspaper, dressed like a 50s-era young professional lady typing away at my desk. 2007 was peak blouse, cami and pencil skirt awesomeness at Anthropologie, and I’ve been trying to find a replacement ever since. Banana Republic comes pretty close when their quality is on point. In 2018 Banana made a commitment to quality that’s starting to reflect in the clothing.
Keywords: work ready, long silhouettes, camis, work to weekend
Pros: Banana Republic recently went back to sourcing its wool from Italy, which means super soft merino with longer fibers spun into a quality, lasting cardigan or sweater product. Their modern silhouettes are ideal for working life in the city. On the casual side their jeans are often quite flattering, though often with a surplus amount of stretch. I find cute tops and camis here often. For solid-colored basics, Banana Republic is a solid step above the fast fashion stores. Their suiting shop is a great stop for young women in their first office roles or people who need to own a suit but don’t wear it often.
Banana Republic also does a great job creating a cohesive color palette season after season that translates well from office to casual. And lately, they’ve been putting more of an emphasis on developing fine materials into items that are washable — and actually survive the wash!
Finally, if you are ever in NYC, I HIGHLY recommend going to the 5th Ave Banana Republic store in Flatiron and requesting Jane help you out. She is smart, incredibly capable and helpful for women of all sizes. She is bluntly honest but in a fabulous way — she’ll tell you what looks good on you. She is straightforward when something does not look right. Finally, she’ll help you put together amazing outfits. She is a treasure and Banana Republic is so lucky to have her all these years.
Cons: It’s always a guessing game with fit at Banana Republic. They did away with their most curve-friendly pant fit (the Martin, RIP) and the Sloans have recently become more tapered in the calves, which just so happens to be where I need the room most. Quality can also be iffy — in general, their cotton and merino wool items are safe bets, while the poly-based items are a gamble. Some years quality is great, other years it’s awful.
Why it reminds me of Anthropologie’s great era: A quirky print here, a flattering fit and flare dress there, Boden appeals to the woman who wants a tiny dose of fun in her otherwise proper clothing. With more than a small dose of preppiness you can expect to find exceptional fits, though some items can cross too far into stodginess. Remember when Anthropologie used to put beautiful details on its dresses and cardigans, like grosgrain ribbon and pearlized buttons? Boden recaptures a bit of this understated elegance.
Keywords: Preppy chic, work ready, flattering fit
Pros: Beautiful tailoring on dresses and shirts that leads to a body-skimming fit. Office-appropriate lengths for skirts and dresses. Both petite and tall lengths offered on many items. And now that Nordstrom is carrying Boden’s women’s line, your chances of being able to try on an item pre-purchase have gone up considerably! (If you live near a Nordstrom at least.)
Cons: Boden has a bit of a print problem. Many of them are too large-scale or too far into quirky to feel modern. Boden is primarily online only which makes sizing a challenge, even with the online chat help and great reviews left by customers.
Why it reminds me of Anthropologie’s great era: Have some of Anthropologie’s former designers migrated over to sister brand Free People? I ask this because it seems like Free People is better at being Anthropologie these days than Anthropologie is! It’s true that Free People takes boho to nearly an extreme, but more and more they’ve been stocking cute wrap dresses, delicate detailed blouses and accessories that are killer good…all former hallmarks of Anthropologie. Of course at Free People you can expect all of those things to be 2 or 3 inches shorter. But hey, everything has a trade-off, right?
Keywords: boho, fashion forward, individual
Pros: Free People allows me to indulge my crazy clothing lover side — the side of me that isn’t afraid to wear a huge (faux) fur jacket or rock bright red boots. Is the clothing practical? Hardly, and yet every once in awhile I do find a work-ready item at Free People. My main winners are in their jewelry and bag sections, with intimates not too far behind. Free People has definitely kept my apartment wear sexy for my husband to be!
Cons: My God, Free People is hella expensive for what it is! Never is this more obvious to me than when one of the flash sale sites (i.e. Gilt, Ruelala, etc.) has a Free People sale and the products look so much less appealing to me. If Free People has one strength it’s their online styling team who excels at making the clothing look amazing. In real life though, you’ve got to be more careful. A lot of unfinished hems will continue to unfinish themselves. Some items may not make it through the wash. And in general, some of Free People’s clothing looks quite shopworn after just a few wears.
Make no mistake — I adore this store. But I’ve learned to be very choosy about my purchases here.
Why it reminds me of Anthropologie’s great era: Several of my friends who used to be designers at Anthropologie now work at LOFT. I absolutely see their influence on LOFT’s designs! While LOFT will never be very tailored or fashion forward, it’s funny how their items have lingered in my closet ever-longer in the last few years. I’ve noticed subtle feminine details on their items that leave me feeling happy. They have also had a work specialty shop the last couple of years with excellent options for people on a budget.
Keywords: closet staples, work and weekend, feminine details
Pros: What’s so great about LOFT? They offer fantastic office and casual basics that have a light trendy spin on them. It’s very easy to put together outfits there; if you buy their solid-colored items they’ll be staples for years to come. Their cardigans are often great and they usually have lots of cute skirts and dresses to choose from. Surprisingly, their blazers are also a hit!
Cons: LOFT doesn’t always scale their prints well and sometimes the color story of an item ends up, well, ugly. But mostly the biggest thing to watch for at LOFT is that their tops have no tailoring to fit a wider range of bodies, and this can leave anyone looking like a rectangle.
Why it reminds me of Anthropologie’s great era: There was a time when Anthropologie had so many cute dresses of several different styles that I convinced myself each season that I needed 10 or 12 new dresses. These days…let’s just say Anthro’s selection is less desirable to me. One of the stores picking up the slack in my closet has been Madewell. Madewell has a fantastic, curated, not overwhelming selection of pretty dresses with great prints. They also have lots of gorgeous coordinating items, from their beautiful bags to their serene scarves. Madewell is certainly a bit cooler than Anthropologie to begin with, but even the offbeat girl can find plenty to love here.
Keywords: dresses, accessories, Left Coast Cool
Pros: Without any real fanfare, Madewell has distinguished itself as one of the most body-diverse brands out there. And that means that whether you’re petite or plus size Madewell will have something for you. If you struggle with finding denim that fits, you can’t go wrong visiting a Madewell. They have several different rises, lengths and leg opening styles and their staff is fully trained to help a girl out. They typically lean towards more subdued colors which allows their dresses to truly shine as layering pieces.
Cons: No two ways about it, Madewell can be pricey. Is it worth it? To me, yes. Most of my clothing money goes towards Madewell these days. A savvy and patient shopper can score great deals during promotions or when sale time comes along. However, popular items sell out before they sniff sale.
Probably the biggest problem I have with Madewell right now is that their online styling is iffy at best. I find store visits so helpful to see actual outfits that look coherent and inspire me to put together my own looks. The website? It seems to have a weird obsession with showing everyone’s butt, and their plus size styling needs serious help. The latter of which is really too bad, because the clothing is so flattering on curvy bodies in real life!!
Why it reminds me of Anthropologie’s great era: With a wide range of brands, Nordstrom has plenty of options that appeal to my feminine sensibilities. Like Anthropologie, Nordstrom carries brands including AG Jeans, Sam Edelman, Seychelles, and J Brand, plus other brands I love like Chelsea28, Wayf, 1.state, Rebecca Taylor, Tibi, Theory, Ted Baker, Madewell, Sole Society, J. Crew, and now, Boden! Their in-house brands like 1901 and Halogen often shine too.
Brands like Ted Baker capture the whimsy Anthropologie once had mastered, while brands like Rebecca Taylor capture the softness. Nordstrom’s website is almost the one stop shop to recapture all the things I loved about Anthropologie several years ago. Almost.
Keywords: softness, whimsy, selection
Pros: A huge selection of brands means you’re unlucky to walk away empty-handed. In-store styling events are held often (or you can schedule an appointment with their personal shoppers). You can easily find work, event, or weekend outfits here. There’s tons of styling inspiration in-store and online. Nordstrom’s buyers are very savvy about mixing on-trend pieces with classic staples.
Cons: There’s a huge selection, and that can feel overwhelming at times! I’m not sure why but Nordstrom did away with the outfits page on its website. I miss it! (This styling page replaces the outfits page.) With so many third party brands Nordstrom is kind of a slave to trends in the same way Anthropologie is, however Nordstrom does a much better job of keeping plenty of timeless classics around.
Why it reminds me of Anthropologie’s great era: High quality. Artisan pieces. Exceptional details. I could be talking about 2009-era Anthropologie…but I’m talking about current day Sundance Catalog! Sundance’s style leans towards mountain chic, which isn’t exactly in Anthro’s wheelhouse but there is some overlap. Remember when Anthropologie used to make lovely intarsia, pointelle and cashmere sweaters? Sundance Catalog has all kinds of lovely sweaters. I also love Sundance’s highly stylized dresses, and their shoe, jewelry and bag selection has tons of goodies.
Keywords: mountain chic, intricate details, long silhouettes
Pros: In general, the quality of Sundance items tend to be exceptional. Occasionally there’s a dud, but isn’t that the case with every brand? The clothing is comfortable and made from high quality materials. My first Sundance Catalog purchase is nearly 10 years old now and still looks new. That’s impressive! You’ll find intriguing details and beautiful patterns among the selection, and most everything is in soft colors that blend well into outfits.
Cons: The prices at Sundance Catalog tend to reflect the bespoke shopping experience they’re going for. I don’t mind this — it helps me truly think through each purchase because it’s more of a commitment than, say, an $8 tee shirt at Old Navy. (No diss to Old Navy; I love them too!) However, because this retailer is almost totally online-only, sizing can be a total guessing game. Be prepared to be patient during the purchasing process here. It’s worth it.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, it’s the main middle price range stores I find myself shopping at most these days to fill in the gap left by Anthropologie. Where do you find yourself shopping right now?