Winter Casual: Talbots cashmere (& review) + spotted pants


Talbots cable turtleneck in Petite P (similar starts in XXS), H+M pants (last seen here) and gloves
Burberry coat, Chanel WOC, YSL wood heel pumps (similar), 10mm pearl earrings from eBay

Just a quick post today of a recent weekend outfit – I wore this to a triple date brunch in the South End on one of our windiest afternoons. No hair tie resulted in constant spatting hair out of my mouth and mostly photos like this: yellow_spots4
This winter I’ve been in dire need of warm sweaters, but have been patiently waiting for quality ones at a good price. I’ve been wearing my lone cable crewneck from 2011 to pieces, even though the material is quite itchy and requires a layer. After trying a few similarly itchy or pilling-prone options from H&M;, I swore off fast fashion brands for a staple that I’d ideally want wear for years to come.

I don’t remember how I ended up on the Talbots site (it rarely happens), but I stumbled across this cable turtleneck that looked remarkably similar to a J.Crew option I’ve been admiring for months. The J.Crew had sold out in my preferred size/color early on, even at $60+ for viscose/nylon/wool blend – and this one was similar in price for 100% cashmere. I was late to the sale and may have grabbed the last one, but in case it comes back the style # is 252490 in “English Mustard.”
I would say that Talbots in general is for the more mature woman, around ages 40-60+ (although public perception is apparently even older). Despite this, the quality of the brand has been consistently good in my experience, and there are gems and bargains to be found. On the accessory front, I have spoken highly of their shoes starting in sz 5 and non-tarnishing costume jewelry (worn here, here, and here).
Their apparel, however, is a little harder for the younger demographic to pull off. Talbots has an extensive petite line that goes down to a size Petite P (XS) or 0 (the P0 is online only), but unfortunately most things I’ve tried on were cut very generously. This sweater was the first item I’ve found that fits fairly slim, like between an XXS-XS from other stores, but even Nick’s first comment was “looks old person-ish.” I love the soft cashmere quality and the casual fit, and will just be sure not to pair it with my velcro SAS shoes.

Talbots wrap blouse, before alterations (“after” not yet ready…), Ann Taylor skirt from last season

talbots2The second item I picked up (which also disappeared online in Petite) is this jersey faux-wrap top. I initially put it in my “returns” pile, but later decided to keep and DIY alter after seeing how versatile it was with items in my closet. I’ve had many outfits that could use a wine-colored top, and this wrap style adds a nice, feminine look.

For Talbots sizing reference, this jersey blouse in Petite P measured 15″ shoulder to shoulder, 24″ sleeve length, 22″ total length, 17.75″ armpit to armpit, and 16″ across the waist. I slimmed both sleeves and down the sides of the torso, and will need to add more ruching to the shoulders to make them narrower. As such, I would recommend Talbots clothing mostly to those who are at least one size up from me and a little taller. It’s too bad about the sizing, as I really do like their quality and colorful yet conservative options for work.

Readers – Have you had luck with Talbots clothing? I’d love to hear your experiences with their sizing, quality and styles.
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  1. What's the name of your Burberry coat? It's gorgeous!

    Posted 2.1.13 Reply
  2. Mary Ann wrote:

    Hi Jean – I never visited Talbots until I started reading your blog. I like to check them out during the huge clearances. I've gotten 4 pairs of shoes – awesome deals when they retail for $150-ish and I can get them for less than $35! I bought a dress during the summer clearance last year that I've yet to wear – I need to hem it. But it's a wool blend dress than retailed for $200 and I got it for less than $20! 😉

    Posted 2.1.13 Reply
  3. Love the pop of mustard against the black&white;, and what a great deal for a cashmere sweater!

    I love looking for accessories (have picked up some belts) at Talbots. It's too bad their sizing runs so generously for clothing because they do have some nice basic staples at reasonable prices!


    Posted 2.1.13 Reply
  4. I appreciate your thoughtful review of Talbots. Perhaps I will give the retailer a try! Great sweater, in cashmere, awesome!

    Posted 2.1.13 Reply
  5. Melanie wrote:

    Very nice outfit 🙂

    Love xx
    Melanie ~

    Posted 2.1.13 Reply
  6. valley wrote:

    one of your best looks! thanks for always doing amazing reviews.

    cake & valley

    Posted 2.1.13 Reply
  7. Kim Powell wrote:

    Talbots is definitely defined in my book as "an older crowd clothing store." However, I also stumbled upon the company randomly and I must say, I really like quite a few of their pieces. While they appeal to an older demographic there are definitely pieces that are on my wishlist. I've bought a few items from them and I wear them all the time. I go for pieces that are a bit more mature as oppose to aged. Some things even have a vintage feel which I love!

    I should create a Polyvore Set with some of my favourite items!


    Posted 2.1.13 Reply
  8. Mary-Irene wrote:

    I agree completely with the sentiment here about Talbot's. I am probably older than many of your readers, so I've had some pretty decent luck there in the past, but have not gone to their page or to their stores since my Mom passed away. Buying for Mom was the usual reason that brought me to Talbot's.Once I was in the store, I could usually find something high quality, and I like their jewelry. My mother really liked that store, but the amusing thing is I can vividly recall her saying "this store is trying to appeal to younger, career women!""Nothing fits anymore and I can't find a thing". Which, as a marketer, led me to the obvious conclusion that unfortunately Talbot's had put themselves in no-man's land. Not quite hitting the younger demo, and perhaps no longer meeting the older demo's needs (sample size of one here, but one who had been a loyal consumer her whole life)…

    Posted 2.1.13 Reply
  9. Carla Krae wrote:

    The yellow sweater isn't old-lady at all. It's just a sweater.

    Posted 2.1.13 Reply
  10. fwum fwum wrote:

    Your purse is very charming! I noticed that your purse sits at your hip. My bags tend to hang low. I was wondering if you ever get your purse straps altered (is that even possible) or do you look for purses with shorter straps?

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  11. GJ S wrote:

    Awesome review! I have been to Talbots maybe once with my mom 🙂 But I'm not above trying out stores if others have good experiences! Why not? I do see some of their things come into TJ Maxx (my go-to shop) on occasion.


    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  12. kathy wrote:

    I am neither petite nor as young as your or your readers, so maybe that's the reason I've had success with Talbots. I do find their clothing to be of good quality and when they have sales, things can definitely be gotten for a steal. I agree with one commenter that they can be for younger women who like the Jackie/Audrey style.

    Anyway, this outfit is beyond fabulous. I saw those pants on sale at H&M; and couldn't imagine what I would wear them with so I passed. How I wish I had seen this post prior to that.

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  13. I love your pants! perfect outfit…

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  14. Suzie Q wrote:

    Absolutely love the outfit. I love mustard yellow and the dalmation spot pants are cutely paired with the sweater.

    Suzie Q

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  15. Michelle wrote:

    Thanks for the reviews. I was curious to check them out again because I received a mailer for free shipping. I have only ordered from them once…it was a gorgeous silk sash on mega sale. This was a couple years ago when I first "met" the petite online community. 🙂

    Lol! at the velcro shoes. My husband would have the same "old person-ish" reaction as Nick. But balancing it out with something tight on bottom (like you did) helps.

    Hope you guys have a great weekend!

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  16. talbot clothes do not fit me and I just gave up trying their stuff.


    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  17. Great pants. Love them paired with the mustard sweater!

    Kate xo

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  18. Erin wrote:

    That turtleneck looks very high quality! I thinks it's classic and not "old" looking. That's great to know about the non-tarnishing costume jewelry too!


    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  19. that's too bad about talbots as well, and fighting a public perception of being "older" is probably not assisted with cuts that are boxier than the norm. i do love the pieces you find there though. they are classic and gorgeous!

    xox P

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  20. Janki wrote:

    I have never shopped in a Talbot's store, but have found great luck online with their ridiculous 90% off sales at the end of the season. Last year I scored a cute wrap dress and a great pair of nude pumps. One of the thrift stores I love gets a lot of its clothes from Boston and oddly enough there is a LOT of Talbots clothes! At first, I shied away, but now have been looking at them for some classic pieces.
    I think the key for folks under 40 is to mix these classic pieces with other funkier but well made styles. I'm edging on 40 but even I don't dress head-to-toe Talbots.

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  21. Anonymous wrote:

    LOL at the SAS velcro shoes comment!

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
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    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  23. Love the sweater, both the knit and the color! However, I've not personally shopped at Talbots and based off the measurements of the top that you listed, sounds like it would fit me, although not sure about the sleeve length and I'm not exactly petite. Hmm…

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  24. Ann Taylor has been selling some jersey faux-wrap for around the same price, I purchased one in XS(P), it fits well without any necessary alterations. Although it didn't come with a collar.

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  25. rebecca wrote:

    i love how the sweater looks on you ever since seeing it on instagram. surprised to hear that Nick's first reaction was that it looked old person-ish. it comes to show the power of good pairing because the H&M; pants and cashmere combo looks very chic yet classy.

    i've had a few very nice purchases (read cheap for good quality) at talbots and find no problem with their size for tops — as long as it's in PP. though no such luck for pants and it's too bad because the quality is truly very good.

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  26. Jessy wrote:

    I love this, Jean! So classy and mature : )

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  27. I have had no luck with Talbots clothing. The regular sizing is too big and the petite sizing is just off on my body. Although I think the brand is for the mature woman, I think you've pulled off the sweater as young and fun!
    xx Annette

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  28. Jyoti wrote:

    I hear you on the generous sizing. That sweater is really classic and gorgeous though! I don't think it looks old person-ish at all the way you're wearing it!

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  29. Love the chunky knit!! It does resemble J.Crew's chunky turtleneck!! Great find!!


    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  30. Abby wrote:

    I can't wait to see the "after" of that top. Knits are extra scary…I remember you did a good job with that dress, though.

    Still haven't gotten to altering my own stuff yet. I've got my pile of stuff and know what I want to do. I've got my chalk and other supplies. Got the parts I needed for my machine…Just need to start…

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  31. Anonymous wrote:

    could you tell me what kind of camera/lens you use for shooting outfits on your blog?

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  32. Anonymous wrote:

    Do you always curl your hair? I like your hair somewhat wavy. I love your outfit.

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  33. Ana wrote:

    I love this whole outfit! I would be afraid to try the bold pattern on the pants, but the rest of the outfit really compliments the pants very well. Also, I love how you pair your very posh items like Burberry, Chanel and YSL with H&M; & eBay. Great look!

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  34. Jackie wrote:

    I love the yellow sweater! It looks very nice on you. I think pairing it with the spotted pants was a smart choice to make the outfit look "younger".

    Yes, last time I was at Talbots Petite I found that the line runs extremely small! (To my delight) I need a size 4 in their pants! But yeah, a lot of the clothes are obviously target to older (than me anyway) women but I will be shopping there more and more as I get older for sure.

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  35. Tara wrote:

    I'm 21 and totally understand the bias towards Talbots, but I grew up going into the store with my mother and have always appreciated their petites section (granted, I do have to buy Petite xxs to make it work!). I consistently find items on sale there that fit into my wardrobe wonderfully- I may be more conservative than a lot of women my age, but I'm most concerned about buying classic pieces that will last, especially with my college budget. Talbots definitely stocks a lot of clothing for women much older than I am, but many of their more fitted pieces flatter young women even better (think Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn inspired). I buy sweaters there every year at their red hanger sale, and their sale shoes are a steal at around $25 (leather soles!). I hope more people begin to give Talbots a chance again because it makes me so sad to see such an established company losing so many stores. A lot needs to be done to turn their target audience around, but I hope it happens for them!

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  36. Anonymous wrote:

    Love the outfit! I don't think the sweater looks "old-personish" at all.

    I used to have the same feelings about Talbots being for the 'more mature' consumer; however, I've picked up a bunch of items this year: two velvet blazers ($24 each), sleeveless cotton top ($10), three super soft tees ($7 each), two wrinkle resistant oxfords ($19 each), cotton sateen shirt dress ($17). I also turned 40 this year, so maybe that explains it . . .

    I like Talbots quality on most items, and they have made efforts to appeal to a younger crowd. The regular prices are a bit expensive, but the sales are very good. I'm 4"10, 32-25-36. I have more success with tops than bottoms at Talbots. I haven't bought any shoes.

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  37. I'm wearing a Talbots plaid dress today, and it would be too big if it weren't for the tie belt. I agree that their sizing is too generous. The only other items I own are two boatneck tops in PP from last year.

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  38. Elissa wrote:

    This has to be one of my favorite outfits to date. You and Wendy (wendyslookbook) are starting to make me think that I do like animal print on some level. Both of you pair it so smartly that I'd love to try it out for myself some time. I think what makes this dalmatian print so wearable is the spots are not necessarily overly powerful, so to speak.
    I've never been into Talbots, but I agree that often enough when we venture off our main street of clothing we can find some gems.

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  39. The only time I spend in Talbots is when I'm helping my mom shop there…haha, I guess it's true it's meant for an older demographic. But actually when I'm there with her I usually notice things that I would like for myself! Funny story: my 22-year-old sister was on the hunt for the perfect mustard yellow cardigan and couldn't find one anywhere. My mom got her one at Talbot's that she ended up LOVING but she's embarrassed to tell people where it came from 🙂

    ~Sarah of the New and Improved Sarah's Real Life

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  40. sophié wrote:

    both outfits look great! I love the cable knit sweater with the coat and the chanel bag, and thanks for disclosing the itchiness factor. I found that anything with polyester or acrylic is virtually unwearable on me. The Primark stuff for example look nice in photos but provide no warmth and after 5 minutes you want to rip them off and take a shower. Sorry but it needs to be wool, cashmere, silk blend or similar to tempt me.

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  41. Nancyswall wrote:

    I love your review of the cable sweater. Cable sweaters are my main staple item and it's always hard to find the perfect non-pilling ones. Always on the lookout…

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  42. Anonymous wrote:

    Wow, great outfit! You are so right, Talbot's clothing is very hard to pull off for the younger gals. Myself at 41 has touble making purchases there, I do not go there often, however I agree that their quality is wonderful and I have found a couple of gems and love wearing them. I'm so sad that I cannot fit their shoes. 🙁 I really like some of the styles but sadly my tiny size 4 feet can only dream….

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  43. Loving this look!

    Check out our giveaway on The Glitter Life!

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  44. mai wrote:

    i love how this turtleneck fits slimly. i've always found that cable knit sweaters fit me really boxy and are quite unflattering. i don't really shop at talbots but have checked their shoe collection online, and they usually are pretty good!

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  45. Love the whole look Jean! Spotted pants + mustard was a great choice, and the burgundy gloves add a nice touch. Have always loved your style!


    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  46. Col wrote:

    I bought my classic navy interview suit at Talbot's Petites, no alterations needed (size 2P)! But usually if I shop there, I'm looking for something for my mom.

    Btw, I'm a new reader also from the Boston area. I love your blog– very fun and inspirational, especially your alterations. Very nice!

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  47. Anonymous wrote:

    Hi Jean. I like your purple skirts. Do you have a link for that?

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  48. Rachelle wrote:

    Tablot has an outlet store by my house I should check it out and they had a big sale sign as well. I love this look, this sweater look nice and cozy.


    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  49. I started reading the article about Talbots – it's too bad that they are probably going out of business. I don't personally shop there but my mom does and loves the store. The last time I went in there with her I saw they were even following the colored skinny cords trend. I guess most people have their preconceived ideas of what type of clothing Talbots sells and are unwilling to give it a chance. I like when you showcase a random item from a somewhat random store like Talbots to show readers that if you look hard there is something at these stores for everyone, whether it's the quality shoes or costume jewelry, or in this case a good deal on a cashmere sweater.

    Professionally Petite

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply
  50. gorgeous <3

    Posted 1.31.13 Reply

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