Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: Isabel Toledo for Lane Bryant

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Several years ago, Lane Bryant  produced capsule collections of upscale, fashion-forward designs - pieces that were not designed for the everywoman. I owned a couple pieces but will admit that the line's higher price point and trendy aesthetic weren't for me. Well, weren't for a lot of women actually because when I visited the Lane Bryant headquarters their leadership team revealed that the line was being pulled due to lackluster sales.

Fast forward four years and the Lane Collection is back, plus a high profile collaboration with renowned fashion designer Isabel Toledo. Toledo designed at one point for Anne Klein, but her mainstram breakthrough came when First Lady Michelle Obama sported a fantastic chartreuse coat from Isabel's line back in 2009.

From what I've noticed of Toledo's work prior to her collaboration with Lane Bryant, she seems to have two very specific design principals: ultra structured fabrics or layers and lots of movement. From the outset, both ideas would fit a plus size woman's curves well. How did the idea turn into execution?
Click the photo to watch the full fashion show
I have mixed emotions about this collection.  On one hand, I'm thrilled that Lane Bryant is using their clout in the industry to produce something different - something unique - options! That's what we, as a collective community need and deserve - options.  I'm always going to advocate for the existence of options, even if not every option is something I personally like.

On the other hand, as a plus size woman, it's easy to fall into the "grateful trap." As in, "I'm just grateful that someone important is willing to design for sizes 14+, so whether or not I actually like the outcome is irrelevant."  It's not irrelevant. And for the most part, I don't love this collection as it was presented at the fashion show. 
The flowy nature of Toledo's vision looks frumpy on curvy bodies. I admit that my perception (flowy and shapeless is unflattering on curves) is borne out of my own preference - I like to see what a body looks like. I feel best when I'm wearing clothes that show my curves and don't look oversized. So there's that.
On the flipside, I expected to like the more structured items in the collection. But they appeared untailored and extremely stiff in motion. Based on my thoughts up to this point, you've probably assumed that I don't like this collaboration. Not entirely true. I think this is a classic case of "runway" style vs. "real life" style. After checking out the clothes in person and online, there are several pieces I like and think could fit into my everyday Bombshell style.
I really like the jackets within this collection. This eyelet belted jacket evokes a more ladylike, updated version of a spring trench coat.
See? I don't dislike everything that's unstructured! I think this wispy, chiffon tunic would be great for a warm date night - paired with colorful heels or sparkly flats and major jewelry.
This menswear-inspired shirtdress could be cute belted or worn open over a body-con dress.
So what do you think? Can you see yourself wearing the Isabel Toledo collection from Lane Bryant? If so, which pieces? If not, what do you think of the collaboration in general?


  1. I don't get shirtdresses. It looks like the model rolled out of bed wearing her husband's shirt. I want to know where her pants are.

    1. Ha! I would wear that with leggings... Which proves your 'where are the pants??' point.

  2. I was excited to finally see the collection and then I just shrugged and moved on. Not overly impressed. I shop regularly at Lane Bryant and prefer their regular stuff.

    1. I have to think that, even if collections like this don't sell well, the buzz it generates gets more women into the store. I know I did.

  3. I too was happy to see them branch out...however I was disappointed in the items. My main problem was with the length of most items. I loved the shirt dress above, but wow that is short on the sides...and to me it is too fancy for leggings. Fingers crossed they keep trying new collections

    1. Maybe they should have released a pair of extra fancy leggings (do they even exist??) to go along with that shirt dress. :) I'm with you on that one!


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