Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Alright, everyone, we have a bone to pick with you. It’s regarding how you’ve been talking about Loft (or LOFT, as it's known) all these years. Believe us, we’ve heard it all at this point: Loft is basic, Loft is unfashionable, or (if you’re really on one) Loft is matronly. But in 2016 being a Loft hater is a cultural stock opinion. Like "Kim Kardashian is stupid!" it’s played-out and not nuanced enough to do its subject any justice. It’s time for us all to elevate.
The biggest media moment Loft has had in recent memory came in 2015 when Lena Dunham Instagrammed herself wearing a pair of gingham shorts and an embroidered shirt with the caption, "Been in the same outfit for going on 3 days- Ann Taylor Loft shirt & shorts from a very unexpectedly fruitful trip through their doors (must I now stop making Ann Taylor jokes?)."
Been in the same outfit for going on 3 days- Ann Taylor Loft shirt & shorts from a very unexpectedly fruitful trip through their doors (must I now stop making Ann Taylor jokes?) plus Jemima's beaten-up (potentially fake?) Chanel purse she "lent" me 3 + years ago... And a smile... Because summer is upon us and I truly love my job and my friends and the family that birthed me and the one I have made. The past week was so discouraging in certain ways- the ruling in Texas, Kalief Browder's tragic death, the sense that the work our mothers put in for us, marching and shouting, was in vain. But then I see the uproar on Instagram and beyond and I think "with this much passion we are gonna be okay. This much passion can't be tamed, can't be ignored, can't be restrained." This is not an ad for Ann Taylor Loft. This is an ad for hardcore caring (and stealing from friends. Sorry, Jemima.)
Even Lena, someone who seems pathologically open to discussing inclusivity and the fact that no two women are the same, was quick to add a parenthetical wink acknowledging that, yes, this store is for moms and losers. But guess what, y’all? It’s not.
Loft opened in 1996 as an arm of the Ann Inc. family. While its big sister Ann Taylor competed with luxury brands, Loft aimed to dress the more casual and chill woman at a slightly lower price point. There are 510 Loft stores in existence now, and we've probably been to 78 of them.
But we haven't been to so many stores because we’re fanatical shoppers (we’re not); it's just that this store covers every facet of a young professional’s life at prices young professionals can actually afford. While every other fashion brand eyes the credit card in your trembling, recent-grad hands and "Welcome to the Jungle" plays, Loft gently brushes your hair out of your eyes and coos, "Come on, sweetie. We’ll find you just the thing."
Our Loft journeys started a little like Lena’s did — it was a place to get comfortable work clothes when we were 22 and in dire need of something to pair with a pencil skirt, but we felt embarrassed by it. Hot professionals weren’t shopping there, probably. Fuckable professionals were ostensibly in head-to-toe Alice + Olivia. But the older we’ve gotten, the more vocal we’ve grown about how great our experiences have been.
Loft gently brushes your hair out of your eyes and coos, "Come on, sweetie. We’ll find you just the thing."
And why the fuck would we feel bad about loving something so much? Something that does us such a service? Here is a brand that consistently knocks it out of the park season after season, year after year. Who else does that? No one. Loft is the Scottie Pippen of clothes. The Carly Rae Jepsen.
Rarely a day goes by when each of us isn’t wearing at least one Loft item. It’s because they’ve stricken an impossible balance: They’ve got generous sizing, masterpiece-level draped basics in solid colors year-round, and everything is always — always — on sale. They manage to somehow stay both on-trend and neutral. Everything you buy at Loft pairs with everything else you’ve already bought there. The pieces are business-appropriate, but can easily double as casual gear for the rest of your life. Is this getting you revved up?
We realize identifying as Loft stans doesn’t make us cool in terms of the New York ~Fashion Scene~, but to be fair, if you’re reading this and scoffing you’re not cool either. It’s just that some of us are wearing black jeans that flatter our butts without breaking the bank and some of us aren’t yet woke.
In the event you’re skeptical, we’ve hand-picked some of our best Loft memories to share with you:
LOFT FOR WHEN YOU ARE MID-SPONTANEOUS FLING (2011)
I have been living in New York for exactly 60 seconds and have already initiated a fling with a boy from the internet. Luckily, my new office is right above a Loft and I can grab some red cords off the sale rack instead of wearing the exact same thing to the office two days in a row after trudging groggily to work from his place.
It’s a seamless way to keep things business casual and perpetuate the office myth that, at 23, I have the kind of judgment that makes me worthy of employment.
LOFT FOR A WEDDING WHEN YOU’RE BEING TOLD YOU DON’T HAVE BEDBUGS BUT WOULD PREFER NOT TO PACK ANY OF YOUR CURRENT CLOTHES, THANK YOU (2015)
It’s summertime and there is a period of about four weeks where I am convinced I have bedbugs. We can’t locate a nest, the exterminator has come and gone, but I remain certain that a clutch of parasites have set up shop somewhere in my apartment and all my fabrics are potential egg carriers. (To be fair, I am getting bites, and we will eventually learn that they are from bed bugs, they just haven’t built a nest yet so everyone thinks I am a Hysterical Woman. Stick to your guns, guys.)
So when I leave for Southern California to attend my cousin Paul’s wedding, I pack nothing. I walk boldly into the mall across the street from our hotel, having already googled and established that there is a Loft, and get a dress, a black cardigan (to combat potential air conditioning), and a faux-gold necklace all for under a hundred bucks. Everyone tells me how "New York chic" I look, but the joke is on them. I am mall chic.
LOFT FOR WHEN YOU ARE NOT A STAND-UP COMIC BUT YOU ARE BOOKED ON A STAND-UP SHOW (2012)
I am doing a comedy show and I need to look cool. I need to look like someone who is always onstage and totally fine with it. I need to look like someone who is at peace with her body and her thoughts and her general vibe, so much so that she deserves to hold a microphone and read you a poem she wrote about Elliott Smith when she was in high school.
I stop by Loft after work and pick up a sensible chambray smock. It makes me feel like an elementary school art teacher, but in a hot way. It flows. I look slender and capable. I don’t make any pinch pots in it, but people laugh at my jokes, and I finally learn how to tuck something into high-waisted shorts.
LOFT FOR LOVE (Fall 2011)
I am "dating" this guy who — if you asked — would definitely not say he is "dating" me.
He spends all day gchatting me only to disappear when I suggest doing something together later on.
But on the rare occasions he does agree to some impromptu time together, I run across the street from my corporate job and into the welcoming arms of the Loft on 42nd and Lexington and buy a head-to-toe outfit, which I then transform from night-to-day if I have spent the night.
Many of Loft’s best looks are perfect for night, day, and the witching hour, when a guy tells you he probably could never love you.
This is how I discovered men are bad and I love flowy tops.
LOFT FOR SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE (Summer 2014)
It’s the day of a wedding and I have nothing appropriate to wear, so I walk to the Loft on 10th and Broadway and purchase a handful of dresses and jumpsuits without trying them on. Because of Loft’s vanity sizing, I get them all in a size 10 even though I am most definitely a 12 anywhere else, and one of the jumpsuits ends up fitting great and feeling right.
I return the clothes I didn’t wear, which is a breeze with Loft’s 45-day return policy.
At the wedding, I keep getting complimented on how much I stand out from the sea of dresses, and it’s all I can do not to scream, "It’s from Loft!"
LOFT FOR THE FIRST DAY OF ANY NEW JOB (2009, 2011, and 2013)
This only occurred to me recently, but I’ve worn Loft to each and every first day of work I’ve had in my adult life.
Not on purpose, not to to keep a trend, but because everything there always fits and makes me feel like a professional yet youthful badass.
The first day of my last full-time job, Loft was having a 60% off store-wide sale, and I took a cab home from the one on 21st and 5th Avenue because of the bags it took to carry all the stuff I got for like, less than $200.