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The other day, I went shopping for a modest dress for a family photo shoot.
I went downtown, popping into Barneys and Bloomingdale’s before deciding I didn’t want to spend all that much. I stopped by a few fast fashion chains like Zara and H&M, but of course walked out with nothing because not only are all the styles so trendy that they make me feel old (which I am not), they almost never sell anything that has sleeves or is knee-length — modesty guidelines I try to stick to as an Orthodox Jew.
Finally, after enough browsing to feel like I’d done my due diligence, I headed into my old standby: Club Monaco.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Club Monaco is definitely not a “cool” brand. Most of my coworkers wouldn’t be caught inside one — Tanisha and Tiffany definitely don’t shop there. There was even that line in The Devil Wears Prada where Anne Hathaway’s friend says she liked her better when she used to think “Club Monaco is couture.”
But I’ve been shopping at Club Monaco for years, and while it’s kind of an embarrassing destination to hit when Opening Ceremony, Steven Alan, Kith, and Dover Street Market are the cool destinations people in fashion are supposed to shop at, I’m here to admit that I really appreciate the brand. Plain and simple, Club Monaco is the best destination for modest fashion, with a constant assortment of long-sleeved dresses, A-line skirts, and trendy, loose blouses.
I don’t know if it’s necessarily on purpose, but I do think that its arsenal of modest options stems from the fact that while literally every other fashion brand out there is trying to court millennials, Club Monaco doesn’t seem to be, and what’s more, it seems perfectly okay with that. Plenty of stores have had identity crises over the years, flailing over who their customer is — like J.Crew, which now makes preposterously expensive pieces that price out most shoppers, or Banana Republic, which doesn’t have much of a fashion vision at all. But Club Monaco focuses on shoppers like me who actually want pretty, chic clothing. With its muted colors and sophisticated silhouettes, the brand isn’t afraid to be feminine — and not in a weird, twee Anthropologie type of way.
When I do share my secret shopping destination with friends, they often complain about how overpriced Club Monaco is, with which I agree 100 percent. My suggestion is to constantly prowl the sale section, because almost everything gets marked down eventually. Plus, there’s the slight comfort in knowing that if you do invest in a dress that isn’t from, say, Zara, you know it won’t be worn by every other girl you know in synagogue.
So there you have it. My little shopping shame. If you need a nice skirt, dress, or blouse and are tired of buying cheap schmattas, head over to Club Monaco. Of course it’s where I found a white flow-y dress for that family photo shoot, and it was perfect (and on sale).