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I didn’t like Abercrombie & Fitch as a kid, for numerous reasons. It was what the “preppy” kids—whom I now know can be better classified as “basic”—wore; the huge emblazoned brand name and near ubiquity among my peers spoke to a groupthink and lack of creativity I liked to think myself as above; and it stoked in me a jealous class-consciousness that, for reasons I should discuss with a therapist, I still harbor today.
But for the most part, I’ve come a long way since I was 14, and so has Abercrombie. In 2014, its asshole CEO, Mike Jeffries, stepped down, and the company has almost completely transformed under new leadership. Gone are its mall stores sodden with cologne and teenage hormones, its patrician utilitarianism and conspicuous logos.
Instead of abandoning its past wholesale, though—which would seem insincere—it’s matured its early preppy vision into well-made, well-priced basics for twenty-somethings who, like me, don’t entirely identify with the current “minimalist” aesthetic currently dominating fashion. That isn’t to say its offerings are maximalist and outrageous. Far from it. But rather than capsule collections composed of t-shirts and puffer jackets that make everyone look like a neutral-toned version of the same thing, Abercrombie’s selection is classic without being boring, well-cut, and affordable.
Take, for example, this excellent wool overcoat. It’s a classic style, nearly knee-length, in a quality wool-blend that will last several years but, for $220, isn’t exactly an investment purchase. It’s stylish and of-the-moment without being a trend piece; and it’s functional, designed to fit over sweaters and scarves to ideally ward off NYC chill. Paired with this heavy mock-neck sweater and high-waisted black skinny jeans (which I own and love), you have yourself the backbone of the perfect fall/winter outfit.
Also going for the brand: diverse sizing. (Well—somewhat.) I’m only 5 feet tall, and possibly my favorite thing about Abercrombie is that they offer petite sizing. Shopping for clothes that fit is absurdly difficult for any woman, but doubly so if you’re under 5-foot-4, so any brand with denim I don’t have to hem or collars that don’t come up to my chin is worth a second look, at the very least.
Abercrombie could, and absolutely should, improve by introducing plus sizes. Options typically range up to XL or a 32W in pants, which leaves out a significant portion of the American population. With this (admittedly major) exception, there are, in my mind, few affordable mainstream brands doing better work than Abercrombie is right now.
Below, see some of Abercrombie’s best offerings, and treat yourself—or maybe wait for Black Friday, since the brand is doing a 50 percent off sale that I personally am stoked for.