It’s 1996, and a mall has finally opened in my small hometown. With wonder, I quickly learn what “mall walkers” are and start roaming up and down the brightly lit halls, looking for treasure. Which store calls to me? Why, the store with giant black-and-white posters of insanely gorgeous shirtless dudes in the window display, of course. Welcome to Abercrombie & Fitch.
I snapped up spaghetti-strap camisoles with a lace trim so I could double layer them and wear them with low-cut flare jeans and chunky brown Doc Martens-imitation sandals. Oh, the sophistication.
In high school, I poured over the A&F catalogs like they were religious texts. At the same time, classmates started to apply for positions as part-timers at A&F, and a pattern emerged. Rumors circulated that A&F was reluctant to hire people of color and certainly no girls who had anything other than a concave stomach.
Turns out, it wasn’t just the store in my town. Lo and behold, A&F ended up with a class-action lawsuit against it by employees alleging racial and gender-based discrimination. Long story short, the lawsuit was settled, and A&F has gone on to rebrand and ostensibly revamp its flawed corporate culture.
Abercrombie Has Changed A Lot Since The ’90s. Let’s Try Some Outfits
The legacy of the ultra-thin A&F models I remember from my high-school days is part of the broader legacy of ‘90s advertising that hawked unrealistic beauty standards and played on the worst parts of our fatphobic culture. The result has been a host of millennial women who are still making peace with their bodies today.
But A&F appears to have moved on. Its models have become more diverse in race and body type. Plus, the brand now has one of the most extensive curve lines for pants in the fashion industry. So, for the sake of fashion, I decided to give A&F another try. Here’s a good old-fashioned try-on for you.
OK, I’ve seen this zip-up sweater in variations all over social media, and I thought I’d give it a try. I’m wearing the size large, and it’s tight, y’all. I think this looks cute in photos, but honestly, would I actually wear this out of the house?? I’m body-confident, but I’m also just not that keen on showing my midriff at age 40. If you’re down to show some skin, this is undoubtedly on trend, and you do you. But it’s a no for me.
Abercrombie’s high-rise mom jeans, on the other hand, will never leave my side. Comfy, distressed and cut for curves — I’m a huge fan of the A&F Curve Love line. The jeans are what sucked me back into shopping from the brand.
I wanted this to work so bad, you guys. When I saw Abercombie’s satin wide-leg pants online, I thought, “Ooooh, this is just what I need for holiday parties!” Something a little different and special, with great drape and shine, but also comfortable.
These pants deliver in terms of drape and appearance. However, the fit just does not work on me. I tried on the XL, and it’s way too big. The large is just a bit too small. These are a no-go, but if you’re a little less curvy, these might be amazing on you.
The cropped wool-blend peacoat also caught my eye because I love a classic peacoat look but hadn’t spotted cropped versions of it before. Unfortunately, the fit is the issue here again — you can see in the photos that the sleeves are far too long, and it’s also too large in the shoulders (I’m wearing a large). Sadly, this is also a return.
I’m in love with this mini sweater dress, especially with tights to keep me warm and my ultra-comfortable Ariat cowgirl boots. I’m cozy and warm in this long-sleeve dress, but it’s body-conscious enough that I don’t feel like the Michelin man — which is where my cozy outfits can end up sometimes.
The large is a perfect fit for me (for reference: 5’5” and usually a size 14). This dress is a keeper.
OK, let’s get into the good one first: These faux-leather pants are awesome. I wore the black version of these pants in my article about my three favorite faux-leather pieces, and then I snapped up these brown ones because I’m in love with the color.
There are both curve- and straight-size options for these pants as well as extended sizing, so there’s really a lot to love here. There’s even a super-cool, mushroom-colored utility version that Kat’s been wearing, and they look amazing styled with cool tones.
The less good stuff? The satin button-up shirt. I love the cream color so much, and I think it’s a gorgeous contrast to the pants, but the fit stymied me. I tried on the large, and it’s way too big — fair enough because the shirt is supposed to be oversized. So, I sized down to a medium, which is what I’m wearing in the photo, and it’s still too big. Specifically, the sleeves are super-long. I just don’t know how to style this in a way that’s cute and not just…sloppy. If you have ideas, please pass them on!
I’m generally not a big miniskirt person, but I’m making an exception here, and I have to say, I kind of love it. Abercrombie’s plaid miniskirt reads so Christmassy and classic. I tried on both the XL and L in the skirt, and the large fits much better — the XL is significantly too big on me.
This cable-knit sweater (not from Abercrombie but still worth a look!) is another preppy winter classic, and honestly, this one impresses me, particularly for the price (plus, it’s really warm, guys). The high-heel combat boots are what finish this outfit and make this outfit feel like “me” instead of me doing preppy cosplay.
My witchiest dreams come true. I’m so in love with this long-sleeve knit dress. I can revel in its full maxi glory as a sexy, curve-highlighting, straight-out-of-my-forest-hut dress by pairing it with my heeled combat boots, or I can tone it way down by pairing it with the black-and-white houndstooth coat pictured below.
I’m wearing the size large (I tried medium — too small in the shoulders for me) and no shapewear, so you can get an accurate impression of how this dress looks on a midsize body. This dress has a permanent home in my rotation.
These are the same A&F Curve Love jeans as in outfit 1 (still love them) and the same combat boots as in outfits 5 and 6. I threw on my trusty black camisole from Target and Abercrombie’s wool-blend mod coat over the top. I’m wearing the coat in a size medium (large was far too big on me in the shoulders). I’m still deciding whether I want to keep it…
I really love the aesthetic. The black-and-white houndstooth pattern is 100% up my alley, but the quality of the coat really doesn’t match to some of the other retailers I might shop for outerwear, like J.Crew or brands at Nordstrom. That said, I think the quality is decent for the price (particularly if you can snag a discount). So, the jury is out on the coat — let me know in the comments if you think I should keep it!
The sweater I’m wearing is Uniqlo (here’s a similar one from Quince), but this satin maxi skirt is A&F, and I’m keeping her. I love the satin trend this season, and this is the piece that I feel like I’ll actually wear a ton. I love the rich, antique golden color — plus I think such a feminine, flowing skirt looks extra-cool with chunky boots like Docs.
For warmth and to keep all of the attention on the star of the show (the skirt), I just threw on my trusty black, cashmere V-neck sweater. I think the outfit is serving “elevated casual” vibes, and I’m here for it.
This tweed blazer-coat is a classic piece. I know I’ll get tons of use out of it: I can dress up jeans with the blazer, I can go full professorial with wide-leg trousers, or I can make it a little bit sexy with this mini sweater dress. I also love how the blazer hits at the hemline of the dress.
For me, this blazer is an enthusiastic yes. I have more-traditional, workwear blazers I can mix and match with casual pieces, but I don’t have one in classic plaid, so she stays. Note that the blazer is lined and actually very warm. It feels more like a coat and less like a blazer, honestly, but I run cold, so I’m very content to wear this blazer indoors.
Overall, this Abercrombie try-on was a success. I’ve been a fan of the jeans, and now that I’ve tried other pieces from A&F, I think I’ll be back every season to pick up a few trendy items to keep my closet fresh. What do you think? Will you be giving A&F another try?