Some Small Sense

Shopping experiences and store reviews by a very petite woman. Indeed, it sucks. 4'10", 87 pounds, and full grown - is it a surprise I have trouble finding clothes?

September 26, 2006

Petite Sophisticate Is Back

A surprise for me, Retail Brand Alliance didn't just send Petite Sophisticate to the chop shop last January. According to the Chicago Sun-Times here, Charming Shoppes, owner of Lane Bryant stores, bought the brand instead and is going to be opening 43 Petite Sophisticate Outlet stores this Friday, September 29th. (They have a nice placeholder at their website for the new line, but no information is available there yet!)

The stores will carry career and casual clothing in sizes 0 to 14. Prior to the closing of the stores under RBA (which currently owns Brooks Brothers), half of the customers were shopping for career apparel. "We are looking at a broader strategy," Gayle Coolick, director of investor relations at Charming Shoppes, said Monday. "[Petite Sophisticate] is a fabulous brand name with lots of loyal customers. We'd like to look at expansion."

I hate to say it, but I hope the brand is ready to fight to regain its turf with more fashion foward offerings. The clothing sold by the old Petite Sophisticate was...fuddy duddy, but servicable. Let's face it - it's not like there's a lot of choice out there, and a girl's gotta find professional clothing that fits, even if it's not exactly stylish. Gap, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft, and other stores have definitely stepped it up to fill in the petite gap, despite moves by department stores to the contrary.

Unfortunately, since I'm car free and far from any outlet malls, I won't be able to visit the new locations to check them out myself. Definitely give me an update if you manage to stop by on Friday!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I nevr understood why Petite Sophisticate went out of business in the first place. They (and Casual Corner and August Max) actuallyu had a pretty stable and loyal fan base. Like you were saying, nobody's going to mistake them for high, fashion, but does every store have to be to justify itself? I think not.

Limited did the same thing with Lane Bryant, yet it's still going strong...strangely enough under Charming Shoppes.

They might put one at Jersey Gardens or Woodbury. That's not a bad trip from where you are.

September 27, 2006 7:26 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I believe RBA did so to focus on Brooks Brothers, Carolee Designs (jewelry), and Adrienne Vittadini (women's apparel). I assume Casual Corner Group just wasn't pulling the profits it needed to justify the overhaul by RBA.

You also forget that it's really a very long and annoying schlep to get anywhere suburbia related without a car from Manhattan - unless it's within spitting distance of some commuter line stop! So Woodbury Commons isn't happening any time soon. I'm sure there'll be a store near you, so you should report back Steve!

September 27, 2006 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, there is a Gray Line tour to Woodbury Common :-)

I'll do a dispatch if I can. I'm not sure where they're opening yet. Haven't been to the Charming website in a while.

The strange bit of irony in RBA dumping the Casual Corner Group is that Carolee and Adrienne Vittadini aren't doing well as standalone retail store concepts. Most of the ones I see stand out in their emptiness of custromers. Brooks Brothers seems to chugging along, in contrast.

At one mall in Richmond, Va., Brooks is expanding into the adjoining Carolee and Adrienne Vittadini spaces, and the latter stores are closing.

September 28, 2006 10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anderkoo said...

The problem with "Petitie Sophisticate" is deceptive branding. "Petite Dress Barn" seems closer to the mark.

Anyway, this is a good reason for you to get Zipcar, Amy! Perfect for those inexorable suburban trips.

September 29, 2006 6:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anderkoo is on the mark: there's not a lot that's sophisticated about Petite Sophisticate.

That said, I might be able to do some recon for you if I make it to Charlotte: Petite Sophisticate is scheduled to open at Concord Mills mall in Neighborhood 6. I'll balance it with a trip to the Nike Outlet, and it'll be all good. ;-)

October 01, 2006 9:26 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

I was quite excited that Petite Sophisticate was re-opening, albeit with a new company simply using the name. I had been a loyal shopper for the past ten years, relying on them for my suits and other career clothes. What I found when they "re-opened", just appalled me.

Instead of the quality clothing I was accustomed to, I found shoddy pieces that were aimed at the 20 something and under set. The few career items I found were not even lined. I tried a few of the stores to see if the selection was better elsewhere, but found the same, for lack of a better phrase, "JUNK". There simply are not many choices when you are less than five foot.

The old Petite Sophisticates gave me plenty of mix and matches from season to season. It wasn’t all my cup of tea, but there was certainly enough there to keep me coming back. All I can say for this new venture is that I hope it will die a quick and painless death. Instead of Petite Sophisticate, I might offer a better store name – Petite Kmart.

I shudder every time I pass one of these stores. I suggest that that anyone else in the same predicament give Ann Taylor a try. They may not have a huge selection, but what there is, is nice.

November 29, 2006 8:42 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Wow Elizabeth, I'm really disappointed to hear that about Petite Sophisticate. I never particularly liked the previous version, but I agree - you were always able find something there at a reasonable price. But don't forget that the brand is under new ownership - and this owner also owns Fashion Bug.

I actually have absolutely no problem with having a Petite Kmart - why do us short people have no choice on price point? As long as the prices reflect the quality, I'm all for it. We need a petite H&M!

November 29, 2006 8:07 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

What I would really like to find is a "Petite Sophisticate Lane Bryant."

I've had 4 kids...and yes, I don't exercise enough. So at 5'3" I wear a size 16. Which is the highest size they sell in the petite department of many often I find an item of clothing I like, but they don't have any 16's left...and even when they do, they are *still* too tall for me. What gives when someone who is 1" SHORTER than the average American female height has to hem "petite" pants?

And my sister has it worse. Learning disability leads to isolation which leads to depression which leads to overeating... She is 4'8", and probably wears about a size 22 pants. We bought her a size 18/20 shirt the other day that was too loose around the shoulders, needed to be double cuffed just to get the sleeves the right length, but then it was nearly popping the second to bottom button because that was too tight.

December 11, 2006 1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for throwing small ppl under the bus. Charming Shoppes is not so charming - they don't even offer a contact email. Petite Sophisticate shame on you for destroying loyal customers.

May 27, 2007 2:09 AM  
Anonymous Rhonda said...

I am very excited that Petite Sophisticate is coming back. I have been building my career wardorbe from their line since 1997. I do not believe they will have a problem gaining a share of the career apparel market. Loyal customers like myself were heartbroken and puzzled as to why Casual Corner was closing. When the relaunch occurs, I will be there.


September 15, 2007 12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 5'2 and 100 pounds Petite Sophisticate was the only store I could find to purchase suits for work. I was so excited when I heard that there was a new owner. That was until I went into the store. The quality is so poor I couldn't wear any of the clothing to work. I wouldn't even wear their clothing in public. It looks like somthing you'd get at Kmart.

June 05, 2008 10:30 PM  

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