At the start of this year, Amazon, in its continued attempt to take over the world, began quietly rolling out its own in-house, private-label clothing brands. Eight of them, to be exact, which are available to Prime members only. Each has a slightly different focus and is aimed at a different person, but overall, they emphasize everyday basics, our favorite. (Amazon even hired Vogue editor Caroline Palmer to run the editorial, so you know they’re serious about this.) We’ve been curious about the clothes for a while now (can the company that has all of our shopping data determine our perfect outfit?), and a few weeks ago we were offered one item from six of the women’s collections to test out and decide if Amazon will be to the late 2010s what Gap was to the ’90s. We set out to determine if these Amazon brands are worth it, and to take a guess at how soon it’ll be before we’re not embarrassed to say our clothing was designed by Amazon. The answer, it seems, is that it’s not that far off.
The clear winner of the bunch, and Amazon’s best brand, is Paris Sunday. It’s the tech company’s best effort at competing with places like Everlane or Zara — basics with an eye for trends. I tried out a two-piece skirt set in black, which is an outfit as easy and uniform-friendly as a $40 jumpsuit, but cheaper and more office-appropriate. The whole set is 93 percent polyester and 7 percent spandex, which actually sounds like it should look and feel like athleisure, but it’s got a great lightweight patterned texture that’s subtle, and just the right amount of sporty stylish. You can wear it down with sneakers or up with a nicer pair of sandals or heels. The skirt and shirt together are a cute look, but it was a bit strong for me, so I separated them and wore the A-line skirt with a slightly baggy white tee tucked in and got a few compliments that day. Everyone was surprised, of course, when I told them the skirt was from Amazon. [Editor’s note: Several of us in the office complimented Lauren on it!] I’d wear the shirt with a pair of jeans and that’s two outfits for $25.
Ella Moon was born Becky Taylor, but she changed her name to Ella Moon after one amazing study-abroad trip to India in college. It might’ve also coincided with the first time she smoked weed. Upon graduation, she got a job as a preschool teacher and decided to switch her name back to Becky, but Ella still lives on inside her. As for Amazon, they say, “If you like Anthropologie, we invite you to try Ella Moon.” That about sums it up; it’s a cheaper, at times cheesier, Anthropologie. (I could see myself wearing this white lace mock neck all the time, though.) The thing to know about this 100 percent cotton top is that it comes with two layers, with the inner one acting like a slip — because if you’re a preschool teacher, you can’t have skin showing through these cutouts. Also, the sleeves flare and Ella — I mean Becky — loves it that way.
In the weird way that bathing-suit prices work, and I will never understand, this is the most expensive piece I tried on. It’s high-quality, though, thick material with padded cups in the bust, and moms will love it. There are also some more youthful crisscross styles that I did not get the chance to try on, but would be more likely to buy for myself. Another advantage: Most of Coastal Blue’s bathing suits also come in plus sizes.
Perhaps the most useful package I was sent was this three-pack of lace Mae thongs. In an effort for complete transparency, I’ll tell you that I don’t usually like to wear thongs unless absolutely necessary, but with these, I actually didn’t really feel them at all, and they made me think, if only for the day, Hmm, maybe I actually can be a thong girl after all. Also, three of these are cheaper than one (!) Hanky Panky, and I don’t think there are any differences between them besides the brand name.
Arabella sounds exactly like every other robe-and-pajama brand you’ve ever heard of: Cosabella, Eberjey, Natori, Arabella. Tell your friends it’s Arabella and it sounds vaguely familiar, like, Oh, yeah, I’ve seen those $90 pajama sets at Nordstrom or something. I’m sure that’s the point. Anyway, I got the robe and it is extremely, amazingly soft and cozy. The perfect jersey wrap. The payoff though, and the reason it is likely only $32, is because the stitching on the end of the sleeves and the bottom of the robe looks like it wasn’t really finished. It just kind of ends with the stitching all hanging out, leaving you wondering if that’s how it’s supposed to be. There are also these two unnecessary strings to tie the robe together on the inside, but this isn’t a wrap dress and those aren’t needed. Overall though, I would probably buy this. It’s a robe and it’s cozy, so for the most part, it’s doing everything it needs to be doing. Also, if Arabella came out with matching pajama sets that had shorts for bottoms, I would buy those too.
The Fix is Amazon’s women’s accessories-and-shoes line that has a lot of surprisingly good options (as our colleagues over at the Cut just noticed, too) and this cross-body envelope bag hits all the marks. Amazon says it’s imported, but they don’t say where it’s imported from. There’s a magnetic closure, which I enjoyed for its easy access. There are two sections to separate your wallet from your lip gloss within the bag. I’m not really about that long-metal-chain cross-body life, so I took it off (love the versatility of a detachable chain) and used it as a clutch. It fits a small paperback book and all the other necessities, and I would both recommend this and use it again. Sometimes, it can be just a little too hard to find an affordable small bag that just does what you need it to do, and this solves that problem.
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The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultra-flattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
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