As my friend Michelle and I approached 2800 Clarendon Boulevard (Arlington, Virginia), we had a feeling we were in for a treat.  The sounds of Lady Gaga filled the air, and there was a distinctly celebratory feel.  In a word, we were pumped.

I’d received an email alert a few weeks ago inviting me to the grand opening of the Ann Taylor concept store.  Even though Arlington is about an hour away from my home, I knew I had to go check it out.  30% off full-priced items, plus  an extra 40% off sale items?  It’s a no-brainer!

Ann Taylor Concept Store InviteAs we entered the store, Michelle and I exchanged glances saying, “well this is nice!”  The store was welcoming, clean, and well-organized, despite the significant crowd.  The DJ announced that the store was holding hourly drawings for free bracelets and scarves (which I would have LOVED to win!), and we meandered around, discovering little treats (chocolates and chap-stick) as several polite, helpful staff members floated about.  We gathered up some sale items to try on, then waited for a pair of dressing rooms.  The attendant was very calm and collected, even though it was clear that it had been very busy all day.  She kindly offered us water (in cute little Ann Taylor bottles) while we waited.

We each found several items we just had to have, so we made our way to the checkout line.  While we were waiting, one of the customer service reps came by to scan our items into his iPhone.  I had to ask what that did, and he explained that it sent the total to the cashier to allow faster checkout when we arrived.  All we had to do was provide the last four digits of our telephone numbers.  Imagine that!  Technology is awesome, isn’t it?

We finally arrived to the cashier and (quite speedily) checked out.

My first round of shopping yielded the following items:

Petite Woven Cowl Neck Print Top (40% off of $29.99)
Striped V-Neck Tee (40% off of $19.99)
Petite Knot-Front Top (40% off of $29.99)

And Michelle scored this cute colorful top:

Petite Aztec Antiquity Print Top (40% off of $69.99)

Overall, we were very pleased with the selection, organization, and customer service so far.  After a brief regrouping at Barnes and Noble (where I had a delicious grilled chicken and pesto sandwich at the in-house Starbucks), we returned to Ann Taylor for our stylist appointment.

We met stylist Shelby at the back of the store (in the Petites section – both Michelle and I are 5’4″ and under), and she started to get a feel for our personal style and needs.  Both Michelle and I expressed a need for casual work wear that could transition from weekday to weekend, and day to night.  Both of us are somewhat eclectic in terms of personal style, ranging from bohemian to classic to romantic.  Even though I’m sure we were a challenge (two people at once, with no particular style or taste!), Shelby did a great job at putting outfits together for us.

Two of my favorite outfits were:

Pictured, on the left:

Polished Sateen Blazer ($158 retail price) — BOUGHT!
Halter Top in Inkwell Print ($78 retail price)
Twill Crop Pants ($118 retail price)

and, on the right:

Ikat Zebra Print Skirt ($98 retail price) — BOUGHT!
Polished Sateen Blazer ($158 retail price)

I felt like I stepped right out of a fashion spread!  Even the dressing room attendant did a double take and complimented Shelby on her great work.

Other items were:

Cropped Open Stitch Pullover (my pick – 40% off $69.99)
Super cute, but not sure I’d wear it often enough to justify the price tag

Stretch Linen Pocketed Skirt (my pick – 40% off $79.99)
Love it, perfect fit in a size 2P — BOUGHT!

Ruffled Halter Print Top (stylist pick – retail price $78)
Not exactly my style. A little too pink.

Collarless Jacket (stylist pick – retail price $198)
Fit perfectly in size 0P.  I debated this one for a long time before deciding it was a little too formal (and pricey, even at 30% off) for me.

Cotton/Linen Pencil Skirt (my pick – retail price $108)
GORGEOUS skirt, but slightly too small in a size 0P.  I would consider picking this one up in 2P if it goes on super sale.

Authentic Stroke Print Ruched Dress (both my and stylist pick – retail price $198)
Such a pretty print.  It was too small on me in a size 0, so I’d have to go with a 2 if I decided to buy.

Mixed Media Dress (stylist pick – retail price $138)
Loved this dress in theory, but it did not work on me.  Even a size oP was too wide, which was very surprising.

Ann Taylor Clarendon Dressing Room

All in all, I was very pleased with the service and styling provided at the Clarendon store opening.  However, the store itself is not much different from your average  Ann Taylor.  The dressing rooms were clean and bright, and there are chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, but when it comes down to it, you’re going to find the same items in the Clarendon concept store as you would in your local mall.

Did you attend the Clarendon event or another Ann Taylor concept store opening?  What did you think?

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