I would just like to go on the record and say that I love the new JC Penney format. I’ve heard that it hasn’t been too well received and I’ve also heard people complain that they want the old “frumpy” JCP back… but personally, I’m a big fan of the new “boutique” style.
Some of the house lines are also well suited to me (when I say “well suited to me” you can read that as “have a good balance of being cheap but well made, and have some atypical design flare”). JCP has done house lines in collaboration with other brands for awhile – there used to be a Chip and Pepper collaboration that I wish they’d bring back. The new store layout gives these lines each their own “boutique” space, and generally places the boutiques next to other boutiques that would appeal to a similar demographic.
MNG by Mango is probably my favorite, judging by the amount of items I’ve actually purchased. I like the slightly more European aesthetic and fit. The only other sources for European and affordable that I know of in Dallas are H&M and Zara – and Zara tends to be a little too “old lady hipster” for me, while I find the Northpark H&M to be very hit or miss. It seems like H&M in this market has lost most of the feel of quality and Euro aesthetic and doesn’t differentiate itself much against other cheap and young stores. MNG sufficiently reminds me of shopping in Barcelona or Germany, and tends to have clothes that are the right ratio of cheap/quality and casual/stylistically distinct for me.
Some of the other brands that tend to be located near MNG are Allen B., I ❤ Ronson, Nicole by Nicole Miller, and Bisou Bisou. I have occasional success with most of these as well. There is also a second area I frequent – the Levi’s boutique area and its neighbor Buffalo. I haven’t yet found a hit in the Levi’s area. I like their Curve Id jeans, but havent yet happened to find a pair in my size in a style I like. (I don’t care for the really plain Levi’s – the dark skinny isn’t really me, and some of their other basic styles remind me of jeans my mom would have worn circa 1986.) I’m also not quite sold on Buffalo’s jeans yet, but a lot of their sweaters and jackets catch my eye. I haven’t picked anything up from them yet. I do think the prices are a little high, so I’ll hold out for clearance until I know the brand and how it wears a bit better.
With the old style JCP, I felt like I had to go through every rack in both the misses and juniors in the hopes of maybe finding something. I couldn’t bear to give up before I checked everywhere, so sometimes I didn’t feel like going in because I didn’t want to commit to the project I knew I would make of it. With the new set up, I know that the area near MNG and the Levi’s/Buffalo area are the “must hit” sections for me. If I don’t feel ambitious, I’ll just hit those areas and then leave. If I feel like looking more, I can also go to some of my “second tier” ranked areas where I don’t find things usually but rather sometimes such as Olsenboye or Liz Claiborne.