Connecticut entrepreneur Robert Liebskind opened the first Ann Taylor store in New Haven in 1954. Ann Taylor was never actually a person, but it was the name of a style of dress that was popular at Lieskind's father's store. The first Ann Taylor store sold women's apparel that was designed to be on trend without succumbing to any "trendy" gimmicks. Its fashions evolved with the times, and it started to carve out a unique niche as women made advances socially and professionally in the 1960s and '70s. Ann Taylor began to expand regionally with stores along the East Coast, and it became a major national presence in the 1980s.
Ann Taylor began trading publicly in 1991 and continued its expansion across the country. It spun off a new LOFT brand in 1998 to offer a more relaxed look, while Ann Taylor continued to focus primarily on business attire and formalwear. In 2011, the parent company changed its name to simply Ann, Inc., with Ann Taylor as one of its key brands. The entire business was purchased by the Ascena group in 2015, and Ann Taylor now operates as a subsidiary. Today, there are more than 200 Ann Taylor stores and more than 100 outlets located throughout North America.
Women's apparel from Ann Taylor continues to be geared toward career-minded consumers with an eye for fashion. You can find tops like blouses, button-down shirts, ruffle shells, tunics, wraps, and tanks. Many of these products make use of elegant fabrics like silk, chiffon, linen, lace, and more. You can also find knits and tees that pair comfort with style. Popular options include trapeze tops, v-necks, scoopnecks, turtlenecks, crape tops, ruched tops, and camis. For light layering, you can choose among sweaters, cardigans, capes, ponchos, vests, and more. Outerwear options include style-centric jackets and blazers as well as more functional trenches, peacoats, anorak coats, and leather jackets.
Ann Taylor offers a wide array of dresses, ranging from casual options to formalwear. You can find shirtdresses, fit-and-flare dresses, sheaths, shift dresses, midi dresses, wraps, little black dresses, and event dresses. Skirts also include styles like pencil, A-line, full, and midi. Some of the most popular bottoms are versatile trousers, joggers, and ankle pants. The brand also offers capris, leggings, and several different styles of jeans. Shoes run the gamut from boots and booties to ballet flats and heels. In terms of accessories, popular options include handbags, jewelry, scarves, belts, sunglasses, hats, hosiery, and more.
Impeccable timing helped Ann Taylor get a foothold in the women's fashion market. The brand came to prominence right when ladies were starting to play a more prominent role in society, and it became one of the leading manufacturers of apparel for professional women. By creating offshoots like LOFT for more casual apparel, the original brand has been able to maintain its reputation as one of the go-to retailers for stylish formalwear. Compared to its competitors, Ann Taylor clothes are actually quite affordable, so it's easy to build a complete wardrobe around the brand's fashions. We give Ann Taylor 5 stars out of 5.