Founded in 1947 by Nancy and Rudolph Talbot, Talbots began as a small specialty shop in the town of Hingham, Massachusetts. The retailer quickly gained a reputation locally as the "store with the red door," and it attracted customers from surrounding towns. A year after the store was launched, Talbots introduced a direct-mail business as well--which eventually evolved into the brand's popular catalog. The company was sold to General Mills in 1973 and began to expand its retail presence along the East Coast. General Mills divested from the company in 1988, and Talbots was acquired by JUSCO Co Ltd. The new owners prepped an IPO, and the company began publicly trading in 1993.
After almost two decades as a public company, Talbots was acquired by the private equity firm Sycamore Partners in 2012. The company--which also owns major brands like Aeropostale, Hot Topic, Jones New York, and Nine West--set out to restore Talbots' original stylistic sensibilities and reestablish the brand as an industry leader. Today, there are more than 500 Talbots stores across the United States and Canada. The company also maintains thriving catalog and ecommerce divisions that serve customers in countries around the world.
Talbots is known for its commitment to classic styles of apparel, shoes, and accessories. The brand's dresses are available in categories like casual, day-to-night, and occasion. Popular styles include jacquard dresses, sheaths, fit-and-flare dresses, knit dresses, maxi dresses, shirtdresses, gowns, shift dresses, and wrap dresses. Tops range from button-down shirts to blouses to tunics, and the brand also has a thorough selection of tees, tanks, v-necks, crewnecks, cowlnecks, and ballet tops. Light outerwear options include casual hoodies and pullovers as well as slightly dressier sweaters and cardigans. Blazers and suit jackets care perfect choices for wearing to work, while options like twill jackets, knit jackets, fleeces, quilted jackets, peacoats, and puffer coats are designed to be stylish while keeping you warm.
In bottoms, Talbots features a variety of crop pants, ankle pants, and chinos in several different colors. Signature styles like the Hampshire Ankle, Chatham Ankle, Perfect Crop, Weekend Chino, and Newport Pant feature different leg styles and lengths so that you can choose the type you prefer. Jeans are available in popular cuts like bootcut, straight leg, crop, ankle, and boyfriend. You'll also find shorts that feature summery colors and patterns. Skirts range from casual to formal, and you can choose options that are perfect for a day at the park, a day at the office, or a night on the town. Suiting is an entire category on its own, as much of the Talbots collection is designed for formalwear. Other specialty divisions include swimwear and sleepwear. Shoes combine fashion and functionality, and the brand makes popular styles like espadrilles, heels, flats, sneakers, slingbacks, and sandals. Other accessories include bags, hats, sunglasses, socks, and jewelry.
Talbots had a little trouble maintaining its identity as it passed from one owner to another toward the end of the 20th century. The current parent, however, has shown a commitment to reestablishing the brand as a manufacturer of timeless, classic apparel. Designs are certainly on-trend and will satisfy consumers looking for feminine outfits with some flare, but they never cross the line into being "trendy"--so Talbots garments are never likely to go out of style. Women who fall in love with the Talbots brand can truly use it to shape their entire wardrobe because the company's selection is so versatile. Clothes aren't inexpensive, but they also won't completely break the bank like luxury brands. We give Talbots 4.5 stars out of 5.