Shopping on a Budget: an Ode to Old Navy

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Odes / Style

News came out this week that Gap Inc. is shifting focus to its more profitable brands Old Navy and Athleta, while closing hundreds of Gap and Banana Republic stores, which have both been struggling to find themselves over the last several years.

As an accidental Gap Visa cardholder (Naive College Me thought I was just signing up for an innocent store rewards program), none of this is surprising.

While I regularly browse Gap/BR/ON to see what’s new and what’s good (gotta use up those credit card rewards!), recent wins have almost all hailed from the most basic of the sister brands—and I mean “basic” in the best way.

Here’s what Old Navy has got going for it: Low prices (obvi), petite sizing (available exclusively online, as is tall sizing), easy-to-wear/easy-to-wash materials, and an active/engaged customer review community.

In retrospect, a lot of my most-worn pieces from this summer and the last are Old Navy. Just thinking about the cost-per-wear makes me giddy.

These olive culottes, for example, I got last summer for $2.50 basically, after discounts and a $20 Gap card reward.

Dia: Beacon | August 2016

Paris | July 2017

And this mock-neck striped swing dress and these distressed boyfriend jeans, purchased for $42.70 altogether with discounts and a $10 Gap card reward. (Or the pintucked black dress in the lead photo; $20.)

Paris | July 2017

Paris | July 2017

For me, finding good stuff at Old Navy online boils down to two things:

  1. Stick to versatile basics—solids or classic patterns, simple silhouettes…I feel like once you get into the slightly more detailed, frilly stuff, some lack of sophistication in design, material, and/or construction might become more evident…
  2. Trust the reviews!!! I’ve never been disappointed by well-reviewed items at Old Navy—this is also true of LOFT and Nordstrom. Bless people who write reviews.


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