We admit it: We're big fans of bars. Huge.
Chocolate bars. Tiki bars. The Apple genius bar.
So when JCPenney ran a full-page ad touting its new Levi's denim bar, we oohed and ahhed, then cursed that it was only in the men's department. Sure, we had a hard time picturing what a denim bar might be exactly (less alcohol, more blue?), but we're nothing if not persistently imaginative.
So, label us intrigued.
And the fact that another full-page ad introduced JCP's new Liz Claiborne shop? And that the store has been heavily promoting its lower prices/lack of special sales/no more coupons for months?
Hello, JCPenney, we meet again.
Reality, it turned out, differed a bit from advertisement. The Liz Claiborne shop was less "shop" and more unfinished section absent any "Liz" signage. Though the men's denim bar was indeed a sea of mannequins and jeans fronted by a pale-wood counter, two stools, two iPads and a staffer we presumed to be a "fit specialist."
Take a seat, gents, and let's talk tush.*
(*Bliss' proposed opening line, were we fit for that job.)
Overall prices? Those we liked. And the fact we could get those prices without digging online for a coupon or shopping only between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. every third Wednesday? That we liked a lot.
Throw in a chocolate bar and we're happy shoppers.
* Levi's for women, various styles, $37-$45
Ladies don't get a bar so much as a nice display of mannequins showing seven styles of Levi's jeans and how they wear. Can't tell a boot cut from straight leg? This display is for you. Can't tell acid wash from stone wash? Sorry, that display ended in 1991.
Note: As part of its image overhaul, JCP is rounding prices. That old $9.99? Now $10. JCP has lost all cents! But not in a bad way.
* Arizona lace tank top, $10
One of the many new shop/sections designed to feel different than the rest of the JCP store. (In this case, think muted lighting and Midwest-inspired scatter rugs). We immediately spied these feminine lace tank tops. Very cute and they come in a variety of colors. But they're lace, which means holes, which means completely see-through. We wear tanks under see-through blouses. What does one wear under a see-through tank? Conundrum city.
* Izod khakis for men, straight or classic fit, $30
Another "shop" with an attractively displayed array of baseball caps, polo shirts and khakis. While we couldn't help noticing how few styles there were of men's khakis compared to, say, women's jeans, we shed not a tear for the men. In the overall store remodel, it feels like the XY chromosomes gained a good amount of square footage. You go, guys!
* Liz Claiborne black essential skirt, $30
Black with pleather cutouts up the side and a bright gold exposed zipper on back. Very "Project Runway." Bag Lady has pined for Liz Claiborne since the outlet left North Conway. This store-within-a-store isn't quite the same, and it feels smaller than the Worthington section, but at least it's a nice bit o' Liz.
* Earmuffs with built-in headphones, $15
A standout in what we would call the neon shop: lots of blindingly bright outerwear and accessories. These earmuffs were neon and striped, and had grinning emoticons on the ears. They also thoughtfully included a tag with computer slang translations like G2G (got to go) and SWAK (sealed with a kiss). Wow. WWCGT*.
(*What Would Chester Greenwood Think?)
* Arizona T-strap flats, $20
Ahh, the shoe shop. These modern Mary Janes come in blue crushed velvet or black faux snakeskin with a studded strap. Ballet meets punk rock. Kickin'.
Best find: Nostalgia Electrics ice cream sandwich/waffle cone maker, $21
One thing we're happy to see make a comeback at JCP: clearance. What should make a comeback in our kitchens? Frozen novelties.
Also, ice cream bars? Another way to our hearts.
Think twice: Olsenboye fedoras, $20
By "Full House" stars-turned-clothing moguls Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. In plum, peacock-pattern and black-and-white striped with a black faux flower . . . thingy. We have nothing against fedoras or the Olsen twins, but we're just not that into looking like flamboyant 1930s gangsters.
The bars in those days weren't so keen.
Bag Lady and Shopping Siren's true identities are protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who eschew earmuffs. Scarves, maybe.) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach them at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.