Madewell Opens in Galleria, Store Traffic Not Quite as Bad as 610 Snarl

If you were making your way to the Galleria on Tuesday, June 4, for the Madewell Galleria's grand opening you may have hit just a tiny bit of traffic on the freeway. Bummer! The mob scene on the highway and streets surrounding the Galleria was less-than-fun for drivers, but once safely inside, the excited crowds in Madewell seemed calm and navigable by comparison.

For those of you unfamiliar with the name, Madewell is J. Crew's Bohemian cousin, described by the New York Times as "Skipper to J. Crew's Barbie." The original company was started in 1937, and is now under the J. Crew company's umbrella. It's easy to see how the two brands relate--distressed leather, simple dresses, and casual separates abound.

Located on the second level of the Galleria's "E" section (near Macy's and Banana Republic), Madewell's front window is decked out in summery whites on one side, and durable denim on the other. Since it was opening day, there was a lot of staff on-hand to help: setting aside clothing and dressing rooms while shoppers browsed, and answering the usual spate of questions about sizing, shrinkage, and styling. The shoppers ranged from college-age girls to professional women on their lunch hours, and the dressing rooms filled and emptied at a brisk pace.

There really is a little bit of everything at Madewell: shorts and jeans, tanks and tunics, swimsuits and lingerie, and all the accessories a girl could ask for--bags, purses, jewelry, scarves, and shoes. In addition to distressed leather, there is also a great deal of distressed denim--tops and bottoms--and these neutrals, along with the summer whites, are punctuated with bright pops color like coral, lavender, and royal blue. Although there is a huge selection of solid colors, prints are also on display: feminine florals, paisleys, and polka dots.

The J. Crew/Banana Republic vibe is there, though the Madewell brand feels a bit more casual--as does the pricing. Sure, one of the peasant blouses that made its way to the dressing room with me topped $100, but the white lace tee that came home with me was a very reasonable $40, and the layering tank that goes underneath $25. (It's very thin, and very soft; worth the price tag for a workhorse layering piece such as this.)

A peek at price tags on the soles of shoes displayed tags in the $80-$120 range, which is about the same as the prices on jeans.

The plan to try on tons of jeans from the Denim Bar was derailed by the number of minutes spent in traffic on the way to the Galleria, but a sign advertising in-house alterations for said jeans guarantees a return trip in the near future. For now I'll be packing my new pieces for my very glamorous upcoming trip to Albany, NY. I'll let you know how they travel.

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Christina Uticone