Eileen Fisher: Our Salvation or Our Undoing?

The little mail-order catalogues from the fancy stores arrive, and I know what I’m going to find: four, sometimes six, pages of skirts and pants and tunics—lots and lots of tunics. And jackets—long jackets, asymmetrical jackets, because asymmetry is a thing, loose jackets, mostly jackets without buttons. A fair amount of black, not a lot of white, and… I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a primary color. No, I’m sure I haven’t. All knits? No, no, there are woven pieces, mostly blouses, a raincoat here and there, linen pants when we’re promised mild weather. And prints? Ha! I laugh in your face! (Okay, every once in a while a jaunty stripe.)

And all of them from Eileen Fisher.

That’s not all that’s in the catalogues, of course. There are trim little knit jacket outfits from Misook, not an extra pleat or wrinkle, jackets cutting off just there and not a smidge lower, armholes high and tight. Albert Nipon often makes an appearance, ditto Joan Vass knits.

The catalogues have my number, that’s for sure. Jackets and outfits from Caroline Rose, Go Silk, whose silk makes way for cotton and linen, thank goodness, embroidered tops and tunics from Johnny Was—they emulate the Eileen Fisher brand of body awareness, as in not very much. Loose, easy—not for us the waistbands with a button and a zipper. The Eileen Fisher sizing is easy, often XXS through XL, then at a slightly higher price for the bigger Xs (the Plus sizes) but no price break for the Petites.

Sometimes, when I’m thinking clearly, I will go to my closet before I order something. It has happened that the muddy-green tank top is already hanging there, from an earlier season, an earlier catalogue. Don’t get me started on the number of pairs of black pants hanging there, either.

And yet I wonder. Maybe Eileen Fisher is forgiving of us, so we’re forgiving of her?

This Eileen Fisher Silk & Organic Linen Sweater is adorable. But will I have to stand with my arms out so people can see its geometric wonderfulness? Or will it just slump over my frame like tops of another cut, like…almost all the Eileen Fisher items in my closet.

Silk & Organic Linen Sweater

Silk & Organic Linen Sweater, $168

A little more respectful of the lines of the body, without being confining, is this Organic Linen Gingham Tunic. Eileen Fisher calls it an “easy silhouette” and I agree. It also has a crisp look that just may withstand the summer heat.

Organic Linen Gingham Tunic

Organic Linen Gingham Tunic, $148

Here’s the easy look we rely on Eileen Fisher for: this Organic Linen Trench Coat. The inset sleeves keep the coat crisp on top while the heavyweight linen swings gently below. And look Ma, no buttons!

Organic Linen Trench Coat

Organic Linen Trench Coat, $258

Bolder than most Eileen Fisher looks, these Striped Wide Leg Capri Pants have to be worn with great conviction lest they overpower the wearer. It might be fun to try. They’re made of organic cotton, have an elastic waistband and pockets.

Striped Wide Leg Capri Pants

Striped Wide Leg Capri Pants, $168

Here’s an example of that Eileen Fisher slouch: the Mandarin Collar Jacket. Making it even more severe, its color is undyed ecru. It’s made of organic cotton and intended to be oversize.

Mandarin Collar Jacket

Mandarin Collar Jacket, $258

Just as relaxed in silhouette as Eileen Fisher is Johnny Was, who adds a certain boho element to basic tops. The Invita Mixed-Print Georgette Button-Down Blouse is made of washable rayon and has a high-low hem. The dropped shoulder can make this kind of blouse look droopy, but the print is engaging and distracts from that.

Invita Georgette Blouse

Invita Mixed-Print Georgette Button-Down Blouse, $210

Did someone say easy? It’s hard to imagine anything easier than this Johnny Was Plaid Dream Short-Sleeve Top. Just pop it on over jeans, or sleeker trousers for a dressier look, and your whole body is a party. The top is made of rayon georgette and is washable.

Plaid Dream Top

Plaid Dream Short-Sleeve Top, $210

Go Silk has gone beyond silk to add cotton and linen to their line. And it has absorbed the “easy” aesthetic. This Linen Oversized Shirt has been reduced in price at Neiman Marcus and comes in black or white.

Linen Oversized Shirt

Linen Oversized Shirt, $100

Caroline Rose jackets almost always have bracelet-length sleeves, the better to see those diamonds looking back up at you. And to the basic loose cut, Caroline Rose adds a collar that can frame the face. The Ombré Rose Jacquard Party Jacket is at Neiman Marcus.

Jacquard Party Jacket

Ombré Rose Jacquard Party Jacket, $435

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