The January catalogs for J. Crew and J. Jill arrived at about the same time; and though the companies are very different, in terms of vibe and target customer, there are similarities! J. Crew, founded in 1983, offers a "preppy" look and has its headquarters in New York. J. Jill was acquired by Talbots in 2006 and its corporate office is in Hingham, Massachusetts. (Expect new styles from J. Jill in the future, a new president has been named and the goal is a "fresh, invigorated look" that will be like Eileen Fisher at a lower price point.) Anyway, we called both retailers and asked, "What does the J stand for?" The J. Crew customer service rep said, "We get asked a lot. The man who started the company liked to row, so he chose 'crew' and a letter that looked good in front of it." Over at J. Jill, they replied, "The man who founded the company had a wife with that first initial." Fascinating! After the jump, let's compare and contrast a few items from each catalog.

J. Jill's chunky cardigan, in cotton and rayon, is laid-back and casual. ($79)

The Toulouse sweater jacket from J. Crew is chunky but also cropped and fashion-forward. ($148)

Winner: J. Crew

This ruched sateen shirt from J. Jill is a flattering wrap-style. ($59)

J. Crew's Phoebe blouse looks stuffy and sort of costume-y. ($175)

Winner: J. Jill

A smocked scoopneck tee from J. Jill comes in great colors and seems to have an easy, flattering cut. Also, this item is available in sizes from XXS-XXXL. ($34)

The J. Crew scoopneck tissue tee also comes in great colors, XS-XL. ($40)

Winner: Tie

J. Jill thinks black people are awesome.

So does J. Crew!

J. Jill's shoes are, in a word, hideous. ($69-$89)

Espadrilles from J. Crew? Adorable! ($145-$148)

Winner: J. Crew

Cropped pants from J. Jill range in size from 2-28 and come in soft pastels that will ease you gently into spring. ($49-$55)

Cropped pants from J. Crew come in sizes 0-16 and the only "psyched for spring" color is Sweet Marmalade. But it's an awesome color. ($79.50)

Winner: Tie

The best thing in the J. Jill catalog might be this tie-front trench in water-resistant nylon, which manages to be hip and practical at the same time. Hello, April showers! ($149)

It was hard to pick the best thing in the J. Crew catalog because it was full of awesome, including a zebra mini that begs to be coveted. But their dresses are fantastic. It's possible to be comfortable, chic and cute in one easy-to-wear piece. Campo de'fiori merino wool dress, ($175)


[J. Jill]

[J. Crew]

Related: Talbots names president of J.Jill brand [Reuters]

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