Style Day: Factory v. Retail:: J.Crew No. 2 Pencil Skirt

Retail vs. Factory posts show the differences and discuss pros and cons of J.Crew items sold at both locations.

I am so excited to share another J.Crew factory v. retail post. This time I’m comparing the coveted No. 2 Pencil Skirt.

J.Crew Retail vs. Factory No. 2 Pencil Skirt Review ::

As of January, the No. 2 Pencil skirt got a make over with slimming seams similar to the factory version, a slimmer waistband and “softer fabric.” My retail pencil skirt is from this past winter, so it doesn’t have the updated seaming or slimmer waist band. I’ve tried on the “updated” one, and there’s not a ton of difference, so this one I could get my hands on works well for pictures and comparison. They are both brand new so that you can see the most differences.

Retail is on the left and top of each photo set. So the biggest differences are inside and from the side view. The factory version is not lined, the zipper isn’t sewn in. You can’t really see in the photo of the backs, but because the zipper isn’t sewn in, the back seam pulls terribly, or at least for this pear shape it does. Also from the side, the pockets visually aid any kind of “pouch” you may have. It’s pretty terrible in my opinion. 

My retail version is the long No.2 pencil skirt so it comes in at 27 inches long instead of the regular length of 23.5 inches. The factory version is only 21.5 inches long. For someone like me that has quite a bit of thighs, it takes more inches to cover everything the way I like. 
Here’s the run down on the retail and factory pencil skirts:
  • Pockets:: The Factory version has them, but they may not be flattering on everyone.
  • Lining:: The Retail version is lined, adding a lot of value since that makes most colors practically seasonless. Also it helps with seam stability making it an over all better made skirt in my opinion.
  • Length:: The Retail version is two inches longer than the factory version. If you’re tall, go for that.
  • Seaming:: When comparing the updated No. 2 to the factory version, the seaming details have become very similar, so this point has a little less weight on your decision.
  • Price:: Here’s the kicker. The Retail version is obviously more expensive running about $110-$118 while the factory version runs around $88. BUT both go on sale all the time. Right now the retail is on sale with an additional promo code, putting it around $40. That’s a steal for piece that will be in your closet forever and most likely run around pennies per wear.
As far as overall quality and my personal preference for the way it fits me, I will pick the retail version over the factory. It used to be the complete opposite, so I find this comparison enlightening even for me. Hopefully this information will help you decide in your shopping!
Do you have experience with both? Which one do you prefer?

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  1. I have the factory version in a reddish orange color and my biggest problem is just that it gets so wrinkled if I sit down at all. I also expected it to be more red, and it was more orange, but it was final sale, so I couldn't return it. I rarely shop at the regular J.Crew, but it is interesting to see the differences!

  2. Sounds like we may have the same skirt. I was hoping for a true red, but it came out an orangey coral shade. The fabric that is used for the factory versions is very wrinkly. That's something I definitely agree with. Final sale is such a pain.

  3. I am so glad to see another post like this from you! I have both and the RETAIL versions are SO much better! The pockets with the factory style make my belly area look huge! I feel like factory is a miss on so many levels for me. Their skimmers were awful, while you know I love my cafe capris. Thanks for this post!!

  4. It took forever, but it's finally here! Yeah as much as I love how cheap the factory versions get, the price just isn't worth it. Glad you appreciate it!

  5. For what it's worth I've also gotten the longer lengths skirt at the Factory. To be blunt, why not just size up in the Factory skirt? One of my issues with the Factory is that the sizing is less consistent than at the retail store- ymmv.

    Target actually makes a really nice pencil skirt that has good stretch to it. J.Crew's is really restrictive.

  6. Thanks for commenting! And I don't think you're blunt– I come from a very strongly opinionated family. 🙂 I would sizing up if I were keeping it, I just wanted to review the same sizes for the purpose of an equal comparison.

    My all time favorite pencil skirt came from the gap. I'm so disappointed they don't make that fit anymore.

  7. I liked everything better about the shorter skirt until the pocket thing happened. Pocket placement is SO important. Haven't these big manufacturers figured it out by now?

  8. Obviously not. Even when the skirt fits better over all the amount of pleats involved in those pockets is pretty disastrous for someone of my shape, or pretty much any shape that's heavier on the bottom.

  9. I recently got two brand new with tags J Crew factory skirts from Clothes Mentor for $14 each, so I couldn't pass it up! I am usually a 12-14 in J Crew, and took a 14 in the skirts, and surprisingly LOVE the fit! The back seams on the factory skirt are very flattering on me (accentuating the curves instead of going "against" them). I haven't tried on the No. 2 pencil skirt in a few years because I hated the "pooch" it gave me when I first tried it on, but I'll have to give it another shot! Especially if I find it for a great deal. Thanks for the break down!!