The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Off the Rack: Tracking the Changes at JCPenney

Last week, I made a long-overdue trip to my nearest JCPenney store to check out the major changes the retail chain has been implementing since announcing their plans to become "America's Favorite Store" back in January. Despite the fact that JCPenney's shares fell to 3-year lows just days ago amid "worries about its future" and lagging sales (via), I still have faith that JCP can turn things around. The changes I'm seeing are definitely for the better - everyday low prices (why people want to play the never-ending sale game is beyond me), fresh new labels, and better store displays that make it easier to shop.
The most impressive display for me is the new JCP in-house brand, which reminds me of Joe Fresh (another label coming to the store soon) or J.Crew - colorful basics that provide the foundation of your wardrobe. I really liked their selection of sweaters, including cotton cablenecks and even some cozy cashmere. There were some great polka dot button downs, denim shirts and a jean jacket that could all find a place in anyone's closet.

Some departments in my store had clearly gotten a minor facelift but still looked depressing and uninviting, like a wall devoted to the Bisou Bisou, Allen B. and Nicole by Nicole Miller lines. Nicole Miller deserves her own store-within-a-store. And I still think JCP lags behind in the accessories department - the new Cosmopolitan collection is not good, people. It's just bad. The shoes and clutches look cheap, sorry. Target does such a better job at presenting fun, trendy accessories, and JCP should take note. The new Betseyville line by Betsey Johnson is tacky at best but might appeal to young shoppers.

I Heart Ronson is still an unappreciated budget-fashion gem - really great designs at amazing prices. But the collection was tucked away in a dismal corner, unbefitting of the clothes. I think my photos speak for themselves.

The MNG by Mango boutique is still one of my favorite spots and it's so refreshing to see the prices come down. Finally! The new Levi's and I Jeans by Buffao sections also shine, showcasing the latest denim trends - no mom jeans here.

Overall, I think my JCP store looks much better than it did just a few months ago, but clearly the store still has a long way to go. I just hope holiday sales are good enough to keep them going.

What do you think about the changes happening at JCPenney?

Photo credit:
Great post! I've found quite a few nice items at JCPenney since their new changes. I definitely agree with you about I heart Ronson too. Great line & affordable!
#1 Amber - Real Girl Glam (Homepage) on 2012-11-15 10:02 (Reply)
I would love to be able to shop jcp, my problem is always lack of accessibility to their stores. I live in downtown. Chicago.manc there isn't a store for miles! Maybe that's what's affecting the reinvention plan?
#2 Ms on 2012-11-15 10:23 (Reply)
wow they have some pretty good stuff!
#3 Liz (Homepage) on 2012-11-15 10:59 (Reply)
Like "Ms", I'd like to shop JCP but there are no stores near me. I remember growing up there were a LOT more stores, but the two closest stores closed years ago. The closest store to me now is in a really sad mall that never got completed after the financial bust of 2008.
#4 Target-Addict (Homepage) on 2012-11-15 11:10 (Reply)
We like the children's section but it could use an update as well. It is not organized and hard to shop. Prices are good but we have to pick and choose. Lots of ill fitting styles and uncomfortable fabrics.
#5 Michele on 2012-11-15 11:48 (Reply)
I don't know why people are so upset about JC Penny not having coupons anymore. If they spent an extra 5 mins looking they will find their deals. I found a fantastic pair of I Heart Ronson jeans a few months back for $8 ... yes! True Story! I hope they pull through!
#6 Sara on 2012-11-15 11:55 (Reply)
I agree that they have come a long way, but still need work. I was there this summer to look for dresses. I tried on probably a dozen different styles, and the fits were odd and unflattering across the board. I have an slim athletic build, which can be difficult, but I was pretty stunned that not one thing could work on me.
#7 Lynell on 2012-11-15 11:56 (Reply)
I agree that some of the brands should eiher get revamped or let go of completely due to poor quality. However, the new Monet handbags (real leather) are really nice and I am also loving the JCP brand's style and selection. I hope they stick around, because it's become one of my new favorite places to shop for budget finds!
#8 Penny Pincher Fashion (Homepage) on 2012-11-15 12:03 (Reply)
I have gotten so many compliments on my JCP clothes! Lots of great dresses and colored skinnies. I totally agree about I Heart Ronson line -- love it, but the sections are sooo hard to find. I haven't had any luck in the Mango section, mostly because I felt their options were a little pricey (for JCP, anyway) but I'm glad to hear they are coming down :-)
#9 Lauren on 2012-11-15 12:28 (Reply)
I'm actually wearing a faux leather Worthington skirt right now! The pics of your JCP look quite nice. Our store has barely had an update since the 70's (not kidding). It just recently got a freshening but it's nowhere near as nice as this. I still check it out though and have found some cute stuff at great prices. I think the problem JCP has it's shopper. They tend to be older people who like finding a coupon and combining it with other in store discounts to feel like they have the best price. They're wanting to attract the younger crowd that's used to one low price but they're not there yet. Hopefully, they'll turn it around b/c they do have some good quality pieces and for great prices.
#10 Sarah on 2012-11-15 12:50 (Reply)
I wish my JCP looked like this. It is so outdated and depressing, and doesn't carry any of the best brands (Ronson, MNG, etc.). When I go to a JCP in a larger city I can usually find cute stuff at reasonable prices, so hopefully they will makeover some of their smaller stores soon. I love how they merchandised the Arizona displays, and I would buy that polka dot button down in a heartbeat.
#11 Sara (Homepage) on 2012-11-15 13:05 (Reply)
Your JCP looks nice...mine is a barren wasteland. They've added some of the new lines, but there is half the inventory and the staff there used to be.

That said, I do like the new pricing. In late July I bought my 14-year old's entire school wardrobe (5 pr. jeans & seven tops) for $113. The polos, cotton shirts and tees I bought were trendy, good looking, well made and $5 each! And the Arizona Jeans for boys were $10 a pair. I couldn't have bought similar fare at Target for that price.
#12 Lisa Kramp on 2012-11-15 13:08 (Reply)
I saw your post and decided to go to JCP. I haven't been in many years and was pleasantly surprised! I love MNG by Mango and the JCP brands. JCP definitely reminds me of J. Crew. I think I'll be stopping by JCPenny more often now. Great post!
#13 Joanne on 2012-11-15 17:24 (Reply)
Go JCP. I got every one of my formal dresses there in highschool and they were all gorgeous (for the times, which was 10 years ago), and they were super cheap. You just had/have to be a patient looker. Also loving the MNG line there, I think they have great stuff. The JCP by me also has a wonderful costume jewelry section. I hope this store makes it! I think Target's prices are rising, and it's making me nervous.
#14 Meredith B on 2012-11-15 18:23 (Reply)
I recently decided to check out the clothes/accessories at JCP when I was there picking up some things at Sephora (inside our JCP). I hadn't REALLY shopped there in years (I'm 34) and was truly surprised at the nice styles/prices that I found. I ended up getting some Levi's and a matte gold sequin top (by Worthington...kinda felt like my mom picking that label, though!). I was really digging the MNG section. I had read about it (on here!) but hadn't tried it out yet. I agree that their accessory dept is SAD. I hope that JCP can turn it around as well...and quick! :-)
#15 Cara on 2012-11-15 22:15 (Reply)
I love JCP on a recent trip I purchased a red strapless MNG dress, a Liz Claiborne wrap jacket and matching skirt and blue Worthington dress (Saw the same dress at Zara). When I wore the red dress everybody told me all night how great I looked, and when I wore the Liz Claiborne suit two women I didn't know asked me where I got it from. They have done a great job with updating there stores and keeping the merchandise on trend. Oh yeah, I also go a peplum skirt by MNG that is completely lined even the ruffle and fits like a glove. Two girls were trying the skirt on and said they saw the same exact skirt at Zara. Really a treasure especially if you aren't a size 6!
#16 Sherry on 2012-11-16 23:14 (Reply)
I have a strong disdain for Cosmopolitan. A magazine that reads more like a men's mag in my opinion and is quite insulting. Their new clothing and accessory line is no different. Sadly, I'd expect nothing less from the likes of "How to please your man and not yourself" Cosmo.

As for Betseyville? Yeah, I have to agree. And that pains me to say. I adore Betsey but this line is just..meh. I loved it when it first came out and still have a nice black/gray animal print tote that I adore. Unfortunately one of my cats took a liking to my bag and chewed on the straps.
#17 Roxanne on 2012-11-17 12:43 (Reply)
I have re-discovered JCP from when I was hauled there as a kid by my mom for "sensible" school clothes. I just went to Vegas and in anticipation, found 2 adorable sequin skirts, a black sheer top and QUALITY leggings (much better than Target). My 15 y.o. daughter LOVES the Betsey line. We are JCP fans once again!
#18 Joyce P on 2012-11-19 15:46 (Reply)
Great post! I definitely think that JCPenney is trying to make a comeback and they are doing well in some places for sure. I agree that some of the lines (Betsey Johnson and Cosmo) are cheesy but then there are those diamond in the rough type pieces. It's also out of the way for me but it might be worth a trip to the burbs although if they are in the process of reinventing they should think about maybe moving into some urban metro areas.
#19 Amanda on 2012-11-19 19:31 (Reply)
This really makes me want to check it out now! The clothes looks great!
#20 Cesie (Homepage) on 2012-11-19 19:49 (Reply)
I'm a long-time JCP shopper, and I'm happy w/their new pricing and the updates to the stores. I think they are slowly adding little shops within the store for different brands. They did this with MNG from the start and now they have the JCP line and the jeans section. I find it makes it easier to shop.

I agree w/you about the Betseyville line, but I feel like they are marketing it to a younger group, so it makes sense that I would not like it. I like some of the Cosmopolitan shoes, but they are OVERPRICED and NOT comfortable.

However, they are carrying a new brand, Monet, and their shoes & handbags are beautiful. Like someone stated above, they are real leather and look expensive.
#21 Piper Alexander (Homepage) on 2012-12-13 14:03 (Reply)
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