Ageless shopping: Modern Citizen

Having not blogged in three years—and having left New York—I worry that I'm a little out of it when it comes to new brands. I certainly felt that way when I read about Modern Citizen, a startup of sorts that Who What Wear called the new Zara—a statement that I don't necessarily agree with, but a bold one nonetheless. Modern Citizen was started as an e-commerce business by a former Gap employee, and over the last three years, has steadily built a solid following online. Last month, they opened their first brick-and-mortar store in San Francisco—they're based here too, adding to my shame of not having heard of them—so in the name of investigative journalism, I decided to check it out.

The store is on Union Street in Cow Hollow (also home to Anomie, one of my favorite boutiques, which started online as well); it's not large, but it's also not overwhelming (Zara difference #1), and the shop girls are lovely. As for the clothes, they're mostly neutral in color, and the style is minimalist-with-a-twist—think drapey details, interesting seams, and architectural cuts. The selection is well edited and trend-aware, but not at all fashion victim-y (Zara difference #2); prices are mostly below $100, and while there is a significant amount of synthetic fabric, quality is generally pretty great. Most importantly, the clothes are flattering and age-appropriate (Zara difference #3). Here are some of my favorites.

Tie-back tops are a big trend happening with style bloggers; most of them are so open in back, however, that wearing a bra is out of the question. Not so with this tie-back sweatshirt—I tried it on, and the cutout is subtle enough to camouflage both flaws and straps.

I also tried on the Eiko boyfriend trousers, for comparison to the pair I tried on at Madewell, and found these superior in terms of fit and fluidity. They're actually quite flattering in person and comfy too—which might have something to do with the strategically placed elastic in back.

I loved the look of the Kellyn slip dress—it reminded me of the "naked dress" Carrie wears in Sex and the City—and the fabric was a pretty good approximation for silk. One thing to note: like Zara (finally a similarity!), Modern Citizen's sizes run small-medium-large, and in certain cases, as with this dress, you may find yourself in between sizes.

I also loved the Sylvie crossback sweater—it's the perfect thing to wear with high-waisted and/or wide-leg pants, and it's also bra-friendly. I'd advise against trying it on with the Eiko trousers above, like I did, as I was treated to the sight of my back fat when I turned around, and nobody needs to see that.

I thought this cape sweater was really cool, but I didn't try it on, because I was super hot from my walk to the store, but I think it would be perfect for that weird fall-transitional weather. The horizontal ribbing is something you don't see very often, but it's unexpectedly flattering.

Speaking of flattering, I also should have tried on this cross-front blouse, but now that I'm realizing it's polyester, I know why I didn't. If poly doesn't make you sweat, this would make a great layering piece, especially for wearing to work.

Finally, this camel wrap coat wasn't yet in the store during my visit, but it will likely warrant a return trip—it's exactly what I've been looking for and looks like the perfect weight for San Francisco (where summer can be as cold as winter).

As I mentioned earlier, the service at Modern Citizen's store was fantastic (they sent me a thank-you email for my purchase). Not only do they hold in-store events, you can make an appointment for a one-on-one consultation or even host a private shopping party. So, who wants to join me?

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