Talbots Drops The `Funkier Stuff'

But can it woo back the conservative shoppers it relies on?

Constance Hubbell is the kind of customer who made Talbots Inc. one of America's hottest retailers in the early 1990s. The 35-year-old president of Hubbell Group Inc., a Boston-area public-relations firm, says she used to "drool over everything in the Talbots catalog" before rushing out to buy most of her wardrobe at one of its stores--everything from headbands to pumps.

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