My J. Crew Style Guide came in the mail this week and I just got around to looking at it.
I’ve been with J. Crew since 1983, the year the catalog line of clothing came to be. I was a regular customer at their flagship store at the South Street Seaport! And I’ve always been a fan—I’ll admit, there were “meh” clothing years and downright “fugly” years where the offerings were horrendous. Regardless, I could still find something that was perfect for me. The clothing that J. Crew has continued to offer are classic with a bit of an edge. A large part of my wardrobe IS from J. Crew–and all at sale pricing!
But lately, I’ve been disillusioned with both the quality of the clothing and the way Jenna “I’m-too-cool-to-dress-conventionally” Lyons seems to be both branding and styling the clothing company that I’ve been loyal to for many years. Jenna Lyons in what could possibly be the most horrific “PANT” of all time. The shirt looks sloppy!
While I admit that this jumpsuit is incredibly impractical–what if you have your period and have to keep rushing to the ladies room to change your tampon, I like the way she looks here. But WTF is it with the pigeon-toed pose? Knock it off. You are an adult! You are not a three year old. It isn’t cute. It’s dopey!
Oh. And might I add that the price point of this once-affordable CHAIN store’s clothing has become almost unreachable to the average person. However, their sales are great—and thusly, I wait until whatever I’m coveting is marked down.
So grab a cup of cawfee, or tea or chai, grab you chair and sit next to me while we take a look at the “J. Crew February Style Guide” together!
I’m channeling my J. Crewness –do you like my Style Guide cover look?
J. Crew is introducing sunglasses in this guide and the glasses have real people names like Jill, Irving, Betty, Ryan, Sam and Jack. Isn’t that funny? Sunglasses have human names and these days humans give their children non-human names like Paris, Dakota, Savannah and Ikea! I’ve heard through the blogosphere that one blogger named her child “Capri”. I’m wondering if she’s a travel writer and named her child after the place. Maybe she’s a fashion blogger and named her child after the pants. Maybe she’s both and killed two birds with one stone!
Can you imagine losing your J. Crew sunglasses and shouting “Where the hell did my damned Sam go?” Some nosey do-gooder will think you are speaking ill of your child and you will be arrested for child abuse when in fact, it’s just a pair of sun glasses!
Look at the prices! I’ve gotten similar sunglasses at TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack and spent between $9.99 and $19.99 (for the readers). My glasses all become ruined when I sit on them. Trust me; I know these over-priced sunnies from J. Crew would be broken within two weeks if any of them were in my possession. My fat ass would destroy these in a matter of days!
I paid $19.99 for these “reader” sunglasses at Nordstrom Rack. They are from Kate Spade. I think I’ll name them “Katie”!
This is so cool. All the pages have three digits. Like 009, 021 and 100. If anyone asks my age I’m going to say I’m “zero-six-zero”! My god—the numbers are so stylish!
I’m being catty. Let’s talk outfits. I want to show you just what real style is–according to J. Crew:
Page 009 shows a beautiful model. She’s looking down at the ground with a big smile. I think she saw a ladybug. Anyway, she’s wearing the J. Crew Regent blazer, which I happen to have because Jenna and Millard decided to discontinue my beloved Schoolboy blazer. Notice the way the blazer’s sleeves are pushed up to the elbows. WTF?? Who in their right mind would do that? I can’t stand to have over one inch of shirt sticking out from blazer sleeves but from elbow to wrist? That isn’t style, It’s ridiculous. Besides, the sleeves on the Regent blazer are cut so slim that only a very fitted or light weight shirt can be worn underneath!
Page 009. Beautiful, long-legged slim model on left. She’s looking down at a ladybug. I’m in the center in my Regent blazer and looking at a carpet mite! Look how tight the sleeves on MY Regent blazer are. The fabric on my Uniqlo stripped shirt is thick and my arms hurt. The circulation is being cut off. In the photo on the right, I’m looking down at Chippy. He’s telling me that I look like a moron with the sleeves of my J. Crew Schoolboy blazer pushed up to my elbows. Hey–it’s more comfortable than the Regent blazer!
Pages 010 and 011. That pose is sickening. She looks like she sharted and needs to lower her coat to hide her little mistake. Oops! The necklace–$165.00. Let me tell you, J. Crew’s costume jewelry is WAY overpriced. The gold plate fades. Check out my arm party from J. Crew. There is no reason J. Crew should be charging anywhere near the prices they do for cheap arm and neck baubles!
Our styled model on the left is saying “Oops! I should have never eaten that hot chili last night! Glad my red coat will hide everything till I get home!” The shirt on the right is much nicer–but the price of the cheap necklace is ridiculous!
See how faded the plating is? I’m glad I got it on final sale!
Page 021. The Teddie pant. I’m sorry but the bottom of those pants that pant looks awkward! Don’t even get me started on the sloppiness of the shirt. One cuff rolled, the other unrolled, the quarter tuck out of the pants. What kind of style is this anyway? I call this the “OMG-I-Just-Had-Office-Sex-With-That-Cute-Guy-On-The-Third-Floor” look. This getup would look horrendous on a normal sized body.
That shirt is damn near killing me. And why isn’t this model wearing a belt? Why have belt loops if a belt won’t be worn?
Page 025. This beautiful, incredibly thin and tall model is sitting cross-legged on the floor. She’s wearing a beautiful Chanel-inspired tweed jacket. The price is $198.00. She is also wearing one of the many J. Crew oxford shirts under the jacket, and over the shirt it looks like a Tippi sweater.
I tried to duplicate this fabulous style. I’m wearing my white Uniqlo jeans that I got on sale for $29.00 as opposed to the $89.50 chinos from Crew. My jacket is a Halogen cast-off that I purchased at Nordstrom Rack for $22.00. Underneath the jacket is a J. Crew oxford shirt I got online for somewhere around $25. Over that is a bright pink J. Crew factory cashmere cardigan that I purposely wore backwards. It was a steal on the final clearance rack for $9.99. It remains one of my favorites. OK, so it doesn’t look that bad—but. I could not move my upper body in all those layers. The jacket was so tight and I felt like a stuffed sausage and was completely claustrophic. This look is not for the average-sized or above-average-sized woman. It looks bulky.
My Page 025 look! I think the total price for the entire outfit was less than the J. Crew jacket! All that layering is so cumbersome. What people fail to realize is that as great as the looks are on the models, they may not work on the averaged-sized woman. Don’t forget, the camera ADDS pounds and these models STILL look bone thin!
Page 026. Don’t get me started on this photo shopped mess of a picture. In the first place it is impossible to get your lip in that convoluted “bite” pose. Last time my mouth looked like that I was in the ER at Princeton Medical Center getting my bottom lip sewn back to my face. I had a serious bathtub accident while cleaning. Is she thinking about her style. Or is she thinking about how it is that the party around her neck cost $128.00? I have a gripe with the pricing of the costume jewelry that J. Crew sells but I covered that on Page 011.
Nobody. Not even a contortionist can bite their bottom lip and look like this. ……
..and I’m proof! I was happy to learn that the shirt I’m wearing FINALLY fit me. Paleo is my friend!
Page 030. The shoes. They are gorgeous. J. Crew also has the most uncomfortable heels of all time. All. Time.
How uncomfortable are J. Crew’s heels? Click this purple text and read the post until you get to my shoe debacle in the streets of Paris!
Page 035. This look is just completely wrong on so many levels. In the first place, a tee that baggy doesn’t look flattering on any woman. What is so wrong about wearing a nice fitted tee shirt? And the pocket? Any woman with a cup larger than an “A” will constantly be fussing around with the odd placement of the pocket. It’s sloppy and that half tuck is driving me nuts. And what is the saving grace of that “pant” with the tie-front? It’s a disaster waiting to happen. If the fabric on the tie front gets caught on a chair after a lunch or dinner at a restaurant, there is going to be a train wreck of a mess. What if you are in a rush and exiting a subway car and that dopey tie gets caught in the closing door? I don’t even want a visual.
Ugh. The fucking half-tucked, half out shirt–and that tie. I guess I just have zero zero style!
Page 039. Who is this Gayle? She says that this wide legged pant can be just as flattering as skinny jeans? I want whatever meds she is taking. Does Gayle not realize that some women have really, really thick ankles? Some women have cankles. I’m no stylist, but I can tell you that this pant looks only half-way decent on the model who is wearing them. And that is a stretch!
Sorry Gayle, but I think you are wrong! I don’t think anyone with thick ankles wants to show them off!
Page 041. I Love this outfit. I truly love this outfit. The Teddie sailor pant may be a bit flared at the bottom but I have a soft spot for sailor pants. I have a soft spot for sailors as well. The demin jacket is $128.00. I purchased a very similar denim jacket from the Bass outlet for $39.99. J. Crew is introducing the t-shirt as “The 10 Percent Tee” (What?? No “010” Percent Tee?). The price is $85.00 for the short sleeved and $95.00 for the long sleeved Tee. I have the “90 Percent Tee”. My striped Tee shirt from Uniqlo was $9.99 and is incredibly well-constructed.
This is one of the few looks I’m in love with. But the price of the tee shirt is criminal.
Page 047. It’s impossible to tell what that skirt would look like because of the way the model is sitting. She looks like she’s waiting for Teddie the Sailor to take his pant off and make his way up her love canal. Can’t we just stand up straight to see what the skirt really looks like? Must we sit like a drunken college coed getting ready for the walk of shame?
I can’t even tell what this skirt looks like because of this vulgar pose. I guess it’s more stylish to not be able to see it correctly!
Page 051. The Marti Pant. I actually have these pants this pant, I think. I have so many J. Crew pants I can’t tell one from the other anymore. This outfit isn’t bad at all. I’m complaining about the dumb-ass pigeon-toed pose. It isn’t cute. It isn’t attractive. It isn’t adorable. One of my cousins had to wear a bar across her feet and ugly shoes to keep her feet from going inwards. This was another look I duplicated. Bonaparte liked it very much because of the shoes I was wearing. I’ve had the shoes for years but I always trip in them. They are a danger. Besides, I find this look to be better matched for a woman with incredibly long and thin legs. I look dumpy.
Believe me, I didn’t aspire to be pigeon-toed here, I almost fell! Bonaparte liked this look a lot–on me! But I think it looks a little dumpy because my size 8 pants look enormous compared to ol’ Flamingo legs next to me! BTW, that’s the $39.99 denim jacket I mentioned a few pages up!
Page 052. This Gayle person is getting on my last nerve. Check out her quote. I tried in vain to duplicate this look. I ended up wearing a chambray, J. Crew Factory popover shirt over a sleeveless dress I got on sale at Loft. I couldn’t even zip the dress up. Mind you, the dress is a size 8 and fits me perfectly on its own. I look like a house in this. This is a look that is made for a woman whose diet consists of Diet Coke and Marlboro Lights. End of story.
Yeah Gayle. Only if you are a size 000000!
You can see from my picture on the right–that’s what REALLY happens when a normal woman tries to layer a shirt under a dress! Good God, I look pregnant! Maybe it’s my stance!
Pages 062 and 063. What to Wear to Work. Not these two gets ups—that’s for sure.
No. Just no! I don’t know anyone, young or old who would wear that pastel pink number with sneakers to the office!
I’m sorry but that drop waist dress in heather gray, which looks more like a light swampy green, would not look good on any woman young or old who has an ample ass or ample hips. The sleeves. What happened to proper short-sleeves? These sleeves are more of a longer capped sleeve and that is not attractive on any set of arms! This is the opposite of style.
Now, I realize that many offices have gone casual business. I don’t consider Tretorn sneakers to be casual business. In fact, Tretorns do not belong anywhere near an office. If your office is on the ferry over to Fire Island—OK, then you are justified in the sneakers. And the baby pink? We are not little girls on our way to a birthday party. Leave the pastels to the little babies. A more appropriate Navy or black would be far more stylish.
Pages 066 and 067. Both are beautiful. I would wear the navy ensemble to work any day—if I had a job. I love the length of the skirt and I have the shirt—I got it on sale and it didn’t fit for a long time. Now it fits again! I love that tweed dress too. It is a beautiful look for a woman of any age!
Now we’re talkin’ proper office attire. Both of these looks are great and within a decent price range.
I stopped looking when I reached pages 068 and 069. The thought of wearing a party dress with sneakers threw me over the edge. The dresses are hideous anyway. They just are not pretty nor do they look as though they would flatter any shape other than the ten-foot, 95 pound models.
I stopped looking at the
catalog Style Guide here. Sneakers with a party dress? I can see bare feet–but sneakers. That’s pushing it!
Every so often, J. Crew would patronize us old people by sneaking in the obligatory old person in the catalog or Style Guide. A few of the past issues had spreads with the beautiful and old Lauren Hutton. I say bring her back! Please! Not all customers of J. Crew are young—they are of all ages (i.e. OLD PEOPLE) and love the classic clothing.
Bring this woman back! Unretouched, natural, old-lady beauty. I love her! Better yet, put Hutton in CHARGE of the future Style Guides!
I don’t mind when somebody suggests how to wear or style an outfit, but the tone of the J. Crew Style Guide is just arrogant and self-righteous. Show outfits in the simplest form—or at least in a more realistic way.
Maybe Millard Drexler needs to give Jenna Lyons and Gayle their pastel-pink slips on that Style Guide!
For some strange reason I can’t stop thinking about the Amy Winehouse song “F*ck Me Pumps” today. Maybe it’s because I think J. Crew is fucking with me!
Well deconstructed, Catherine. I agree with your comments, and think it’s important to have an “Emperor’s New Clothes” moment where someone dares to say “Well, actually I think that looks ridiculous (or unflattering)”, rather than the obligatory swoon. I think we are having too much of a “white shoe” moment in fashion. Yes, I know it’s been a ‘classic’ since Katherine Hepburn and looks great on Lauren Hutton, but many so-called ‘fashionistas’ just look like they are wearing giant marshmallows on their feet. Where I’m from (Queensland, Australia) back in the 70s and 80s we had a term ‘the white shoe brigade’ which was referred to sleazy operators trying to make a quick buck, usually at the expense of others. I think some of these oh-I am-so-cool types in their huge white shoes, fit into this category. Very few can pull off the office suit with the big white sneakers – IMO!
Thanks Hipserette! I’ve been so annoyed with “stylists” and fashion people telling us how we should dress these days. It’s the tone of this guide that drives me up a wall. No. I don’t think that white sneakers look good with anything except ratty old denim shorts when you are on the way to a day at the beach–and my choice is flip flops or bare feet. I’ve seen fashion blogs where some young girls think that to put every single brand name article of clothing and pile your arms and neck with cheap trinket jewelry is style. It isn’t. And the thing that sucks about Crew is that sales have been plummetting! Oh. maybe it’s time to take a step back to their really classic lines. Oy. I’m getting started! XOXOXO BTW, I was in Australia some years back. It was a special trip for me because I got to finally meet relatives that live there. And the people were some of the friendliest folks I’ve ever met in my life!! XOXOXOXO!
LOL. Great post
Glad you enjoy! I say bring back REAL style! XOXOXO!
Ha ha. Love your fashion commentary. And your recreations of J. Crew’s “iconic looks” are dead on! Jenna and her marketing team — and Mr. Drexler — should read this ASAP!
Hi Susan. Right??? Jenna would have a freakin’ heart attack. She’s such a fashion icon. Forget Jackie O and Audrey Hepburn–it’s JENNA who calls the shots. Mr. Drexler needs to take a step back and actually start studying the history of my favorite store! Heheh. Glad you like the recreations! XOXOXO!
I loved this post so much! First of all I love J.Crew as well but only the clearance section. “Fuck me Pumps” is one of my favorite songs!!! And I love your sarcasm, No one under 5’10” and over a size 6 should wear boot cut capri pants (and I am neither)t here are just a joke. They were made for Audrey Hepburn. The End.
Oh and the dresses with the sneakers are bridesmaid dresses I believe.
Hi Trudy! I’m so glad that you like the post and “get” my point! Like you, I love J. Crew, but right now I’m pissed. I am NOT a fan of Jenna Lyons–I know that so many feel she’s a fashion icon. OK. perhaps she is a CHAIN store icon, but I would not place her on an iconic platform. WTF is wrong with people? Do they not reach into their souls for their own personal inner stylist? They need Lyons and Gayle to command them how to dress?
Oh..and those bridesmaids dresses. Let me tell you, when my daughter gets married, I’m going to pray a Rosary to the Patron Saint of Fashion that she doesn’t put her bridesmaids in any of those ill-fashioned get ups. A sweetheart neckline is not flattering to most of the girls out there. And any dress that cuts you off at the waist adds el-bees. Lots of el-bees. We won’t discuss the sneakers any further!! XOXOXOXO! PS. Amy Winehouse was the best!
OMG your writing style rocks, Catherine! You should be paid a high salary for the way you have with words. Yup I absolutely hate and detest any style bible, catalogue, whatever trying to sell you cropped pants/jeans/trousers as I think they can so easily look like you’ve bought not quite the right size and it’s a wee bit short, but never mind I’ll wear it anyway!!!! And they’re so do not flatter most people. And as for pigeon-toed stance – nope. Great post x
Hi Penny. Ohhh..thank you! I would LOVE to be paid a high salary for my words. Actually I would love to be paid ANY salary! Right??? J. Crew needs to return to the catalog days–the days where you could see how an outfit looked when properly photographed. I don’t want anyone telling me how to dress. Maybe that’s something that comes with our age–what do you think? XOXOXO!
I don’t know much about J. Crew beyond the name (I don’t think I’m their target demographic), but I enjoyed your take on their style guide. Incidentally, in order to increase my credibility as a fashion Icon, I’m now going to dream up a name for my sunglasses — Fred, or Hank or something.
Hi Bun! How about “Ted Bun-dy” for your glasses? XOXOXO!
Ooh, Scary! How about John Bun-yan instead? Of course, the trouble is my name looks like something you eat, but is actually pronounced like “boon” as in a blessing. Still, that isn’t such a stretch for the writer of The Pilgrim’s Progress. John Boon-yan it is, then. My glasses have a new name! Yay!
omg, what a fun post!
Thanks! Poor Bonaparte, it wasn’t fun for him when I kept interrupting him to take the photos! LOL! XOXOXO!
That picture with the girl in the periwinkle blue flats looks like she’s trying to get her cookies on!!! Good Lord! 😮 You ready to start writing your own fashion column yet??? 😀
Can you believe it??? What kind of pose IS that????? LOL. My fashion blog would be damned to hell–I would have to summon my friend Satan to help lift my spirit!! XOXOXO!
Love it! Thanks for calling bull sh## on these alleged fashion “experts.” The styles that look good on a few skeletal women, the ridiculous prices, the infantile pigeon toes and bitten lips – – nice to know I’m not the only one who refuses to drink the Kool-aid!
Right?? Those idiotic lip biting poses. WTF is that? The pigeon toes–oh dear god. Do yourself an entertaining favor. Read all the fashion blogs and count the amount of pigeon toed poses. I can’t even count that high! Thank you for your support on this! XOXOXO!
That was funny! XD I’m laughing out loud Catherine! I agree with most of your statements. Like, especially with the “average” comparisons, it just made models and fashion look ridiculous. Seriously. Now, I did like that heather grey but once you brought to my attention the shoulder sleeves, I said nope! This was a great review actually! And Hutton looked fab! Thanks for the post! 🙂
H Pineapple! I’m glad you appreciate and found this post humorous! That is what I strived for. But I’m glad you “got” it! Doesn’t Hutton look fabulous? I love her because she’s always stayed true to her looks and never tried to change!
I just found your blog, and am already in love! Finally someone who shares my opinion on Jenna’s style (or lack thereof). Finally someone (meaning, in the blog world) who understands the importance of being able to move in one’s clothes. Your review is hilarious.
Have a safe trip to your daughter’s and have fun!
I’m so happy that you agree on so many of the points I brought up in that post. Lyons is NOT a designer. Coco Chanel had the right idea. Clothing should MOVE with you. Nobody should be a prisoner in their clothing. Don’t get me wrong. Most of my wardrobe is from Crew, but I make the clothing work for me. It never ceases to amaze me the astronomic amount of “fashion” bloggers who wear every single pattern, every layer and more in one photograph. It isn’t style, it isn’t fashion. And don’t even get me started on “Parisian” style. What? Bloggers who have spent a grand total of 5 days in Paris think they are experts? (ohhhhh I feel a post coming on!!!!). BTW, I am glad that I found YOUR blog. I’m saving some time to read your thoughts on motherhood and lots of other things! XOXOXO!
I agree with all your comments. I’ve worn J Crew forever but the prices for things like basic t shirts, jewelry and shoes are way too high. And I wish they would make jackets and cardigans not shrunken. But I think their demographic desires are different. I’m virtually ignored at the retail stores now and the top sizes carried seem to stop at a size 8 so have to purchase almost everything on line meaning I can’t try anything on first! Not sure who can fit into size 000 but not me! But the retail stores must want certain types wearing the clothes as they are definitely targeting younger and thinner and making it difficult for anyone else. That being said all of the other similar stores carry more sizes and are exceedingly more attentive.
Hi Kate. Oh. Don’t even get me started on Crew’s price point for basic t shirts. Honestly–you should try checking out Old Navy’s Fitted t’s. For about five bucks they are the best!
And the sizing. Come one. The 000 and 00 and 0 sizing are geared toward not real women, but are geared toward photoshopped bloggers. Ms. Lyons is on drugs if she thinks most real women are a 000. Even with an eating disorder 000 is not realistic! Trust me, I am losing weight for health reasons (at my age, I really need to drop some el bees. ), but I don’t aspire to go anywhere near a zero digit. It sucks the way designers and clothing companies AND higher priced CHAIN clothing companies are gearing to thinner and younger. It really pisses me off! XOXOXO!
I loved your take on it! This style guide was one of my favorites next to nov and december. Better than other jcrew folks that tend to dress exactly the same and get the same stuff lol 🙂
Hi Kaye! Glad that you enjoyed my take on the Style Guide! Ugh. Quite honestly, if I see anyone wearing Crew clothes straight out of the Style Guide, down to every nuance, I realize that person has no style! Kind of contradictory–right???? XOXOXOXO!
Hi Catherine, thanks for sending me a link to this post! This is glorious and the funniest thing I’ve read all day– you totally capture my love/hate relationship with Lyons/Crew styling. Can’t wait to read your commentary on the Factory vs. B&M trench… I, for one, am steering clear of reviewing J. Crew (esp. trenches) for a while. The last time I left an innocuous comment about a J. Crew trench coat on the interwebs I was surprised at how strangely “polarizing” the conversation ended up becoming… ;-P
Hi Five!! Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I KNOW what conversation you are referring to. I am aware of “Trenchgate” on JCA. Lyons has killed Crew!!! So glad you like the post!! XOXOXO!
Hysterical! Loved your imitations. Glad someone shined a light on this crazy world.