J. Crew’s Style Detox?

Fashion

It’s no surprise that J. Crew has undergone quite a style overhaul in the last five years. Since Jenna Lyons took the throne as the Creative Director she has transformed the aesthetic of the brand from a one-stop-shop for preppy closet staples to a style powerhouse that presents snappy, elegant attire with an on trend, high fashion point of view. It’s as if the “girl” for whom they are designing is no longer the one who lives and breathes by the rules of The Preppy Handbook, but the ever-polished, smart girl who comes off both fashion forward and effortlessly cool. The J. Crew seasonal presentations at New York Fashion Week are highly anticipated by industry editors and tastemakers alike due to the aspirational brand’s on point accessorizing and mixing of patterns, textures, and hues.

With NYFW less than a week away and the recent release of J. Crew’s September Style Guide, I was reminded of an incident that criticized the style direction of the brand a few months back. On July 24, 2013 Forbes online posted an article titled ‘How To Get J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler On The Phone,’ written by author Chris DeRose about his wife Elizabeth’s discontent with J. Crew’s styling as of late. She took action and sent an email to the anonymous “J. Crew 24-7” address.

“I am so disheartened and disappointed that you are leaving your core values and styling and abandoning your loyal customers,” she wrote.

Shockingly, Drexler and J. Crew President Libby Wadle took the criticism very seriously, picked up the phone themselves, and made contact with Mrs. DeRose 24 hours later (Lyons was, apparently, on a family vacation but would have been on the call). The themselves part is what makes this story so interesting and relevant to the corporate retail world today.

I can’t help but wonder what made highest-ups Drexler and Wadle want to get on the phone with this “loyal customer” who criticized J. Crew’s styling image but not with the people/person who, say, accused J. Crew of using sweatshops to produce their garments (this lawsuit was settled in 2006). It is impossible for the company to respond to every harsh complaint made, but what was it about this complaint that struck such a chord with the executives: the visual image of their brand? By hearing Mrs. DeRose out, Drexler and Wadle were ultimately admitting that yes, things have changed and yes, there are enough people who feel this way to make this a legitimate concern for their brand. By the end of their conversation, Drexler assured Mrs. DeRose that they are, “on it for sure…I hope you see a difference this fall.”

I have been and (probably) always will be a J. Crew devotee, and I personally applaud Jenna Lyons for the style point of view she has indoctrinated into the brand. But change, especially for a brand who has been around for 30 years, can be tough and is often met with objection.

Below I have compared outfits from the 2012 (on the left) collection and the 2013 (on the right) September Style Guide based on similar items of clothing. What do you think? Do you like the fashion-forward iteration of J. Crew personal style or are you more in favor of a toned-down, styling detox that Drexler insisted would be implemented this fall?

(see the full lookbooks here and here)

The peacoat and white button up shirt

The peacoat and white button up shirt

The pencil skirt

The pencil skirt

The printed trouser

The printed trouser

The grey pencil skirt

The grey pencil skirt

The work suit

The work suit

The white blouse layered under the dress

The white blouse layered under the dress

The embellished bottom

The embellished bottom

The wool blazer and scarf

The wool blazer and scarf

Hat Trick

Beauty, Fashion, Style

For those of you who have ever said the sentence, “I’m not a hat person,” I have something to say. We don’t need to be afraid of hats anymore!! This fall I strongly urge you to step outside of your box, dip a toe in the hat pool and cover your head by trying on one of the most universally flattering styles: the wide-brimmed hat.

This weekend I spent a considerable amount of time outside at a sun-drenched festival in San Diego celebrating the 17th anniversary of Stone Brewery. As of recent (let’s say the last 6 months) I’ve become much more careful about protecting my face from the sun, using this sunscreen almost daily (I also just discovered this CC cream which is great for days when you don’t want to wear a heavy foundation) and bringing hats along whenever I know I’m going to be out in the sun for a while. Glad I grabbed my wide-brimmed hat and applied a generous amount of SPF on my face because at the end of the day my face was its normal shade of white(er than white) and my boyfriend’s was borderline lobster.

So, go ahead! If you’ve never thought of yourself as a “hat person,” rethink this look, let skincare and style collide and try a hat on for size. You never know; you might even like it.

Monday Mood Board | Oh Happy Day

Monday Mood Board

Monday, happy Monday. Because it is Monday- everyone’s favorite day of the week- I have assembled a group of ultra-pleasant images in the hope that they (or at least one) will make your day a little brighter. Included is a smily Jackie O strolling down the Seine, an uplifting quote,  a bed of succulents (awww! Succulents!). And never have I ever met the person able to stare sadly at a golden retriever puppy.

The Boyfriend Phenomenon

Fashion, Style

Do you know how many iterations of boyfriend-style garments exist in the fashion world these days? Chances are you do because you have at one point bought or seen others wearing a sweater, jeans, blazer et al. of this variety. Maybe you’re even wearing a boyfriend cardigan right now!

I love a pair of perfectly tailored skinny jeans just as much as the next person, but the immediate comfort that I feel when I pull on my favorite grey boyfriend sweater from J. Crew (with pockets!!) is really really tough to match. “Boyfriend” garments have found their way into the forefront of daily dressing for so many women not just this in decade but in generations before. Take Diane Keaton in arguably her most recognizable and iconic role as Annie Hall. She took it to another level, stealing the heart of Woody Allen while playfully donning a white button-down shirt, vest, tie and a pair of khakis that truthfully look as if she grabbed them from a pile of laundry in Woody’s bedroom and threw them on because she was “running late,” but somehow still managed to look adorable.

Taking a page from Diane, Princess Diana, Lauren Hutton and the many women today who adamantly embrace the fact that you can look just as sexy and put together in a menswear-style blazer as you can in a skin-tight LBD, here’s to the boyfriend sweater, tee, vest, jeans, slacks, loafers, baseball cap, button-down shirt, (insert garment here).

Marc-y Marc

Beauty

Sitting on the couch this weekend, hanging with my friend and pouring through a stack of fashion magazines, we both couldn’t help but discuss how excited we are about the new Marc Jacobs Beauty launch with Sephora. My friend remarked that she wants to buy something from the new collection and I’m pretty sure I said something along the lines of, “Me too!! Even though it’s going to be like a $28 lipstick!” (LOL, $28 for a lipstick?! That’s insane! JK, it’s actually $30. My sarcastic self underestimated the market value of a product with the name ‘Marc Jacobs’ printed on it)

When fashion or beauty launches of this caliber come along I always question whether so many people are drawn to the new line because of the creative thought and quality that went into the products or if it is, in fact, because of the brand associated with the new line. This brings to mind the capsule collections that several big name designers have launched in conjunction with retail stores like Target or Kohl’s. Do you remember the madness that surrounded the Missoni collection for Target? A mob of online shoppers went to the Target website, crashed it, and then jumped on eBay and willingly paid 25-400% more than the retail price (that included the person who bought the inevitably trendy cruiser bike- originally priced at $399.99- for $1279.95)! But no offense to these people at all. As the trends of the fashion world ebb and flow, there will always be something satisfying about tracking down the latest coveted item.

But in defense of authenticity, if you take a look at the Marc Jacobs Beauty website you can read about Marc’s “Inspiration” for the products and see the presumably original sketches from the design and editing process. And these sketches, after lines of scribbled, handwritten notes, are signed “X, Marc” sooo…

Whether it’s a true passion project or just a great marketing campaign, Marc Jacobs Beauty is hot, and as history is undoubtedly repeating itself, just like his fashion and fragrance lines, it’s nothing short of wildly successful.