Saturday, December 20, 2008

J.Crew Article: Bridesmaid Dresses {pretty!}

A big "thanks!" to Alexa who let us know that W magazine featured J.Crew's bridesmaid dresses in one of their recent articles (click here to view the article in its entirety).

...And the Bridesmaids Wore J. Crew
America’s preppy retailer becomes the go-to source for bridesmaid dresses.

By Priya Rao
January 2009

...Becoming a bridesmaid favorite came as a surprise to J.Crew’s chairman and CEO, Millard “Mickey” Drexler, who, upon hearing from sales associates that a flood of engaged women were choosing the firm’s dresses for their attendants—the most popular, a strapless, embossed style—decided to connect the dots. “I didn’t know much about it, but we chatted a bit and the next day we said, ‘It might be fun. Let’s do J. Crew wedding,’” Drexler recounts. With that, seven bridesmaid dresses, along with one wedding gown and a few men’s suits, were introduced in February 2004. (For spring 2009, J.Crew upped its bridesmaid dress count to 25; they retail from $165 for a crinkled chiffon style to $395 for a high-collar silk shift.) Cost, a key component when the collection launched, is even more important today, given the economic climate. “Any customer is always evaluating whether something is worth it or not, and this market only reinforces that,” Drexler says. “I think we are rightly priced, and my opinion is that [our competitors] are overpriced. We’ve seen this enormous inflation in designer pricing and demand, and I think more than ever the customer is looking at the combination of style, quality, design and value, because that is the new standard.”

While price was a bonus for Herschap, the cute factor was, she notes, a larger selling point. “My biggest fear was that people were going to think, God, that bridesmaid dress is so ugly,” she says. “J.Crew dresses were the sweetest-looking, and I didn’t think they looked too bridesmaid-y. I thought they could wear them again.”


That’s music to the ears of Jenna Lyons, J.Crew’s creative director. When she set out to design the company’s wedding garb, she took the bridesmaid-dress-that-doesn’t-look-like-a-bridesmaid-dress approach. “Every single season, every time we look at a dress, we look at the girl and say, ‘Okay, if you saw her at a party or a picnic, would you think she looked ridiculous or would you think she looked cute?’ We don’t look at bridal as just wearing it to a wedding. We look at it as you could end up anywhere,” explains Lyons, who makes sure the cuts are simple and sticks with fabrics such as cotton and silk blends, while keeping bows, sashes and other adornments to a minimum.

Hillary Thomas, an attorney and real-estate developer who was married in Sagaponack, New York, last June, was drawn to J.Crew’s bridesmaid dresses for another reason: They offer a happy alternative to the so-called identical twins look. She let her attendants pick any style they wanted, as long as it was available in the navy cotton she selected.


The result? Five varying silhouettes, from halter to strapless. One of Thomas’s bridesmaids, Jenya Green, went for a deep V-neck A-line with a satin sash, which she ended up removing. Green says the dress was an easy, obvious choice because it works with her current wardrobe. “It would fit a big range of dressiness. I’d wear it to a casual outdoor wedding or to work with a cardigan,” she notes.

...
That said, some brides are fearful of shopping from a photo for such a significant element of their big day and prefer the traditional brick-and-mortar approach to finding bridesmaid dresses. Such women can ask a J.Crew retail associate to order select styles for delivery to a store for try-on, without charge. Others have different shopping issues. Such was the case with Jennifer Anderson, one of 10 attendants in Lea Morrison’s Sun Valley, Idaho, wedding, who tried to place her order on the late side and was told that the light blue cotton item was out of stock. “It became this whole thing, like, ‘Should I tell Lea I can’t get the dress and I’m not going to be in the wedding?’” Anderson recalls. Luckily J.Crew came to her rescue, delivering enough fabric—for free, no less—so she could have the frock made on her own. “They spent a week looking through all the inventory,” she says. “I was very impressed.”

To avoid situations like the one Anderson found herself in, J.Crew offers its Ashley service; clients can e-mail or phone the company’s in-house wedding specialist, Ashley Drinkard, and her team of 23. They create customer profiles for bridal parties while gathering measurements, size and style information and, most important, ensuring orders are ready for the big day.


Though he won’t divulge details, Drexler says he and his team have talked about opening J.Crew’s first bridal atelier on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. But perpetual bridesmaid Anderson isn’t taking any chances. After her close call with that light blue dress, she planned ahead for her latest wedding appearance, in October, when she again wore J.Crew, only this time in the style of her choice. “I ordered eight dresses,” she says, noting that she returned the extra ones once she found the perfect fit. “It was like $2,000 on my credit card, but this time I wasn’t without a dress!”


I have to say, I do love J.Crew bridesmaid dresses! :) I love Jenna's approach towards bridesmaid dresses- that they should not look too much like a bridesmaid dress, so the dress can be worn to various functions and still look cute. I am also curious if Drexler is still thinking about opening a J.Crew bridal store in NYC (especially considering these economic times).

What are your thoughts on the article? Did you agree or disagree with any of the points made? :) What are your thoughts on J.Crew's bridal collection in general?

31 comments:

  1. I love the J.Crew bridesmaids dresses; I wish they had them when I got married!
    I actually wore one of their dresses last May as a bridesmaid in my brother's wedding and I am definately planning on wearing it for other events.

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  2. Jenna Lyons is on the right track for designing a “bridesmaid-dress-that-doesn’t-look-like-a-bridesmaid-dress." Recently when I was looking for a dress to wear to a formal ball, I couldn’t find anything I liked. Every dress was either too frumpy or too trampy. I stopped looking at formal wear websites and went to J.Crew’s site. The first dress I saw, the silk Cecelia dress in black, was perfect. The fit, the drape, the texture are exactly what I was looking for. I bought it for $98, way under what I budgeted for a dress. Just like the other J.Crew pieces in my wardrobe, the style is classic so it won’t look dated in one year. Bravo to J.Crew for saving the day!

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  3. I always thought the bridesmaid dresses looked good, and not only for weddings. I bought one for a cruise. Just wished that they had the wedding collection when I got married.

    OT - what are the best J Crew stores in the San Francisco area - in terms of selection of collection pieces, and also sales section?

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  4. What's the style of the gray dress? Very adorable but I didn't see it on the J. Crew site.

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  5. I can't wait for the grey dress to come out in the Spring. How cute is that?

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  6. I really LOVE their bridesmaids dresses! (catalog images are *GORGEOUS*). They would be my No.1 choice for the wedding :)

    (I haven't looked at the brides dresses, I probably wouldn't get one from JCrew for my special day)

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  7. The bridesmaid dresses are very nice. I agree though...no way would I buy my wedding dress from JCrew...or at least since they started their wedding line...I have never seen one I would wear...some I liked...but to actually buy. No.

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  8. My bridesmaids wore the bright aquamarine chiffon dresses from last year... so cute! half wore strapless and half wore the v-neck... one option does not look the best on everyone!

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  9. I do like J.Crew Bridesmaid Dresses. :) I think it's great that the Bride can pick the color/fabric for the Bridesmaid dress that she likes, while allowing each Bridesmaid to choose the style of dress that fits her individual personality...excellent way to make each wedding even more unique. :)

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  10. I almost wore the sophia for my wedding, but it just didn't have enough structure. You could see the bra strap lines, etc through the slinky fabric, not exactly the look I was going for. I also tried an older empire waist style. Both styles were too fitted (small) in the bust. Bottom line, their wedding dresses seem to be styles for more lean figures and don't flatter curves very well. And I'm only a size 6.

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  11. I've been married for 13 years and I keep telling my husband that I want to celebrate our wedding again, not because I adore him so much (which I do), but just so it can be a JC wedding!!! How I wish this stuff was available when we got married. There would be no question today that this is who I would turn to to dress our entire wedding party. Genius!!!

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  12. I just purchased a black Sophia dress (on sale) for a wedding I'm in this spring. It fits surprisingly well without alterations, which has always been another money-suck on other bridesmaids dresses I've had to wear. And I definitely intend on wearing it on other occasions.

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  13. Are the dresses pictured with this post all for bridesmaids? Because the two on the right - the pink & yellow ones, look like they're for flowergirls.

    I like the idea of a bride picking a color & then letting the bridesmaids pick their own style. There's not one style that is equally suitable for, say, five women. I, for example, hate empire-waist dresses.

    Regarding prices, it's a bit cheeky of Drexler to say competitors are overpriced consideirng what j.crew charges for many of its items.

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  14. I chose J. Crew bridesmaid dresses for my wedding in 2006 and the ladies loved them. I chose the Lindsay cotton cady dress in a bright pink (I can't remember the exact name of the shade). My bridesmaids couldn't have looked more different from each other, but they all looked great in the dress and have worn it since. The only issue was that one of my bridesmaids is a DDD, so she had to order the largest size and have the rest of the dress tailored down in order to fit her chest. I have to disagree with Drexler about the affordability - this dress was $250, about the same as other cute bridesmaid lines such as Saeyoung Vu. Also, bridesmaid dresses that look more like cocktail dresses or sundresses has been a trend for a few years in the entire bridal industry, so JC wasn't the first to think of this.

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  15. I thought for the longest time I'd get bridesmaids dresses from J.Crew (I even posted here about that on a previous wedding post!). But then I decided it would be neat if all the girls wore different shades of the same color, like this. J.Crew doesn't really offer something like that so I can't go with them!

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  16. Yes, I agree, J.Crew didn't invent re-usable bridesmaid dresses. The era of the poufy monstrosity has been over for quite a while.

    Speaking of bridesmaid-y things, I recently watched "27 dresses" and would like a refund on the two hours I wasted. God, what a bad movie - the plot, the acting, the cliched ending.

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  17. My bridesmaid will be wearing the Cotton cady Lyndsey dress in a yellow color. I got it on sale through the site and we loved it when it arrived. It was much cheaper than any dress I've ever worn as a bridesmaid so I just bought it for her.

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  18. It's very convenient. The bridesmaids just point and click, and the colors are coordinated.

    None of the bridesmaid dresses are particularly inspiring though. Also, there are too many deep decolletage dresses-not everybody's into that. Most of the dresses require firm, small, pert boobies, so make sure all your bridesmaids are skinny,young, and haven't had children yet.

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  19. I really like the styles & colors but refused to make my bridesmaids pay more than $100 for their dresses...and when I looked none were on sale.

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  20. hi all, i bought a dress for a wedding that i will no longer be attending, and i can't return as i bought it last month on final sale! anyway, it is a brand new, with tags, never worn, "Strapless Carolina Dress" (#95958) in black, size 0. it is sold out on the web. i was looking for $90 shipped to recoup what i spent. i am at t_sull at hotmail dot com

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  21. I've been in 3 weddings as a bridesmaid and my favorite (by FAR) was the most recent one, where we all wore the silk Sohpia in black- there were 6 of us, we all looked great, with the style so classic and so lovely with the drape of the fabric. In comparison, the other two weddings had David's Bridal dresses... the colors of both ended up looking garish in photos, not so flattering to all, and just in general, not nearly as nice (and while D's B was less expensive, they were still expensive for a dress I would NEVER wear again). J.Crew all the way- and I LOVE the idea of a J.Crew bridal store- I have been thinking that for awhile!

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  22. My bridesmaids wore deep pink silk faille J.Crew dresses in the style of their choosing. I wore a J. Crew wedding dress (the Vivian, $75 on sale) with a silk sash that I had made from 2 deep pink silk faille flower girl sashes that matched the fabric of my bridesmaids dresses. Loved it. :)

    And my sister loved my J.Crew choice enough that now I get to wear J.Crew for her wedding- a lovely navy blue cotton cady number.

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  23. Does anyone have any Silk tricotine short sophia dress in deep atlantic? I'm in dire straits!!
    Thanks
    meghsher @ yahoo dot com

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  24. My five bridesmaids wore JCrew dresses, the short silk Sophia dress in navy. It flattered all of their body types including petite/pear, tall and thin, medium height and athletic. All of the ladies plan to wear the dresses again and they looked very elegant. Another bonus was that the dresses are real silk (and not poly satin) and none of the ladies needed alterations, making the $195 for the dress a great value. (One of them even bought it on Ebay for about $80!!)

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  25. I haven't been a bridesmaid in years, but I currently own about 6 J. Crew "bridesmaid" dresses -- they're great, classic dresses. I've worn a few as a guest to weddings, a floor-length one I wore on a cruise, and several I've worn just out on the town. I'm still waiting for the right occasion to wear a couple. My favorites are the Sophia (the fit is so flattering) in silk chiffon and the Grace (bring back the Grace!).

    I got married very shortly after J. Crew introduced its wedding line, and I did indeed order a dress from them, but I returned it because that silk tricotine fabric in white/ivory shows every darn seam of your underwear. Jenna, let's work on a creative solution for linings.

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  26. I got married last October and my three bridesmaids - who ranged in size from a 2 to a 12! - all wore the same deep pink silk dresses from J. Crew. I do agree with the post about how helpful the staff was, which was one of the main selling points for me. They willingly overnighted fabric swatches, allowed me to return a dress even though it was final sale and exchange it for another (one of my bridesmaids had decided to send me her measurements of what she "hoped" to be after her diet) and sent me several yards of the fabric to wrap all our bouquets, all at no cost. In fact, this kindness was the start of my whole J. Crew obsession.

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  27. My bridesmaids wore the silk tricotine Jenelle short dress in chocolate color and they look absolutely gorgeous. Both girls are very picky but they were more than satisfied with the dresses. They liked everything – the color, the style, the fabric. One of the girls said it is probably the nicest dress she’s ever worn. And the girls were very excited that they can wear this dress again and again to different occasions and change their look by adding different accessories. I bought the dresses for my bridesmaids myself and I was happy with the cost. I received a student discount as well. I think J.Crew dresses are great value for the money you pay. The silk quality is wonderful and it feels nice very nice to touch and on the body.
    We had two weddings so for the second wedding I wore a long ivory Sophia dress. Again, I was very happy with the silk quality. I am not sure about the lining that the other poster mentioned. I did not have any problems with the dress. I found the lining to be nice and thick. I was able to re-sell the dress and get my money back. The quality of the dress is so good that the dress looked like new after I tried it on many times before the wedding and after the ceremony. I cleaned it and sold it.
    Hope my review helps future brides and bridesmaids. The shopping experience with J.Crew was very pleasant. I did it on my own without the wedding helper since I only had 2 bridesmaids. I am sure that with helpers it is even better.

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  28. has anyone had any issues photographing in the cotton cady dresses? they're 100% cotton and after trying them on last night noticed wrinkles right off the bat.

    also, the best j.crew stores in SF area is in San Francisco Center. the best sale section is the one in Corte Madera.

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  29. I noticed in the article that it says a "J.Crew associate can order the dresses for delivery at a store for no charge." Does this include the wedding gowns or is it strictly regarding the bridesmaids dresses? Thanks!

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  30. Hi, I am working on getting dresses from them right now. The only thing is one of my bridesmaids is larger than a size 16, the largest size they carry. I have asked about getting extra fabric, to either get the dress taken out or, preferably make a whole other dress, but I was told they only give 1 yard.

    I was surprised to see in the article that they gave enough fabric to a buyer to make another dress.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?

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  31. Kristen White: What about buying an extra dress to take the fabric from? Do you have a tailor? If so, ask her/him if it is possible to take the fabric from one dress and add it to another one to make it larger. The expense would be more than just buying extra fabric, but if you want all the dresses the same it could be an option.

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