Thursday, May 28, 2009

J.Crew's Jenna Lyons: Rules Of Style

A big "thanks!" to JB who shared the following {interesting} article featuring J.Crew's Jenna Lyons and her take on men's fashion & styles (click here):

Rules of Style: J.Crew's Jenna Lyons
The creative director on vintage watches, slim jeans, and the horror of pleats

By: Men.Style.Com
May 27, 2009

  1. There's nothing sexier than a blazer, a tie, and jeans. And yet most men can't put it together; they either end up with a suit and tie or jeans and T-shirt. Try taking half from one look and half from the other. Chances are you'll get something a little bit cooler.
  2. Men don't shop enough. Being current has everything to do with finding the place you want to shop, whether it's J.Crew or Tom Ford. You have to get off your duff and get out there, because styles evolve. Certain things are classics and they do stay, but men need to keep updating their wardrobe, because change is subtle. For example, denim is getting slimmer. If you're wearing jeans from two years ago, they probably don't look current. Get a new pair of jeans.
  3. Overplucked, overdone men are frightening to me. Women want a man who looks like he takes care of himself but doesn't look like he thinks about it more than she does.
  4. A pressed shirt signals work mode. But a washed-cotton shirt automatically makes you feel more touchable, more approachable. It's effortless. However, if everything is washed—that's not interesting. When washed is paired with a blazer and a tie, it looks amazing.
  5. Most men don't have a clue about tailoring. They hate to ask for directions and they hate to ask if something looks good on them. Learn to ask the salesperson. Ask a woman. Great tailoring always makes guys look better.
  6. Get dressed, then change one element. With a suit, wear a pair of Converse, or take off your dress shirt and put on a chambray button-down instead. You can also do the reverse. Try khakis rolled up with wingtips. Tweaking one thing is an easy way for guys to modernize an outfit, even if they don't know what the hell they're doing.
  7. Three subjects are off-limits to my husband: my mother, my ass, and my age. The worst thing you can do to a woman is to make her feel like she's not beautiful anymore. The best thing is to pay her a compliment.
  8. What women notice are the shoes and the watch. Go for understated elegance, whether it's a vintage Rolex or a classic Timex or a watch that was your grandfather's. It's the same with shoes. I love a pair that look like they've been resoled 10 times.
  9. A giant shirt is not cute. If it feels overly comfortable, it probably doesn't look so good. A simple fit test is to check your shoulder seam. It's designed to be on your shoulder line—not somewhere near it.
  10. We don't need you to be perfect. What we do need is for you to look a little bit more pulled-together. And no pleats, please, not ever, ever, in your life. Ever.
I have to say that I agree with most points, and completely agree with point one: that a blazer, tie, and jeans looks fantastic on guys! Also, Jenna's point number seven made me smile! ;)

What are your thoughts on the article? Do you agree or disagree with any of the advice she gave? Are there any pieces of advice, when it comes to style, that you would add? :)


  1. i liked the article. rules are meant to be broken a little, of course : )

    the "no pleats" I found a little narrow-minded. JCrew themselves used to make pleated khakis and they fit better on some body types (not every guy is a stick who wants skinny jeans, and maybe they want to put their PDAs or whatever in their front pocket!)

  2. I love #8 - shoes & watch. I always look at those.

  3. My husband in his mid-30's used to wear larger shirts, but since he's been working out he's asking me to get him more "tailored" fitting shirts and yes, we have given all his pleated pants few years ago. I do some of his shopping and he doesn't like J. Crew pants since they are not as tailored as BR pants. He also does not want to wear skinny jeans he wore back in the 80's... lol. I'm also trying to make him wear the linen shirts I got him, but he's not into those :( I totally agree with the watch & shoes.

  4. In all honesty, the "shirts being too big" thing is one of my biggest pet peeves! When I used to work retail I'd have guys always ask me for XL's or XXL's...when they clearly needed a Large or even a Medium. A shirt that is too big simply looks sloppy no matter what gender you are, and I think it's one of the biggest mistakes most guys make.

    This is a pretty darn good list. I don't agree 100% with Jenna's advice (if my hubby paired a suit with Chuck Taylors I'd diiiiie- but that's just me) but she gives quick pointers that most men can and should follow. Good list!

  5. jcbellemarie,
    I agree with you. I laughed at her no pleats rule. One cannot make a statement like that...esp. since she hasn't met my hubby. He dresses extremely well and he has to wear pleated pants. OMG he looks so silly if he doesn't with his body type.

    My opinion of Jenna just keeps getting lower and lower the more I read articles where she is featured. She and I don't see eye to eye on many fashion aspects.

    Interesting article that I take with a teeny tiny grain of salt.

  6. You guys have to remember that this list was intended for fashion novices i.e. the "common man" that wears XL shirts when he needs a M size shirt.

    The "no pleats rule" is easier for this hypothetical man to remember and understand than the "no pleats, except when....."

    Basically, if you follow this list exactly you will be a couple of rungs above the common american male.

    If you disagree with some items on the list and can state your reasons, you are a couple of steps above the man who follows the list blindly

    If you can state the reasons you disagree with some items on the list AND understand that jenna didnt write the list for the "advanced" man, you should be writing your own lists for your less fortunate male friends.

  7. I think she made some good points but quite frankly I am pretty sick of what "jenna's thoughts" are about everything. I wish we could make some sort of list and send it to J. Crew about how we're sick of chiffon, ruffles, cascading flowers, and pastel colors!!
    Have a super day everyone!!

  8. A tie with jeans can work, but there is a big risk of looking like you're trying to be the cool teacher. I wouldn't recommend sneakers with suits for novices either.

    I agree with some posters above that pleats are not always bad. One of the main issues with pleats is that they do not work (i.e. drape properly) as well on today's low-rise pants.

  9. I thought the article was a bit kinda like "How to dress like a J Crew Model", but nonetheless it did give some good tips for the average guy who doesn't care much about style.

    Some of the stuff is like "duh" for JCA's, but maybe we should pass it on to those less style-fortunate. ;)

  10. JC currently has some pleated pants offered, how'd that get past Jenna? ;)

    I preferred the article post a while back featuring both her and Muytjens. It was nice to hear both their perspectives on menswear.

  11. I wish more men would adopt the murse, or some kind of carryall. Then they wouldn't have to cram their pockets with phones, wallets, change, receipts, gum, hankies, marbles, snacks...and whatever else they need to get through the day.

    I can image not having a bag to cart around all my daily junk!

  12. I think Jenna missed a big one. How about guys, and yes some women, who don't dress age correct? We've all seen the guy who is well into his 30s or 40s, but still dresses like a high school student.

    I thought the list was correct, but nothing really earth shattering.

  13. Yes!!! That is one thing that drives me nuts, seeing grown men dress like teenagers. I really wish we'd return to the days when men dressed like men and not their sons.

  14. I agree 100% that a blazer & jeans is so damn sexy! My hubby is getting much better about his personal non-work style, and I've converted him a bit to JCrew ;) Unfortunately, his body type is more muscular & broad than the JCrew models, so he can't pull off some looks. He'll never be preppy, but he's getting closer :)

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  16. Some of her tips were good, but everyone dresses differently, so not all her tips will work for everyone. I think these were definitely meant for men who are REALLY fashionably challenged, not the normal well-dressed guy :)

  17. It's a good list for guys without much fashion sense to up their game a bit. I agree with Andrew, sneakers with suits - not an easy look and would end up dorky on almost every guy. Very tough to pull off.

    With most lists like this the general rule is to pick a couple of tips that you can incorporate into your look and not to suddenly change your entire style. Then next time you read a new list, add a couple more items. Keeps it current and best of all, manageable for the average guy who is not going to do a paradigm shift.

    Pleats are more for comfort and fit than for style right now. Like everything else though they will likely be back around.

  18. It might have been nice if Ms. Lyons acknowledged that her blanket pronouncements don't work for every guy. Age-appropriateness is a big part of it. Most of what she says is probably fine up until a guy hits 30 or so. Knowing what works for you and what doesn't is a big part of looking good. That's the real definition of style.

    I'm 45, I've been into clothes my whole life, and I care far more about what I wear than the average man. I'm six feet tall and not pudgy, but for me to wear skinny jeans would look completely ridiculous, though they were fine when I was 20 or 25. Also, I spend my days sitting at a desk, and any sort of slim or tight pants are very uncomfortable in such a situation. (I'm sure she would be horrified to know that the most comfortable jeans I own come from JCPenney and cost about $15 a pair.)

    One of my personal pet peeves is the crumpled shirt. Again, it's an age thing. You don't have to have all your shirts pressed at the cleaners all the time; knowing when and how to use an iron effectively is a sign of maturity, regardless of whether you're going to work, out to dinner with your wife, or to a ball game. Some shirts come out of the wash looking great, others you can get away with a quick semi-ironing. But looking like a lazy slob is not going to win you points with the ladies, at least ones that are worth your time.

  19. Ooooh, no! I admit that I couldn't read past #1- a blazer, tie and jeans is terrible.

    Guys, please don't do this. I have never seen it come together.

  20. Just read the article & about 19 posted comments - all worth reading!
    My fiance feels comfortable in asking me how he looks, or what goes with what when picking out clothes which is contrary to the statement:
    "and they hate to ask if something looks good on". That is not true in my case. Also, to add another style which may be overlooked by most are non-preppy, washed look, cotton seersucker shorts. My fiance loves the ones from JCrew - so lightweight & comfy. They feel the coolest & are his faves of all his cotton shorts for hot, muggy weather. I would recommend guys to try a pair - just don't get the one's that look like you golf on your lunch break unless you desire that look!

  21. Andrew - you're cracking me up - looking like a "cool teacher"! I think the blazer plus jeans minus the tie looks better for most.

    I didn't know Jenna was so crass! Talking about her ass! I like her, she sounds real.

    Also, I don't think she meant men should wear "skinny" jeans, just that the shape of jeans has slimmed down, now a straight leg is more stylish than a boot cut.

  22. Some Assembly Required,

    Agree with you. Pet peeve of mine is the rumpled shirt on men (or women for that matter).....I would not look twice at a guy wearing one...

    My husband as always ironed his shirts (or I have) and age did not matter...he made sure his shirts looked decent at age 20, 30 and now almost 40.

  23. A few things:

    I bought a pair of the men's officer's chio's and love them (hate that they nick them to look more worn.) Does anyone know any other stores that make a similar chino?

    I love the j crew men's dress shirts BUT since they don't make shirts that offer a various sleve sizes and collar sizes I can't get one that fits right (my neck is apparently too thick for my sleve length.) That said, I'm looking for a similar fitting dress shirt - anyone have any suggestions?

  24. Interesting article. I also adhere to the rule of thumb, taking a couple points from the list that would work for the reader. Wholesale changes usually don't last because it pushes people out of their comfort zone and it's not sustainable.

    One thing I would add for both men and women is to keep your shoes in good repair. Resoling 10 times is great for top quality shoes. Do it before they are worn right through. Better yet, add a sole saver on the new pair before wearing so the sole is never compromised. And ladies, replace the lifts on heels when they start to wear down. I've seen women walking around on heels that have the lifts worn right off. Looks terrible and very cheap.

    I always appreciate attention to detail. If someone can't take the time to care for themselves, what care do they give to others?

  25. Baybaybay, you made me realize something- if most of the men I see on the street tried even a tiny bit to follow these guidelines, even the one I disagree with, their look would be improved greatly. So many people put NO thought into how they look- perhaps their minds are occupied by other things, but I still appreciate the effort that some make! You are wise to point out how much we respond to someone who pays a little attention to how he or she looks.

  26. If only judging others were so simple, Baybaybay. Do my unwashed hair and three-day-old pjs mean I don't care for others well? On the contrary, they show just how much I care for others--my two very young children!

    I feel sorry for Jenna here, as I have before . . . how hard it is to be asked to voice your opinion so much and so publicly, and to be so open to constant criticism. I'm sure she gets some perks, though!

  27. The men's stuff doesnt really get a lot of attention on this blog.

    My editorial picks for the current offerings from the jcrew men's collection are:

    1. timex watch
    2. leather postal messenger bag
    3. shawl collar pullover
    4. millerain oilcloth field jacket
    5. any of the sunglasses
    6. redwing boots

    a note on the shirts; jcrew's price point is too low for a high quality shirt. good shirts are expensive, at least 200 dollars or more, which sucks because shirts are a among the shortest lasting items in a man's wardrobe.

    I recommend forgoing button down shirts entirely unless you can afford good expensive shirts and instead replying on polos and sweaters.

  28. I like those rules. A couple of my coworkers and I just got into a conversation about men's fashion today...we agreed that it's harder to go wrong when you're a man, but it's still possible.

    And, while we're on the topic...any advice on how to talk my bf out of buying Sanuks? They look like hobo shoes!!

  29. Corry, I should have clarified. My last comment was meant in the line of dating, or the potential to make an impression. I was in that line of thinking after reading Some Assembly Required's post - winning points with the ladies and which men are worth your time.

    I don't know many who have time to be perfectly polished every day, but if you are trying to make an impression then it can make the difference. Certainly your family takes priority. Especially young children who need so much of your time. Good that you put them at the top of your list.

  30. Check out the picture of Jenna! It seems that CaptainCrew's comment from the Lemlem post was quite prophetic, or psychic. Something to the effect of the tights/ shorts combo made her look like the last one at the bar at the end of the night? Here's Jenna in her tights ON the bar at the end of the night!

  31. LOL, point 7 is SO true, same here (except for my mother, who is sadly no longer with us). I was recently looking at some pictures to post on my facebook page and my husband commented "Wow, look how young you look in this picture". Nice, uh? Of course I got him back with "where's your hair and where are your abs?" :)
    I always look at the watch and shoes, that to me says it all as far as fashion is concerned.

  32. I am kind of over the blazer + jeans look for guys. I think it only looks sexy if the jeans are a super dark wash.

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