Friday, July 9, 2010

JCA Blog Mentioned in NYT {Woot! Woot!}

A big "thanks!" to dinagideon (in this post) & Jennifer, who let us know about the following article from the New York Times (click here to read in its entirety) with a special shout-out to a certain little blog...
J.Crew Helps Preppy Go Euro
By Virginia Heffernan
July 5, 2010

J.Crew published its first catalog in 1983, three years after Lisa Birnbach’s “Official Preppy Handbook” codified a peculiar style of comportment and dress associated with rich enclaves on the East Coast. By the time J. Crew showed up — a full-fledged lifestyle manual that seemed to put on sale the whole preppy modus vivendi — Birnbach’s book was enshrined as both satire and tip sheet. J.Crew came to function the same way: with its anodyne clubby name and clothes that ripped off L.L. Bean, Brooks Brothers and J. Press, J.Crew seemed to spoof the preppy style while making it available.

Or maybe it spoofed the preppy style by making it available. For the set that embraced the Boston mentality — “We don’t buy our hats; we have our hats” — the idea of having to shop for what should be entitlements initially seemed embarrassing.

But now that people who look down on shopping are as rare as people who inherit pearls and cable-knit cashmere, nearly everyone has embraced J.Crew. The company, which went public three years ago, now boasts the endorsement of Michelle Obama; more than 300 bricks-and-mortar stores, including some that sell limited-edition items in places like Aspen and Malibu; and a thriving e-tailer and online entertainment business at jcrew.com.

Ever a zeitgeist company, J.Crew does the bulk of its dream-weaving — refining and disseminating the house aesthetic — at jcrew.com, which is lush with images, videos and distinctive “J.Crew haikus,” as staff members once dubbed the brand’s copywriting style. (“A ruched strapless bodice with metallic float threads woven into gauzy silk are attached to a bias-cut slight A-line skirt that hugs the body in all the right places,” read a recent online description.)

The re-emergence in pop fashion of the blue-and-white-striped sailor shirt has been a blessing to J.Crew’s Web site this summer. The shirt is sporty and thus not un-American, while also signifying “Paris,” a new concept jcrew.com has been audaciously colonizing. The site twinkles with references to France and haute couture, and recently it has positioned dissipated and mysterious Euro-type models in the slots that used to be reserved for “J.Crew models” — fresh-faced, wholesome strawberry blondes.

Not long ago, a bed-headed brunette appeared wearing nothing but a sailor shirt in a silent and almost-still video on the J.Crew homepage. She was fiddling with her hair, bored, as if waiting for her video to start. It was an inspired art-tech joke: the short stretch of video served as a double for a still image, disarming users who might have balked had the video, which came up unbidden, been more kinetic. Pressing “play” on this video of the girl — who, half dressed and waiting, was clearly looking for adventure — was the only gallant thing to do.

Sexualizing a model’s image by inviting the viewer to animate her, and thus implicating the viewer in the lady’s pleasure, is an extremely sophisticated use of online video for e-commerce. Once the user has got the half-naked girl to move, why not go ahead and buy her clothes?

The song that plays during the video says something in French about love and freedom. I first took it for a Carla Bruni song, in the spirit of “Le Plus Beau du Quartier,” which played in H&M’s bellwether online video, starring Emmanuelle Béart, in 2006. A J.Crew fanblog revealed, however, that the song was a company original. (The song, “To Be Free,” is sung by Guylaine Vivarat.) A commenter pointed out that it seemed like “a knockoff of Carla Bruni’s ‘L’Amour,’ ” and that seemed right.

Voilà — an e-tailer finds itself in the content-production business. Happens all the time. Because of customer requests, the company said that it would make the catchy chanson available — free — from J. Crew’s Facebook page. It seems absolutely integral to the new and improved J.Crew lifestyle, which recently featured a specific kind of heroine who, though eminently visible now in American cities, is underrepresented in our literature and film: a European in the United States.

The stateside European, in J.Crew’s imagining, wears all our usual American stuff — shorts, T-shirts, cargo pants, polo shirts — but has no use whatsoever for the simplicity and androgyny that used to be hallmarks of preppy. Under the inventive vision of Jenna Lyons, J.Crew’s revered executive creative director, as well as Mickey Drexler, the C.E.O., the clothes and the Web site have become ruffly, silky, beaded and sequined. Every outfit seems slightly hacked — cut up and embellished by a home tailor. You don’t envision someone in J.Crew playing lacrosse anymore; they seem more likely to be philosophizing and seducing. “I have a hard time with the word ‘preppy,’ ” Lyons told Style.com not long ago. “It’s very coastal, and it leaves out a lot of Americans who aren’t yachting or going to the beach club.”

This summer, then, what is the new J.Crew ideal? Not the East Hampton WASP, not anymore. Rather, it’s the sultry au pair watching the children. In sequins.

Points of Entry: This Week's Recommendations
SECONDARY EDUCATION
A sequel to “The Official Preppy Handbook”! If you didn’t get the memo the first time — or if you’re shaky on the role of rehab and texting in la vie preppy— hold your polo ponies:“True Prep,” by Lisa Birnbach with Chip Kidd, is forthcoming from Knopf.

WHEN WASPS BLOG
Those days of preppy names in print only at birth, marriage and death are long over. Now they can’t stop . . .musing. For modest laughs: To the Manner Born, WASP 101, Tickled Pink and Green, Muffy Martini, Pink Washingtoniette, 2PreppyGirls and Summer Is a Verb.

THE CREW
For deals, reviews, insights and general adoration of a clothing company, J. Crew Aficionada is a site to behold: jcrewaficionada.blogspot.com.
I love the tiny shout-out to the JCA Blog at the very end. {yey!} I also really enjoyed the article! It had a great take on J.Crew's most recent transformation. I thought the following lines said it all: "This summer, then, what is the new J.Crew ideal? Not the East Hampton WASP, not anymore. Rather, it’s the sultry au pair watching the children. In sequins." So true! {tear} So true!!! ;)

What are your thoughts on the article? Did you agree or disagree with any of the points made?

64 comments:

  1. First things first: I am so happy for you, Alexis. You have worked so hard for this blog and community, it seems only right that a HUGE newspaper magazine gives you a shout-out when publishing an article on the very thing you celebrate daily. :)

    Second: I do love preppy, but I have never felt 100% comfortable being all preppy. I have always appreciated J. Crew for having "preppy" pieces, but giving them some whimsy and unique twist...thereby letting me feel more comfortable (oddly enough, a sequin here or there, a ruffle over there, and a flourish on that end are the right add-ons I want for my clothing--I like being in the middle fashion-wise but still want to be the sassy in the suburbs and J. Crew's current and past offerings have always had something perfect for me).

    Third: Everywhere I go I see women wearing J. Crew in their own special way, and I have to be honest, they all look pretty darn good in the choices they have made...the pieces do stand out and in turn make the wearer stand out a little bit, too.

    :) I know some of you will mention how "over" you are of all that J. Crew is offering, but I thought I would be a voice of some positive energy. {Smile.}

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  2. Thank you so much Dina! It is very exciting to see our little community get recognized by the NYT. :)

    I also couldn't agree with you more that everyone I have seen with J.Crew wears it pretty darn well. We have such different, but stylish tastes- it's a wonderful thing! :)

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  3. Great article! But... I don't wanna look like the au pair watching the children in sequins. I miss the strawberry blonde J.Crew models... sigh. I wish Jenna wasn't in charge of the women's line. In the mid 2000's, J.Crew had the perfect "preppy with a twist" thing going on. What was wrong with that? In no way was it just for people living on the coast going to their yacht clubs. I just don't get her "vision" for the women's line.

    Congrats Alexis on the shout out!

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  4. BRAVA Alexis!!!

    I thought maybe I was one of the targets of the new J.Crew as I have been spending such a boatload but I am NOT au pair material so I guess my belief still stands that they are offering up something for all of us. Everyone sees something different in their offerings which I think is commendable and probably pretty hard to pull off. Thank you J. Crew.

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  5. I love the article. Congrats, Alexis, on all the work you do to keep this little community going! I remember "preppy" J.Crew from college and while infinitely wearable, it was not the stuff that makes it into fashion magazines and TV. I think of it as being more of classics with a twist of fantasy (at least for the better pieces). Ditto that everyone wears the Crew differently, from classic prep to funky to sexy. It works for all ages and is still a wardrobe staple for me.

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  6. Congrats on the mention! Well-deserved and really they could give you your own article sometime.

    I think dinagideon makes several great points, so I'll just say hear hear. J.Crew now reminds of Tommy Hilfiger in the late 90s -- on top of the world til they tried to go hip hop. I am interested enough for now to keep paying attention but sad that the prep is almost gone.

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  8. I agree wholeheartedly with Dina's points! For the most part, I do like the direction J.Crew is headed. Back when they were "preppy," I was in my American Eagle/Abercrombie phase, so I missed out. I feel like J.Crew best suits my personality in the place I'm in now, and like Dina said, we all wear our J.Crew in our own way. However, all that said, I do miss some of the former shapes of the brand. I've said this over and over on the blog, but I am no longer finding their skirts desirable (besides their pencil skirts, which are still delicious). I just bought another Belle skirt on the weekly exchange because I miss their a-line skirts so much :(

    Awesome, awesome recognition, Alexis! It's very well-deserved! :)

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  9. Congratulations, Alexis!

    Although I'm having mixed feelings about JC lately, just this morning the girl at the coffee shop told me I looked "very J.Crew-ish" and I took it as a huge compliment.

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  10. Congratulations Alexis! I'm so glad the NYT recognized what all of us have known for two years-- You have an amazing blog!

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  11. congratulations on being in the NYTimes! the blog is the only one i read regularly (which may say more about me...) and the recognition is well deserved.

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  12. Go Alexis!

    Unanswered questions:

    where does one wear some of these things?

    What do we learn from the picture of Jenna on a 2006-2007 blazer?

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  13. First of all congrats Alexis, you have created a wonderful blog here.

    I agree with Em I wish Jenna was not in charge of the womens line.

    I do not care if the clothes are preppy or fashionable all I want is a good quality basic piece of clothing that fits well and will last at least 2 years and not fall apart in the wash. J Crew does not offer that right now this year alone I have had 8 pieces of clothing that had quality issues with them.

    Dina: I disagree with you, I do not think being over JC offerings is being negative at all, it is a commenter calling it the way they see it, and expressing their concern the way things have changed over the years.

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  14. Well-deserved, Alexis..congratulations! :)

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  15. casual-crew: Didn't mean to offend. I spend a lot of time with folks here in the DC area who really are very contrary, and often their opinion comes off as negative, but in the end, you are right, most likely it is not negative, just a different opinion. I was phrasing the last sentence of my comment from my perspective of kind of "being over" all the folks that I have to deal with that are contrary on a daily basis (and I don't mean JCAs, I mean people I have face time with...lol).

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  16. Congratulations Alexis! How wonderfully cool to be mentioned in a widely read newspaper! I agree with Dina and won't repeat it. I do miss JC's happy models, though. And, an au pair with sequins? Really? I guess that's why I'm not a writer, because that would have never crossed my mind when I look at JC's offerings. :)

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  17. Dina: No offence taken, I have seen a few posts on negative comments and I just had to chime in my take on it. Have a great weekend.

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  18. Congratulations Alexis!! So exciting to see JCA recognized. And well-deserved recognition it is!!!!

    I will say that I adore the preppy/fun mix. I grew up in the 80's, so I've done straight prep.... so glad to revisit it with a twist!

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  19. A richly deserved recognition - Mazel Tov!

    xoxo,

    a J.Jew

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  20. Yes, congrats to Alexis for dedication. That was a really enjoyable read--I loved how the writer can see right through the "smoke and mirrors" of today's fashion (and the Jenna machine--sequin Eurotrash hack job, LOL)

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  21. woot woot indeed! congratulations on the mention in NYT! I (as I'm sure like many here) make your blog the first read of my "blog day". It's the most informed and entertaining read as you attract such a wide audience...and everyone's so cool, sharing opinions and coupons and OOTD's. keep up the excellent work!!

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  22. Woohoo ! Congratulations, Alexis ! Great going :). I completely agree that Jcrew always has something for everyone.

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  23. I also really liked the mention of the au pair watching the children in sequence... mostly because that's my life. I'm a nanny chasing around 3 small kids jcrew style (ruffled, bedazzled, and mini skirted). Maybe I should be one of their models... too bad I'm not gaunt/ French.

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  24. Congrats on getting a nod from the NY Times! That's great news - it's only fitting that your blog should be mentioned. You do celebrate J.Crew on a daily basis! :)

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  25. Alexis, I am so happy for you!Recognition for a job well done in the NYT is the best. I agree with Closet Crisis, reading this blog is my favorite first stop in the am, or last stop in the pm for that matter.

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  26. Thank you NYT for mentioning JCA.

    But more importantly, thank you Alexis for all your hard work and for providing us with a place to share information about our beloved J Crew.

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  27. Nicely done Alexis. Good to see your blog is getting some much deserved recognition.

    Regarding the preppy bit, so many ways to view or be seen as preppy. While many have their own spin on what preppy is the preppy/American look is very current and the hot trend right now. Guess with the financial downturn people turn to the classics that work and last.

    Well done J.Crew and Alexis.

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  28. It's about time the country's flagship paper tips its hat to the Mothership! I hope JC is taking good notes, heaven knows that this blog, and the many awesome others on the blogroll are what keeps up my sometimes flagging interest in the Crew.

    Great job, Alexis, and thanks to Dina for pointing out the kudos!

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  29. This is so rad!! Congrats on the mention. You deserve it for all the hard work you do to maintain this blog and give us an outlet to talk all things J.Crew... Thank you!

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  31. Alexis, what a fantastic and well deserved mention!!!

    I am certain this blog (and the many offshoots) keep J Crew dialogue & purchases continuing in between FLOTUS-in-Crew sightings and other PR mentions. I went down for the spotted/sparkles cami today solely because I saw the new price cut on Audreybella's blog. Just finished removing said sparkles not too long ago. Oh...and I know a $20 cami is not driving up revenue much, but of course I went in for that one thing and my total ended up at $100.

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  32. Congratulations, Alexis.
    Thank you so much for all your hard work.
    I love your blog.

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  33. Congrats Alexis. Well deserved mention. Love your blog and keep up all the good work!

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  34. Alexis, I'll add another congratulations from a devoted fan of this blog, it is always my first "blogstop" in the AM!

    Dina's comments reminded me of why I really gravitate back to J Crew week after week, despite the disappointments we all openly grouse about. Truth for me: there is no other retailer that gives me the same thrill. My closet is bursting w JC pieces that still make me swoon. I may like something here or there from Anthro, BR, Talbots, Nordstrom, LE, but at the end of the day, JC styles and fit work best for me.

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  35. i am very happy for you!you deserve it for all your work.
    i come here first thing in the am and last thing in the evening.
    it is a pleasure to read.
    congratulations!

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  36. Thanks everyone for the super nice comments!!!

    It's great to see our community get recognized. And I know I say this a lot, but the success of this blog is attributed *all* to you guys. The JCAs really do consist of generous members, always willing to share their wealth of J.Crew information.

    Have a great weekend! :)

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  37. Congrats!!!

    totally off topic, but how to jcrew swimsuits fits? I've been buying small ts, and they are bit on the loose side, so I'm wondering if the bathing suits are also cut a bit generously?

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  38. Congratulations, Alexis! So glad to read about the blog's recognition.

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  39. Alexis, congrats on the mention! As everyone has said, you've worked so hard on this blog and truly deserve it.

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  40. Congrats Alexis!

    Sarah Goblot - J Crew swim runs huge! I bought a top in 36B (the size that Mister Calvin Klein says I am) and I was swimming in it!

    I returned it...

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  41. May I add my congratulations too, Alexis?

    Your blog is wonderful - it's literally my morning cup of coffee!

    While I bemoan J Crew's wacky styling, I am still thrilled with what I find in the stores. I actually came back from a week in Paris and couldn't find any clothes that I really wanted. Guess what was my first stop when I got home? J Crew!!

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  42. Many congrats, Alexis - I am so happy for you for the positive recognition! This is THE place we all come back to daily!

    As for the preppy mentions it he article - hmmm -I have never thought of myself as preppy in any way. I moved from years of buying Talbots clothing to J Crew when Talbots was getting more structured, and J Crew seemed more me. I am not young, nor a nanny (mother of three college students), nor skinny! but there is plenty of J Crew for me and others like me that I meet in the stores. Like the wedding photo in the J Crew catalog a few months ago - I want to be that Grandma with the sparkly skirt and heels! Frankly, I wish they'd feature a few "older" models in the catalog now and then, like they did when Lauren Hutton modeled for them!

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  43. Suzy--thank you! YES to models of all ages in the women's section of the catalog--they do it with the men's wear...

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  44. Congratulations, Alexis - this is so exciting!

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  45. ITA, Em, I definitely don't want to look like an au pair watching children in sequins. Is that a desirable role model for most women? Really?

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  46. I like the old, I like the new, I like to mix the old and the new so I don't look too cookie-cutter ... but what I like the most is recognition for this fantastic blog! :-D Congrats, Alexis. :-)

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  47. Alexis congratulations on making your JCA blog so successful!

    I wholeheartedly agree with Suzy's wish for more mature models like Lauren Hutton!

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  48. First of all, I want to add my congrats to you and your blog, Alexis!! You and Gigi are my morning regulars as soon as the kids are off to school/camp. I never place an order until I check for reviews or codes.

    The NYT article writer was trying to be cheeky IMO, simultaneously mocking and lauding the Crew! Clever and funny!

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  49. Sarah G,

    Been buying JCrew suits for years. I wear an 8 in there camis and take an 8 in their suits. Fit is great:) Love my JCrew suits. I have too many to count~!

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  50. Sarah Goblot,

    J.Crew swimsuits are frustrating to me, because I love them so much but their sizing is so whacked! Their tops come in three different sizing methods: band/cup size, S-XL, and dress sizing.

    I've never tried ordering a swim top that was in dress sizing, but I have tried both other kinds. The bra top sizing is horribly off. I am a 34C, but the bandeau top in that size was HUGE. So I returned it and re-ordered the 32C, still too big. In the end I just gave up on the top all together, cute as it was.

    As for their tops that are sized S-XL, I find that the mediums fit best for my size. Even the ones that have a clasp closure in the back (as opposed to ties) are not too loose if I order the M.

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  51. Congrats, Alexis! It's so exciting that your blog was in a MAJOR newspaper. How awesome is that? Loved the article too.

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  52. Also, agreed with Em. I prefer the preppy styles that JCrew used to offer. At least, I appreciate that they continue to make great suits.

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  53. alexis, i'm chiming in: CONGRATS! nothing better than getting recognition for all of your hard work (err, except a free ship code!).

    just like everyone else, i visit daily and love being a part of the community. even if i haven't bought anything in awhile i still have to KNOW about it all. and i love reading everyone's reviews and opinions. so thanks to the community for always sharing.

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  54. Alexis, congratulations! That should increase the traffic a bit . . .

    I'm a fan of the Jenna regime. I've bought J.Crew back in the late 1980s, but I love the more fashionable look. Though with all the military/girlscout inspired stuff, you'd think they'd bring back the classic barn jacket!!

    I think the line was getting stuffy and boring when they sold polos for women and the best they could do to liven up designs was to embroider things with monograms and "critters." I mean, c'mon, outside the country club set, who wears that stuff? Do they even wear it at country clubs?

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  55. I'm old enough to have grown up with J.Crew, so I have witnessed the transformation firsthand. But I see it more as the evolution of a global culture, rather than just the evolution of the company. Yes, it was kind of a classic/preppy catalog from which I bought oversized wool sweaters and button down menswear shirts. And I always really anticipated the summer catalogs, featuring clambakes on the beach...(I've always wanted to go to a clambake- never have so far, but J.Crew turned that into some kind of a fantasy. Well, that and those Lowenbrau commercials- "Here's to good friends, tonight is kind of special..."). Anyway, my point is that I think it's all pretty logical that the company and the clothes have moved toward a more global concept. I imagine that the people working at Crew are no longer just white guys but a bunch of different types of people, who travel and enjoy different types of art, etc. It's also more urban than it used to be, but in showing country scenes, it's not that floaty-trendy-bucolic type of fantasy that Anthropologie tries to perpetuate. I'm a big fan, overall, of J.Crew clothing, sales, and style. I wish delivery was always free for orders of more than $100 and I sometimes would wish for less copying by the designers of things they see on couture runways. But overall, the evolution is organic and maybe, it signifies that J.Crew has grown up alongside of those of us who were around for its infancy.

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  56. So happy to see you mentioned in the NY Times Magazine article over my morning joe: and especially the heading: "the crew"!! Well I guess that's us and I'm happy to be a part of the group. Alexis you have created a wonderful blog and community and I like your style... a lot! :)

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  57. Congrats on the mention--it is well-deserved!

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  58. Congrats on all the hard work

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  59. Hi again everyone! Thanks again for the lovely comments. Also, thanks for letting me know that the blog was mentioned in the print version of the paper. That is so exciting! CONGRATS all around!!! :)

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  60. So exciting! I am pretty new to this blog and have been enjoying it very much. Great work, Alexis!
    Congratulations:)

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  61. Wow, CONGRATS Alexis!! This is major!

    I think the "au pair in sequins" image is priceless. Ummm, that is just not me. I guess that's my problem with the "new" JCrew. There are still pieces I like, but nothing like a few years ago when I wanted EVERYTHING. JUST the way it was style in the catalog.

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  62. I just wanted to say that I thought this was worth mentioning to my husband. Ha!

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Dear J.Crew Aficionadas & Aficionados: Please feel free (and encouraged) to share your thoughts and opinions. :) However, please note that this is still a personal blog. So comments that are considered inappropriate (e.g. obscene, racist, homophobic, personal attacks, rude, and just plain mean) will be removed.

And now back to J.Crew! :)