Thursday, May 26, 2011

Catalog Fashbacks!

February 2008

In an earlier post (refer to "J.Crew Catalog Archive {yes, yes, yes!}"), Life as a Cat's blog (The J.Crew Archives) was shared. The following images are some of the pages from those catalogs.

April 2009

Much like many of you, I save J.Crew's catalogs for outfit inspirations. These images are just some of the Summer-time outfits that I think are classic with a girlie twist. Just love them! :)

February 2009

The colors are just amazing! I am loving the brights in all their shades. This is something that J.Crew is known for– still true today! :) I also like the way J.Crew pairs the pieces together. Simple, clean, and still a bit fantastic.

January 2009

Other notables that I absolutely adore about these catalogs include:
(1) Smiles. I mean, there is the occasional "I am in deep thought" shot. But most of the pages are filled with girls who appear comfortable with themselves and having a good time. I will say, that J.Crew's latest catalogs improved in this area– I think there are more smiles than vacant looks now. (Incidentally, I really loved the current June 2011 catalog's Parties & Weddings Collection section. The models, dresses, and setup of the shots are all beautiful.)

(2) A diversity of models. I flipped through the June 2011 catalog and noticed that the 3 models used to feature the main clothes portion could be sisters– they look so much alike! (This does not count either the "9 women 1 shirt" feature or the swimsuit section– which wonderfully showcased several types of women).

Do you enjoy the flashback to J.Crew from a few years ago? Do you use their catalogs for outfit inspirations? Do you think the styles still hold up today? If so, which outfits do you still rock today? What is your favorite catalog from J.Crew?


  1. oh these old catalogs make me so.....sad! I want my old Jcrew back. {sigh}

    I have thought from time to time that maybe I am not loving the new Jcrew is my style is "stuck"? Knowing that others feel the same way makes me think that maybe it isn't just that.

  2. If you see things in the Fall 2011 preview that you like a lot, then you're definitely not stuck. How did you feel about the past fall/winter offerings? Is it just the spring/summer fare that you're not thrilled with? That's how it is for me.

  3. Your right Tamara, I seem to get more excited about the colder months because I a more comfortable with a little more cover and I find the items in cooler months more classic. I like blazers, cardigans, wool trousers and longer hems. I hope at the crest of my 20s I'm not stuck!

  4. OT - the 30% off LOVEIT promo has been extended thru Thurs 5/26.

  5. Oooh, what a fun topic. In looking at so many catalogs over the last few days I've done some thinking on how they compare with each other. The catalogs themselves, aside from the actual collections, almost seem to have their own color schemes. When I look at the layout of several different posts on my blog on the same page, you can see differences in the use of page background color and the colors they choose for the outfits. For example, the Town Coat catalog really stuck out from all the later ones because it had white backgrounds which sharply set off clothes in basic, primary colors. In contrast, the colors in some of the 2009 catalogs are almost watercolor-y.

    The styling, use of backgrounds, and attitudes have all evolved, as you have touched on. I think it's interesting to see the evolution. April 2010 is probably my favorite catalog, though I generally like the ones from Feb to July 2010. I'm sure I'll be writing a post on this too!

  6. Hi there - I rarely comment, but I have to pipe in here. I understand nostalgia for the days when you first fell in love with J Crew - it's like recalling the days of the beginning of a love affair in some sense. But I honestly look at these photos - for instance the jean jacket photo - and it is so unremarkable. It's a style that Talbots is currently espousing as formula. IMO, there's nothing special about that outfit: a slightly poofy pleated skirt, a T and a jeans jacket. It didn't take much thought to put it together. I recognize that that's a valid style 'genre' if you like - but I guess it's too vanilla for me.

    I think the styling in recent catalogues is far more remarkable, daring and provocative. We cannot always replicate the looks in it but it does what it's supposed to do: grab our attention, jolt us, sometimes make our hearts leap into our mouths. (Exception: the latest June 2011 catalogue is boring. No really new pieces. I totally agree with you there.)

    The catalogues now are more inspirational because they are pushing more boundaries and trying to take the clothes to places that we never will. Moreover, they are advertisements. They sell the clothes. That's the only point here.

    I think they do fall/winter better in general (as others above have pointed out). BUt of late, they have also become more imaginative with form and silhouette and style.

    I also completely disagree w. the complaint I see here often that the quality of fabrics and materials is going downhill. I buy JCrew because I can get fashion forward AND classic pieces in good materials that will last me for a long time when worn carefully. (NB:I don't wash my cashmere or other sweaters in the washing machine.)

    As a whole, the new JCrew has helped me quickly set up a wardrobe full of adult clothing (vs hoodies/Ts and jeans only) and has trained me to look for form and style in other brands. It should be noted that I was ready to do this anyway - but I'm sincerely glad that I had JCrew to fall back on. Others just don't compare in consistency and product offerings. I love that and I want to say it here so that those who read it at JC know that they have a fan! :)

    Finally, thanks for the opportunity to comment.

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  8. I wouldn't call recent styling remarkable or daring. They are just copying others.

    And the quality is so obviously worse these days. I have jcrew sweaters from 10 years ago that have held up better than ones from last year, and no, I don't put cashmere in the washing machine (who even does that?).

  9. The quality of items has definitely gone down hill. I look at my perfect fit blouses from 2005,6 and 7 and they are so well made and the fabric is devine. The ones I bought in 2010 cannot even compare!

    I do miss the good old days of JCrew quality and fashion and style.

    I prefer summer over winter clothes any day and look forward to the day I retire and can get rid of it all. I remember when a close friend retired and got rid of most of hers moving from IL to the desert:) That said, J.Crew uses to do summer beautifully with gorgeous flowy tops and skirts and dresses in beautiful prints. I no longer see much of that if at all.

  10. I want pretty clothing! Is it possible to be daring and pretty at the same time? I feel like this image from Fall 2010 captures the combination of the two perfectly, the outfit is pretty and feminine and yet fashion-forward at the same time. I want more of this. Give me luxurious fabrics, a wide range of colors, shape to the clothing (if not tailored/fitted, then just a tie belt on a loose jacket is sufficient). So far Fall 2011 is looking very promising, though less plush and more nerdy than Fall 2010, but that's fine. :)

  11. I'm recalling the early days of J Crew when the catalogs were filled with rugby shirts and khaki pants, for women as well as men. :) They've come a long way.

  12. Tamara, I love plushness too! I think the nerdiness is only a product of wearing those expensive glasses. I agree with you about the clothes having shape - I don't look good in droopy tanks with think straps, and I imagine it's the same for others. I hope some lush textures will emerge in the Fall 2011 collection when it comes time.

  13. I do see a huge difference in the quality of the catalogs. It seems that the locations chosen and overall photo shoots were just so much better. I also liked the happy, healthy looking models (I like smiling faces).

    As far as the styling of outfits and style of individual pieces go, I do prefer the newer J Crew. A lot of the older items just seem to busy in the case of the prints and a lot of the pieces really are unremarkable.

    One thing that bothers me is that there is less of a variaty than there used to be. For example, in shirts they used to carry minis, full skirts in a variety of lengths and pencils. Now it seems that if you don't want an office worthy pencil or to flash everyone with a micro mini, you are out of luck.

    I have shopped at J Crew for a long time and the quality has declined sharply. Their clothing never holds up as well for me as things purchased at my other favorite stores.

    Many of my skirt from last summer stretched horribly, and I am only getting a few wearings out of many of my merino sweaters before they look awful. I have other JC merino sweaters that are 4-6 years old at this point that still look almost new.

    One of the only purchases I made from JC this spring was two suckered gingham shirts. They have each been worn 5-6 times and they have pilled. I have never had any woven cotton shirt pill before. Also, in spite of being washed in lingerie bags and being loose fitting on me, many of the seams have stretched and show a good bit of slippage. That is not acceptable at $72 a shirt, IMO.

    Even with the coats and jackets that are still well made overall, the buttons have been cheapened and the pretty printed silk linings and inside pockets are missing.

    I would love to see a return to the old quality.

  14. Beautiful colors and knee-length skirts! Classic cuts with a twist! If only they could make their way back into the catalogue...

  15. Wow, pilling on a woven cotton shirt? I have only seen pilling on cotton-polyester blends. I read that pilling on pure cotton occurs with low-quality "short staple" (i.e., short fiber) cotton. I agree that should not occur with a $72 shirt! Maybe a $9.99 (regular price) one.

    Life as a cat, I think you're probably right about the glasses. But there is one picture that sticks in my mind, buttoned up shirt, below-the-knee a-line skirt, and oxford flats. Haute nerd! All she needs is a pocket protector (in leather and waxed canvas, of course). :) I actually like this look a lot, I'm a nerd, this is so me. I don't do flats but surely I could find myself some nerdly platforms to substitute. (Not from J Crew though.)

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  17. Ohhh, I see my beloved 3/4 sleeve cashmere v-neck cardigan in the April 2009 catalog, pages 12-13. I have two of the heather silver color (I think that's the correct name). I wish I would have bought more! I haven't tried the cardi that came out this year, I don't like the look of it as much as the one from 2009 and I'm not liking the colors either. The 2009 cardi is as soft as a cloud!

    The clothes in 2009 are not so different than the ones in 2011 except for color. There was a lot more color in 2009. Even I, the die-hard neutral and menswear color-wearer likes to see some nice feminine colors! Summer 2011 has been so incredibly drab except for a few bright bright colors.

  18. Tamara you are right that there was more color in 2009 but I am loving the spring/summer colors this year, especially the rich colors on shorts. African violet, plum orchard, neon pink. Even the periwinkle madras color is quite intense. Rich, deep colors are also on the ink-dip popover, linen Bermuda jacket, perfect-fit tees, etc. Definitely more in years past but the current colors work very well for my complexion and wardrobe.

    Regarding quality, it has most certainly declined on perennial favorites. Just look at the construction of the double-serge wool pencil skirts as they evolved over time from a fully-tailored waistband to a grosgrain ribbon add-on. Still a lovely item but not quite the same quality it once was. A lot of the fabric and knits are becoming incredibly thin too, there are often comments here where people are saying they would need a cami under t-shirts, button-downs and even under camis. It never used to be so and I refuse to layer underthings unless it's absolutely necessary.

    Love looking at the prior catalogs and feel a bit like a child trading baseball cards: got it; got it; need it. ;^)


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