Thursday, October 22, 2009

J.Crew's Styling: Let's Take a Step Back Please

As Cass (in this post) pointed out, J.Crew updated its homepage this morning featuring a new Flash slide show of "Plays On Texture" styles (click here).

I also couldn't agree more with Cass' comment: "...more whacked out styling going on.." Just take a look at exhibit A, B, and C below as just a few examples. Now each outfit isn't horrible if a few items were removed from each one. Exhibit A, remove the Shadow Shearling Jacket (Item 20889; $2,500.00). Exhibit B, take away the Pleated Paulette Top (Item 19834; $168.00) and while I am at it, let's avoid future poses that way. Really now. Exhibit C, what were you thinking with the scrunched-up Solid Knee-Highs (Item 57042; $12.50)? Seriously, stop pushing the "socks with heels" look! We get it.

Even some of the style tips that J.Crew is offering doesn't seem sound to me. For example, the hard copy of the November catalog (click here) on page 5 states, "[style tip] How to get that perfect baggy pant look? Buy a size or two larger, belt the waist (as our stylist says, "paper bag it") and voila!" I am going to pass on this. Always.

When creating the "J.Crew's Best of the Worst Items" and the "J.Crew's Best of the Best Items" posts, I ended up flipping through several past catalogs dating back to 2005. As I was looking through them, I saw some enticing styling. Each page had a lovely & realistic outfit that I want to recreate from head-t0-toe. For example, the catalog featuring the Piazza Jacket also had this beautiful white cotton-linen cami underneath it, paired with jeans and heels– simple yet charming at the same time.

J.Crew's obsession with layering didn't really kick-in full throttle until this year. Now I can understand the argument that J.Crew's recent {over the top} styling efforts are not meant to be translated literally, but more as an inspiration styling guide to take one or two ideas from. That is a valid point. However, maybe it's time to give this styling a break and return back to the "less is more" look.

What are your thoughts on J.Crew's recent styling efforts? Are you a fan of the current styles or of past styling efforts? What suggestions for styling would you make? What style tips would you avoid? :)

90 comments:

  1. Alexis,
    Great post and comments. I too would definitely avoid buying pants a size or two big and belting them for a paper bag waist. Really now.....

    I prefer the JCrew styling of "old". I find myself just this week looking through my old catalogs from 2005--2007 and enjoying the styling.

    While I continue to request a catalog and do not receive them I guess I cannot be too bummed...I don't know if I would look back on them the same way...

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  2. I love the way some of the models look in the catalog but they need to start realizing that when *real* people try to wear that stuff, it just looks rediculous. I'd love to be able to wear the baggy pant thing,but I'm not stick skinny (I'm not even overweight!) and it just doesn't look as cute. What the heck JCrew? I am striving to beeeeeeeeee what I see in the catalogs hahhaahahha, That's why I buy your clothes! Give me something I can work with pls! k,thx, bye :(

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  4. Great post, Alexis! I was thumbing through the August, September, October, and now November catalogs last night and realized that there were no outfits that I wanted to recreate head-to-toe. If I wore that many layers, I would look like the Michelin man - it is just NOT flattering! What woman wants to look bulky? Ditto to the excessive amounts of jewelry - three chunky bracelets, plus a necklace wound a couple times to look like a bracelet, PLUS a Timex - all on the same wrist? It's like my dad always said, "Don't drink and dress!" ;)

    Past fall looks have just looked more classy to me. I think that all the layering also detracts from the look of the individual pieces, which may not be all that great on their own. If that's the case, maybe it's time to take a closer look at the design of the items! Food for thought.

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  5. I don't mind some of the styling, BUT they are manipulating a lot of the clothes, making it hard to see how something actually fits.

    I do prefer the older styling. JC has always been inventive with the way they pair patterns, fabric and color, which I appreciate. But, they used to not try so hard. The jewelry and ruffles are what bother me the most.

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  6. Good morning ladies!

    Genny: You are so right about the styling of 2005-2007. Just fantastic pieces arranged into lovely outfits. :)

    Pixelant: Your point is a great one! The images in the current catalog still look great, but most of us just can't pull it off. (Incidentally, I love your black and white photo /screen image- it's gorgeous!)

    Silver Lining: Exactly! No one woman wants to look bulky! And I couldn't agree more that sometimes the layering is too distracting. :)

    Tastymoog: That is a good point about manipulating clothes. I hate it when any retailer starts pinning or taking angle shots that don't show the items' true proportions. :)

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  7. oh, and knee highs can be cool, (paris catalog, hello?! orange argyle + pink mary janes = LOVE) but NOT when they are scrunched all the way down with booties. Ugh! :P

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  8. I totally agree. I looked at a catalog just a year ago and it was so different. When you style beautifully from head to toe, it makes us as consumers want to buy the entire outfit. In the newer catalogs, I will see a shirt peeking out from 5 layers of clothing. It "may" be something that I am interested in, but am I really going to do the research to unearth what that shirt might be.
    If you take a beautiful pair of pants and style them two sizes to big on a model with one leg rolled up, one down, cinched with a belt, bright socks and high heels, then I will never see the beauty of the pants.
    I can totally appreciate clothes as art, but I don't think it actually will sell the product.

    As a post script, J. Crew should be thankful for all the JCA blogs. There are many items I would have NEVER considered based on the J. Crew styling. I have bought more based on seeing outfits by FFM, Heidi, Dina, Gigi, and countless other blogs and polyvore sets by so many wonderful JCAs.

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  9. Alexis, I agree 100% with your thoughts. I think this is J.Crew's 10000 ft view of the vagabond trend currently running rampant. The main model of this month's catalog is the one who said she drew inspiration from homeless people after all. You stay classy, J.Crew!

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  10. OT: I received a defective swimsuit. Any advice on which of the many? JCrew phone numbers to call. I am a card holder. I am just dreading the hit and miss CS reps one can get....almost to the point I may just keep the suit. Really sad, I know...

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  11. I think aside from the styling, the problem is that these clothes are not very flattering when they're worn alone, so they look even worse worn with multiple layers and items. I completely disagree with their suggestion of buying a size or two larger just to get the baggy pant look--I don't think any of us is going to try that hard to achieve that look!

    I agree with you Alexis, back in the day they had more realistic pieces and outfits.

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  12. tres tippy,

    I think you have hit on a very valid point. Some of JCrew current offerings are not flattering worn alone! That is maybe why I am buying less. Their clothes used to be so flattering.

    I know lots of people on here are fall/winter clothes fans but I am the opposite and prefer summer clothes...and not all the layers.

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  13. the only pic about that I find TRULY horendous is that middle pic. What the?! I agree though on the overstyling. I used to hold on to my J.Crew catalogs using them for styling/outfit inspiration. Now I'm always at a loss as how to wear things because they are layered with fifty different things that I would NEVER put together..

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  14. I don't know what they did with some of these photos in the latest catalog. They make me want to take a face rag and a bar of soap and scrub the dirty foundation off the models face.

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  15. I fell in love with J. Crew for their updated classic, preppy clothes. I used to drool over the catalogue wanting to dress like the models. Lately, I've been laughing out loud, questioning who would ever put those pieces together? In my opinion, they are mixing too many patterned items, using too many necklaces, and trying desperately to convince us that we can wear shorts year-round, and I don't know what to say about the socks. Are these looks really supposed to inspire me?

    I always liked how J. Crew would subtly embellish their clothes, especially their tops, to make them more interesting. Now, it looks as if the designers are having a contest to see who can put more ruffles, sequins or flowers on each item.

    That's just my opinion. I miss the old J. Crew.

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  16. I agree 100%, Miss Alexa. One of the reasons I used to buy so much from J Crew is because of the styling- I would buy entire outfits at a time that way, just to recreate (read: COMPLETELY DUPLICATE) a look. It wasn't very creative on my part, but oh so easy and inticing as a consumer.

    I look at the hot messes J Crew is pumping out right now and my eyes cross. And then I shriek and throw the catalog away so fast it'd make your head spin.

    Sorry, J Crew. I'm just not havin' it. :(

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  17. When I received the new catalogue yesterday, I was horrified due to the very issues you point out in this post. Less IS more, almost always, and J.Crew was a pioneer of harnessing the LiM concept and producing tailored, fresh, lovely outfits. I don't what has happened. It's like their new motto is "More of, well, everything!" And the horrid scrunchy socks/tights with heels trend need to end aussitĂ´t que possible!

    I also agree with pixelant - the models not only looked far too thin, but like aliens. There is wayyy too much airbrushing going on somewhere down the catalogue production line.

    I miss the days of beautiful fall photo shoots in the UK countyside with tartan picnic blankets (like the olden days of 2008).

    Most depressing sign of my disillusionment with J.Crew? I walked into Banana Republic yesterday and immediately thought their displays were far superior - tasteful, elegant, cozy, and lovely. Just like the old J.Crew.

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  18. I totally agree with JCK, it really does seem like they're holding a contest to see who can come up with the most fantastical piece, which doesn't seem to be translating well to what they're actually selling, by the way! Garments that can't even be washed for fear the beads/stones/rough-edged chiffon will fall off or disintegrate -- what exactly are we supposed to do with that anyway? Besides the fact that such trendy pieces, while fun enough, aren't going to stand the test of time (well heck, they can't even stand to be washed, so I guess that doesn't matter). I always liked J.Crew's classic styling too - it meant whatever I got now I could hold onto for a long time and it would still look classic. Now you're lucky to find one or two classic pieces in each rollout (and that's if you're lucky). Everything else is trend, trend, trend. And the jewelry -- I know they're pushing that as their new angle (and have been for months), but I'm personally not a fan. So much of it looks cheap and costumey -- if I was going to spend that much on something I'd just save up and get a necklace that will last (and not look ridiculous six months from now). But that's just me. More ruffles, more embellished tees, more trends. Yuck.

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  19. I have to agree. I keep old J Crew catalogs mainly to help me look for things on Ebay but I generally found it easy to adapt an idea to my taste. I can't say that happens now. I laughed out loud with the style tip for the baggy pants. There is the old saying that if you were old enough to remember it the first time around around (I was and hated it then) you are probably too old to wear it now. Can anyone remember the old SNL sketches about the Gap pants "Just cinch it!" LOL

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  20. Alexis, the tip on baggy pants cracked me up as well. A size or 2 bigger? Cinched with a belt? Bitch, please. When I read the tip in the catalogue, visions of Tim Gunn and Stacy London scoffing and screaming danced in my head.

    I feel like they were going for a seventies vibe in the latest catalogue. Am I alone in that? The lighting made it seem vintage or something.

    I love me many many jewels, but wearing piles and piles of statement pieces is just wrong to me.

    I'm so impressed that so many of you save J. Crew catalogues. Now that's devotion.

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  21. Got my November catalogue yesterday, turned the cover, and my first thought-- model wearing a dark Lady Day coat over a white pullover, light gray chinos, layers of necklaces, flesh-colored "fishnet anklets", peep-toe pom-pom heels-- was that she had escaped from a mental institution by throwing on a coat with my grandmother's therapeutic compression socks.

    She looks very happy, though.

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  22. Great post! I do see the argument about seeing the layering as inspiration or as a way to see more clothes pictured in the catalog than might otherwise be possible. However, the key is balance. In this last catalog, it was ALL over-the-top layer-upon-layer style with no clean and classic styling to balance it out. The overall effect was "trying to hard" rather than "OMG I HAVE to wear what she's wearing!"

    I'm all for unexpected pairings; I still enjoy seeing JCrew put together color combinations that would never occur to me. But I also need some straight-up pretty, simple, and lovely outfits to keep things a bit more real.

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  23. I read an interesting article the other day with a retailing expert. He said,"When companies are struggling, they go baroque."

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  24. So many great comments being made here!!! Love reading it all.

    ...and OMG! You ladies are cracking me up with your comments too. You are all too much!!! :) Audrey, love the part about the escaped patient looking "very happy, though". Susan, your "bitch, please!" made me laugh out loud that I almost choked on my orange juice!!! LOVES IT! :)

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  25. I totally agree with everyone's comments- I mean, it may look ok for a catalog shoot but would you seriously wear these wacky looks outside your home? My friends would think I've gone crazy! :)

    I really love their catalogs from 2005-2007! I've kept them too!

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  26. roxy touches on an interesting point-- the casting of people like erin wasson and jessica stam in the last two catalogues.
    by including wasson and stam, jcrew is trying to reach out to a new type of customer--ie, the type of people that would recognize said models. we're used to seeing them in vogue, not retail catalogues. and so the styling has perhaps become more vogue-ish--ie, more conceptual (not to put jcrew on the same level of dries van noten or anything, but i hope you get what i'm saying). it's beautiful and engaging. but i'm not sure if it actually moves product.

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  27. Agree with all the other comments! I'd also like to add a couple of things....

    I was in Ann Taylor this week and they have new arrivals. Yes, they're doing layers and ruffles too - but the mannequins were so elegant and classic. I'm sad that JCrew has forgone classic styles and muddied up their styling with so much stuff.
    Did anyone notice towards the front of the new catalog the black cropped pants? Not only are they cropped, but they have cuffs AND are pleated. Who wears pleated pants anymore?

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  28. Susan,
    Devotion or madness??? I have catalogs from 1998--2007 and then I have just a few from 2008+ b/c I cannot seem to get JCrew to send them anymore!

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  29. I have not been able to stomach the recent trends and styling that JCrew has thrown together in the catalogs. How disappointing! Why only put clothes, (especially pants) out there that will work on teeny tiny women and no one else? What skinny matchstick ankle pants look good on a 5'6 130lb female? Answer? None. They just don't. Can we say disproportionate?

    I love the old JCrew where 'less is more' was the way to be. JCrew stylists, reign yourselves in! Take it down a notch! We know you have many beautiful items, but there is no need to showcase every single one of them at the same time on one model.

    Also, I've been on a JCrew hiatus of sorts due to the fact that at some point, somewhere, someone determined that socks with heels was ok. It's just not. Cute hose? Fine. Knee socks scrunched up around your ankles? Not fine.

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  30. It looks to me as if the stylist was hitting the sauce while shooting this catalog. I can just picture her stumbling around, pulling random pieces of clothing off the rack and calling the outfit a masterpiece! VoilĂ , what you get is a big hot mess! Ick

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  31. also, maybe i'm drinking the crewlade, but i like socks with heels! i did it this weekend, in fact. jcrew is far from the only one pushing this look. i understand that some people primarily dress for workplaces or more conservative environments, but i figure that i'm only 20 once.

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  32. Thank you all for these awesome comments this morning - laughter is great for your health. Thanks, J. Crew, for that...

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  33. Great blog and great post. I agree with everyone's (some very funny) thoughts. The styling is over the top. Perhaps it was a failed attempt using "drama" the way the couture shows do on the runway, and then reinterpret the dramatic styling in a more "wearable" way for their ready to wear collections. Of course, J.Crew is not couture, and we all like to see a few "real life" looks in the catalog. I really thought J.Crew's Paris catalog that so many JCA's mention achieved that balance. Again, I appreciate your effort with this great J Crew blog. Thanks

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  34. I miss the old styling for two reasons:
    First, I don't like the super-skinny model-y girls we're seeing right now. They are vapid blank slates, complete with open-mouthed looks of imbecility. The old catalogs with the smiling mixed groups of men and women--and mixed ages--were much more engaging: they told a story that drew me into the clothes. (And thumbs down on the skanky lad-mag Collection spread--but at least some of those girls are smiling.) As Meredith points out, JC seems to be going for a Vogue-editorial look rather than a look that, gee, shows off clothes accurately and makes people want to buy them.

    That leads to my second point--with all those bag-lady layers, you can't tell what the clothes look like. Between hiding the clothes under multiple layers and deceptively pinning and styling them, you never know what you're going to get when your order shows up. How am I supposed to know whether that suiting dress is actually office-appropriate when the dress is pinned back to fit the model's bony clavicles and the neckline is hidden under her hair and three necklaces?

    Last thing: nude fishnet anklets? Neon socklets are one thing but those just look like suntan nylon knee-highs gone bad.

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  35. I so agree with this post. I almost started laughing when I received the recent catalog. Any of the outfits would easily land you on "What Not to Wear." The styling was ridiculous and actually detracted from the clothing. One page featured a pretty iris colored cashmere pencil skirt, but pairing it with neon ankle socks (like I had in elementary school) destroyed the whole outfit. And some of the outfits had so many layers that I couldn't really see what any one item looked like. The only thing I liked in the whole catalog was the herringbone tights, but I bet I can find something similar at Target.

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  36. Amen, Sister! Or rather, Sisters, as I agree with so much already said here. Miss Havisham really needs to stop styling these looks. It's sad when I get more actual inspiration from the crewcuts styling that adult styling - but even that is starting to get gunked up, too.

    On a 1-2 sizes bigger note - A Bigger Closet had a fantastic post yesterday about sizing up in some of the JC skirts so they sit on the hip and aren't obscenely sshort - and it looked fantastic on her. Definitely depends on the skirt, you need the right cut and the right material, but it's a tip to consider. So much more helpful than that paperbag waist idiocy.

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  37. JCrew are you listening??????

    Of course I completely agree with everyone else here! JCrew's new styling looks whack - I know they are trying to move away from their preppy basics look and be more high-end/edgy but PLEASE!

    Like most of the commenters here, I also have old JCrew catalogs that I saved for inspiration..back when the oufits were to-die-for and I would walk into the store with a catalog page to re-create the oufit head to toe. Now, I laugh at the catalog styling - it truly looks ridiculous..

    I say we start a petition to send to Mickey..bring back the old JCrew styling!!
    JCrew is usually so great with customer complaints like this..i think they would listen!

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  38. I too have kept the older catalogues. I miss those outfits! Like everyone else, I have noticed the changes - super skinny models, over-stylized outfits that don't look like anything anyone could actually wear and that appear over-thought. I don't like to look as though I'm trying too hard. I'm a fan of some embellishment but not everything looks sweet and ladylike on my frame, sadly. Also I live an urban life so my look needs to last and navigate being out all day. Love the look of jeans with heels but I pound too much pavement. I would've loved to have seen a real shoe option besides the ballet flats.

    I did just buy the dream varsity stripe cardigan and I love it. The stores were pushing the dream gallagher but I preferred the quality of the varsity, especially for the price point. It's got a bit more heft than the gallagher but can still work under a coat, it feels cozy and it has a nice boyfriend drape. I paired it with a simple white tee and rolled jeans and it looked effortlessly stylish.

    Anyway, I understand the need for over the top inspiration. I feel this way about Anthropologie too. It's pretty but I can't wear it nor would I go out looking like that. I need things I can wear and look great in.

    Should we collectively let J. Crew know?

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  39. Anyone know how to set up an online petition? to send to Mickey that we want less sauce styling, over the top pricing, and quality products like the old days of crew!

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  40. When the fall catalog came out I was searching all over for someone to say, 'hey, wait a minute. this styling is way out there', but no one did. I thought it was just me and I'm finding it interesting that new thoughts are coming out on this.
    I was very disappointed with their fall catalog and could not relate to much of what they were showing. Yes, items on their own look great, but I've always found inspiration via their styling and I'm sad to see what they're doing these days.
    I appreciate everyone's honesty here. Thank you!

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  41. On the other hand, the styling in the men's portion of the catalog isn't kooky, and they're featuring interesting human beings of a variety of age and appearance. Imagine that! What about a real woman catalog?

    Could you see the men in layered wacky jewelry? Ha! or with neon socks and cropped pants? Or wearing two sweaters and two jackets?

    They had a few of their staff modeling trends a while back . . . nice.

    The absolute worst is the Collection spread, with the no-pants-for-the-holidays look.

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  42. I totally agree. Some of those outfits are really nuts.

    I can't imagine pairing all of those items together. On a runway, sure.. but in real life? WHAT?

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  43. I totally agree. When I got my latest catalog in the mail, I actually barely looked at it. The styling has gotten out of hand. The socks are horrid! What woman in her right mind would wear an outfit like that? As someone who works full-time, I love many of J.Crew's clothing, but lately I haven't been impressed...

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  44. OK - I'll be the only one here to disagree and say that I love the new styling and I loved the old styling. J.Crew may be pushing the envelope, but if you look at other fashion magazines right now, you'll also see socks with heels and shorts with tights. So, J.Crew is not as out there as you think. J.Crew is trying to be more editorial and I applaud them for it. Take what you like from their styling as inspiration and what you don't like, leave. Just as you do with fashions you see on the runway.

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  45. Thanks for making this into a post. :)

    Re: wearability of even individual pieces (never mind crazy styled outfits)--they should make more normal-length skirts so we don't have to size up to make them not obscenely short. A few miniskirts for the teenagers and casual looks ok, but otherwise minis are not very versatile. Great thing about knee-length skirts is that they look great both for work and for going out. Same thing for heels--uber high heels are pretty for sitting in, but not practical for walking around the city or wearing to work all day. I agree that it would be great to see more midheels rather than just the flats (which are uncomfortable anyway according to many on here).

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  46. Meredith: thanks for endorsing the socks w/heels look. This can be done (maybe not the neon& tan leather shoes pairing however) and has been done informally on the East coast for a long time. When i was in colllege, it was a huge look - the mini black socks with the black oxfords look. Ok, yeah, that was college.

    In general, though, however much everyone wants to dump on the excessive styling of late, I wonder how much Mickey & co. are sweating the issue. Today, the Associated Press reported that J.Crew had issued higher than expected profit forecast for the next quarter. So while we all may be annoyed to the hilt by the mustard colored Indian suede moccasins paired with the silk dresses, the fact is that sales are up.

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  47. Alexis, my laptop isn't set up to directly email you from the blogger link, so I'm sending the community this blurb from the NYTimes from a few weeks ago. The title is "J. Crew Gets Artsier"

    here's the link: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/25/j-crew-gets-artsier/?scp=1&sq=j.crew&st=cse

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  48. Michelle Obama has LOTS to do with JCrew's current profits. The less she wears....well, we shall see in time. I am guessing she may leave JCrew behind in time and move on to top designers/brands. (I know I would if I were her!)

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  49. Jennifer -
    I also wear heels with socks and think it can be cute sometimes. The only problem I have with their whole new editorial directions is that editorials, while not wearable, are still extremely aesthetically pleasing and beautiful. Also, magazine editorials feature clothes that are usually designer and very high quality. This is a bit different from jcrew..I suppose their editorial looks can be appealing to some, but really to most of their true fans (judging by the comments on this blog) I think the looks are just kind of..ugly. I am all for the extreme/exxagerated looks they feature in real editorials in elle, vogue, HB, etc..but JCrew? They seem to just be alienating their main customer base by doing this, instead of attracting edgier, trendier customers which is obviously what they want to do.

    What is interesting to note as well is that since this new direction I have seen alot more of their clothes featured in actual editorials in magazines..but in this case Jcrew is the "low" in the "high-low" mix, so I think it usually works.

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  50. Everyone: Really enjoying the comments. Love hearing everyone's take! :)

    Amy: I agree with your point that editorials in magazines are usually not wearable. Whereas I would like to see the styles at J.Crew to be more wearable. :)

    mediocrudo: I appreciate you sharing the link! :) You may be interested the September 26 "J.Crew's Mens Catalog Gets Press Of Its Own " post, where that article is mentioned.

    As for J.Crew's recent stock success, in my {unprofessional}opinion, there are {as with anything} many factors behind it. Much like Genny mentioned, First Lady Michelle Obama's frequent use of J.Crew in her wardrobe helps a bit. They have also done a lot of proactive steps to reduce costs. (This is where a lot of their competitors have lagged behind.) The fact that J.Crew has reduced their inventory to be more in-line with customer demand is one. The move to reduce the amount of catalogs they mail customers is another. Not to mention, J.Crew has retrained customer (myself included) to purchase their "must-have" items at full-price instead of waiting for it on sale. :)

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  51. Alexis, the examples you chose for your post are just perfect!

    I used to be very timid with color, but the old J.Crew catalogs were so inspirational for me! If I could imagine a color combo working in the pages of a J.Crew catalog, I would give it a try. The same could be said for combining different textures. It helped me break out of a fashion rut.

    These days, I would *never* find their styling inspirational. Ugh. It is really disappointing to me. Perhaps it is because their trying to be avant garde or something, but it just doesn't work. :(

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  52. Looks are really getting muddy. I love the layered look but JC has truly gone over-the-top at this point.

    I do get that it's a choice and we don't HAVE to wear 5 necklaces at once or 5 layers of clothing. I now even wear a couple or several necklaces depending on size and the look I am after. I have learned some fun things from JC's transition into high-style but I also have to take it with a grain of salt. That said..they will lose some customers to this new fad. There are people that cannot "see the forest for the trees" and will abandon them for greener, cleaner pastures such as..the new AT. Others will toss the catalog aside and continue to pop into JC when they are at the mall.

    It's important to keep in mind that not everyone shops the catalog and devours it the way the typical JCA does. People still want to go to the store, see and feel the clothing and are not bombarded with these types of images while shopping their retail store.

    And I totally agree that it's hard to tell what some of the clothes look like because they are covered with so many other things. It's like..wait, can I getta peek under that coat, over that sweater and under that shirt so that I can see what that cute ruffly neck poking out is? Oh! I think it's a t-shirt and I like the color but wait..WTF is it? Oh no-it's just a ribbon tied at her neck from one of the 50 necklaces she's wearing!!

    Oh and if you like the ankle hose..go to grandma's house, scrounge through her unmentionables, grab her knee-high stockings, cut them midway between the band and the ankle and watch 'em roll! This look is ABSOLUTELY OTT and LOST on me. I do-not-get-it-at-ALL.

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  53. I'm late to this convo, but I totally agree with most and most particularly on these points:
    1. Buying whole looks from the catalog. I did it regularly (I don't have trouble picking out things for myself, I do have trouble putting it all together, so easy to just buy a whole look, like the Piazza jacket look Alexis mentioned. I bought that exactly (but in yellow) and wear it all the time. My eden jacket from this year is still hanging around unworn because I don't know what to put with it!)
    2. I can't freaking see the item when there are five things layered and the model is contorted!

    That email we got about using one of their stylists? HA, I laughed. According to y'all, we would end up looking like drunk (on the sauce) homeless mental patients.

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  54. What's up with the model's poorly applied lipstick, especially on the inside front cover close up? I like the bright color, just not the hit or miss application. I noticed they were plugging the specific Nars lip color on the website, but then took it down.

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  55. I loved your post and your blog! So fashionable and fun! I so agree with you... about the new and questionable style choices... though I still love JCrew's basic sweater looks, ruffles, pearls, etc! Thank you for all the great JCrew Updates and coupon codes! I used one today and saved $18 on shipping! Thank You! Thank You! Coupon codes are great... and I'll be visiting your site alot during my Christmas Shopping! God bless you!

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  56. OT a bit: Just read an article about how much Michelle O has helped JCrew's sales. The article made it seem like she was pretty much the sole reason to their sales increase along with the girls a bit.

    The one thing also forgotten is how much JCrew cut benefits and jobs too as of late....to save$$$

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  57. Thanks Alexis for the wonderful and funny post. Could not agree with you more. I'll be joining the "40's club" in a little over a year from now, so what I am looking for in JCrew is a classic-with-a-twist(not boring) high quality item. Can't say I am seeing a lot of those lately. I do buy a lot of Crewcuts items and my daughter always gets compliments. So for now I am sticking to the good old fashioned Jcrew adult staples (shots, khakis, suits, *some* cashmere - higher gauge, the 12-gauge one pills horribly - and swimwear). Hope JCrew brings back some of their styles from the early 2000 and tones down the ruffles a bit. And, as for the socks with high heels, you would never catch me wearing those!!!!

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  58. I agree with you Alexis, I think J.crew's older catalogs used to be so beautiful and classic, but I think they are being too artsy these days. Seriously. And what's up with their collection page on the website???!

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  59. Hi all,

    AB-SO-LU-TE-LY aggree with all my fab JCAs!!! Thanks for the post Alexis!

    Several thoughts..

    Even the B&M SAs are having a hard time. I mentioned to my PA that the catalogue was a little off-putting (I think my exact wording was "I do not need to see the model's 'Oh face' when looking at clothes.") & confusing. He tried to make the best of it by pointing out that it was to showcase the new styles. I reminded him of a rather tragic red-phone order we placed a while ago. It was for the Tiny Buds shirt from the earlier in the season. Alexis reviewed it a few weeks later. At the time, it was styled under a sweater & tonnes of accessories. So much so that the CS in the phone had a hard time finding it! My wonderful PA also admitted that the poor model had a bad case of "Man Hands" in some of the shots. Looking around the store, I saw many SAs rockin' the new styles -- reasonably. One of my fav SAs had on a Libretto necklace, ruffled blouse, light cardigan, jeans & sneakers. Looked great... Can she pose for the next catalogue, please?

    Second, I absolutely agree that it's hard to choose items based on the catalogue. When you're a petite like me, you have to account for the model's height on a lot of items (still wish the tweed skirts came in shorter sizing). Also having to factor in pinning, photoshop & crazy layers is just frustrating.

    Lastly, I also miss the 2005 - 2007 realism. I used to save my catalogues for visits with my nieces. We used to pour over the pages & talk about the individual pieces as well as the complete look. My older niece (12) used to visualize herself wearing an array of Jcrew wardrobes. My younger niece (7) always looked for the "girl who looks like me" in the crewcuts. I don't think either of them will find anyone they can relate with in the last few issues. In fact, Nov is a little too "Boogie Nights" for sharing.

    Speaking of people I could relate too... Does anyone else miss Ms Hutton? I'd be v. happy to see her return (maybe Macy's will loan her). I'd settle for a shot of her cuddling a bag if it means we would get a realistic model back.

    Thanks for the great post!

    Heather:D

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  60. Hello ladies, I'm wondering if any of you know what magazine recently published contains a 20% OFF J Crew Coupon. I know someone who has such a coupon but she cannot remember what magazine she found it in. Any idea?

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  61. Very clever post, Alexis! Love all your comments on the outfits and such!! I just thought the midwest was way behind on trends and that's why I didn't 'get' the looks .... glad it's not just me!

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  62. I grimaced through the entire catalog when I got it a few days back, the styling is often ugly. Not sure what they're thinking. But it takes a lot of mental effort to think, boy, I really like that skirt, if only she wasn't wearing it with neon pink socks and granny heels. It makes me not want to buy anything.

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  63. Yeah, I don't even look at the catalogs anymore. What's the point?

    Honestly, I get my styling ideas now from many of those who post on this blog, like Chloe, Summerilla, GigiofCa, DinaGideon, etc... you guys are much more inspiring than disgustingly skinny models wearing ankle socks! So, thanks!

    I agree with tastymoog that knee socks can be cool. I love knee socks! Pulled up to my knees. Not neon, or fishnets.

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  64. OT has anyone ever had success with the "we will find it" service? I just tried it for the third time yesterday and got the dreaded email yet again...

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  65. Oh yes, bring back Lauren Hutton!

    The current models look as if they have just made "the walk of shame".

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  66. Some of the styling is over the top, definitely. However, the pictures in the post are definitely not the biggest offenders from the latest catalog - in general they are pretty realistic actually. The styling on pages 12-13 with the 2 sweaters is much worse (she is definitely wearing 2 despite what pops up when you click on the image online) or the many pictures of the models with tons of necklaces and bracelets. They should follow Coco Chanel's advice... "before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory. [sic]"

    If they need to get rid of anything from that catalog its the model they have been using the past few months. I liked her back in September on the cover but now she just looks so bored and disconnected.

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  68. Alexis,

    I don't think that JCrew is targeting their average consumer with these styling tips.

    Maybe they are trying to appear more "high end" with quirky color combinations? LOL, "JCrew shoots for a Vogue editorial shoot"?

    I mean, they have Michelle Obama as they regular customer (I mean "client"),they can relax now ;)

    Luckily, we still have polyvore as our styling inspiration, right? :)

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  69. Girls, bad news. Spring-summer collection 2010 is released by Jcrew. All things we love are there - pastels, neon, sequins. They look more designer than ever, but I just do not recognize my beloved brand. (cries) http://fashionista.com/2009/10/jcrew_goes_girly_for_spring.php
    And luckily for us they might have sequinned shorts - nice alternative for taffeta ones.

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  70. @PrettyBallerina You're right there are few bright spots in those photos (i.e., having to hunt for pieces one would want just like the last few seasons). Although I have to say they don't look "designer" to me at all; they look like they dressed from somebody's yard sale. Also: "high waisted bloomers" and rompers?

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  71. PrettyBallerina - thanks for the link. If that's what the spring line looks like, my wallet will stay closed and fat : )

    IMO it looks like someone found some college freshmen wannabes and vomited JCrew costume jewelry and 2 extra layers of madewell all over them!

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  72. ^LOL!
    Okay..I feel like someone may have slipped something into my drink before I took a look at this latest Spring showcase. Honestly, that is be-yond FAD, unwearable and Bat Sh*t Crazy! Like...WOW! They have truly LOST their minds. Mrs. O ain't gonna wear any of that and I am not sure who is!

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  73. OMG-make sure you read the comments on that article, too! It contradicts all that w are saying including a GUY'S perspective where he wishes Jenna would take over menswear, too! Are those all JC employees?

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  74. I am definitely not a fan of the looks in the catalog at all. The styling reminds me of little girls playing dress up and wearing as much as they possibly can at one time.

    I remember when I used to look through the catalogs and want almost every single item. Now I'm lucky to see 2 or 3 pieces that I'm even interested in.

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  75. Case in point: look on the site at the main photo for the Eden jacket - in my opinion, it just looks so dumpy! Like she couldn't even button up that jacket if she wanted to, over all those layers. If that look can make a stick-thin model look that way, I certainly won't be trying it!

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  76. Michelle Obama is the reason the brand's profile was raised - for classic and streamlined looks - and the result is that they're is trying to become Urban Outfitters?

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  77. I agree with the above comments, especially about not being able to see the item because of the layers of jewellery and clothes, maybe they have to manipulate the clothing because they are poor quality. I have never seen so many loose threads on new clothing as I have this past year from J Crew.

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  78. I have nothing clever to say - I agree with the JCA consensus opinion that the styling of late is insane. I don't understand it from a business perspective. Editorial mags are just that but JCrew is in the business of directly selling whats pictured and it's not working...

    Could any of you with old catalogs and a scanner indulge in a real labor of love and upload pre-2007s? I would love to see those again and I think there are others who would too! :). I love the catalogs for styling advice and I've gone back through 08 and 07 numerous times.

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  79. EC, if by your mention of "disgustingly skinny" models you are somehow implying that thinness is disgusting, then shame on you! There are naturally skinny people in the world - whether the JCrew models are naturally skinny or not. If I was to mention something about "disgustingly fat" people, I think it would be considered insulting.

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  80. little OT-need some help with the Molly peep-toes-the 7.5 is a little small, the 8 a little big...will these stretch????

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  81. Mommydearest: I love your idea about scanning-uploading catalogs! Unfortunately, I haven't seen any of them earlier than 2008:(

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  82. Slightly OT but have any of you visited the fantastic youlookfab blog? She did a post on new-vs.-old J Crew and there were tons of comments. What made it fascinating was the fact that its a stylist's blog NOT devoted to JC, and the outsiders' perspective on where JC fits in their retail worlds was really interesting. Gave me a more balanced view of this brand that I personally am obsessed with from others who view it very differently. Didn't change my mind; I'll grouse but it is still my favorite.

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  83. Styling aside it would be nice to see more people like Lauren Hutton and other age groups — we are not all 18 years old and stick-thin. How about some diversity that reflects the melting pot that is America? Asians, Latin, Indian, and Native Americans could be featured once in a while. Oh and don't get me started, how about on real women who have curves? Especially in this ECONOMY and this 21st Century.

    HELLO?!! ARE YOU LISTENING JC?

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  84. Mommydearest I totally support you! It would be so great if one of JCA could scan those catalogues! I'm kind of neophyte and I only have seen Paris catalogue so far. It would be so inspiring to see other Jcrew classic catalogues.

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  85. I have all of 2007 and I don't mind scanning them, but I have no idea what to do then! (I am not-so-much computer savvy) Alexis, is there a place for this on the JCA blog? Please don't be offended if that is totally not what you're about - like I said, I am so not computer savvy.

    If anyone can advise on what to do with the images, I'm happy to do 07. Anyone with 06-earlier?

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  86. mommydearest: That is an *incredibly* generous offer to scan them in!!! If you do scan those catalog, I will definitely give them their very own links on the index page. :)

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  87. Well, I don't want anyone to get too excited just yet! :) It will probably take me awhile to scan them all in, and then once I have the images on my computer I have NO IDEA how and where to upload them. So if anyone with more blogging/internet experience can help, that would be most appreciated....

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  88. Though not at all realistic, I am still having fun looking through the catalog. Yes, I suppose I'm less inspired to buy, though.

    Look at page 64 of the November catalog for a good laugh! The linen-silk city pant is bad enough on its own, but they took it over the top with a brown-and-black striped sweater under a ruffly cami. Yuck!

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  89. EC: Having just returned from vacation, I want to thank you for your kind words about how I and Summerilla and Gigiofca and Chloe help you style your outfits...AWESOME!!! :) That comment is so sweet and I always am humbled when I find out that I have (maybe) helped someone, even the tiniest bit!

    gc11530: EC mentions that Summerilla and Chloe helped her with styling...and both of those ladies are very thin...naturally!!! I think EC may have meant that the models in the J. Crew catalogs look like they started off naturally thin, but then through excessive dieting and/or exercising are way TOO thin for their height/body shape. I can't speak for EC directly, however there are some models in the editorial world that very much concern the mother in me...so thin and frail and not healthy-looking at all...and I have a lot of very thin, yet healthy friends, and I definitely see a difference between the two...

    As far as the styling lately...it is fun to look at, but I know there is no way in h. e. double hockey-sticks I am going to be trying it (and I am the same women who willingly wears all the very bright, very loudly printed pieces that J. Crew offers). I think I have hit a wall with J. Crew in this catalog, I cannot find one look I want to emulate, and only two pieces (in the entire catalog) that I even want to think about buying. Oh, well...

    BTW, Alexis, I have BEEN loving these top three, your opinion on, etc. posts...what fun!

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  90. MommyDearest: It's a lot of work scanning those images! I remember taking photos of an entire catalog took me an hour or two. ;) If you do decide to scan them, there are lots of free photo hosting sites like Flickr and PhotoBucket that lets you upload those images for free. They even provide slideshows of images. If you need more help, feel free to email me (jcrewaficionada at yahoo dot com) anytime. :)

    DinaGideon: Aw! Thanks, I really enjoyed those posts too- especially the comments that are just fabulous!!! :)

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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.

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