An Open Letter to J.Crew (@JCrew_Insider): What Has Become of Your Brand?

Dear J.Crew,

You seem to be having an identity crisis.  I can sense deep turmoil about who you are and what your brand is. 

As a long time J.Crew loyalist who is extremely close to putting you out to pasture – as I did the Gap many years ago – I would like to help you remember who you are.

You are a brand that can be counted on for classic, breezy, beautiful pieces…pieces that deliver classic lines with an occasional sexy flair…pieces that ultimately communicate American chic. 

Need help conjuring your brand??  Imagine the Kennedy’s vacationing in Hyannis Port, think of scenes from The Talented Mr Ripley – yes, a psychopath may have been slowly unraveling their lives but they were impeccably dressed.

In case you have lost yourself in the NYC hype (trust that I love NYC, I was a resident for some time).  In case you have listened too long to the “in crowd” telling you that you have to be funkier and crazier and more out there – be yourself. 

This is who you are – This is why stylish women across the country have counted on you for decades.   

THIS IS WHO YOU ARE NOT – Yet these sloppily thrown together styles make up the large majority of the March 2011 catalogue.  AND this lazy and insulting styling has been going on for quite some time.  I can no longer stand by with the hopes that things will get better. 

I have to let you know how unacceptable these looks are.

What’s wrong with these looks you ask?

Really???  Baggy, unflattering and ill-fitted shorts, held up with an un-impressive belt, topped off with a dull gray sweater with a doily overlay – and the doily sweater costs $198.  How is this outfit classic?  Where’s the structure and tailored look that was a J.Crew trademark?

Am I on punked???  What woman with an ounce of fashion sense is going to pair these blue shorts covered in “iridescent paillettes” with an olive military jacket…and the espadrilles just add insult to injury.  Can these shorts be done right – absolutely…with the right top, a clutch and an appropriate shoe one might possibly “win”…but this is a lose-lose scenario.

If ANYONE at J.Crew reads this – please note that this picture is proof positive that you are WAYYYYY off brand.  Someone is taking themselves a bit too seriously here AND shame on the people in the creative meeting that didn’t shoot this look down.  Really???  A HORRIBLE looking paisley shirt, topped with an army green sequin cami, finished off with an out of place tweed jacket and paired with an extremely dingy looking pair of shorts – “tap-tap, is this thing on?”

Someone at J.Crew has obviously taken to rolling up orange socks and smoking them like hashish.  Really???  Sandals with Socks??? and what statement is the dull and un-inspiring outfit making.  This model has on baggy jean shorts and a CROCHET sweater.  Just stop it.

#FAIL.  These “wool portia pants” are so un-flattering it hurts.  Since when would a loyal J.Crew shopper want a pair of pants that purposely fit her baggy in the waist? – or as you say “Relaxed through hip and thigh.”  And to have the audacity to pair these ill-fitting pants with an ill-fitting gray sweater – THIS DOES NOT MAKE SENSE.  It is insulting.

This isn’t a total miss – the sequined sweater paired with the jean shirt underneath are on message with the J.Crew that I remember but again with these ridiculous shorts.  Someone needs to answer for these shorts.  They are anti-style.  The woman that adopts these shorts into her wardrobe DOES NOT SHOP AT J.CREW.

AND this outfit.  I won’t even touch the shoe and book bag combination…but, on what planet does the J.Crew woman pair a hoodie – that so clearly mimics an athletic hoodie – with a blazer???  I don’t know what’s worse the clearly inappropriate pairing of the athletic hoodie and blazer or the lifeless “toffee” colored skirt that looks like it’s hard enough to scratch your face.

J.Crew please know that my disgust is coming from a place of love.  I have relied on your brand for more than a decade to deliver the classic, elegant, and sometimes edgy pieces that were the staples of my wardrobe.

You seem to be making a decision to turn your back on the classic brand that you established, trading it for some confused, non-stylish hipster version of the brand you think that people want.  But here is a wake up call – THE J.CREW WOMAN DOES NOT LIKE THE NON-STYLE “STYLE” THAT YOU’VE RECENTLY ADOPTED.

There is a right and a wrong way to introduce “funk” into the classic J.Crew style – and you’ve got it wrong.

Your loyal customers will soon turn their backs on you if you don’t quickly get the message and bring back the Charlotte York-esque styling that is your brand’s trade mark.  Once you come back to center and begin to deliver what people want, then let’s sit down at the table and talk about smart ways to add in funky accents. 

I am certain that you are not being edgy with the above mash-ups – you are being tone deaf irresponsible stewards of your brand.

Best of luck.  If i can help in any way please let me know.

— Loyal J.Crew customer, trying to hang in there for better, smarter designs.

Sign the “Classic Campaign: Bring Back J.Crew’s Classic & Iconic Design” petition



She Was The Real Deal.

Perhaps it’s a testament to her beauty and persona that I always think of Elizabeth Taylor looking like this – absolutely beautiful. 

With all of the cookie-cutter stars rising to fame, and the pedestal that reality “stars” receive, it is nice to be reminded of the stuff that real stars are made of.  This woman is Hollywood royalty – an American princess that captured the decadence of her time.

Ms. Taylor’s brand of entertainment was classic American fare.  She was perfectly imperfect and she was an absolute knock-out.  For better or for worse, she was the real deal.

Thank you Ms. Taylor for your film and philanthropic legacy.

It’s a Fine Day to Make History – GO HAMPTON!!

I am “full” right now.  I feel a mixture of pride, excitement, and nerves.  I will be with my Hampton University Pirates every step of the way today – in spirit.  I am currently scouting the bar where I will stake my claim and root for my team. 

In preparation for this event…I present to you THE FORCE playing THE classic HBCU fight song:

I also present to you EBONY FIRE – that’s right ladies, dance battle these fools!!!

 FIGHT TIL THE END PIRATES

It’s a fine day to make history.

 – Aaarrrrrggghhhhhh!!!!

I am not a sports fan…

But I am a die hard Hamptonian.

For those of you that don’t know, the Hampton University Pirates will take on the Duke University Blue Devils this Friday.  I will be with my team in spirit and as you read this I am planning my work exit strategy on Friday afternoon. 

A match-up with Duke is daunting, but I remember 2001 when Hampton University, number 15 seed beat Iowa State, the number two seed.  Hampton University wanted the win more than Iowa did.

Please don’t underestimate the power of wanting something bad enough and being prepared to fight for it. 

In Atlanta this weekend – amidst the self-portraits, cute food intake (don’t you love the baby hot dog!!), and slight imbibing (exhibit A – beautiful bar at hot restaurant lounge Café Circa owned and operated by two Hamptonians) – my sister friend and I talked about the concept of “wanting it more.”

I had to chuckle as my hosts – Dr. and Mrs. Michael Green – explained how it was all about “who wants it more.”  They shared this revelation in very Rick Bobby-esque terms, usually as they were making a quick u-turn to secure a parking spot (or as some of you might say “a park”) or changing lanes despite the driver behind them that was hell bent on not letting them over…once they made their swift move they would exclaim “you just gotta want it more.”

There’s something to that sentiment – “wanting it more.”  Of course there are other things involved – preparation, practice, in this case the deepness of Duke University’s pockets allowing them to recruit many of the top players in the nation (but I digress).  In spite of all of that, sometimes in life it comes down to you or me and whoever wants it more will take it

In this case it’s Hampton or Duke.  You know whose side I’ll be on.

As I mentally prepare for this match up I vividly remember where I was when Hampton beat Iowa State in 2001.  I was a senior at Hampton University, relaxing at the crib– 218 A Lincoln Street to be exact.  It was late at night (not that late, but late enough…maybe it was midnight) and I got a call from my ole man telling me that Hampton was on and that they were definitely in the game.  He was directing me to turn on the TV and root for my team.  It was a close game and it was gut-wrenching at times but I sat there and watched my team fight for it with everything that they had in them.      

Some might argue that there’s no amount of “wanting it more” that the Pirates can muster to beat Duke – but I say, don’t count us out.

Win or lose I’m proud of my team for making it to the big dance.

Now go out there and play your hearts our Pirates.  

– Much Love Pirates!