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Life of Colleen: J.Crew report

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J.Crew report
posted by Colleen Shirazi on Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 12:18 PM (Pacific)

So I...went to Emeryville. It was a bit depressing. The J.Jill had closed, rather abruptly (I don't recall a notice, only an email stating the store had closed). A sad moment, for the people who had worked there, but potentially an omen for the mall itself. Whether you're enamored of J.Jill, or would not be caught dead shopping there, it is a chain catering to career women. The very foundation of America is the right of the people to work, in whatever field they are willing to do the work in; that's why people come here, that's what they push for.

I'd seen it happen to another mall: the nicer stores got starved out, closed down, and were replaced by garbage stores.

It's out of my hands, it's only a mall, yadda yadda...the sight of the empty store depressed me some.

j.crew katelyn ruffle cardigan
J.Crew Katelyn Ruffle Cardigan in Apricot Mist

I hit the 'Crew...with a coupon in my bag. Did I mention I like J.Crew? Of the mainstream apparel stores, they seem to have done the most research into the new workers, the female majority of the U.S. work force that everyone else seems to ignore, and they've invested in the tech to support their research.

Early in my working wardrobe development, I observed only two modes of female work clothing: suits and dresses. The suits were for the executives; the dresses, for the secretaries. If you were a working woman, either you had a secretary, or you were one.

And most mainstream clothing still adheres to the notion of women doing "women's jobs": sales, marketing, executive, secretary, generic office worker, et cetera.

What about the rest of us? J.Crew is all up in that. They're doing experimental stuff with their showing some logged-in customers special deals, popping open a "let's chat" box at opportune moments (like when you're pondering if something in-between sizes will fit), tracking customers and trying out different deals (the coupon in my bag was from the print catalogue, but they distribute the coupons selectively). I feel they read consumer blogs and track carefully what people buy and what they need. What appears an onslaught of 'Crew clothing, swept breathlessly from New Arrivals to Final simple, logical experimentation. What do these new workers need to wear?

It's a high-tech solution to a bad economy. A shout-out to the J.Crew website programmers (great stuff, that), to the marketing people, and to the designers.

My sole gripe is they need to hire more copywriters. It's as if they'd laid them all off and have one poor writer in back, cranking out "J.Crew haiku" to the point he has to copy and paste most of it from a Word document. "Borrowed from the boys"? "You'll want one in every color"? Give the man a vacation...

Okay, this ^^

I checked out the Katelyn Ruffle cardigan, but didn't dare try it on. I was afraid I'd like it. It's 80% pima cotton, 20% wool, iirc, which would make it one of the most ideal blends for our San Francisco Bay Area climate. I wear this cotton-wool one constantly:

sundance catalog payton cardigan
Sundance Catalog Payton Cardigan

The 'Crew Apricot Mist wasn't particularly apricotty, more a delicious french vanilla color, with just a hint of apricot. sighs Very useful looking. This goes on the wish list.

Heather Charcoal looked good too: very dark, slightly speckled grey. But I still have my dark grey herringbone sweater from the J.Crew men's department from last year.

j.crew jackie cardigan in dark rosewood
J.Crew Jackie Cardigan in Dark Rosewood

I was pleased to see the new Jackie colors laid out nicely. This is the one I'd come to see...I'd been dying to do a burgundy thing for quite some time. Dark Rosewood wasn't exactly the burgundy I'd been dreaming of, but rather a beautiful dark purple in its own right.

j.crew buffalo check boy shirt
J.Crew Buffalo Check Boy Shirt in Rose Dust

This was a bitter disappointment, even though they'd lined up the checks perfectly, both in front and for the pocket. Yes, I'm glad they're calling it a "boy shirt"--"boyfriend" anything drives me nuts. I've been married for eighteen years; not looking for a boyfriend, much less his shirt... But the overall quality of Buffalo Check was lacking. The point in seeking out a men's shirt in the first place is the superior quality, right?

I did appreciate the deliberately rumpled look of the new items. Ladies, cast aside your irons! At least if you don't have time to iron. It's a good thing.

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