Cast & J. Crew


With a new email coming in every five minutes, my inbox is a destination I must frequent for school, blogging, and various other communication purposes. Most of you can probably relate to the majority of your inbox being taken over by temptations to visit sites for "blow-out sales", "one- day-only free shipping", or "must-see fall preview sales." I like to think I've mastered the art of milling through these, but I have my occasional moments of weakness.

Most recently, I was lured into J. Crew's shopping spell with a catchy subject line, "quilty pleasures"; my intrigue brought me to these excursion quilted vests, which I love in the warm bisque shade.

A good amount of my close friends are business majors, and as I overhear their discussions of marketing and take into account my own liberal arts and communication studies, I've developed a curiosity to explore the roots of some of my favorite brands. J. Crew makes the top of that list. I did some research, and in the process, developed total girl crushes on two of the creative geniuses behind this iconic American brand which is hard not to love.

to start, a quick timeline of the brand from catalogue to couture:
1983 :: first J. Crew catalogue release
1988 :: J. Crew Factory launched
1989 :: first flagship store opened in NY
2003 :: Millard "Mickey" Drexler took over as CEO
2006 :: introduced Madewell
2011 :: brand went global

My initial attraction to this multi-million dollar fashion retailer was its transferability from malls of America to fashion week runways. It has gained the respect of the masses as it manages to achieve what even some of the most successful designers can not--a clientele ranging from babies to teeny-boppers to brand-snobs.

several secrets behind the success:
-mass retail that maintains a real connection/relationship with their customers
-a monthly catalogue that's familiar but never predictable and directionally charged (i.e. "we're suity", "we're sporty", "we're wedding")
-consistently keeping basic pieces everyone can afford on stock as well as that "splurge" piece you keep your eye on and feed your piggy banks for
-not aiming for a target consumer (e.g. 46-year-old big city mom that drives a Lexus SUV, wears this watch, and primarily watches E!)
-allowing items to sell out--a perfect balance between wholesale and exclusivity that adds a layer of interest and an element of surprise

And now introducing the current girl crushes...

no. 1 - Gayle Spannaus :: style director, J. Crew
Gayle has a little more spunk than the typical J. Crew style protocol calls for, but she's all for promoting a rolled-up sleeve, bright orange lips, gingham prints, and layering textures.

Her best style lesson?
Contrast is crucial! Don't do shiny and shiny. If you're going with one color all over, incorporate different textures. Don't do pretty with pretty or boy with boy; do both. Juxtapose masculine and feminine.

As for beauty, she says:
with make-up, pick a lane--eye or lip. Never both!

Where she wants to take J. Crew next:
getting away from that stigma of just having classic pieces to mix with other pieces. You can get it all here--that classic chambray shirt and the sequin skirt.

no. 2 - Jenna Lyons :: creative director, J. Crew
She's earned the title of America's "super-stylist" as she makes her way into the inboxes of girls across the nation with her daily distribution of "Jenna's Picks." She's more in sync with the traditional J. Crew style, but isn't afraid to add a breath of fresh air to the classic look with a sequin, studs, and sizable shades.

wise insight from the style guru:
"Ask a woman what her favorite thing in her close is, and she'll pick the thing she bought yesterday; ask a man, and he'll pick the thing he bought 40 years ago." (trĂ¼u...that's for you, Meggie & Weezy)


These women are the quintessential models of women who held that spark in them and chose not to ignore the voice that said "you could do that", a notion that surely hits home at my stage of life. I'll close with these words: "Do what you love and do it 110%", from the one and only Jenna Lyons.