Is J. Crew getting good again?

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The jury is still out, but a perusal of the once-essential brand’s new arrivals is encouraging—as are the prices, which seem to have settled into a more sane range than in they were the Jenna Lyons years. I still don’t quite think they’ve got a whole vision going on there—which they certainly did during the Lyons years, sometimes to a fault—but the aesthetic is also less all over the place than it has been recently. I’ve wanted a leather skirt for ages, but might settle for this faux version.

Such a chic little boucle jacket—I’d wear mine just as it’s styled here.

The styling of this teddy sherpa topcoat, on the other hand, is just ridiculous: for starters, the combination of bare legs with a big cozy coat does not hold much appeal outside of a fashion shoot, and I will never endorse the little-socks-with-heels look for anyone over the age of 25. But I like the coat! And it comes in black and brown too, just fyi.

A cool wool shirt jacket in heather grey.

This sweater blazer comes in a ton of good colors, and is just so easy.

I’m thinking I might go for this cashmere patch pocket cardigan, because it’s kind of similar to my favorite (and now moth-destroyed) Vince sweater.

I’m a big fan of J. Crew corduroys: they’re flattering, pretty well-priced, and come in a satisfying range of hues.

A very smart houndstooth blazer in a cool combination of navy, brown, and grey.

I’m pretty sure I’ve shown you this lightweight quilted shirt jacket in the not-so-distant past, but it’s just so good and travel-friendly.

 

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30 Thoughts on Is J. Crew getting good again?
    Christina
    17 Oct 2022
    11:33pm

    Not sure where else to add this, but did you see the news that Jenna Lyons is joining the Real Housewives NYC cast? That made me strangely sad. No offense to the Housewives but that seems like an odd move. Discuss!

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    therealblonde
    18 Oct 2022
    1:54pm

    I bought that houndstooth blazer last week (plus a black satin skirt) and thought: this is such a GOACA purchase. And here it is!

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    Liz Kennedy
    15 Oct 2022
    2:49pm

    I, too, am cautiously optimistic. I have had good luck at Factory and appreciate that they’ll bring back styles from years past at a decent price point and the quality is there as of late. As for the Crew, I recently was on a business trip and hated every single pair of black pants I brought with me. They were all pre-pandemic J.Crew pants without stretch and I didn’t feel comfortable. Long story short, I sized up and found two cute replacement pairs (High-Rise Cameron with Stretch and Sydney wide-leg pant in bi-stretch cotton). They happened to be 40% off in-store and I came home and ordered two more pairs–one in black and one in navy. I do hope they are on the upswing because I’ve been a loyal customer since high school. And I do miss the catalogs dearly.

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    Susanna
    14 Oct 2022
    9:46am

    Some of the stuff looks appealing, and then…look at that rib-knot crop top and leggings under one of the jackets you featured. Horrendous!

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    anastasia Christou
    3 Nov 2022
    6:54pm

    We dont have JCrew in Australia but ive always seen it as a classic preppy American style – I know it was huge under Jenna Lyons reign but then went a little downhill…now they have another ‘IT girl’ head designer – why do they need to focus on that to become popular again …sign of the (socialmedia) times ….shouldn’t the clothes be the focus

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    laura
    14 Oct 2022
    10:51am

    A few thoughts/questions –
    has the sizing been worked out?
    has the quality improved?
    where are they with fair labor practices and sustainability?

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    Pia
    14 Oct 2022
    11:14am

    I’ve stuck with them but in general have bought much less in the last few years (mostly because of my hate of the cottage-core look). As a petite person I find their jeans/blazers/coats to fit me quite well. I only buy on sale, and there is almost always a sale.

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    Debra Gibson- Welch
    14 Oct 2022
    11:25am

    I stuck with them through thick and thin, and I have to say I have always, always found something of quality, value, and style at J Crew. That cannot be said of other retailers who have been around just as long or have gone out of business. I have already bought a few things this season, and they have lowered the price of their cashmere, so I am going for that. Plus, they just announced a collaboration with french designer Marie Marot for her beautifully designed shirts, which is on my bucket list. Their corduroys are the best fit, and the colors are smashing. You recommend them as does A Linett and I have appreciated that over the years. I am sticking with the Crew; I wish them well, they have lasted a long time, and that says a lot in the fickle fast fashion world of retail.

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    maryse
    14 Oct 2022
    12:07pm

    I love that gray shirt jacket and the knit blazer. I could see wearing both of those 3/4 of the year (i live in New England). I mostly dress for comfort now — no “hard” clothes, you know without stretch or room — but I like their cashmere, sweatpants, button downs. The occasional dress. Plus they carry most of their clothes to a size 24, which as an 18-20 I appreciate. I remember being a 12-14 in my youth and not always finding J. Crew styles to fit me properly.
    I’m not particularly hard on my clothes so the quality has been sufficient (I never not buy on sale) but I don’t think anything will last as long as those men’s wool rollneck sweaters I bought over 30 years ago that I still wear (plus they were a super sale!!).

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    Viajera
    13 Oct 2022
    4:29pm

    I had a few issues with them recently, when I ordered off the factory site. My item wasn’t as described, and then, when I went to a factory store to return it, they said they couldn’t take it because it was shipped in a green bag (whatever that means). I ended up getting a refund, but not for my original shipping. … … … Still, I thought the clothing in the store looked nice, so, long story short, maybe go into the stores and try it all on. For me, I’m going to have to visit that little cardigan in person – a couple of the colors look like they might work!

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    FizzyBlonde
    13 Oct 2022
    6:30pm

    As with many retailers, J. Crew limits how many items they offer in larger sizes. The charming “lady jacket” is a case in point. They have nine versions of that jacket and none goes higher than a size 16.

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    Nicole
    13 Oct 2022
    6:30pm

    My aesthetic is decidedly un-preppy, though I have been known to love some JCrew staple: vintage straight leg jeans, the sweater blazer, and just a few weeks ago, I purchased the Teddy sherpa jacket (similar to the topcoat, but shorter, also in the dusty ivory color). However, the sizing. I was nearly sized out, but I went with the smallest anyway, and it should be good with layers. They seem to be running at least a full size larger. I tried the topcoat on, and I looked like I was playing dress up. I have no idea what’s happening with the sizing.

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    Lisa
    13 Oct 2022
    8:04pm

    I realize it’s 2022 and J. Crew has decided that girls of a certain age are a bonus audience and not their core shopping target, but man, I wish they’d bring back the old-school catalogs.

    I always ended up buying so much because I could see how lots of things were styled, mixed and matched, as opposed to Ye Olde Algorithm using impenetrable “metrics” to decide if I liked one boatneck navy-and-white shirt, surely what I’m interested in next is a carousel comprised of nothing but “mossy grove” green shrunken tanks and short-shorts. Yes! That is absolutely the vibe that a classic breton top channels — the Jolly Green Giant’s Girlfriend Goes Festival!

    I appreciate blogs like this even more because taste is a great way to open people’s eyes to new possibilities, and what our algorithm-driven retail experiences are forgetting to sell to us now.

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    Susan
    13 Oct 2022
    8:38pm

    Love your honest assessment of their styling foibles. More of that, please:)
    xo

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      Elisabeth
      16 Oct 2022
      5:44pm

      I agree, it’s such a learning experience and I really enjoy it, too. I feel like critique from a professional helps train my eye.

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    Alyce
    13 Oct 2022
    8:57pm

    But has the quality improved??? I haven’t bought anything from J.Crew since 2014, when I bought a pair of linen pants that fell apart in 3 weeks. They were far too expensive for fast fashion quality.

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      jenib123
      14 Oct 2022
      11:38am

      Unfortunately they seem to have decided to make all of their tees very small and/or cropped this year, which isn’t a look that works for this girl of a certain age. Their color palette is second to almost none, year after year, in my opinion.

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    Robyn
    14 Oct 2022
    4:46am

    No, J Crew isn’t good anymore. For many years it was the number one retailer of choice for my family and me. As a teacher I need put together, classic but reasonably priced items and J Crew fit the bill. They have become too trend focused and some of the clothes have a childlike feel to them. The clothes are either too boxy, cropped, the list goes on. I miss their simple classic styles. As someone who looks better in cooler tones their color ways are much too warm for my liking. There are Instagram accounts which feature old J Crew images from their catalogues. The comments are always “If J Crew had clothes like this I’d buy from them again” ditto for me.

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    Kay
    13 Oct 2022
    2:51pm

    I bought that puffer shirt jacket in the dusty violet color and it is wonderful. Lightweight, good for crisp morning walks, and I feel more put together in it than I do in my walking hoodie. And the pockets are reasonable.

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    Kate
    13 Oct 2022
    3:23pm

    I’m glad you think so — their bright colors and flimsy tops as of late have really been weirding me out. You found some good classic picks.

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    KHD
    13 Oct 2022
    3:34pm

    It would be great if J Crew could make a come back. Their stuff used to dominate my wardrobe, but not so much for past 5 years. Fingers crossed!

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    Jo
    13 Oct 2022
    3:37pm

    I ordered what I thought was a classic blue button down and a blue vest from JCrew. They were both huge and I bought my usual size. And no, I definitely am not smaller than I was the last time I ordered.

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    Gablesgirl65
    14 Oct 2022
    7:21pm

    I was a fan of the Jenna years, Michelle Obama cardigans and skinny belts. Have never stopped loving the Crew and hope they are back on track.

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    Gleaming the Cube
    14 Oct 2022
    12:46pm

    Kim (and everyone): there are some very good deals on Vince sweaters, and other things– 40% off sale prices!– right now on the brand’s own website. Colors and sizes are a bit all over the place but maybe you’ll get lucky? Plus, they usually have a F&F sale in the fall 25% everything, which is how I justified buying a black cashmere cardigan from them last year which instantly became the workhorse of my closet, and then led me to buy a few more cashmere pieces (all very heavily discounted, all directly from their website). At one of the sales I got the cashmere striped fitted crewneck a few months ago and it’s wonderfully cozy, and beautifully thick cashmere and is currently $94…

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    Dawn
    14 Oct 2022
    12:50pm

    There was that episode of “Mad About You” where the husband is looking at the J.Crew catalog and says, “Standing in the beach surf, drinking coffee, wearing a sweater…who does that?!” I have always loved the pretense of catalogs, myself. Comedy gold. Having said that, I buy their linen t-shirts in gray and black (my staples) and never put them in the dryer.

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    kelly
    14 Oct 2022
    12:51pm

    I haven’t bought J Crew in years because, as others have noted, the quality is just not there anymore. Their old stuff lasted for years, but now I find everything quite poorly made for their relatively high prices, even on sale. We shall see.

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    EW
    14 Oct 2022
    3:08pm

    I’ve found some things at JC lately — the core basics are fair enough. But…take a look at banana republic — I have been turning my eye there a bit lately — not too shabby. They have a few blazers that are good copies of Veronica Beard (pink corduroy) (houndstooth)…some nice silks and merino wool pieces. It appears as though BR is appealing to GOACA who WORK.

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      C.D.
      15 Oct 2022
      11:57pm

      I agree about Banana, EW. They’ve definitely taken it up a notch or two. Gotten some nice pants in tall lately that fit well, can go casual or dressier.

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    Laura
    14 Oct 2022
    6:42pm

    I’ve been ordering from J.Crew again this last year. The prices have gotten much better (and there is always a discount code) and the quality is good. I always get compliments when I wear something (I do a lotta hi-low). I think the sizing is tts as well.

    I suggest doing a shop up and return if you’re unhappy. Better than Zara and the other fast fashion from a quality standpoint. My 2 cents!

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    supermaggiemay
    14 Oct 2022
    9:59am

    I am cautiously optimistic – it was Godwaful in the past year or two (no, no more smocking, PLEASE!). I do hope they’re on the upswing because I am so at a loss for places to buy good basics these days.

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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