Sweater Weather (J Crew’s turning a corner)

That moment you wake up to a crisp autumnal day, and reach for your new sweater you’ve been dying to wear? That was this morning! I awoke to the clanking sound of the old steam pipes in my home and I knew it was a beautiful cool and crisp morning! Today I knew it was time to wear my newest J Crew purchase. The tipped waffle knit cardigan with gold buttons (so chic and so Gucci).

I have always loved J Crew. When I first moved to the States in 1995, I first came across J Crew’s catalog and would spend hours looking through it. I’ve always loved the merchandising of a stack of sweaters, in multiple tempting colors or lay down image of a multitude of plaid shirts. I just love seeing a great selection. Mickey Drexler in his prime at Gap was really one of the best in this regard, when he moved over to J Crew and the fabulous and original Jenna Lyons (whom I interviewed with and is one of the few women slightly taller than me!) teamed up together- it was a great pairing.

J Crew really was on top form for quite sometime, at least creatively. Their Collection pieces were highly coveted and Jenna Lyons was the spokeswoman of style. When she wore something, you just had to have it. I still have many of those Collection pieces, some I sold, but I kept many favorites like a great leather biker jacket, or a sequined pencil skirt in navy with a green and cream striped hem. Some pieces really stood the test of time and I love them today as I did then. In fact, I have one collection silk twill paisley dress in daring gold, hot orange and navy print that I purchased in 2005 and even though 15 years old, it’s one of my favorites today.

Unfortunately for J Crew, their more fashionable and collectible styles came at a higher price point for more luxe product and along this route they lost a lot of the classic J Crew customers who perhaps couldn’t understand the styling (they aren’t working in a Fashion job for example) and also the newer heftier price tags. J Crew was suffering an identity crisis. They brought in new management, Jenna Lyons left the company to pursue her own line, and they continued to struggle. The product started to look too basic, and the quality really shifted downward as did the fits. It was all over the place.

When Coronavirus hit = J Crew went into bankruptcy. Clearly before the bankruptcy J Crew were feverish working on finding themselves again, and their brand identity. When I looked at their website for the first Fall drop of the season, I was impressed. They seemed to have gone back to basics, and brought back some of the iconic, classic styles they were well known for. In addition, their suiting and work basics really seemed to have improved. The fit and material of the All Season Stretch suiting was much improved.

Their sweaters have always been the best, and in recent years the cashmere got thinner quality, and pilled on the first wear. This was so disappointing as I looked to them for a more affordable cashmere sweater in a vast array of fun colors that would contrast nicely with my outfit. One of my favorite looks is a bright silk skirt with a totally opposite color sweater, especially as I am known as the ‘color guru’ as color palettes is one of my favorite things to work on.

I was a bit dubious ordering this camel waffle knit cashmere sweater from J Crew after my disappointment on seasons past cashmere. I was very pleasantly surprised at the quality, a nice weighted waffle cashmere, very soft and accented with high quality gold buttons and a bi-color sweater knit trim in red and navy. I knew this sweater would be a closet staple for years. My one complaint is, it’s slightly too cropped in the length – but I am 5 ft 11, so that could be due to my height, but it seems ever so slighty ‘boxy’. Regardless, I layered it over an old J Crew tee from maybe 6 years ago with French wordage ‘Salut!’ (this weight and fit of Tee should totally be repeated, it’s soft and vintage feeling) and I paired with the Hayden Kick Out crop pant in Navy, and a pair of Nike Daybreak joggers in cream, red and yellow (see my post here about the Jogger trend).

Remember when Amy Poehler and Maya Rudoplh did Bronx Beat on SNL? They enjoyed Sweater Weather too.

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