j.crew’s feast of tabernacles

I admit a lot of things, things people sometimes won’t even admit to themselves, never mind the world (wide web). I watch The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and worse still, Bachelor Pad (and it’s boring!). That’s right. I admit it. I do nasty things we really needn’t get into, which is more for your sake than mine. I have very little shame. It’s why I’m up to admitting that I’ve been known to string together “giddy” and “J.Crew” in a single sentence. So there it is: I was giddy when the September ’10 J.Crew catalog arrived.

Until I opened it.

Holy suckhouse. How is it even possible that I leafed my way through its pages and not a one got dogeared. Aside from an unremarkable Black Watch Mackintosh Coat for $795 (are you taking your meds correctly?), and a long and lean single tweed blazer, upon which the unfortunate name Harriet was bestowed, nada struck my fancy. What is this mess of a season? And, uh, excuse me, but is that a typo? $695 for a lace cami that will likely tear one night when you’re trying to yank it over your head in a rush of passion?

img thing

We get it, you want to be taken seriously, to have “Collection” pieces, be seen as both affordable yet still a provider of luxury. Pick a flavor and be on with it—no catalog should offer both an item with the word “Barn” in its descriptor and another labeled, “Harem.” What you need is an adequate supply of lithium carbonate to stabilize these mood swings.

Sequin harem pant $650, complete with drawstring and tapered bottom… sold out. What am I missing? Apparently everything. Because to me, these pantaloons might look lovely, on say, a jockey, but women want to be touchable, soft, approachable. You say yourself that “this month’s roundup is a treasure chest of tactile delights.” No one wants to brush up against sequin pants. They do no-body any good.

too sweet

Martinete Feather Jacket $1200 – I think you mean Marionette Chicken. Wear it and you resemble both Fozzie Bear + Camilla the Chicken after a salon stylist betrayal. Or, more to the point, wearing it will make you look, um, less than sweet. You’ll look like a battered Muppet.

If you’re going to feature a Mongolian Lamb Stole at least show someone how to wear the thing. Throughout the September ’10 issue, the stylist has left the thing hanging, limp, as though the butcher wouldn’t take this particular slaughtered lamb, so you threw it over a shoulder like a continental soldier. It just hangs, untied, as if no one knew exactly where to place the thing. And it’s no wonder. It looks like Cher’s backpack from Clueless.

And whomever approved the look on page 032 titled “The Many Moods of Minnie” needs to be fired via email – explanation futile. Though the model is holding a nice glove in her pissed-off hand.

As for the wool bell skirt (below), I was sure there had been a mix-up. On the same page you feature a Buena Notte Bag, and I wrongly assumed the titles had been swapped. Your bell skirt looks alarmingly like an ad hoc paper bag I might dress my daughter in for Sukkot.

no second date
Image from J.Crew Catalog – Image you’d make on a date? Yeah, good talk. Sentiment, all mine.

You’ve left us in despair, and for fall, the most luxurious of seasons with its rich colors, velvets, jewel tones, and tweeds. In short, you’ve taken a mighty fall this fall. I hope we might meet again come October when you’ve got your act together.

With love + woolen thigh-highs,

Stephanie Klein

P.S. This isn’t really a letter, and damn you. I’ve been staring at this bag skirt ensemble for so long that I’m starting to dig it. I’m just a sucker for knee-socks.



  1. I hear you… the past few seasons J.Crew has been straying from the classics and going more for the jolie-laide thing… erring on the side of laide…
    Which is really too bad, as I’ve always looked to their catalog for styling ideas, even if not to actually buy everything.

  2. the knee socks outfit is actually cute but the furry monster coat? omg! i will laugh if i see someone where it. or maybe i am just not that fashion forward. it’s the farm girl in me.

  3. And to think, the Creative Director of J.Crew has a 3-year-old with the wonderful name–that both my son and yours bear–BECKETT.

    At least she has something going for her.

  4. After I saw Clueless I became so obsessed with over the knee socks that I wore them for my own delight even under my long skirts required by my very religious high school.

  5. Agree. Agree. Agree. I am a preppy girl who wants nothing to do with the freakish fashion forward world. Now they’re also competing with the new look of Talbots.

  6. I love the gray socks, but under boots, not Keds. Sheesh.

    Don’t mind the skirt as much, but with the rest of the ensemble it’s sloppy sloppy sloppy. Paired with a simple white tank top in a nice fabric and some tall heels? Not bad.

  7. Amazing- yours is the second blog I’ve seen today with a post about those fugly harem pants.

  8. Greatly disappointed with the fall catalog except for the Minnie pant (even though they’re not appropriate for my pear shape). The harem pants really threw me. I’m not adverse to harem pants but sequined ones, ugh!!

  9. I couldn’t agree more. J Crew has changed and not for the better. ‘Cause nothing says classic like harem pants.

  10. get your hands on the fall 2010 Talbot’s catalog. shocker, I KNOW. even Talbot’s knows, because they make mention of it in the catalog. but honestly… the look book actually pulled me out of a depression. and made summer’s end somehow a little bit more okay.

  11. Sequin harem pants makes me want to laugh so hard but I really feel sorry for people that want to wear things only because they feel they have to because they were in some designers show. Not only do they look foolish in them but they are so expensive!

  12. I hear you! I thought many of the same things when I leafed through the catalogue. But go into the store. I just got a ton of cute things, including their studded brown suede ballet flats. I also have a good tip. I work with a personal shopper, a free service that J. Crew offers. She gives me 20% off all of my purchases, include stuff from the catalogue that we can order right there in the store. She doesn’t always give it to me, but probably a few times a year.

  13. It looks like J Crew has fallen into the American Apparel/Urban Outfitter trap of thinking that Gossip Girl, Taylor Momsen, and Courtney Love are good fashion models. It all looks like hooker-in-training clothes.

  14. After reading your assessment of the JCrew line, with the brutal honesty you’re known for, it’s made me wonder.

    First, you shilled the Buick. You admitted that they had given you the car for free. You turned the comments off.

    The last post was about The Clarisonic brush. You can buy a Clarisonic brush at Sephora, Amazon, Ebay, or even from their website with free shipping. There’s no Clarisonic shortage. Maybe the woman at your Dermatologist’s office doesn’t have the internet. Again, you turned the comments off. Suspicious?

    I tweeted to you that you can buy a Clarisonic just about anywhere, and then Clarisonic tweeted me ( I didn’t tag them in that post) that if I’m interested in purchasing, they’ll help me. What the hell?

    So, now I’m curious. Are you being paid to place “stories” about these products? Kinda makes me question your credibility as an honest blogger who just talks about the things she loves and hates.

    1. Author

      Hi Azizeh. Thanks for the feedback. Maybe knowing this will help clear things up:

      I turn comments off either when I don’t want to hear it (because it has to do with something personal) or when I simply don’t think the topic warrants a discussion. It has nothing to do with advertising.

      To be clear, no, Clarisonic and I are not sleeping together. I do not take money from them. I do not get paid by them. They do not send me free anything. We have no deal, have never had a conversation. I suspect they reach out to anyone in the land of Twitter because they have brand monitoring. Which means they can say, “Alert me whenever someone tweets with the word Clarisonic,” so they may reach out to those people via twitter. Again, nothing to do with me.

      As for the lady at the dermatologist office, she wanted the PRO series, which is not sold on the internet, only in doctor offices.

      And just in case I haven’t been clear enough: NO. I am not being paid to place stories or content about these products, not with money or goods. In the case of Buick, because they hooked me up with the car, I made that clear. I have nothing to hide or be sneaky about.

      Sometimes when I link to products or books, I do so through affiliate networks, like amazon.com, etc. This is standard practice, and I don’t endorse anything I don’t already own or want to own.

      While, yes, I am sent many things in the hopes that I might share my thoughts with readers, I am not obligated. And when I am sent something, I say so. Hope this helps. And thanks for asking. I’m glad you just didn’t assume I was being sneaky sneaky.

      1. Thank you for responding!

        It just seemed odd to turn the Clarisonic comments off, only because normal discourse can’t be that bad. Unless the company doesn’t want to hear from naysayers.

        You were upfront about the Buick thing, so I’d expect you to have been upfront in another similar situation. It just seemed weird to me, but you cleared it up.

        You’ve turned me on to some great products, so I’ll keep confident that you’re doing so just based on your opinion and not product placement.

        Thanks again!

  15. Author

    No, you don’t dress up for Sukkot, but it is about getting back to basics, no? You know, a reminder of the pilgrimage, fragile dwellings, no direct TV and such. I figure it doesn’t get more basic pilgrimage than a brown paper bag… for a skirt.

  16. I flipped through that same JCrew catalogue and couldn’t help wondering why JCrew felt that we wanted to know what 12 year olds looked like in their clothes. Seriously, they need to meet their demographic. While I don’t want the model to look like me, I’d rather the model looked like someone I’d want to look like, as opposed to someone who still needs a babysitter. Just sayin’, JCrew. (And no human female over the age of 30 is going to look even slightly good in those sequined Hammer-pants. THE HORROR!)

  17. I want to like J Crew…I really do. But every time I walk in that store I find myself being all “$80? For a cardigan? Can it get me drunk too?”

    Maybe someday I’ll graduate past H&M…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.