Interview Style

Interview with Alexis of J.Crew Aficionada

J.Crew is one of my favorite brands, and one that’s very present in my closet. I think the brand’s transformation in the last decade has been absolutely amazing and a clear example of what solid management with great vision can achieve.

That’s why I’m very happy to introduce you to today’s interviewee – Alexis, who writes the blog J.Crew Aficionada. J.Crew Aficionada (or JCA) is one of the very first fashion blogs I ever read – it was my go to site for the latest coupon codes, news, discussion and product reviews on the brand. Alexis has had incredible dedication to the blog (and the brand!) and plus she’s fun, witty and down to earth. I was thrilled to ask this J.Crew expert some questions around her style, retail in general, and of course, J.Crew. Enjoy meeting Alexis!

J.Crew Aficionada

Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?

Hi, I’m Alexis. I am a woman in her early 30’s, living in New England, that l-o-v-e-s J.Crew.

How long have you been writing the J.Crew Aficionada blog? At the time, did you ever think that the brand would be as “big” as it is now?

The first post on the J.Crew Aficionada blog was back in May 2008. So it has been a number of years with the JCA site- a real labor of love. But worth it!

When I first started blogging about J.Crew, I knew J.Crew was pretty awesome. However, the last few years it has really taken off in terms of reputation. It is getting recognized as a fashion powerhouse retailer. I am not sure if anyone (including Mickey or Jenna!) could have expected J.Crew to perform as well as it has (especially when so many of their competitors are struggling to find their place in this economy).

J.Crew Bella jacket

What are some of your all time favorite J.Crew items? Any that you wish they’d bring back?

There are so many pieces that J.Crew “hit it out of the park” with. So many that I am not sure my mini-list here will capture it all… but the Library Doll dress (with the most fantastic librarian-chic print there ever was) from 2007, Bahamas skirt (featuring a whimsical map of the island) from summer 2006, Veruschka dress (with a bold custom print) from spring 2008, are a few of my favorites.

I also love, love, love the Bella Jacket from 2007. They are practically collector’s items in my book. I see them being sold on eBay for way more than the price they were sold for originally at J.Crew. I still think J.Crew needs to bring that jacket back ASAP.

A favorite J.Crew look of Alexis’s via their 08 catalog

What are some of the most positive changes that the brand has made over the years?

I think J.Crew has done a great job of fusing current fashion trends with classic styles. We have all heard their marketing slogan of “classics with a twist”, but I really believe they do just that. Just when I think I think I have purchased enough variations of polka dots, chambray, and ruffles whatever, J.Crew introduces another version that I have to have.

A pricey J.Crew offering

What about the most negative changes about the brand that you’ve noticed?

Sometimes J.Crew thinks they are better than they are. (J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler recently said that J.Crew compares themselves to some pretty big name stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, etc. That might be true in some geographical markets like NYC with their specialty shops, but I am not convinced this is true across the board). In any case, because they see themselves in this high-end retail category, they think they can charge crazy high initial price points for some pieces. For example, selling a poly/silk skirt for $350, or a cotton-sateen top for another $350.

I am also not a fan of how they increase prices of certain best sellers because they are selling so well. To find one day an item is $10 more because its popular is kind of off-putting. With that all said, I still love J.Crew!

Alexis’s favorite Veruschka dress

What are some other brands that you admire and shop at? I’d love to hear more about your personal style – I’m sure it is fabulous!

I mainly shop at J.Crew but I do shop at other stores like Anthropologie for a few fun pieces, the Gap for their workhorse staples like khakis, Nordstroms for their incredible selection (and customer service!), and the like. But ultimately, J.Crew is my one-stop shop for most of my needs.

As for my style… It is very much in line with J.Crew’s offerings. I would say preppy casual- stylish but not too trendy. I try to wear outfits that are not just for a season or particular trend.

J.Crew gingham Perfect Shirt

What are some aspects about J.Crew that you wish other brands would have?

J.Crew is really good about offering stylish clothes that fit. For example, they have the Perfect Shirt button down for women that fits the feminine curves of a woman effortlessly. Other brands offer button down shirts, but they just do not fit as nicely.

Another Alexis favorite: the J.Crew Library dress

What do you think about the J.Crew sale cycle vs. other stores?

This is hard to say. I think J.Crew offers sales frequently. But I am not sure if it is more or less than Anthropologie (who offers new markdowns every week), or the Gap (who runs sales constantly), or even Nordstroms. I will say that it is hard to justify buying some items at J.Crew for its full retail price. Especially since some pieces get markdown after a few weeks.

Watercolor Pastiche gown, via J.Crew in 2010

What % of your items do you buy full price, vs sale?

I rarely buy full priced items at J.Crew. This is mainly because retail stores offer items before their real season- so I can wait. For example, summer items are offered in the spring when it is still too chilly for me to actually consider those pieces. So by the time the season for me to actual wear the in-season clothes come, the items I am interested go on sale. It works out rather nicely. 😉

J.Crew Neon Stripe Bateau tee

Can you share a piece of advice about shopping/style/budgeting that you’ve learned over the years?

Buy pieces you really love– you will never regret how much you paid or that you got it! Also, try to purchase pieces that are classic, that will work season to season, year after year. There is a reason the stripe bateau tee, the gingham button down, and polka dot cami, are offered every season… it never goes out of style!

A favorite print of Alexis’s, the Soiree from 2007

What are your other passions and hobbies?

I love me some pop culture! I think most of my brain cells are storing useless information about trivial things. I randomly make references about anything (e.g. obscure 80’s cartoons and shows, remember 3-2-1 Contact!?!) and everything (e.g. quotes from t.v. shows like “Kitten Mittens, you’ll be smitten, meow” from It’s Always Sunny) in everyday conversations that very few people get (or care to get).

Blues from the J.Crew 2008 lookbook

And finally – please share something surprising about yourself!

I am obsessed with the Golden Girls. I watched it as a kid and thought the show was funny. But it is freakin’ hilarious as an adult, re-watching the same episodes. It plays on a whole different level that I did not even get when it first aired. I love all the ladies and their amazing friendships, but Dorothy is my hands-down favorite.

 

Did you learn something new from Alexis about J.Crew? I personally had no idea that J.Crew raised prices on popular items. I think that it’s quite evil – yet at the same time I have a bit of grudging respect that the brand is so committed to profitability. It’s kind of like when I pray to the coupon code overlords for a J.Crew full price discount code, only to be rewarded with nothing. Truly a love hate relationship.

Anyway, I loved hearing about more Alexis and all of her favorite J.Crew patterns and pieces. It’s amazing to me how many are still relevant and fresh today. And plus I adore that she loves Golden Girls! It really is an amazing show. I hope you all enjoyed meeting the lovely and talented Alexis! For more of her and J.Crew Aficionada, please visit the blog, here!

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  • Atiqa
    July 6, 2012 at 7:45 am

    I never use to like J crew. I always just regarded it as an overpriced GAP. That is until recently (about 3 years ago). Now I look forward to shopping in the their on-line stores as well as the brick-and-motor.

    Great interview.

  • Sonya
    July 6, 2012 at 8:04 am

    I love J.Crew, thank you for introducing to this site. I was laughing at your coupon code line!

  • Meegaa
    July 6, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I love J crew, it is such a brand, i could buy everything there and good quality also. But for us from Germany it is very expensive because of shipping cost and taxes.

    http://tusfashion.blogspot.de/

    • Katherine
      July 6, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      Oh I had no idea! I hope they come to Germany soon 🙂

  • Mimi
    July 6, 2012 at 11:24 am

    this was such a fun and informative interview! and i am totally loving the bella jacket and the watercolor pastiche gown! 😀

    <3, Mimi
    http://whatmimiwrites.blogspot.com/
    Want a summer scarf? Enter to win a $20 ScarvesDotNet Gift Certificate!

  • Helen
    July 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Wow! I did not know J. Crew raised prices either! And I do wish they would bring back old pieces.

  • Anonymous
    July 6, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I liked this interview. I love Golden Girls too, I watch it everyday. 🙂

  • alison*elle
    July 6, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    I totally noticed J. Crew raised prices on their “popular” items… I was looking at these shoes and a few weeks later they were suddenly more expensive for no reason. Sadly I still can’t tear myself away from J. Crew because I like their stuff too much!

    xo, alison*elle

  • Cathy from Petite Therapy
    July 6, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    I love reading “Behind the Scenes”/Interviews posts! I recently became a fan of J.Crew and started reading Alexis’s blog. Great to hear so much enthusiasm from a fan!

  • dinagideon
    July 6, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Alexis rocks! She is the leader of our “mothership,” and many of the J. Crew centric blogs would never have gotten their start without her blog. 🙂

    Anyhow, great interview and thank you for highlighting her!

  • phiphis blog
    July 6, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    kat, this is such a brilliant interview! i read alexis’ blog religiously, like yours too. thank you for highlighting her and her blog! i learned the phrase “drinking the crewlade” from her. 😛

    xox P

    phiphisblog.com

  • Tabitha
    July 7, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Alexis is our Queen Bee, I love her site, it’s a clubhouse for JCAs.

  • Fabulous Florida Mommy
    July 7, 2012 at 4:16 am

    What a great interview! Thank you for featuring Alexis…she is the absolute best! Like Tabitha said, her site is a clubhouse for all of us JCAs. 🙂

  • Alexis
    July 7, 2012 at 5:00 am

    Thanks everyone! I really enjoyed the entire process. 🙂

  • Mrs C
    July 7, 2012 at 6:32 am

    Always love your interview pieces. Too bad we do not get J.Crew here in Dubai and I only shop when I go to the states. Love their pieces featured here, simple yet fabulous!

    MRS JACK OF ALL TRADES DAILY where Fashion and Food collide!
    FOODIE WEEKEND – Thai Green Curry
    http://mrsjackofalltradesdaily.blogspot.com/2012/07/foodie-weekend-thai-green-curry.html

  • xoxo
    July 7, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Great interview! I shop at J.Crew less frequently lately but I check JCA daily for the fun posts and comments. Alexis is really wonderful and maintains a space that everyone can enjoy.

  • homestilo
    July 7, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Great interview Katherine! I really like her sense of humor (since I quote from old movies/shows all the time too!) and completely agree with her on buying classics.

  • Latkesanddimsum
    July 8, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Thank you for the great interview – I’ve been reading JCA from the beginning!

  • Chic 'n Cheap Living
    July 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    J. Crew has had such a rise and fall in my wardrobe (loved them in h.s. and college and then forgot about them for a while). I didn’t know about the high demand pricing too – smart and tricky! That said, I also caved recently and bought the Joseph Altuzarra Patricia dress for J. Crew – it’s the little details about the dress and the new styles that get me (I did have a slight discount of course!)

    xoxo,
    Chic ‘n Cheap Living

    • Katherine
      July 8, 2012 at 10:22 pm

      That Altuzarra sounds amazing! I never got to see any of the collection in real life, I’d love to!

  • Pumps and Gloss
    July 8, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Great post. I have been a recent lurker at JCA, so I enjoy learning about Alexis. I check JCA before I check Jcrew.com. lol

    Love the coupon code joke. I have been known to that, as well. lol

    • Katherine
      July 8, 2012 at 5:32 pm

      Thank you! I am STILL waiting for a full price spring code, lol!

  • RosaLovesDC
    July 8, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Thank you for this interview. J.Crew aficionada was one of the first blogs I’ve ever read and I was able to meet some great friends there. Alexis does an amazing job in the blog, love it.

  • cece
    July 8, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Cool post honey, btw. I just dropped by to your blog. Would you like to follow each other? 🙂

  • chocolatecookiesandcandies
    July 9, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Personally, I can’t wait until J Crew arrives in London but that won’t happen till May next year at the very earliest. I’ve bought from their online store but I had to send all of them back because non fitted right. I just wish I can try them on first. Right now, the return shipping is astronomical so until I’m 100% sure of the items, I won’t be ordering from the online store again until they set up shop here. Nonetheless, I LOOOVE their style.

  • Jess L
    July 10, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    I love J.Crew but don’t love the fit. I’m invariably disappointed when I try something on. I actually don’t find their items very friendly for my body type (think shapeless, boyish, pre-pubescent body). However, the items that fit/work I love to death and they do last multiple seasons.