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!
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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. 😉
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!
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).
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!