I wrote this post for my new personal blog, Prep Judicata, but Michelle wanted me to share it with our Rococo and Caffeine audience. So here goes!
I used to love J.Crew. They had fabulous cashmeres, adorable dresses, and great basic polos. I think my favorite thing from that store was the line of fun flip flops they carried in the summer. You know what I'm talking about- the ones embrodiered with stuff like martini glasses, sailboats, fleur de lis, and other summery patterns. I decided to stop by when I was in Georgetown last weekend just to check out what patterns they had this year. Very displeased was I to learn that J.Crew isn't selling them in stores anymore. According to the snooty, faux-artistic store clerk, "[t]hat's not the direction J.Crew wants to take." You can buy some on the website, but there are only three patterns, and none of them are very vibrant. But buy 'em up quick, kids, because there won't be any more after this.
This is the cutest pattern from the lot, and I'll probably end up getting a pair:
But it's obvious that the designers didn't put ANY effort into these patterns at all. They're just dull rehashes of earlier patterns.
This pattern, especially:
Back in 2007, J.Crew had a cute fleur de lis pattern with gold fleurs and a cranberry background (I have a pair and they have been loved to death). This pattern, however, is just a travesty. The colors don't even go together. It's almost as if J.Crew is trying to make you not want their traditional merchandise...
While the men's clothing remains as preppy as ever (my boyfriend was very happy that Sperry Topsiders is doing a line of shoes for J.Crew), the women's selections have changed drastically in style. I'm ~pretty~ sure you can only buy polos online. And remember the cute lighthouse halter dress from a couple of years back? You can't get anything like that anymore. Just stuff like this:
There's nothing wrong with this dress; there's just nothing distinguishing it from half the stuff sold on Gilt or Ruelala.
Why am I making such a big deal about this? Well, J.Crew didn't come into existence until after the Official Preppy Handbook was published, but it has become an icon of stylish, modern prepdom. In fact, it is going to feature heavily in the forthcoming OPH sequel, True Prep. It seems odd to me, then, that they would switch out their 'look' right before this book, which praises their preppy style, comes out. Personally, I think it's deliberate. Preppiness went out of style in the 90s, relegated to a basic stereotype along with 'goth', 'emo', etc., and all the two-faced nasty girls in pop culture got distinguished as prep (think Cruel Intentions). It came back into fashion mid-2000s, especially with the popularity of Vineyard Vines, and the 'new look' was glorified in the Tea Partay video. However, it seems that preppiness is going back out of style in favor of the casual slightly-less-ridiculous-than-boho look with drapy stuff, decorated t shirts, etc. Connecticut College, William and Mary, and Washington, DC are still bastions of prepdom, but I think, as a whole, the style is out (but true preppiness is a lifestyle, not a clothing trend!). It seems True Prep is a bit tardy in its making, and J.Crew has moved on in search of a different cash cow. This is highly frustrating for me, because I really loved their classic stuff, but LL Bean and Brooks Brothers are excellent substitutes.