Saturday, June 13, 2009

Annals of Retail: Such an Easy Trick

I enjoy getting J. Crew catalogues because I admire their style. Their clothes are down-to-earth and usually affordable, yet even their casual pieces can look chic and elegant with the right shoes and accessories. (Michelle Obama knows best.) Many of their items are also relatively "ageless" and their quality is good. (Their cashmere is excellent, from Italian mills.) And I love it when they choose locations I know, whether it's Paris, Prague, or our own South End. If I were in the market for a wedding dress, I wouldn't hesitate to buy one of their inexpensive silk tricotine designs, which simple and stellar.

I have to temper my liking with reality, however:
  • Their tees hang down to my thighs, even though I am slightly over average height and not "petite."
  • Their pants gap hugely in the back, despite being tight in the front. I can only conclude that they hope I'll stick a large Iggy's sourdough Francese loaf back there, since it would fit nicely.
  • Their shoes, while adorable, all have stiff leather soles and uppers that would cause me instant pain.
  • Much of their jewelry, especially their "statement" necklaces, is outrageously oversized. Their models must all be Amazons for those breast-plate-sized necklaces to look so well-proportioned on them.
  • Their jackets are all too short, designed to have 6" to 8" of shirt hanging below them. I'm sure this looked sweet on some J. Crew designer once upon a time, but that moment is history.
  • They often offer only one or two styles. For example they'll have 10 pencil skirts and 10 short, poufy minis, but nothing else. If you want an A-line, pleats, or a bias-cut, wait 'til next year.
End of rant. This week I caved and got myself a J. Crew credit card (there are lots of perks). And bought this long necklace:


As a Proper Bostonian, I'm no stranger to pearls. I wore long ropes or classic triple-strands almost every day in my 20s and 30s, before their weight and the swingy-swaying began to bother me (and I became a jewelry minimalist, in diamond studs). I have vintage, cultured, freshwater, and bogus pearls of all descriptions. But nothing looks as perfect with a basic white tee, dark jeans, and flip flops as this simple chain, roped carelessly around my neck a couple of times. I am certainly no genius when it comes to accessorizing, so I'm amazed at how many compliments and second looks I'm getting with virtually no effort.

Plus it's really rather lovely, with its luminous dangling pearls. I play with them all the time. Wearing jewelry can make life a little more interesting just when it's getting boring. And while I'm trying to save money, not spend it foolishly, this seemed like a reasonable "feel-good" purchase because it works with practically everything I wear. (And I got the educator 15% discount, too.)

So I recommend adding a necklace to whatever you're wearing, even if it's shorts (fortunately, J. Crew shorts don't accommodate loaves of bread) and a cardigan. Yes, you'll have the "J. Crew look" but it's unlikely that you'll see yourself coming and going. There's finally a trend that's fun, pretty, affordable, and sensible enough to work for everyday life.

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