I remember going to the campus bar at the end of college, and the popular Liz and Lisa were opening up a set. Lisa was chatting the crowd up and asking how everyone was, and if we had received our J. Crew catalog in the mail as she had. So funny what you remember.
That was 1990, and J. Crew was the only catalog I received in my college mailbox (the L.L Bean catalog went to my home). The J. Crew catalog was downright refreshing with their preppy clothes and cool vibe. At that time, their clothes were almost all 100% cotton, a selling point in the ‘90s. I think of these workhorse items when I think of J. Crew—denim shirts, khaki skirts, and chinos. And a lot of the clothes were sold in unisex sizes. One of my first purchases was cotton chinos in “stone”, size 28, unisex, with the old school navy stripe at the waistline. I still have them and can’t seem to shed them, even to Second Serve, even though they don’t fit.
I also have several items that are vintage (30 years now!). I have a madras plaid button down short sleeve shirt, also unisex size, and a sweet 50’s style floral shirt both in my summer wardrobe.
My friends will recognize this madras shift dress below that I wore to death. I have it in a repair pile now because I have ripped the back slit so many times, and now the fabric is torn. I will have to cut it short and turn it into a top.
J. Crew wasn’t cheap, and I did not buy anything that was not on sale (This was before the factory stores, and before my adventures in re-sale). My mother treated me though, when I played prosecutor in my trial advocacy final in law school, and bought me a black wool crepe suit that fit perfectly. It helped—it was a hung jury which I counted as a win in law school. I still have the blazer.
Although they started out kind of boxy, J. Crew evolved into a more modern design (like in their suiting) while still maintaining their preppy roots. So instead of wearing an oxford that looked like a hand-me-down from your brother (a look I love!), the design was more fitted, and to many, more flattering. They also had some notable innovations in the preppy aesthetic when they started using silk fabric patterns typical of men’s ties for handbags and shoes, which was just darling. I have one of these cute handbags from Thred Up. I still don’t have any of the shoes, but they are on my re-sale list.
Speaking of shoes, my first pair from J. Crew was 25 years ago. Suede flats in light beige. Nothing better for spring when you need a boost but your toes aren’t ready for open-toe. And for whatever reason, 20 years ago, I could not find a flat boot anywhere except J. Crew. These are still kicking around and getting used.
J. Crew has been a go-to for me for many occasions, and I am not the only one. It is the most popular brand donated to us, and a very popular seller on Second Serve. We have three “Sofia” dresses in coral, silver, and black. You can wear these dresses everywhere. Below is me in the coral one at some wedding.
We have a few “black label” items that are the high end J. Crew, one is our prized trench (now sold, sorry!) coat with a tulle liner, and it is magnificent. This one may be the last of its kind, from the early aughts.
You can see the tulle can be removed for a less puffy A-line.
More from our J. Crew inventory:
If I change my mind, you will see it here on Second Serve. The resting place for my too small (usually) beloved items.
Kudos to J.Crew for making stuff that stands the test of time.