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J. Crew

J. Crew: What You Should Know
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J. Crew has been a very popular brand recently. Some confusion has resulted from the brand's preppy reputation, but its recently fashion forward clothing lines. The truth is that J. Crew's current and past evolution is anything but simple.

How J. Crew Came into Being J. Crew has a long and complicated history as a brand. J. Crew has its origins in a brick and mortar store selling affordable women's clothing under the name Popular Club Plan. This store was founded in 1947 and featured traveling sales men. The company didn't really change until the 1980s when they reworked the brand to take advantage of the catalogue boom. It was then that they decided to aim for a Ralph Lauren look at a lower price-something that remains true about J. Crew today.

The catalogue years of the 1980s were wildly successful; however the brand of Popular Club Plan was not so popular. So in 1983, J. Crew was born and sent off its first catalogue. In 1989 the first J. Crew store was opened in Manhattan. Through the 1990s the catalogue company started opening more and more brick and mortar J. Crew locations. Today the company has 248 retail stores.

In 2003, however, J. Crew was flagging. It received a serious jolt of energy when current CEO Mickey Drexler was hired. The brand had become lackluster and suffered dwindling popularity, but Drexler's changes and initiatives have transformed the brand into a designer quality clothing provider for the masses. In fact, the company has picked up serious momentum since 2003-increasing sales 170%.

What J. Crew Sells J. Crew offers clothing and accessories for women, men, and children. J. Crew is equally well known for its well fitted, wear-to-work clothing and it's more relaxed weekend essentials. Much of J. Crew clothing comes from specialized craftspeople and luxurious fabric. J. Crew's clothing can be broken into two different categories-clothing staples and trendy clothing. J. Crew sells well made classic wardrobe essentials that can be worn again and again, but it also sells more fashion forward pieces for its more adventurous customers.

Is J. Crew Preppy? This question has actually been much debated on the internet in casual conversations and fashion blogs. But the consensus has been that J. Crew is kind of preppy but not totally preppy. Some people have labeled J. Crew's more recent clothing lines as Preppy Chic or Modern Preppy. Others have objected to calling J. Crew preppy at all, saying that preppy clothing remains completely classic and timeless. While J. Crew does offer classic timeless clothing essentials, it's true that this is not the brand's only focus. Since 2003 in particular, the brand has been introducing designer clothing and trends to the public at more affordable prices.

Another confusing factor would be the difference between the men's and women's lines of clothing. Let's be honest. Men aren't quite as adventurous when it comes to clothing as women are. Or maybe they just don't find fashion as interesting. Whatever the case, the men's clothing lines did undergo a transformation when Mickey Drexler took over-but it wasn't necessarily too much fashion forward pieces. Instead the men's clothing become more fitted, better quality, and streamlined to look modern and timeless. In fact, this makeover of the men's clothing line has been so popular that's the look that most men go for when they want to look their best.

The conclusion is that the men's clothing line is actually preppier than the woman's clothing line. But overall J. Crew carries preppy essentials, but also designer trends.

Is J. Crew Expensive? J. Crew has its history in a brand that aimed to give the public Ralph Lauren clothing at more affordable prices. This tenet seems to be true of the brand today. While J. Crew is considerably more expensive than stores like Old Navy and J.C. Penney, its prices are still quite affordable for its high quality items. Cashmere isn't cheap anywhere. So J. Crew is, in fact, moderately expensive. The key to shopping J. Crew is to pick either solid foundation pieces, very luxurious pieces (Italian leather!), or fashion forward pieces that you simply love. Use these as key pieces in your wardrobe and they will be worth the investment.

Fit and Size Is the sizing and fit true to size? According to various sources, J. Crew clothing is, for the most part, true to size. Or you might say that it's true to American sizing. There are some varied reports, but the consensus seems to be that in the past J. Crew ran a little small-so older pieces might seem too small. However, more recent J. Crew clothing is reported to err on the side of caution-giving the consumer a little wriggle room. If you have a special body type, well endowed in some areas or under endowed in others, then you know that special considerations may have to be made. And of course, in the age of the internet, online reviews are an excellent source for the sizing consistency of clothing pieces.

Overall, J. Crew is a moderately expensive, true to fit, fashion forward store with a preppy twist and a good supply of wardrobe essentials.

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