More on J. Crew’s Disdain for Preppy & a True Prep Update

Hello-Hello, welcome to another wild and wacky day here at the Prepatorium

We have follow-ups to two topics we initially covered last week, J. Crew’s fall line and True Prep, the new book from one of the TOPH (The Original Preppy Handbook) authors, Lisa Birnbach.

Friday’s post on Crew’s fall line offered a number of photos but little editorial blather from either the professionals in the trade, or your utterly unprofessional hostess here at Princess InterGalactic HQ.

Courtesy Photo

As AOL’s Stylelist noted:

“”This is all about Edie Beale-goes-to-Girl Scout camp,” J.Crew Creative Director Jenna Lyons tells StyleList. “There’s a bit of that grandma-chic that we always draw from. There are elements borrowed from the boys, but we decided she’s at Girl Scout camp.”

Here are more detailed looks shot by WWD’s Kyle Ericksen:

And two more:

The review with the most telling perspective on Crew’s path may be this brief story in today’s Women’s Wear Daily (subscription req’d.). While many perceive the company to have preppy roots and/or preppish products even now, this quote from design director Jenna Lyons suggests a different direction:

“Classic outerwear with a military feel was worn over girly sequined pieces, creating an eclectic layered look intended to further shed J. Crew’s preppy image, which makes Lyons cringe. “We had a story in The Guardian recently, and the opening line was ‘the preppy retailer,’ and I was like, really? Still?”

Some may remember this post where we highlighted a quote from a lengthy interview Style did with Ms. Lyons:

“Preppy” style is often mentioned in the same breath as J.Crew. Is today’s preppy different from yesterday’s?

I have a hard time with the word “preppy.” To me, it’s a way of styling. Classic things mixed a certain way—especially special color combinations—look very preppy. We still have the same pieces: polo shirts, khakis, a great classic blazer, a beautiful white shirt. But what we’ve been trying to do is change the way things are presented. Maybe that little cargo jacket that we would have shown ten years ago with a polo shirt we’re now showing with a little sequin top and high heels. And the thing about preppy is it can be alienating to some people. It’s very coastal and it leaves out a lot of Americans who aren’t yachting or going to the beach club.”

It remains to be seen if Ms. Lyons will continue the move away from ‘preppy’ toward trendier pieces, or if the brand will retain some of its more traditional styles.

Another tableau from the presentation:

Courtesy Image

From The Cut’s review:

“… models wore rugged tweeds, textured tights, and outerwear with Mongolian lamb accents. J.Crew creative director Jenna Lyons described the look as “Edie Beale goes to Girl Scout camp.” The saucer-sized jewelry and homemade headpieces would definitely be at home in Grey Gardens, and Lyons suggested “slapping brooches all over everything” to achieve this eccentric, layered look.

More looks:

More from StyleList:

“The predominant tone in the presentation was olive. “I’m olive obsessed,” Lyons says. “My olive fixation goes back to wanting to touch on the military moment.”

We don’t do olive.

The following thoughts on the men’s styles are also from WWD:

“As for men’s wear, shown before the women’s presentation, J. Crew brought its American heritage to a new level with sophisticated and clean looks.”

Most of the men’s styles we saw looked quite stylish.


Our other topic with some life to it, True Prep, first discussed here.  An interesting connection to the story above: the new book has multiple references to Crew: in just one diagram the man is described as wearing “J. Crew Head-to-Ankle,” the woman’s striped shirt and khakis are by Crew, and she is carrying a J. Crew handbag.

More to the point today, news about the upcoming publication hit the Times.  On the front page.  On Sunday.  “Rejoice, Muffy and Biff: A Preppy Primer Revisited” looks at the upcoming release while also briefly meandering back to TOPH:

“The original volume, a slim, plaid-covered paperback that poked fun at the gin-soaked polo-shirt and loafer-wearing set, started out as a piquant bit of mockery but…  it ended up being adopted as a kind of guidebook for those who wanted in.”

Why do another book? Perhaps this sentence from writer Motoko Rich says it best:

“But even for prepsters, it turns out, the world has changed.”

As previously mentioned, a good portion of the new book deals with the impact of technology and things like cell phones, while also updating style trends.

“And while “True Prep” dispenses a dollop of the upper-class frugality, many of its featured items are a bit more upmarket than the duck shoes and other L.L. Bean duds that dominated the first volume. Think Tory Burch, E. Goyard bags and the luxury jewelry brand Verdura.”

We simply adored seeing quotes  in the story from other preptastic bloggers:

“The blogosphere is filled with fans eagerly awaiting the new book. The first handbook “was like a bible to us,” said Alice Richardson, 44, who blogs about preppy things at “Summer Is a Verb” (”

Along with Hopsy:

“Helen “Hopsy” Goblirsch, a 25-year-old event planner for a real estate developer in Dallas who blogs at “Monograms and Manicures” (, said she discovered the original handbook when she was a sophomore at the Taft School in Watertown, Conn.”

While reading the story was a delight, looking at the online comments is always an eye-opener.  BTW, True Prep is no longer slated for an August release, it is due out mid-September.  To see an interview with Ms. Birnbach and co-author Chip Kidd (and to also see what brand of loafers the hypothetical preppy male is wearing in the new book), click on the link in the video:

Sunday’s Easter dinner was quite a gala, TQM graced us with her presence and we were off to the Consort’s ancestral home to visit with scads of other relatives.  We close with an Adventure in Argyle, compliments of our hostess for the dinner extravaganza, the Consort’s mother. Not only is she an amazing cook, look at the place cards she created for everyone!


Additional J. Crew images: Kyle Ericksen/WWD


Filed under preppy

13 responses to “More on J. Crew’s Disdain for Preppy & a True Prep Update

  1. Suburban Princess

    I wondered why all the haters needed to even read the article let alone post negative comments about it. In any case they are NOKD :O)

    Yay for SIAV and M&M being quoted!

  2. I do NOT like where jCrew is going these days- which is probably why I’m going back to LandsEnd (I’m in LOVE with my new Canvas pieces that I’m getting compliments on left & right) and even L.LBean rather than over-spend on poor quality and iffy-style.

  3. Oh dear, NOT a fan of the new offerings from “the Crew”. I think they totally missed the mark and need to watch Grey Gardens again if they think there is any Edie Beale in there. True Prep is going to be FASCINATING, to say the least! I’m excited.

  4. Please forgive me, TP, as it has been far too long since I’ve been by here.

    I continue to marvel at J Crew attempting to alienate its core customer base, of which I fancy myself a part – or did, until most of my recent orders began pilling & getting holes due to the now-questionable construction of their garments. Oh, and We don’t do olive either. Harrumph.

    On a lighter note, I’ll have to track down Birnbach’s latest when it arrives. I’ve read some quotes from her lately to the effect that us “The Preppy Handbook” fans were missing the boat entirely, but whatever – I’ll just have another Arnold Palmer and enjoy this latest one.

  5. love the whole “Edie Beale goes to Girl Scout Camp” theme, but not too thrilled with the line. i like the coats, shorts and pants. i also like to incorporate vintage items into my wardrobe, whether it be a pin, scarf or clutch, so the line does appeal to me. i look forward to True Prep. hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend and take care.

  6. Has the world gone mad?!? I swear I saw Sonny Bono wearing that same woolly vest in the 60’s! Some things are better left in a particular decade. 🙂 xoxo

  7. NOT a fan of the J Crew line…at all!

  8. Why would J. Crew try to fix something that isn’t broken. Their sales have been fantastic so why this? Maybe this is just Jenna’s view on not settling into the same old same old?? I’m very disappointed this spring. Have not purchased an item yet. xoxo

  9. loopyloo

    Just had to sign up to express my sadness over the end of the J Crew preppy era. I noticed the change soon after the election and people found out Michelle Obama was wearing some of their stuff – guess Crew thought to “class” things up a little, which does not lend to sporty preppy stuff (no more critter pants – so sad I could cry). But now? Folks want to wear grandma’s old stuff? Gah – those clothes in the catalog look like they smell. I guess it’s back to the Ralph Lauren outlet stores for me!

  10. Amy

    NOT a fan of the J Crew line either..

  11. Chris

    What happened to the Nantucket Red pants, the polos, the madras patch, the seersucker…?

    It seems that J. Crew now trends and sells to the out-of-work hipster crowd. Thank goodness for Vineyard Vines.

  12. LoveClassics

    J Crew used to be a good place to shop for dress code requisite blazers and wardrobe staples like button-downs and khakis. Shedding the style which made the company great simply because it “leaves out a lot of Americans” who can pay top dollar for poorly constructed (and tacky) clothes is a shame.

  13. Hope

    at the end of the day, money talks. The truth is in the profitability of the JCrew business and since they are showing sales increases and growth, they are obviously doing a great job in connecting not only to the core customer but drawing in new customers.

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