Tag Archives: Michelle obama j crew

Is Luxury Dead? Lower Prices for J. Crew? Is 60% Off the New Black?

DISCLAIMER: The following report is rated M for Mature; it descends to new lows in its frequent and flagrant use of the M word (money) and it is intended only for adult readers.



Everywhere one looks there are stories about “the death of luxury.”

JP Morgan recently called upscale retailer Saks Fifth Avenue “the Gucci Blue Light Special,” referencing the deep discounts they have taken this fall. Below, the company’s sale page on their website.

Saks Fifth Avenue

Saks Fifth Avenue

The International Herald Tribune (as well as the NYT) ran a story Monday, “Luxe is losing its edge,” with the focus on struggles facing high-end jeweler Bulgari.

Courtesy Bulgari

Courtesy Bulgari

The story also talks about stores cutting back on expansion plans, like Burberry, Cartier, Saks and others.

The “Sale” notices do continue to pour in via both email and standard mail, many from establishments one would never associate with such aggressive price cuts, like this one from Barneys:

Barneys New York

Barneys New York

Previously, *if* for some insane reason stores felt forced to discount at this level, they hoped and prayed it would not negatively impact their image as purveyors of luxury goods.

We cannot remember the last time (if ever) we saw Burberry Prorsum selling for 60% off their original price, as is the case with the Empire Cocoon Coat.

Burberry Prorsum Cocoon Coat

Burberry Prorsum Cocoon Coat

Not everything at Burberry is marked down at that level; this children’s Argyle Sweater is “only 30% off.”



The same is true for the children’s Wool Duffel Coat:



There is even a post at Vivre Magazine online asking if “60% Off is the New Black?” The story raises the question that TP considers the elephant in the room for retailers:

“As stores slash and cut their prices just to hear the cash registers ring, you wonder if consumers will ever want to pay for full price for anything ever again. When this is all over, will any customer actually walk into ANY store and still look at Prada wallets and other designer handbags that used to be kept behind glass and are currently on tables and bins, the same way again?”

The Times ran a story in November “In Hard Times, No More Fancy Pants,” quoting one of our favorite authors:

“The era of conspicuous consumption, at least for the foreseeable future, has come to a close,” said Paco Underhill, the author of “Why We Buy,” which explores the science of retail.”

In yesterday’s WWD a story made the case that “Flaunting Days Are Over as Consumers Cut Back.

The story by Sharon Edelson does feature an amazing Graff necklace that we simply had to share:

Graff Courtesy Photo

Graff Courtesy Photo

The piece is a little over the top in our estimation (this is where Great Aunt Molly would lower her voice and whisper ‘New money sweetie… you know what I mean.”).  Actually, the story channels GAM in a remarkable fashion:

“Logos are becoming less important, said Pedraza, noting that customers are starting to ask for unmarked brands. “People want very understated products,” he said. “They want to consume privately.”

“While people with new money tend to define themselves by their labels and what they spend, the rules are changing. People want to buy more classic luxury at better prices. They don’t want to be the people who are showing off.”

For many readers this is not exactly breaking news. How are you reacting? Are you simply purchasing necessities and/or discretionary items as desired, or waiting for markdowns? Or perhaps a mix of both…?


While not considered a luxury retailer, J. Crew has also been in the news.  As reported on the WSJ Holiday Sales blog, J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler said:

“J. Crew is trying to adapt, he said, by making small investments in new concepts, implementing a hiring freeze… looking at lowering opening price points for its crewcuts kids line.

Did everyone notice the hiring freeze? We almost missed it upon reading about Crewcut prices, but it was noted in a story on GlobeSt, a real estate website:

“J. Crew has initiated a company-wide hiring freeze Drexler revealed, even during the holiday season… If someone wants to hire someone, someone’s got to leave,” Drexler said.”

Regular readers will remember Mr. Drexler’s comments shared in this post about lowering price points on some adult merchandise. Speaking about the overall climate for retailers:

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life…”

“Right now we’re all a little afraid,” he said. “If there’s anyone getting up in the morning and not saying ‘uh oh,’ then I’d like some of that medication.”

If Mr. Drexler locates a source for those meds we hope he brings enough for the rest of the class.  If not, we fear we shall be forced to make do with a little Prozac latte.



Filed under Argyle, Logos, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion

Politics & Fashion Part 12 and J. Crew Seizes the Moment!

Finally. We have managed to gather what’s left of what passes for an adult mind as we effort this update to the ongoing ‘Politics and Fashion’ saga.

We start with a fun story, Michelle Obama once again sporting classics from J. Crew.  In this instance Ms. Obama wore the clothier’s duds Monday night while appearing as a guest on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Kevork Djansezian/AP

PHOTO: Kevork Djansezian/AP

The top is the Italian Deco Shell, a silk twill tank that is now on sale at J. Crew for $99.99 in certain colors.

Courtesy J. Crew

Courtesy J. Crew

The skirt is Crew’s Pembridge-dot pencil skirt in a silk and nylon blend, fabric that is described as a “shimmery jacquard.”  The skirt is nothing short of stunning when seen in person. It retails at $148.

Courtesy J. Crew

Courtesy J. Crew

Completing the elegant ensemble was the Crystal-button colorblock cardigan in a wool/nylon/cashmere knit.  TP suspects the brooch at the neck was another Erickson-Beamon creation.

Courtesy J. Crew

Courtesy J. Crew

Crew also has this piece on sale, now reduced to $89.99.  If it holds any appeal for your walk-in, we recommend running, not walking, to the online shop, or dialing up your personal shopper at the local level.  Somehow we don’t think many, if any of these items will be around after a few hours.

CEO Mickey Drexler and and the rest of the marketing minds at J. Crew had to be ecstatic upon learning what Mrs. Obama was wearing for the high profile appearance. And the company was wise, investing in a paid advertisement in Google search results. Below, copy from the ad, clearly linking the company and the candidate’s wife:

    1. Michelle Obama in J.Crew®

      Get the Look Michelle Obama Wore on
      The Tonight Show Only from J.Crew.

Inevitably the conversation turned to the controversy surrounding the wardrobe of Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin. In the course of the conversation host Jay Leno asks “What is it, about $60-grand? $60, $70,000 that outfit?” and Ms. Obama answered, “Actually, this is a J.Crew ensemble. You can get some good stuff online.”

Kevork Djansezian/AP

PHOTO: Kevork Djansezian/AP

Mrs. Obama was gracious in her comments about the Palin wardobe issue:

“A V.P. pick, it’s like being shot out of a cannon. All of a sudden you’re at the center of attention, and you want to look good,” said Michelle Obama, adding she has never met Palin. “You’re living in your home, minding your business, and all of a sudden you’re on the national stage and everyone’s watching.”

We refer of course, to the news last week that the Republican National Committee spent $150,000 on clothing and accessories for Ms. Palin and her family.  Those expenses include $49,425 at Saks Fifth Avenue stores in St. Louis and New York, as well as $75,062 at the Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis. Other purchases were made at the Gap in Minneapolis and Lord & Taylor.  A story in WWD has more:

“While the FEC records do not identify whether the purchases were made by McCain or Palin, the McCain campaign has not disputed the news reports that the vice presidential nominee and her family made the purchases along the campaign trail, stretching from Minneapolis to St. Louis to New York.”

PHOTO: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty

Above, Governor Palin in Minneapolis at the Republican National Convention.  In previous coverage WWD has said Ms. Palin favors Escada, and has purchased items secondhand in Anchorage.  Many have suggested the black suit worn by the candidate for the vice presidential debate was by Elie Tahari.

In a follow-up to their original story, Politico.com interviewed a number of stylists and image consultants:

“She is dressing appropriately for the job she is going after,” said Lauren Rothman, a Washington stylist and the principal in the fashion consulting firm Styleauteur.”

The Politico story also includes this quote from Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan columnist:

“In the narrow confines of political style,” Givhan wrote last month, “the accepted rule is to dress in a manner that implies empathy for one’s constituency — so don’t wear anything too expensive — but also conveys authority. Palin has embraced the former and utterly ignored the latter.”

Senator McCain responded to the outrage on NBC’s “Meet the Press“:

“She lives a frugal life. She and her family are not wealthy. She and her family were thrust into this and there was some — and some third of that money is given back. The rest will be donated to charity…”

Steve Pope/Getty

PHOTO: Steve Pope/Getty

Arguably one of the comments that meant the most to us the past several months came from the wonderful Miss Kate, aka Nautical by Nature. In response to our post “Politics and Fashion Part 5, Real Yale Students Talk Gossip Girl” earlier this month she wrote:

“I love how you always show products from both parties ) Very honorable”

Perhaps it is all the years we spent in broadcast journalism, perhaps it is because we were raised in a culture where one’s honor essentially trumps all else, perhaps it is because we simply believe in being fair in what we write here.  But whatever it is, we didn’t post earlier on the Palin wardrobe issue because we couldn’t find ‘the other side’ to include in the post.

We believe Ms. Palin and family suddenly found themselves in a situation where it was painfully evident everyone needed new apparel. All one needs to reach this conclusion is look at photographs and video of the family the day of the announcement, let alone the days before that announcement.  What worked well in Anchorage would not play positively on a national stage. So we take no issue with the acquisition of new wardrobes for the family.

And we understand the immense difficulties inherent in attempting to procure this type of merchandise for high-profile individuals. One simply cannot walk into the nearest Macy’s with their Secret Service detail and start trying on suits, if for no other reason than the Service won’t allow it. Period. Our struggle is with the folks at the RNC who know better, who know how poorly this sort of thing plays on Main Street. One need not have completed their courses at American University’s Campaign Management Institute to know the impact this sort of thing has on the electorate. Honestly.

In conclusion, we have finally come to the reality that there really isn’t “another side” to the issue in a textbook sense. So we will attempt to lift the mood by sharing links to two stories related to our post this afternoon. The first is at a site called Jezebel (a tad raw for our taste, but there you have it), a delightful piece with some fun fashion selections, all from J. Crew:

“What if we headed to J Crew.com and picked clothing for Michelle Obama, Cindy McCain, Sarah Palin and the kids? We went on a shopping spree and chose election night outfits and inauguration day ensembles for the ladies…”

Courtesy J. Crew & Jezebel.com

Courtesy J. Crew & Jezebel.com

Above, a collage from Jezebel showing their picks for Sasha & Malia Obama; for more selections read the rest of the post.

The other is a story by the good folks at The Cut blog from NY Magazine in which they show “How to Spend $150,000 at Saks and Neiman Marcus.”


Collage: NY Magazine, PHOTOS: Getty

We will leave things here and trust readers to understand our efforts on this one.


Filed under Obama Fashion & Politics, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion

The Preppy Plate has Arrived! Also, Michelle Obama in J. Crew

At this moment the downpours are so torrential, this is what The Princess really needs:

In case you don’t receive Daily Candy where these Shuella boots were recently featured, they slip on right over your shoes and can handle almost any size heel. Umbrellas for your shoes = Shuellas.

But the weather makes us neither glum nor gloomy because we have these bright and beautiful treasures to make us smile here at the Prepatorium!

We’re not entirely sure which of these is our favorite – that changes minute by minute! The preppy plates are from one of our very favorite vendors, Boatman Geller, a name we know you recognize and respect.  We think this one will be appealing for Kate over at Nautical by Nature.

The plates are melamine and measure 10″ in diameter; up to three lines of personalization are included in the $25 price. They are food safe, and dishwasher safe, but the microwave is a no-no.

For some reason we are just crazy about the monkey plate!

Okay, back to the down and dirty of politics. Sigh.

Actually, regular readers know TP doesn’t do the down and dirty.  We try and stick to the more pleasant and often frivolous topics like today’s: Michelle Obama’s on-trend selection of J. Crew for an appearance in Jacksonville, NC yesterday. Below, a photo of Ms. Obama in Crew’s Sketchbook Roses patterned Belle skirt, followed by the actual silk taffeta piece.

Chuck Beckley/AP

PHOTO: Chuck Beckley/AP

If this is a silhouette you are fond of, the cotton version of the skirt is available at varying price points online: $29.99 for the deep Atlantic blue, $39.99 for bright rhubarb pink, and $59.99 for the more sedate dark fog color and the same for the bubbly Buttercup color.

In more J. Crew news, last night the company store hosted a reading of their recently released book, “What a Man Should Know,” their light-hearted collection of 50 things on that topic.


Photo: Racked.com

What a Man Should Know

And even more J. Crew news: it seems aggressive discounting on merchandise will continue throughout the Columbus Day holiday weekend, at least at the company’s outlet stores.  From Oct. 9-Oct. 15 there will be 30 – 50% Off all Sweaters, and during the Columbus Day Weekend sale all shirts will be reduced 30 – 50%.

In our continued effort to help everyone stretch their wardrobe budgets, we have more updates on additional discounts and sales. Our good friends at Ann Taylor are helping out as well.

The Watercolor Rose sweater is available in both missy and petite sizes at $49.99.

The textured tweed Wool Jacket in black is $109.99, discounted more than 60% from its original price.

Whoops, we almost forgot to mention… on top of the existing markdowns there will be another 20% off. For example, this would mean the black jacket above would be $87.99 or so.

We will be back later with more bargains!


Filed under Obama Fashion & Politics, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle