How to Live the J. Crew Life: 6 Easy Ways

It’s no secret: You already know that sometimes I fantasize about living the life I see in the J. Crew catalog.

This week, while browsing for something to wear in this 40-degrees-at-breakfast / 70-at-lunch weather, I got caught up in pondering just what I’d have to do to pull off this lifestyle on a daily basis. There’s a lot to it, but none of it’s all that hard. I think I’ve got the hang of it:

* * *

1. Embrace bedhead. This looks a lot like how my hair just naturally is, but you can also create this look on purpose. What you do is put lots of time and product and effort into styling your hair nice and smooth, and then you sort of take your open palm and noogie-noogie-noogie it all crazy on the crown of your head and then go.

It adds an interesting pop of contrast to fancy outfits. Like, if you’re going to Easter brunch, but you don’t want to look all prim and fussy, just mess up the hair. Because then the whole look together says, “Yes, I went to church this morning. And then I rolled around on the floor for while. [Wink] Pass the biscuits.”
Bedhead adds an interesting bit of contrast to fancy outfits. Like, if you’re going to brunch, but you don’t want to look all prim and fussy, just mess up the hair. Because then the whole look together says, “Yes, I went to church this morning. And then I rolled around on the floor for while. [wink] Pass the biscuits?”
It’s also great for casual daytime looks. Like, “Um, hey, whatever, is there a wireless signal in here or whatever? Whatever.”
It’s also great for casual daytime looks. Like, “Um, hey, whatever, is there like a wireless signal in here or whatever? Whatever.”

* * *

2. Eschew perfection. Always leave one element of your outfit screwed up or half done. Like tucking the back of your dress into your thong, except preppier.

Put on the blouse, add a perfectly-fitted blazer, go find the necklace, put on the necklace, re-adjust the clasp of the necklace so it falls just so under your top button, noogie-noogie-noogie your hair, then – BAM – flip up one side of the collar, because what the hell, this world is an imperfect place and we’re all going to die someday.
Here’s how to do this one: Put on the blouse, add a perfectly-fitted blazer, go find the necklace, put on the necklace, re-adjust the clasp of the necklace so it falls just so under your top button, noogie-noogie-noogie your hair, then – BAM – flip up one side of the collar, because what the hell, this world is an imperfect place and we’re all going to die someday.
The black-and-white lines in the blouse suggest symmetry and order, but the half-tucked sweater suggests you may or may not have attempted to button your cardigan to your crotch because the sky is the limit and fuck the rules.
The black-and-white lines in the blouse suggest symmetry and order, but the half-tucked sweater suggests you may or may not have attempted to button your cardigan to your crotch because the sky is the limit and fuck the rules.

* * *

3. Cultivate a mysterious expression. There’s lots of room for creativity here. The gist is that you don’t want to stick with the basics: happy, sad, mad, etc. You want to come up with something quirky, an unusual combo of emotions. Like, murderously vapid. Or playfully depressed. Or adorably vegetarian. You get the idea.

Curiously stoned
Curiously stoned
Impishly secretive
Impishly secretive

* * *

4. Always be touching. Too close for comfort? Nonsense. If you’ve got on a great outfit, let everyone know it by sidling up to the closest other person in a great outfit and touching them, creating an electric charge that radiates for all to see.

Weddings are fun. They’re even more fun when all the bridesmaids are attached at the hip. Or the shoulder. Or the knee. Or the forehead.
Weddings are fun. They’re even more fun when all the bridesmaids are attached at the hip. Or the shoulder. Or the knee. Or the forehead.
The beach is a great place to find other Crew-babes and invade their personal space. Note the touching pinkies. That’s subtle, yet assertive.
The beach is a great place to find other Crew-babes and invade their personal space. Note the touching pinkies. That’s subtle, yet assertive.

* * *

5. Keep ‘em guessing at the office. Can women have it all? Is there such a thing as balance? Is that the glass ceiling or did someone play a prank on us with Saran Wrap? Who knows, but one thing’s for sure: The J. Crew way is to keep things wacky at work.

Start every board meeting with this look. It says, “I’d like to outline a 6-point plan for excellence around here, but first I want to tell you about the dream I had last night where I drugged all of you and ate your spleens.”
Start every board meeting with this look. It says, “I’d like to outline a 6-point plan for excellence around here, but first I want to tell you about the dream I had last night where I drugged all of you and ate your spleens.”
Sunglasses indoors. Always. You can tell this is a work environment because of the clock. Only offices have clocks, because once you leave work, the world is just a funky continuum, free of artificial constructs like hours and minutes.
Sunglasses indoors. Always. You can tell this is a work environment because of the clock. Only offices have clocks, because once you leave work, the world is just a funky continuum, free of artificial constructs like hours and minutes.

* * *

6. Jump, and you’ll look better. It’s fine to do just a half-leap, but if you really want to grab the world by the balls, launch into a full ballet jeté in the next crowded place you go, because why not.

Every time someone looks at me from now on out, I'm going to jump. And then what they'll say is, "Wow. You are so stylish. Did you get those striped sequin cafe-fit capris at J. Crew?" And I will be like, "You're damn right I did. [Jump]"
Every time someone looks at me from now on out, I’m going to jump. And then what they’ll say is, “Wow. You are so stylish. Did you get those striped sequin cafe-fit capris at J. Crew?” And I will be like, “You’re damn right I did. [Jump]”

And that’s how you do it.

(All pictures are from the J. Crew catalog. Obviously.)

69 comments

  1. Love this post! I’ve been feeling Jenna fatigue for a while…j.crew has had these crazy noogie/impishly secretive/ half tuck cardigan looks for a while…time for a change! Their models have also gotten a lot slimmer…I think so they can add 5 layers of clothing to the poor girls. Thanks for pointing out exactly what was bothering in a terrifically funny way.

  2. Love it. My fave: “I’d like to outline a 6-point plan for excellence around here, but first I want to tell you about the dream I had last night where I drugged all of you and ate your spleens.” You make me laugh.

  3. Now I wish I didn’t go through all that trouble blow-drying my hair this morning! Bed head is just so much easier but mystery part comes into play when friends and co-workers start asking if I’m ill or high?

  4. Lately, every time I get your post by email, I forward it to ANOTHER group of friends to say,”Subscribe to this blog. NOW.” You are too freakin’ funny. BTW tomorrow night I’m going to a big school auction and have gotten agreement from two friends that we will jete and touch each other all night. So thanks for that.

  5. Haha! I have never seen a J Crew cataloge but I imagine we have a similar thing in England. This made me feel much better about my bed hair and tendancy to tuck my skirt into my knickers as it’s actually incredibly chic and fashionable x

  6. You have made my week! Hysterical. Don’t forget standing in awkward positions before and after the jumping by “drugged psycho trying to look sexy”. Put all together, it gives a visual of the SNL skit of the two adults acting like children!

  7. So funny, Mary! Thank you for sharing. I came upon your blog from the wordpress news today. I’m looking forward to catching up on your other posts!

  8. This post is awesome! My husband and I have spent some time making captions for the pictures in catalogs we get in the mail, but we aren’t so clever as this…”jump and you’ll look better…” who knew? Amazing.

  9. My mum, who has lots of amazing, curly hair, was running late one morning and had rushed to get 6 kids to school when the principal walked by and greeted her.
    “Had a wild night, Ellen?’ he said jokingly, seeing her hair.
    ‘My whole life is wild,’ my mum said, sadly and completely honestly.
    ‘”Ha ha!” he laughed, going on his way.
    Now, thanks to your wise insight, I can tell my mum that her look was spot on!

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