Why J.Crew is Faltering, and How It Can Recover

Mar 24, 2015

Several readers sent me The Washington Post article, “Sorry, J.Crew. Female shoppers just aren’t that into you.”  The article discusses J.Crews continuing downward spiral.  Apparently, sales fell during the busy holiday season.  The article identifies several problems with the brand, including this quote:

And yet the biggest problem of all, Drexler said, was one of J. Crew’s own making: It filled its stores with clothes that women really just weren’t into.

“We’ve made some mistakes,” Drexler said, including “missteps in our iconic classics.”

My quarrel with J.Crew has been going on for at least three years.  From 2008-2010, nearly every post on this blog featured a J.Crew item.  The store was my go-to, my staple, there were whole weeks where I didn’t wear a single item of clothing that wasn’t J.Crew.  So what happened?

First, a catastrophic decline in quality.  Garments would rip or fray on the first wear, or during the first wash.  Hems fell out after a week or a month.

Fabrics that once felt luxurious–Super 120s wools, cashmeres, silks–were suddenly rough or artificial.  T-shirts, sweaters, and blouses were made from such cheap fabric that they were practically translucent.  The sleeve seams of most of my J.Crew blouses are frayed because the thread literally tears the cheap fabric.

Second, just as quality was plunging, prices were rising.  The J.Crew Collection features laughably priced garments that cost thousands while the rest of the site is constantly on sale.  Like so many mid-price retailers, the store is making clothes that earn a profit even when discounted 40-percent.  So you’re not getting a blouse that’s $98 quality, you’re getting a blouse made with $60 quality.

Finally, J.Crew is like the pretty, unpopular girl who ditched her old friends for the cool kids table and is struggling to stay there.  Working women, prepsters, Basic Bettys, we were the J.Crew market base.  We wanted good quality staples at a fair price with the occasional bit of flair.

Then one day, Jenna Lyons shows up and our favorite brand is in Vogue, InStyle, etc..  But after a few years, the shine is wearing off.  The brand is losing it’s foundation customer base, and the fashionistas it so desperately courted are moving on to the next hot thing.  So what does J.Crew have to do to get us back?

Brands like Cuyana, Everlane, and the like are thriving by producing quality pieces that justify their mid-price.  J.Crew needs to ditch the sale-priced, mass-market model and go back to the days of quality pieces.  If I can see and feel the quality in a piece, and I’m confident it will last, I don’t need it to be 40-percent-off final sale to take the plunge.

Finally, they need to remember who their audience is.  Working women need blouse and dresses with sleeves, and waistlines that aren’t more suited to a 14-year-old girl.  We need shirts that aren’t sheer.  We want blazers and cardigans that can last for multiple seasons.  And we need a size guide based on fact, not fiction.  If the average waist on a size 4 dress is 28.5″ instead of 27″ (based on the unscientific study in my own closet), just say so.

So ladies, what do you think J.Crew needs to do to find its groove again?


share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. SFMD says:

    So true. Both Banana Republic and JCrew used to be my “go to” stores. Classic, with a little something modern, and quality clothes that lasted. Now, everything is cheaply made and the constant sales reflect that. I would gladly pay full price for quality clothing!

  2. SLG says:

    Quality, quality, quality. I bought a heavy cardigan from J.Crew (the outlet, no less!) around 8 years ago that I still wear every other day (it’s my “the office is cold” sweater). While I occasionally give it a go with a sweater shaver to remove pills, it still looks great. No stretching out, no fading — it’s just fantastic.

    More recently I bought a nice sweater from the main J. Crew (not outlet) store and the quality was so bad I got rid of it within a year. It pilled almost instantly, stretched in weird and unflattering places, and even shrank at the drycleaners.

    Like you, Belle, I used to build my wardrobe almost entirely from J. Crew. Now, after a few bad experiences like that one, I just will not shop there. I don’t have enough money or time to throw at poor-quality clothing, especially when it’s so laughably overpriced. I get my basics from Banana, Everlane, Boden, and even sometimes Gap and H&M, but not J. Crew. I hope they can turn the brand around!

  3. Melinda says:


  4. CTS says:

    A while back, I read Elizabeth Cline’s book, Overdressed. She argues that the rise of stores like H&M and Forever 21, with they’re incredibly low prices and fast turnover, makes it nearly impossible for other stores – from mid price to designer – to compete. Clothing has become disposable and people no longer consider quality an investment.

    And it’s not just J Crew, everyone is falling prey to lower quality, more sales/lower price points, and a rapid turnover. 15 years ago, I could buy a fully lined pair of wool pants from Ann Taylor LOFT. Now, lined pants are impossible to find- even Brooks Brothers frequently cuts corners and ditches the lining. And the fact that nearly all work blouses are 100% polyester and retailers price them as if they were marketing silk, it infuriates me. Rant over.

    • Lauren says:

      Agree with the comment on pricing polyester like silk! I don’t actually mind polyester most of the time because I usually don’t have to deal with dry cleaning, BUT it should not be priced like silk.

  5. MYD says:

    My problem is the styling! I am not a hipster. There is no occasion in my life where dressing in bedazzled pants and a slogan t-shirt is appropriate. J. Crew needs to re-examine their customer – and sell clothes for her life.

    I do agree that quality is a problem, but so is the style of the clothes they are selling.

    • Belle says:

      Agree. As the hipster thing dies, when Jenna Lyons and Eva Chen are no longer fashion icons, where will they be? They keep trying to make J.Crew more like Madewell by Jenna Lyons (because that brand is doing well), and it isn’t working.

      • LS says:

        I’m interested in what other ladies think, but it seems like Madewell is actually better quality than JCrew in many cases. I will admit I only own one piece from there since I’ve been boycotting JCrew, but it’s held up very well. I went into Madewell recently and an XS silk blouse fit my shoulders perfectly, wasn’t see-through, and was a reasonable price for silk (~$90). The styles aren’t good for a working woman, but for casual wear, I could see myself shopping there.

  6. Kristina says:

    I totally agree! I have also struggled with Banana Republic. I used to LOVE everything from there–all their clothes were stylish and good quality and professional looking. Now, going in there, I can barely find one item that I think would be appropriate for work. It used to be a staple for work clothes and now I have really struggled to find professional attire. Everything is just too casual, I wish they would make more work appropriate wear! 🙁

    • Ali says:

      YES, this! Banana went through a rebranding last year and it’s been hideous. They used to have styles for a lot of different body types and now it seems like it’s just for the very thin, model-type shape. It’s really disappointing.

    • LS says:

      Me too!! I used have a ton of stuff from BR and considered getting their credit card, but now nothing fits me AND the designs are so not friendly for the working woman. Also, why is everything black and white? Can’t a girl get a little color?

  7. KNO says:


    It’s sort of a similar thing I found with Banana Republic. I used to be able to go in, make a purchase, and know without hesitation the item was good quality and would last. The sizes were true, and while it wasn’t “cutting edge” fashion-wise, it was reliable and perfect for my conservative workplaces.

    As SLG said, I’ve had more recent issues with pilling and wear I’ve never experienced with J.Crew, and it’s making me rethink my purchasing.

  8. Gloria A says:

    I completely agree as well. I work in a consignment shop and would rather buy a J Crew item made 8 years ago than one made last year. The 8 year old item has held up better than a one year old item. Fabric and construction are poor. Buttons are cheap looking and the cashmere is horrendous. I stopped buying J Crew cashmere 6 years ago. Sadly this trend extends beyond J Crew. Fabrics are flimsy and cheap even on designer brands. This situation will not right itself until consumers stop buying this crap and demand better quality garments.

  9. Saverspender says:

    Exactly as you’ve said . Now Banana Republic is my go-to even if they aren’t 100% awesome for quality either. J Crew also needs to stop trying to be trendy and make stuff that is wearable pretty again. Some of their styles and prints are just HIDEOUS. Who is going to wear that?!? Their quality has also diminished and doesn’t justify the price tag. I’d rather buy another brand than buy from J Crew seeing as their fabrics are getting thinner every year. Also, they’re all about fashion and marketing rather than actually making good clothes. I’d want them to be honest about their margins because it seems to me it is a $20 garment masquerading as a $200 one. Their “Collection” garment should be priced at their regular garment range, but they’re in the thousands not the hundreds. Terrible quality.

  10. Jennifer says:

    I completely agree, great post! Used to love J. Crew and 95% of my wardrobe was from the store when I worked in Washington (I now live on the West Coast). It’s really awful when a company wants to charge a fortune for pieces that aren’t worth it and that fall apart. Also, I’ve been really disappointed to see that many blouses that used to be made with silk are now being made with cheaper fabrics like polyester but at similar prices.

  11. LilyS says:

    Just a quick note on sizing – if J Crew’s size 4 dresses are designed to fit around a 27″ waist, I’d be surprised to find them with an actual waistline of less than 28″, due to ease! Ease is necessary to be able to move, sit, and… well, breathe!

    • Belle says:

      My old J.Crew dresses (2004-06) are spot on to the size guide with maybe .5 inches of wiggle room. I’ve ordered fitted sheaths this year in size4 with 29 inch waists. They claim it’s styling choices, I claim it’s vanity sizing.

      • Jenn S. says:

        Claiming it is a styling choice is arrogant and makes me resent them even more. “Fitted sheath,” refers to a pretty specific thing. If you arbitrarily add to the waist it’s no longer a fitted sheath. Nice try, JCrew.

  12. LS says:

    I’m so, so happy to see this post. I think the three big issues have been discussed – quality, design, and sizing. I share my own experience with them below. I was recently forced to buy a bridesmaid dress from JCrew and HATED giving them my money. Cuyana, Everlane, MM LaFleur, Dobbin, Brass are so much more deserving.

    Quality – One of my “splurge” piece when I first entered the working world was a navy Super 120s pencil skirt. 5 years later, it still looks great. The fabric is absolutely beautiful and rarely wrinkles. When it does, I hang it up and they fall out. I bought a black pencil in 2013 hoping for the same. The fabric was disgusting, would wrinkle horribly, and the hem fell out after 3 wears. This is one example, but I could go on and on about my wool coat from 2003 and t-shirts from 2004 that were cheaper AND better than current versions.

    Design – take the pencil skirt. The “new” design has an extremely thin waistband that is not at all flattering on me compared to the old one. Why would change a classic? Someone mentioned it above, but so many of the new printed designs are HIDEOUS. Like I go through the catalog laughing and think about what theme party I would wear them to.

    Sizing – the size charts are a blatant and utter lie. To our faces. It would be great if the whole fashion world had constant sizing, but at a minimum, how about you make your own size charts accurate? I should be a size 4-6 according to the chart, but I’m actually a 0-2. That’s hellaciously off. In addition, the majority of the skirts, dresses, tops, and coats (pretty much everything) are cut straight up and down – no room for hips or boobs.

    • Laura says:

      LS you are definitely about the “new” design of the pencil skirt #HATEIT . I never understood why they would take a perfectly good skirt and put seams down the front thigh area. Like yeah that’s what I want to do draw attention to my thighs and bum.
      Don’t even get me started on how the t-shirts don’t even last an entire season. How about instead of #J.Crewreviveit let’s change it to #JCrewgetaclue

  13. Heather says:

    I agree, the current quality and price point just don’t make J. Crew a worthwhile option for me anymore. I remember in 2008 when I graduated from law school I splurged and filled my closet with J.Crew staple pieces. These skirts, suits, and sweaters are still in rotation to this day, but a couple of years ago I bought a new Jackie Cardigan in a new color, compared to my old one it wore terribly immediately and sits in the back of my closet. That was the end for me. Also one year, I had been buying their clothes for while, I knew my size. I hadn’t lost or gained any weight, so I bought what I thought were some great final sale deals (so no returns) in my size I had been buying for years, when the clothes came everything was gigantic. One skirt literally fell off of me. And then when I went into a store to see what the deal with the sizes were I discovered that I had to try on size 2 to find something that fit, when all previous items in my closet from them were a size 4 (and were still fitting perfectly). That was the beginning of the end for me with J. Crew.

  14. Anna says:

    I was really annoyed that they really only sought comment from J.Crew. Of course they’re not going to say that their quality sucks, and their clothes are overpriced for what they are. Their excuse was that they just didn’t guess consumer tastes well enough. That’s much more forgivable than putting out poor quality for exorbitant prices.

  15. MK says:

    So agree on quality problem. Also, some of the ridiculous styles. While I’ve seen a general downgrade in quality in mid-price stores over the past several years — cottons, for one! — J. Crew is the worst. Their stuff is so overpriced for the quality, and so often doesn’t seem like it’s cut for actual adult female human beings. I do still like their jackets (outdoor, not suit) and their jewelry, but otherwise I rarely shop there anymore. Banana is my go-to for work staples.

    • Kate says:

      I’m glad to hear you still like their outerwear! I have a JCrew coat from 2007 that I absolutely love but is finally showing signs of wear and tear. I want to look for a new one there but I’ve been so disapointed with the quality of their clothes lately (and the coat I want is online only) that I’ve been afraid to…

  16. Ellen says:

    Right out of college I was looking for a part time job and landed as a sales associate at J Crew. I loved it. J Crew fit my style and body proportions perfectly. I knew exactly what size I wore in every style. I worked there from 2009 – 2011 when I started law school. I’m still wearing clothes I purchased while working there. Almost six years later some of those staples are still in great condition and the fit is still perfect. My frustration with the brand started when I noticed their ridiculous sizing changes. XXS and 000 are crazy on so many levels. They have made it impossible for me to run into the store and grab something or order online without fear of having to return every item. Additionally, I became frustrated by sales associates informing me that the pants or skirt I was wearing fit perfectly because the “style” was for things to fit draper and show a little more skin. That may be the style but it certainly isn’t very professional. My latest frustration arose last week. I had just purchased a pair of pants for $98. The first day I wore them I had an important court appearance. As I was sitting waiting for my case to be called I noticed a significant hole in the side seam of my brand new pants. I don’t think anyone else noticed but it didn’t do great things for my self esteem that day and aren’t clothes supposed to make us feel good in our own skin? That being said, the pants are going back and I won’t be returning to J Crew until i see some changes.

    • Katie says:

      I had a similar experience last summer. I wore a brand new pair of J.Crew pants to work on a day I had a presentation (also a lawyer). I sat down at my desk that morning & the seam up the back ripped! The pants obviously weren’t too tight, as I had purchased them intending to wear them to work. I had to go home and change clothes before my presentation. Later on, I checked out the reviews of the pants online (I had purchased in-store) and saw that almost every other reviewer had the same thing happen! Recently, I purchased a button-down on final sale…huge mistake. The button holes and seams along the sleeves were basically shredded. So I wasted money on what I thought was a classic piece because I can’t return it…Get it together J.Crew.

  17. Parker says:

    Great post and I like that it’s an opinion from someone with long-term exposure to the brand.

    I think, connecting the dots to Jenna Lyons showing up, is stopping a bit short of the pitfall though. She’s a homegrown exec, who has worked her way up in the company – but of course, these things happened the minute she merged a creative exec role with a financial role.

    However, I think it’s also got a fair bit to do with the fact that majority stakeholder TPG Capital (of the infamous Washington Mutual fame) co-operated with another perennial bottom line focused buyout firm, to take the company private in 2010.

  18. Kelly says:

    Belle – I couldn’t agree with you more. For years my closet could be mistaken for a JCrew store. No longer. Wool pencil skirts from five years ago look brand new while the one I purchased last year appears rumpled and worn; it is also a magnet for lint! At the same time I made the mistake of purchasing two of the super 120s pencil skirts; they are so thin I hesitate to wear them into the office. I am in my mid 50s and am struggling to find high quality, stylish clothing that is age appropriate. JCrew rarely offers clothing options that work for me. Very disappointed.

  19. KRF says:

    I agree with so many of the previous comments. I started purchasing J.Crew in college (1996-2000) and continued when I entered the workforce in 2000. Many of the pieces I purchased held up for a number of years. I truly miss the quality of their winter pea coats and their dresses. I have a summer dress I bought in 2001 that I wore to a wedding last year and it still looks and feels great.

    Interestingly, I have experienced a few positive select pieces from the J Crew Factory site (Clair Cardigans, wool pencil skirts, and scarves–quality and prices were within my budget as a working mom). For the Claire Cardigans, I wash them in cold water, gently cycle and lay flat to dry (some ironing is needed) they are holding up well at 2 years. The wool lined pencil skirts hit me at the knee (I am petite at 5 feet tall) have lasted me 3 years and going strong. I use the dry cleaner for the wool skirts and dryell in between. Good dialogue today!

    • LS says:

      I totally agree with the Factory comment. For that price range, the quality is really good. I bought a pencil skirt with the “old” style wider waistband and it’s almost as good as my non-factory version from many years ago. My Claire cardigans look better than my Jackies too. So strange.

  20. KiraW says:

    Amen to all of this. BR, J. Crew, Ann Taylor and Talbots were my go-to stores for years. However, the quality has fallen off quite a bit in all of them. Talbots is starting to pick up on that and improve accordingly, but the other three are still a sea of polyester and cheap finishings. I have a JCrew suit from 2000 (college interview suit) that is fully lined, made of good fabric, and in fabulous shape. None of that can be said about my Super 120s suit from 2013 that looks like I ran over it with my car a few times.

  21. Martiniyogini says:

    For years, I have been looking for one of those J Crew Bella blazers with velvet so soft it feels like satin…but they just dont make those anymore. Instead, I can buy a $60 t-shirt that says “Dancing” on it…!!!!

    I think J Crew’s problems are a reflection of the entire industry. I dont know where to go for quality anymore. I dont kow what size I am (anywhere from a 4 to a 10, depending on the store/brand). I would love to just walk into a store and buy an outfit when I need it, but I have to wait to play their game and get a 40% off sale so I don’t overpay. And I can’t order from a catalog anymore because who know what the hell size I am….I wish they would sell clothing by measurements, so we know what we are getting and can do away with vanity sizing.

    And yes, quality is a huge issue. I would love to see you highlight some work outfits from brands that dont run 40% off sales so you get what the price says you are getting.

    Also, my other complaint about J. Crew- they simply have too many items at too many pricepoints. When I log onto their web site, i feel confused, and I can never put an outfit together.

    • Belle says:

      eBay. Lots of old J.Crew, most of it like new, on eBay.

    • Jenny says:

      I totally know the velvet blazers you speak of. I bought a dark blue velvet blazer (made of German velvet) from J. Crew around 2006. It is the most beautiful, fabulous jacket, sumptuous and soft, richly colored. I’ve gone up and down five pounds each way and somehow the jacket always fits. I barely even have had to dry clean it in all these years. I think I got it on sale for about $80. I can’t even imagine today what I would buy from J. Crew about which I would have anything nice to say nine years later.

  22. Erica says:

    Absolutely agree with pricing v. quality, the first went up while the latter (and more important, to me) went down. Hopeful, because I have brand loyalty despite the disappointments as of late, that the company responds to what feels like overwhelmingly consistent observations.

  23. B says:

    I bought a few under $10 t-shirts from J.Crew on final sale for vacation several weeks ago, and I remember thinking that it was sort of sad that I was buying J.Crew pieces that I considered throw-away. Other than that haven’t made any significant clothing purchases from them for months and months. Same problems as everyone else: quality, price and size irregularity.

    One potential alternative: my city has a new Brooks Brothers Factory store, and despite my aversion to outlets, I went in last week. Tried a lot on, pieces across the board were of good quality. It’s maybe not quite the same as regular Brooks Brothers, but I felt the clothes were leaps and bounds above J.Crew/Banana/Ann Taylor/LOFT right now. Prices were also reasonable, similar to J.Crew but they had decent factory store sales, they were running 60% off sale and 25% off regular priced items when I was there.

    • Amy says:

      Yes! I’m not a big outlet shopper but I do now like BB as an alternative. I used to buy most of my work wardrobe at Ann Taylor, but the quality there has declined at least as much as at J.Crew. For me, I’m not going to be as interested in shopping at Ann Taylor, J.Crew, or similar stores until the quality rebounds.

  24. Monica says:

    Glad it’s not just me then. It’s been a few years since I was even tempted by anything from J. Crew. Their styling is just ridiculous, and some of the cuts and patterns are so hideous they don’t even look good on the models. The prices just seem to get higher and higher, and the sales more frequent. I’m more likely to be reaching for an Everlane t-shirt and a good pair of jeans these days because when I go shopping I can barely find anything, anywhere that I feel is worth it. Maybe I’m retail jaded. Maybe this mid retailers are about to hit rock bottom.

  25. Kate says:

    I agree that the bottom fell out on quality but I didn’t know their sizing is so vanity–this is actually good news for me as someone who didn’t think I could fit into them these days. Still, it would have to be on major sale to be worth the quality!

  26. I agree the quality isn’t great. They seem to be going for a more low market Neiman Marcus CUSP type style. That said, I tend to like their collaborations (sneakers, liberty print anything, catbird, Tabitha Simmons to name a few) and some of the staples(shorts) are still pretty decent.

  27. AK says:

    Yes! I find myself hoping they go back 100% to the j crew of the 90’s.

  28. LS says:

    Belle – would you consider starting a petition? Or a hashtag? Or anything that would get a us heard? I feel like you have such a strong platform.

    • Belle says:

      Maybe a hashtag could work. If other people are interested, or have clever ideas, I’m all ears.

      • LS says:

        Maybe you could pose the question in a future post? Based on the response here, it seems like there would be enough interest.

    • Carolyn says:

      I wonder if there’s a way to connect with the mastermind behind drunkjcrew.tumblr.com. She’s got a pretty solid following online. She said she made the website on a whim after joking with her friends that all the female models look wasted. I’m not a social media guru, but I think between Belle’s narrative and her satire, y’all could get some traction.

  29. KO says:

    J Crew needs to start by taking a look at The Most Amazing Suit in the World, a suit I bought from them around 2006. I only have it in black, but it has a fabulous, classic, tailored jacket (three button, three pocket hacking jacket style) and glorious fully-lined pants. I still wear it, 9 years later, although if you press me I’ll admit the elbows are getting a little shiny. J Crew has made nothing like this for years and years. The seams in the crotch of the current super 120s pants are essentially see-through they are so loose! It’s nuts. I will let J Crew borrow The Most Amazing Suit in the World for a few weeks so they can take a look and figure out how to return to their roots.

    With respect to J Crew factory, I have found it’s about 75% hit and 25% miss. I’ve purchased some fun stuff at a reasonable price; it’s like J Crew without the regret. I liken it to the heroin to J Crew’s pain pills: the quality is a little sketchy, but it’s still a lot of fun and you can’t beat the price.

  30. Leila says:

    J. Crew: Hit its peak in 2009 for me regarding their design/brand. Ex: Pencil skirt was simply “elevated.” Still versatile, just better cut, fabric, etc. Now it’s “bedazzled,” or something. Also what happened to the phrase “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it?”

    They keep trying to “fix.” Stop reading all the blogs (Keep reading Cap Hill Style of course) and listen to your CONSUMER!

    SAME TO YOU BANANA REPUBLIC. I don’t care how cool they think Marisa Webb is, I’m not going to pay that dollar if I can’t wear it to work and somewhere else. But most importantly, TO WORK. BECAUSE THAT’S HOW I MAKE MONEY TO BUY YOUR LAME CLOTHES.

    I feel like Ann Taylor has stepped up their game, seeing a dearth in the market, and perhaps we all need to revisit the good old department stores. Also the Limited hasn’t screwed it up too much.

  31. HH says:

    Couldn’t agree more about the changes in quality, style, and sizing. I have trousers from nine years ago that I’ve only had to recently retire and then it was with much sadness since they were fully lined and a lovely, substantial wool. Oh, and the lack of classic tailoring drives me nuts – yes, I wore drapey trousers today, but do I want to wear them every day to work? NO!

  32. Kim says:

    I agree with a lot of what has already been said.

    – classic with a twist has morphed into trying too hard to be trendy and missing the mark
    – fit is odd and inconsistent, doesn’t match size chart
    – fabrics are often disappointingly poor quality
    – no more amazing patterns
    – so many items, no wow factor
    – colors selection is meh
    – shrinking petite selection

    More pairs of pants are probably made every day now than ever before in human history and I can’t find a single one that fits properly. I also gave up on short sleeve blouses, and non-dry clean-necessary dresses that are work appropriate. Why won’t they do a tailored shift or sheath dress in a nice cotton fabric, silk short sleeve tops that are machine washable, tailored mid rise wide leg pants in linen? Where are the details, the craftsmanship? Too many things these days are polyester, oversized, zippered, neon, and disposable. When someone gets it right, the item sells out instantaneously and doesn’t pop back. I am mystified as to why a second run isn’t ordered. When you do find something worth treasuring, the lack of material and manufacturing quality means it won’t last long.

  33. Crystal says:

    “When someone gets it right, the item sells out instantaneously and doesn’t pop back. I am mystified as to why a second run isn’t ordered.”

    YES. About a year ago, J.Crew made (what appeared to be) a lovely, professional, emerald green dress WITH SLEEVES. The dress was so striking that it sold out in days–my store’s saleslady even said she missed her shot at buying the dress in her color. Yet more weren’t ordered, and I haven’t seen another dress like it there or anywhere else. With all the data and processing power out there, J.Crew apparently can’t figure out how to replicate this feat. (Hint: Order more stock. Design similar items.)

  34. M says:

    Also, the prices in their new UK stores are an actual Joke. I recently moved here from the US and generally liked the store and much of my work wardrobe came from there. I went to the UK store once here and laughed. The prices are inflated well beyond other similar stores (that basically just switch the $ to a £ and call it a day) and they never, ever have a coupon code or sale, whereas J.Crew in the US has a percentage off more than half of the month. I cannot see them attracting an audience here.

  35. Jenn S. says:

    Admittedly, JCrew’s decline didn’t hit me as hard as it has hit many of your readers. I didn’t really consider them until the past couple years (when they were already declining) and made only one purchase from them which is (luckily!) holding up OK.

    Most of my workwear purchases are from department stores, which I’m fine with. It’ll stay that way until these brands realize that people can’t wear hipster crap to work unless they work in a hipster-centric job.

  36. With respect to what you can and can’t wear in professional settings I found this interesting (and maybe a step in the right direction).


  37. Megan says:

    I agree with most of the readers on here. J.Crew needs to return to their roots of stylish, quality basics. Also, brands need to recognize that sleeveless isn’t office appropriate. I don’t want to buy a suiting dress for over $100 and cover it up with a cardigan. Can’t they figure out how to add sleeves?!

    The sizing is also ridiculous. It is nearly impossible to buy anything online (and definitely NOT final sale) because the sizing is so off. I’ve noticed a lot of other stores are using vanity sizing, which I suppose is nice for my ego, but I would prefer more standard sizing. I can imagine this is probably a huge concern for naturally very thin women.. which is why we need 000 now?

    Hopefully J.Crew and other brands start getting the message that quality is in demand, what real work attire looks like and some standard sizing.

  38. Kayleigh says:

    I think my biggest issue for J Crew is why buy something full price when you know three weeks later you can get it for (or closer to) the price it is actually worth because it will all be on sale? Also they need to ditch the over abundance of sparkles, scuba material, and other outlandish prints that we can’t wear to the corporate world. J Crew is still great for basics but lately basics have been a struggle to find. They need to reexamine how they got to be the queen of the clothing basic world and get back to that level.

    Also I could not agree more with Jenn S’s statement: It’ll stay that way until these brands realize that people can’t wear hipster crap to work unless they work in a hipster-centric job.

  39. Jenn French says:

    Couldn’t agree more (and just saw your latest Instagram, too). I’ve been on a no shopping spree for the last five months, which has been really easy for me because I haven’t liked anything at J.Crew in ages! I liked some Factory stuff last year but that’s it. I was baffled by the social media craze over the most recent collection from fashion week. And last time I popped into a store, it was a nightmare: cheap fabrics, odd silhouettes, and astronomical prices. Between a huge career change and unappealing J.Crew clothes, I’m feeling a little lost these days. I miss the old J.Crew!

  40. […] Responding to this article, Belle muses on why J.Crew is faltering and how it can recover. […]

  41. Barbara says:

    I agree with so many others who have said its the quality (or lack of it). Unfortunately all retailers I used to like have drastically changed their quality standards….J.Crew, Banana Republic, Talbots, Ann Taylor. I can’t afford to go to higher priced lines than these, but I refuse to pay even their high prices when the quality is so poor. I may just go back to making my own clothes or continue wearing my old stuff from those retailers that even though its years old, its still better than their new things these days. Sad commentary.

  42. Simone Medious says:

    I agree with everyone who has commented so far. J.Crew really needs to focus on quality clothing for work and stop trying to appeal to the “fashionistas” and “hipsters”. Also, they need to have a more focused color palette for each season rather than offering items in 25 different colors.

  43. Jane says:

    To be honest, Everlane transparency chart (the cost of an item) is a total lie. My friend own a huge manufacturing factory in China and he knew a lot people from the industry too. There is no way the cost of each item is that expensive for Everlane as they manufacture at least 3000 for each style even if were to assume only 1000 it will still be cheaper. 3 years ago and now definitely the amount of orders per style is more. So isn’t the cost of each item should be dropping? How could there be no one who ever find it weird or think it doesn’t make sense?

    Sometimes, being transparent is one thing and being honest is another. It could be just a marketing tactic that’s all.

  44. SueBee says:

    I feel that global warming is also playing a part in the decline of quality in retail clothing. Cotton is expensive to produce and there is less and less of it. Producing wool is a dirty business and wool production is rapidly declining due to higher temperatures which affect every aspect of bringing it to market. I am in the market for a merino cardigan and can’t find one that isn’t thin and see through. I long for the old days when clothing and bedding were high quality and worth the money.

  45. John says:

    The problem with sizing being all over the place and what some called vanity sizing is simple. It is happening with men’s clothes now for nearly 10 years also. American retailers are pushing cheap dollar store goods with Asian sizing on Americans. If anyone has traveled in Japan or a similar place then one would realize how much smaller people are and that there is no shortage of inferior quality products made for cheap 10 dollar and under stores with stuff mostly from China. It is this kind of stuff that these companies are now offering Americans and the stores deserve to lose and even close down if they insist on such a tragically idiotic trajectory and business model.


    I am an older woman, almost 60, who has worn a lot of J. Crew in my lifetime. They lost me when they stopped making items that would fit my size and catered only to smaller sizes. I want quality made classic items that will fit me. If they would cater to their loyal customers from many many years ago and keep the quality high they would have me as a customer again.

Join The List

Stay up to date on the latest from Capitol Hill Style!


Ask the Editor: Vol. IV, No. Twenty-One

This week, the reader mail bag was full of little things. Pajama advice. Jewelry cleaning tips. Small things, but ones you might also be curious about, so let’s get started.



Recent Posts

Bag Week: The Statement Bag

Sometimes your outfit just needs something. Some color. Some sparkle. Something bold, something impactful, a statement. These bags bring that extra.



Add to Cart: Recent Amazon Finds

Bette Midler once famously said, “I want it all, and I want it delivered.” She is my soul sister.




Ask the Edit, Style, Top Posts | May 23, 2024

Ask the Editor: Vol. IV, No. Twenty-One

This week, the reader mail bag was full of little things. Pajama advice. Jewelry cleaning tips. Small things, but ones you might also be curious about, so let’s get started.



Fantastic Finds, Posts, Style | May 23, 2024

Bag Week: The Statement Bag

Sometimes your outfit just needs something. Some color. Some sparkle. Something bold, something impactful, a statement. These bags bring that extra.



Add to Cart, Features, Posts | May 22, 2024

Add to Cart: Recent Amazon Finds

Bette Midler once famously said, “I want it all, and I want it delivered.” She is my soul sister.



Fantastic Finds, Posts, Style | May 22, 2024

Bag Week: Stadium Bags

If you’re headed to a baseball game, a concert, or other stadium event this summer, you need a clear handbag, as most venues have instituted clear bag policies. Here are a few that won’t make your retinas bleed.