Monday, July 29, 2013

J. Crew's Deviation from the Classics

I can still remember my very first purchase from J. Crew.  It was a v-neck navy, kelly green, and white argyle sweater vest.  That was when J. Crew was still quintessentially preppy.  We've all witnessed some of our favorite brands begin to conform to changing fashions.  Gap and Tommy Hilfiger each had "sporty" phases, and Abercrombie & Fitch deviated from its original hunting wear and novelty items.  Of course, companies do have to evolve in order to serve consumer tastes, but the issue arises when they deviate too much from what the core brand historically represented.

I'll admit to missing the true-to-preppy form that J. Crew once represented, perusing my old catalogues for the ribbon belt, argyle vest, and silk tie headband days long gone.  But I still swoon over the updated and occasionally "hipster" styles present in today's J. Crew style guides.

I caught wind of this story from the Huffington Post, and find myself impressed with J. Crew's reaction to the customer's letter of dissatisfaction.  The incident started with a simple email, and suddenly Mickey sets up a conference call to help address the customer's issue.

You can watch the video and read the article on Huffington Post Style.

While I do miss the old style, I've swooned over enough dresses, sweater sets, and shoes in recent years to still love what the brand has turned into.  I think there becomes a point where we have to loosen the tight reigns we've held onto memories of the brand we loved in the past, and judge the company and its products against what they've matured into today, especially when it comes to the ever-changing world of fashion.  J. Crew still offers many of the classics it once did, and most of them with monogramming options.   But they've also added sequined pencil skirts, painted t-shirts, and cashmere leggings to help grow a new generation of loyal consumers.  

As long as the classics never truly disappear and monogramming is still available, I'm okay with the occasional leather pleated skirt and whatever else the oh-so-fab Jenna Lyons and Mickey Drexler throw our way.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Feeding a Coffee(shop) Addiction

My coffee addiction is notorious, ridiculous, uncontrollable, somewhat shameful, and part of my identify.  I can't function without 2 cups of coffee first thing in the morning.  I can't survive past 3pm without a caffeine pick-me-up.  And don't ask me to head out for after-work drinks unless the bar serves coffee, or there is a Starbucks on the way.

My need for coffee surpasses the drink itself to the establishments that have fed my addiction over the years.  They have become my saviors after long drives along an empty highway or hours stuck mindlessly listening to art history lectures.  From high school, to university, and through to my current job, coffee shops have always been my place of work.  I've written countless papers, studied for countless exams, and put together countless presentations in coffee shops in cities as near and far as Orlando, Burlington (Vermont), Kingston, Warsaw, and Toronto (to name a few).  They are my place of comfort - where I know my brain will be able to soak up the caffeine and the buzzing atmosphere to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and hash out the task at hand.

I may now be working from a cubicle that has become my second home.... but I still haven't kicked my coffee ways.  And now I've learned to recreate the coffee shop atmosphere from the comfort of my own desk at work or couch at home.  Here are my top three tips for feeding your own coffee shop addiction - on your own terms:

1) Perfect the background noise:

Studies have shown that a healthy dose of background noise actually helps productivity.  I myself get anxiety working in impeccably quiet spaces (like libraries) and get terribly distracted in loud spaces (like my overly-gregarious office).  Coffitivity provides the perfect amount of background chatter and dish-clanging to mimic the noise in my beloved coffeeshops.  

2) Invest in a good pair of headphones:

Headphones come in functions, colors, and prices to suit every need these days.  If you haven't tried them yet, I highly recommend the new headphones from apple.  I rather despised the old ones that just never seemed to fit my ears.  The new ones have been redesigned to be the most comfortable earbud headphones on the market - and I agree!  I especially recommend them if you wear earrings, because the over-ear styles tend to squish uncomfortably. 

3) Drink Your Coffee in Style:
My coworkers may tease me for my collection of cups and saucers I keep on my desk... but I know they're just jealous.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes about coffee from the one and only Gertrude Stein: