weekend links

Hello friends!

I know we’re supposed to be all about sewing here, but can we talk about J. Crew for a minute? I’ve been a fan for years, starting way back in college when I had to mail in a check with my catalog order because I didn’t have a credit card. I’ve always liked their preppy style, and I liked it even more once Jenna Lyons started putting her own high/low spin on things, although I know not everyone agreed. J. Crew has always been my go-to for sweaters and anything else I didn’t feel like sewing myself. They just have good style. Or they did. The company has just declared bankruptcy, which means that it will be undergoing a lot more changes in the future. (And the virus wasn’t really the problem. A leveraged buyout ravaged the company 10 years ago and left them drowning in debt.)

But here’s why I think their bankruptcy is important: until recently I always felt like I could rely on J. Crew for good quality stylish clothing at a fair price. They used lots of natural fibers, and the clothing lasted. I know that compared to fast fashion their prices seemed steep, but that’s exactly the problem. You get what you pay for, and I generally felt like I could rely on my purchases to last for a long time. (Just this week I was wearing a pair of khakis that are older than my 15-year-old and still look brand new!)

J. Crew catalog covers

There aren’t many companies with classic style and good quality anymore, and we’re losing them quickly. I haven’t been able to find any good brands here in Spain, and I’ve been looking! Virtually every shop here is filled with polyester and viscose, no matter what price point. If we want to encourage people to keep and wear their clothes for longer to keep them out of landfills, we need to have quality options to choose from. In the U.S. we still have that with a few brands, but they’re disappearing quickly because they can’t compete with fast fashion. I don’t have a solution, but I feel really sad watching it happen.

What do you think will happen to these clothing brands in the future? Do you have favorite brands that you’ll continue to support?

Pinterest Picks

Both of these blouses reminded me of the Afternoon Tea Blouse.

Liesl's May 8 pinterest picks
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It may be spring, but I’m still feeling these mineral-y colors. They seem just suitable for summer as well.

Liesl's May 8 pinterest picks
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How about adding a racing stripe to your Montauk Trousers? I love the stripe down the sleeve, too. Very sleek.

Liesl's May 8 pinterest picks
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And hey, it’s nearly ice cream season! (It’s always ice cream season at our house, but I fully recognize that isn’t a universal perspective….)

Liesl's May 8 pinterest picks
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Fun ideas for your next Neighborhood Sweatshirt.

Liesl's May 8 pinterest picks
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Weekend Reading

We’ll be back next week with lots of fun posts for you. In the meantime, are you playing along with #memademay2020? And what is in your sewing machine these days? Maybe something for our Spring Pattern Challenge? Have a great, safe weekend.




  1. Joanne

    I was sad to read about J Crew, too. I like their classic, fun style, and agree that pieces seemed well made in fabrics that I actually liked. As far as other brands: I like Boden for the same reasons–it’s a great source for sweaters, pants, coats, and inspiration. : )

    I’ve thought a lot about how clothing stores help shape our personal ‘brands’, and how when a company changes its styling outside of what we expect. My job requires that I dress in a casual-professional style (no so much right now, though), and picking pieces for work will only get harder if more traditional companies close.

    1. Oh yes, I had forgotten about Boden! And I haven’t lived in the states for almost five years now, but Banana Republic and Ann Taylor always seemed like reasonably good quality. I’m not sure if that’s still true. Everlane is still very good for basics, too.

  2. Nina

    Some possible alternatives to J Crew are mentioned here: https://stylewise-blog.com/10-ethical-brands-alternatives-j-crew/ (see also https://goodonyou.eco/how-ethical-is-j-crew/). I’ve been buying clothes from UK/Japan-based People Tree for maybe 15+ years now, and although they’re quite hit-and-miss in the design department (I really wonder about their sampling process), most of the things I’ve bought from them have lasted many years. I think the prices are probably comparable to J Crew and the environmental and labour standards are streets ahead.

  3. Lyndsey

    It makes me sad too. Fast fashion is ubiquitous. My non-sewing friends don’t even question the quality of the clothing they purchase or the ethics that went in to making it because they’ve never known anything different. Even my friends who have sufficient means and can support quality clothing at a higher price point don’t see the benefit.

  4. Helena

    I first went to the US in 2009, to New York. I went to JCrew and loved it. Spent a fortune on things I still have and wear. I’m really gutted. Jenna Lyons brought incredible personal style, and the print clash pencil skirt and shirt remains one of my favourite work looks. Quality, particulat style and long lasting.

  5. Helen

    I have started sewing garments again after many years of only doing hems or small craft projects for exactly the reason you describe. I started buying clothes from Chico’s in 1999. Mainly because they fit me but also because I liked the beautiful fabrics and style. Their clothes lasted washing after washing. I finally stopped this year. I couldn’t find any cotton/lycra tops that I mostly live in. All they have is slub fabric that is see through, modal which is thin and shows every lump and bump, or polyester which I hate. Not only that most of their style is gone. A lot of things are starting to look like what we used to see at K-Mart. I’m so disappointed. While I love to sew learning to fit myself has been a big learning curve but I’m getting there.

  6. Marcy

    I feel the same way about J.Crew! So sad. I was going to ask what other stores you felt might be comparable to them, but I see you already mentioned a few above. I’ve also been shopping at Patagonia lately during their clearance sales (very impressed with the quality and fair labor practices).

  7. Ginger

    So sad to hear. I felt the same way about Lands End when they were sold the first time. It’s so hard to find quality these days.

  8. Liz

    I wonder whether that will affect Madewell too? In the US I like the style, natural fabrics and sustainability of Eileen Fisher and Elizabeth Suzann. I started sewing partly as it was getting harder to find clothes in natural fibres. As you say sadly there’s lots of polyester out there.

    1. Nina

      You know Elizabeth Suzann is having to close/drastically change business model? I’ve never bought anything from either ES or J Crew, but ES closing seems like much more of a pity to me, given what they were trying to do in terms of human and environmental sustainability. There’s a rumour that their way forward might involve sewing patterns, which would be a silver lining for us sewers…

  9. Frances

    Apropos of nothing, these are the kind of clothes I want to wear: https://www.vogue.com/article/marievic-mothers-day-paris-social-distancing-fashion Why won’t someone make patterns like that?

    1. Very fun and cool! But I’m guessing that if someone made patterns for clothes like this they wouldn’t sell enough to offset the cost of making the pattern… it’s not easy!

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