I love fashion but I hate you.

j.crew’s expensive dickies, and an ode to the dress code

I’ve talked a lot of shit about J.Crew. Are you surprised? J.Crew is the fashion equivalent of Jennifer Aniston: people think, “She’s still around???” but grudgingly admit that she’s not bad looking. There’s also the disconnect. J.Crew, for all of it’s work trying to latch itself onto such schmancy brands as Rolex and Hillside, is often still put in the kiddie bin with Banana and Gap. That’s why people get upset when J.Crew releases $200 Dickies:

Wow. Now you’ve got a double disconnect. The brand people associate with cheap v-neck sweaters combining with the brand that skateboarders wear when their mothers haven’t done the laundry for awhile, coming out with $200 pants! Unless those pants were from 1922, I’m not sure how many people would jump at it. What would you tell your brunch friends at Cafeteria? “Oh, honey, Rojer (sic) and I are so tired from last night’s rooftop party, I could barely put on my Edward Green brogues and Dickies. Who wants to shred that new spot behind the warehouse later?”

For me, however, talking smack on Da Crew is a bit like the teenager wistfully writing dirty poems about his ex while staring at her from across AP US History. You see, not too long ago I worked retail at a J.Crew store. To be honest, I really liked it, because I liked (and still too, see above grudingness) the clothes, and the people were generally nice and professional.

But one thing about working at J.Crew really stood out: the dress code. On an internet filled with how-tos on style, the dress code at J.Crew, which was very heavily enforced at my particular store because of it’s location, could be seen as a standard for modern male dress**.

The dress code, simplified, was as follows***:

Stone or Khaki Chinos with Belt
Dark Denim with Belt

Solid white shirt with tie
Solid blue shirt with tie
Blue & White striped shirt with tie
Gingham shirt with tie

Third Piece:
Navy cardigan or blazer
Structured Vest
Solid v-neck sweater

Leather or sude shoes
Jack Purcells (only with chinos)

Honestly, a pretty basic, full-proof (if safe) method for dressing well. The trick was the things you couldn’t wear, like a solid tie that wasn’t knit, or trousers for men. Like a religion, the dress code experienced periods of relaxed enforcement, followed by a stringent call to orthodoxy. I found it interesting that it was the “DON’Ts” which really riled people up — don’t wear Jack Purcells with jeans, don’t wear a sequined top if you’re a guy, etc.

As a menswear blogger, I’m a big fan of rules. Why? Because people are morons. Yes, I realize that “rules were meant to be broken” but generally, this doesn’t apply to you. When people break rules, you end up with guys in crushed velvet vests over poofy pirate shirts. When people break rules, you get people wearing goggles to a nice restaurant, or top hats to the grocer store. When people break rules, there’s pandaemonium. Stick with the basics.

Just try not to have the “basic” be $200.

**note that I’m only talking about the men’s dress code. The women’s one was this weird mix of New England Pixie X Michelle Obama.

***My tenure at Da Crew was awhile ago, so the code may have changed since, although walking through any store today, one thinks it probably hasn’t changed that much.

3 Responses to “j.crew’s expensive dickies, and an ode to the dress code”

  1. Gregory says:

    Completely agree with your ideas on rules, although it is nice to see people tastefully break rules but most of the people its idiots that try to break the rules and they just look plain stupid.


  2. Angie C. says:

    Seriously?? I did not realize J. Crew was so jacked up. Aren’t Dickies like, $20 normally?

  3. JR says:

    I saw those and I couldn’t believe it. $200 for Dickies?! I wore those one year in high school and even then I thought they were cheaply made.

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