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A Sad Day for Preppies Everywhere...

J.Crew Slim Thomas Mason For Shirt In Brushed Striped Oxford, $148 ...

J. Crew has filed for bankruptcy. Of all the things to get cancelled, postponed, prohibited, or whatever, during the COVID-19 crisis, this has got to be one of the most painful. Seriously.

While I do not think of myself as a "preppy" per se, I have always loved preppy-ish clothes. They're classic, they never really go out of style (cause they're never really "in" style (unless you live in a John Hughes movie or on Martha's Vineyard)), furthermore...that's just the style I know best and what I will always default back to. 

Thus I was hit with a very un-welcome surprise this morning to learn the above news about J. Crew. Along with Banana Republic, L.L. Bean, and The Gap, J. Crew is undoubtedly one of my favorite clothing brands. Hell, I'm wearing a J. Crew shirt right now, and that's just a coincidence. One of the things I was most looking forward to post-COVID was going to J. Crew and buying some new shirts. I'll probably still be able to do that. After all, it takes a while for a retail brand or retail chain to truly die. And, hell, I might get some pretty good deals in the balance. 

Still, if J. Crew really does completely disappear from the world, it will leave a big hole. You see, it breaks down like this: Banana Republic is classy, urban, accessible adult style mostly for the metropolitan gentleman who has recently graduated from The Gap. The Gap, of course, is more casual, cheaper, and more collegy; The Gap is Saturday afternoon on a college campus whereas Banana Republic is Thursday night out on the town after work. But these are not really "preppy" clothing stores, and these stores tend to follow the ins-and-outs of men's style very closely. 

Then you have Brooks Brothers, which is the first name in preppy clothing. It is traditional (a bit boringly so), a bit stiff, and a bit expensive, but very high quality. I personally don't go for Brooks Brothers, it's just one notch too old-school for me and besides, I like to have some money left over after I'm done buying clothes. L.L. Bean veers heavily toward outdoor wear and is definitely straight-down-the-line preppy; however, the fit of most of it's clothes (and the fact that it appeals mostly to their Dads) means it's pretty much lost its cache among young people trying to be stylish. For preppy you've also got Vineyard Vines which is another strain of preppy altogether, almost blindingly so. I own one solitary item of Vineyard Vines clothing, but it's pretty tame. And J. Press (maybe carrying even more old school cache than Brooks Brothers) is preppy wear for those who have numerals after their names and dormitories named after them; way too rich for my country blood. 

Enter J. Crew. 

The thing about J. Crew was it accomplished that feat of being traditionally preppy and yet also contemporary. In other words, it was classic-looking clothing you could wear and not feel like a grandpa. You could buy a brand new Oxford cloth shirt that had that "I've owned this for 20 years" look to it but actually had a nice, modern fit. J. Crew understood this look, very well. It took the traditional New England prep school, Martha's Vineyard, "weekend in the country" kind of vibe and put a little hip, slightly urban, even Euro twist on it. To me, that was the niche J. Crew filled, and the niche that will be sorely empty once it's gone. 

Hopefully once things get back to "normal," whatever that ends up looking like, J. Crew will be able to put itself right and get back to outfitting quasi-preppies like me, or perhaps it will find a buyer who can rescue it. Odds are, the future will have J. Crew in it. A brand-name like that doesn't just disappear overnight, even if it ends up being something like "J. Crew by Gant" or whatever (Gant is a whole other story). 

For now, like everyone else, I await the re-opening of the entire world, when I might actually be able to go physically into a J. Crew again and buy some shirts.