I’m watching J.Crew’s Jenna Lyons, Gayle Spannaus and Somsack Sikhounmuong style five non-models for the brand’s Fall/Winter 2017 presentation. They crouch at ankles like careful cats. They pinch and cuff, button and unbutton; they take turns stepping back at a distance to appraise outfit shapes. It is magnificent choreography interspersed with so many laughs. I am present for an exclusive preview of that which goes into building J.Crew’s New York Fashion Week presentation.
Mostly I try not to get in the way, but the whole team is so kind and generous that they’d never let you know it if you did.
With friends and family serving as models once again, the day’s conversation revolves around the question, “What do you feel most comfortable in?” The varying answers prompt Jenna to switch out heels, Somsack to remove a necktie and Gayle to appraise the fall of a pair of jeans.
“It is so much more interesting this way,” Somsack tells me. Personal jewelry is encouraged, as is a come-as-you-are, we’ll-just-jooj-you-a-bit hair and makeup mentality. To see each ensemble come together in this manner is a reinforcement of what we know on our best-getting-dressed days: clothes are like living organisms when we allow them to be.
Without further ado (just in case you’re reading this in the hopes of getting dressed right this moment), here are Somsack’s five Fall ’17-cued styling takeaways to try today.
1. For evening, go REALLY over-the-top — then balance it out with something casual.
The team dresses the mom of one of their stylists in giant, lavender-hued satin pants (with pointed flats to keep it comfortable). Up top, a classic, starched white shirt balances the bottoms and keeps the look from feeling fussy.
2. Go full denim without the western reference.
Instead of a chambray shirt, try a denim chore jacket. Play with the tuck (maybe one piece into the top of your jeans) for interest, then layer a navy cardigan over. A silk bandana in a men’s tie-pattern around the neck adds interest without screaming, “Why don’t you just add a bolo tie, chaps and a ten-gallon hat while you’re at it?”
The ribbon around the model’s waist was just “something they had lying around.” Unwrap a package, quick!
3. The new off-the-shoulder shirt = one naked shoulder.
You can do this immediately, and it’s self-explanatory. Grab an off-the-shoulder top, then play favorites with your shoulders and let the winner go bare. Pair with too-long men’s jeans; fold the cuffs up five to six inches. Heads up: That’s going to be J.Crew’s new thing. Keep the ankle showing, though!
4. Don’t let a combo of mustard yellow and green scare you.
Mix the colors together with confidence by playing with texture: layer velvet over cotton (something stiff, something soft) and satin. Add a bit of pink to break up the marigold monochrome.
5. Look at your dresses as layering opportunities.
The J.Crew dream team swaps the black slip of a sheer polka-dot dress for a men’s oxford shirt, which they then pull out from under the sleeves to further play up the shirting. A pair of oxfords is added because, as Somsack explains, “it just looks cool.” Amen. No better reason than that.
Photos by Nicole Cohen. Follow her on Instagram @sketchfortytwo. Lookbook Photos via Vogue Runway.