Working my workwear magic at a surprising store…

A pretty pink tweed dress, a tonal purse and leopard pumps. At the 5th Ave (NYC) store.
J.Crew, you understand me.

Every season there’s one store that captures my mind and usually my wallet too. While I’m waiting for Anthropologie to rediscover its work-classics-with-a-twist magic, surprisingly it looks like J.Crew is here to fill in the workwear gap! The latter has been such a miss with me the last few seasons, with a few items appealing to me at most, that this sudden return to form is a lovely and somewhat intoxicating revelation. In terms of clothing anyway.

Inside, trying on a few of the delights I found in-store plus my work wishlist…

The Cap Sleeve Dress in Donegal Wool ($188) also comes in green.

My current client company is much more modern than my last gig, which was with a traditional fashion powerhouse. These days I could go to work in jeans and a tee shirt if I want to and on days when I’m in a rush or feeling a bit lazy that’s a fantastic option to have. But given the choice, I like to dress up for work.

J.Crew’s latest work offerings are items that would easily past muster at my old office (where knee length and classic cuts were required) while still being fun and modern enough to work at my new space. I’ll be a little more dressed up than most of my coworkers but not so much so that it seems like we’re from different planets.

Among the items I’m most excited about, the Cap Sleeve Dress in Donegal Wool ($188) has to be near the top. I’m a winter baby and hardly ever cold even as temperatures dip into the single digits in NYC. Oftentimes in long-sleeve dresses I’ll be sweltering in the office heat settings. So I am beyond delighted that this dress has wool to keep my vital organs warm and short sleeves to keep the rest of me comfortably cool! The pink color is subtle and the dress is pretty flattering on curves, terrible J.Crew fitting room lighting aside. It’s the kind of lighting that highlights every curve — which can be both good and bad.

For the last few seasons I’d been sizing down in J.Crew dresses to a 4, but in this dress (and all the ones I’ve tried in this post) I’ll actually be sizing up to an 8 to purchase. I’m trying on a 4 (my usual dress size at J.Crew) in all the photos in this post.

I love the styling idea for this dress at the top of the post, and I’m also sure it would look great with a waist-length cardigan or even a thermal underneath if I want additional warmth.

Being a city girl, a dress with leather pockets sings to me.

I was already enamored of the Faux Leather Pocket Shift Dress ($168) but the cute mannequin totally sealed the deal for me. I’m not convinced by the hat (I’m rarely convinced by hats)…yet the rest of the look is pretty fab.

I’d grabbed my previous J.Crew dress size 4 thinking it would work here but no, as with the Donegal wool dress above I’ll actually need an 8 — one size up from usual — for the best fit in this shift dress. This is the kind of dress that kills with the right styling — for me this will mean a long cardigan and pendant necklace to further streamline the shape.

The wool of this dress is thinner and perfect for three of the four seasons. I love the large front pockets which are functional though I would not use them. And though this one lands above my knees (I’m 5’8″), I could order the tall version if I want something a little longer.

I could easily picture this dress in winter with black tights and red heels. Or black tights and tall boots. It’s the kind of dress that is demure on its own and can easily be dressed up or down!

Ruffles are back — hooray!

I love a well-placed ruffle. J.Crew has not one but TWO work dresses right now with ruffles. First there is the Ruffle-front sheath dress in Super 120s wool ($198) which you see on me above. This faded indigo color was the only one available in-store to try at the three NYC J.Crews I visited, but online it also comes in black or a beautiful aqua.

Sheath shapes aren’t easy for a curvy girl but with a bit of shapewear underneath this one’s going to be a true delight. The ruffle is a beautiful detail on the bodice that doesn’t detract from the overall sleekness of the dress. This is a similar thinner wool to the one used on the faux-leather pocket shift above this review. I’m loving the defined waist on all of these dresses! There is also a vent in the back of the skirt which I didn’t release here for obvious reasons — I am sure that will help with the skirt fit as well.

I’m in a 4 here and would buy in an 8. The other ruffle dress is the Ruffle-hem dress in Italian wool crepe ($188) which is the easier fit-and-flare that I’m used to. I expect it to be super flattering on, especially in that beautiful dark wine color! The ruffle on that dress falls across the skirt…ahhh, it’s so pretty! That one was not available in any of the NYC J.Crews I visited.

I also tried on the Structured knit zip dress ($158) and the Collection Italian Wool Dress ($350) in bristol blue, which is nearly sold through now (but will probably pop back). Both dresses have a nearly identical shape and they looked very Joan Holloway on me. Lovely and flattering — perhaps a bit too pronounced on my curves, though also a bit matronly in a way. Like the other dresses in this post, an 8 was best. The Structured Knit Zip dress has gold zippers on the sleeves which is a total no-go for me; too 80s; while the Collection dress had a more traditional feel to it that was pretty but felt staid to me. I feel like with the right styling these could both be killer, neither is quite up my alley though.

There are plenty more options on J.Crew’s website — this shirtdress in particular looks absolutely killer (I could see so many community members rocking it!) and this sheath is equally appealing. And this V-Neck A-Line Dress ($148) is one of those items where I say, perfect, it looks a little weird on the model, that means it’s going to look amazing on my body type!!

Swooning. Left: A leather tank over a crisp white shirt, with jeggings.

And then for those of us who like leather in our work wardrobe (yes yes!) there are outfits like these two above. I also saw the same Collection Leather Tank ($350) over a different Thomas Mason shirt with the tuxedo bib peeking out of the bottom, and the overall look was awesome. The leather skirt is also available in a wool version for those who like their work clothing slightly less grr.

Beyond these items, I’m also loving the flower stone jewelry collection, which comes in a necklace, earrings, a cuff bracelet or a more traditional one. J.Crew always gets me with its shoes, and right now these suede tassel pumps and these crackled d’orsays are calling to me.

Have you visited J.Crew lately, tried on any of these items?

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