There’s something about putting on a favorite article of clothing (or choice accessory) that can change a person’s whole demeanor — the way they walk, carry themselves, and welcome both passing glances and steady gazes. Because there’s power in dressing with, and for, confidence, we tapped a handful of stylish, self-possessed women around the office to show us how they do it.
To no one’s surprise, many of them expressed feeling great when they simply look like themselves. And because relying on certain wardrobe secret weapons came up as key to achieving that, we asked them to share the piece that’s most essential to their personal style right now. The answers (which we’re rounding up across three articles) ranged from a flattering trouser to a versatile furry jacket. Even better, each staffer tipped us off to her tricks for wearing her item in a way that’s uniquely “her.” Below, take notes on how three of our style subjects spun J.Crew’s fresh, updated fall classics into looks they absolutely own.
Kathleen Hou, beauty director
Style bio: TBD. I feel like I should have a pat, interesting answer to this already, but it’s still evolving. My style is very mood-based. Some days I wake up and want to wear all-black Japanese clothes and combat boots. Other days, I want to wear organza, 1940s silhouettes, and florals. It’s easier for me to talk about things I don’t like. Uniforms (I admire them for other people, but seems boring to me). Wearing brown (washes me out). Turtlenecks (my neck doesn’t need that kind of stress).
Wardrobe hero: I think at The Cut, I would be voted most likely to be seen wearing a pleated skirt. I rarely wear jeans and pants. I’m gradually getting more into them, but when I see someone on a six-hour flight in jeans, I’m confused. What do they know that I don’t?
Go-to styling twists: Tucking things in — something that’s waist-defining is comfortable and easy to me. And maybe it’s my experience as a beauty editor, but I’m pretty good at choosing the “right” color for people, including myself. It doesn’t always have to be a bright color either; it can be white. I love mixing tones, and this baby blue cashmere is nostalgic. It reminds me of the late-’90s nail polish my friends and I used to hoard.
Growing up, my mom and I had very different views on fashion; one of her approved brands was J.Crew. I tried not to like it, but the catalogs wore me down. I’d obsess over all the color options (a teal shirt seemed exotic in the suburbs), and the mix ‘n’ match styling. I didn’t know what highlighter or chinos were until that catalog.
Fashion feels: Compliments, not wearing all black, and a lack of foot pain [make me feel good fashion-wise]. I don’t mind suffering a little for a look (nothing over three hours), but a painful shoe (especially an expensive one, like, what am I paying you for?) is the quickest way to ruin my day. But a great outfit feels like I got a perfect night’s sleep.
Tori Young, copywriter
Style bio: I’m always a fan of looking effortlessly “cool” (despite my attempts not always succeeding). These days, the kids seem to do this better than I, so much of my recent inspo has come from urban teenagers. I could live in a pair of dad sneakers, and I die for something cozy that still screams chic, chic, chic! My hoops are my favorite accessory because they go with everything and give me that extra bit of attitude. Comfort is forever key, because I’m always moving. Whether I’m twirling around a conference room or talking with my hands, if the clothes don’t breathe and give, neither do I.
Wardrobe hero: I adore this bomber because it’s cute and comfy, but it also has a gold zipper, which feels rare. I exclusively wear gold accessories, so that accent means the most to me. (In summary: Bury. Me. In. Gold. Details.) The style is a little different from my typical grunge-y look, but I love that I can dress it up or down. Occasionally, I want to feel like a princess. Or like a badass. This piece adds to my style tenfold by allowing for that flexibility. Plus, I’m not hugely into “fashun,” so I wouldn’t say my closet is jam-packed with options — I find what I love and wear it to death. So, a layer I can wear with mom jeans on weekends or over a little black dress at dinner? Don’t make me beg.
Go-to styling twists: Wearing brands with personality is important to me — I want my clothes to say something. It’s almost like I’m playing a character and every day is different; clothes with personality help me achieve what I’m embodying that day. It’s always me, but with a splash of someone effortlessly cool. Shout out to the teens. Beauty-wise, I have a couple of signature hair styles, but wearing it out is when I feel most myself. I also love to rock a bold lip with nothing else. I enjoy the simplicity of SPF plus lip color, plus chic outfit, and done.
Fashion feels: I’m most confident when I’m comfortable. I usually dance around in my bedroom or try different little details with an outfit until it feels right. It’s all about balance: If my hair is out and feeling itself, I might go more subtle with bottoms. If I start my day out with a confident glance in the mirror, the rest falls into place.
Jenny Barrett, product manager
Style bio: My outfits are made up of mostly simple pieces, but I like to find one interesting detail — a flashy boot, a bold earring, or an unexpected hemline. I wear mostly neutrals and only one or two colors at a time. You’ll almost never find me wearing pattern.
Wardrobe hero: This turtleneck is the kind of piece I’ll return to over and over again. With jeans, for something cozy and easy, or all dressed up with a suit or skirt. The color is so pretty and fall-ish but still wears like a neutral. J.Crew has always been a foundational part of my wardrobe in this way. I have so many pieces — a tailored pant, a pleated skirt, a sharp blazer — that I plan to keep (and then replace) forever. As someone who’s drawn to more minimal, classic pieces, I don’t think there’s a better place to build a wardrobe.
Go-to styling twists: Monochrome. Red lips. Loud shoes.
Fashion feels: I feel my best when I’m dressed in something comfortable and considered. I enjoy taking a moment in the morning to dress for my mood and the day ahead of me. I don’t always consider the weather; I’m more concerned about what will make me feel good all day long.
For more about what’s new at J.Crew, check out the Cut’s editor-in-chief, Stella Bugbee, in conversation with the brand’s recently instated head of women’s design, Chris Benz.
This is paid content produced for an advertiser by New York Stories. The editorial staff of The Cut did not play a role in its creation.