"We are what we believe we are."
C.S. Lewis

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Botanical

J Crew Collection Jules Dress in Botanical Print

Though I find myself increasingly drawn to solids and neutrals I am still very attracted to distinctive prints.
In years past J Crew has produced some gorgeous printed silk twill dresses: the brown and gold deco, the blue and brown peacock paisley, the Ischia dress.
When this dress, the "Botanical",  made its debut last week I just had to see it in person.
In truth the print is even prettier than the computer monitor allows.  The colours are gorgeous, the background not too white and not too cream in tone.  It is truly a season-less print, it would be lovely on its own or with a coat thrown over it in cold weather.
There are several options for shoes, it looks completely fine with the black patent Kate Spade pumps I tried on with it, but you could pick up a colour from the print for your shoe, and you could even wear an animal print.

J Crew describes this particular dress, the "Jules" as the most flattering dress we've ever slipped into...with an easy, looks-good-on-everyone shift silhouette...

 I'm not sure about this "looks-good-on-everyone" business.
 For one, the dress is too short, though keep in mind I am taller than average, just under 5'7".
I took my normal size in J Crew frocks, a 2, I could not have sized up for length as the fit would be off through the shoulders and bust.
The other issue is the slim fit through the hips.  I measure in at 37" at the hip so the dress sort of pulls across at this widest point and makes me look quite blocky.

 This dress has another issue which might be particular to crabby people such as myself: a polyester lining that I find very uncomfortable.
Remember those older J Crew printed silk twill frocks I spoke of?  Those dresses are either unlined or lined in silk, which I find soothing on my sensitive skin.
I'm sure this isn't going to be a deal-breaker for those who love this print and can wear this silhouette, even high-end designer stuff is lined in poly these days.  Every label low to high is cutting corners to maximize profits.
Lined in polyester.
 What about letting down the hem and re-lining the frock in silk?
Well take a gander at the hemline:
The hem isn't pressed up and finished with lace or tape, it is tucked up into the lining and sewn from the inside.
Yup that's a popped thread too.
 I don't often see a dress finished this way, and while there is a bit of fabric folded up under the hemline, it is sewn into the lining all around.  I guess the seam could be ripped out and the lining removed, with the silk fabric then finished off with a small rolled hem.
The inside hem.
 I'm not sure how this would affect the bottom of the dress, the finish might be off.  I would only trust this alteration to a really great tailor.
The hem at the seam.
 So as I'm sure you've guessed I'll be returning this dress.
It would be problematic to remove the lining as then the neckline would be unfinished.
I have another review from J Crew's most recent roll-out coming up tomorrow: the Quilted Denim Jacket, which you can view here.
Have a great day,
xoDani

51 comments:

  1. Yikes. Well, thank you for the details, Dani, I'm sad because I love the print. Wish they'd just done a nice large scarf in it.

    In what universe is the Jules universally flattering? Could the Copywriter From Space have meant to write flattening ?

    I'm thinking that if the larger of my JC sizes goes to markdown, I' could buy it and have the bottom shortened to be a blouse, with the side seams opened and finished for their last 3 or 4 inches or so. I really like the print.

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    1. Fred, LOL universally flattening is what the CFS really meant!
      Good idea though, this in a blouse would be lovely.

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  2. Ah, I really like it, I quite like a boxy dress in my wardrobe as it hides a multitude of sins and is really easy for every day.
    I like the print too, it reminds me of a sofa fabric, I'be been wracking my brain to remember which one it is.

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    1. Tabs, I know it reminded me of a very particular fabric but blast if I know. The colours in it are so pretty.

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    2. It is also a bit reminiscent of Florentine stationery.

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  3. This print looks very much like our dining room wallpaper which is a Pierre Deux (RIP) that we hung in 1993. Dani, you look so wonderful in most dresses, but I think you are right to pass on this one. And yes, a scarf in this silk would be lovely.

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    1. Susan I think you may have solved our decor reference!

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  4. I would like to try it on, but I think the print might be too busy for all-over on a dress. Of course there is the problem of the Jules length. I love wellfedfred's idea of turning it into a top with side vents. The print is quite pretty and I'll bet the silk fabric is a winner.

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    1. cate it is a nice twill, honestly they could have left it unlined, I wish they had!

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  5. The Jules is universally un-flattering on me. I do like the cut and look of it, and have tried many prints, but the style is too straight and short on me. Such a shame, because like you, I'd love a dress with a pretty print that is simple to wear and versatile. I like Fred's idea of cutting it down to a tunic-it would like chic that way with slim pants. But the ploy lining is a complete miss. I can't imagine wanting to go near it in warm weather. You can be certain something better will come along-it always does.

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    1. Julie you've taught me that something better always does come along, thanks for that!

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  6. WHat a beautiful print. I am afraid of the Jules print. It could either be great on my figure, or so disasterous that I would be forever scarred! You are right to send back Dani, especially at that price. I still think you need to get to the Joan and David shop in TO - I think you would look divine in their clothes!

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    1. WMM, I don't know, it could be terrific on you. I don't want to risk scarring you for life but I think you should try this silhouette at some point. A good friend of mine bought it yesterday and she looks amazing in it!

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  7. I am sorry it didn't work out Dani, but you are right, I think this is one unflattering dress on your figure and you look good in almost everything! Hopefully they will use the print on something else.

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    1. Thanks Ema, and I am hoping they make it in something else but I think they won't. The scroll print seems to be the one that is going on different pieces this season.
      Thanks for your help on this dress, I'm still glad I tried it!

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  8. I love the print, it's beautiful - but I can see why you're sending it back. I really think J Crew need to hire you as a consultant, Dani!

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    1. Sulky if only they would I could solve all of their problems, why don't they realize this?!

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  9. I really love this print, like you, I can't wear it because my hips make the fabric pull, but the next size up makes the shoulders HUGE on me. It is NOT flattering on all figures, J. Crew. It is flattering on (mainly) shorter women with more straight figures. I love that their body type can buy this luscious dress, but really really hope that they make this print in something else for the rest of us.

    Thanks for the review. Sigh.

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    1. Dina you and I have the same fit problem with this dress style. Thanks J Crew for making it over and over again a million times!

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  10. Oh, I so love the print, and am disappointed in the hem and poly lining. At that price point, it should be absolute perfection. What a shame. I'm one of the few that doesn't mind the Jules shape, but only at a waaaay lower price that this. And I can't imagine spending even more to have it tailored and re-lined! I think you're right to send it back, but what a bummer. Looking forward to your jacket review! I have a bunch of reviews to make, but every wall space in my house right now is lined in boxes!

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    1. Hi M, it will be a miracle if you can get any reviews done this month, you've got your hands full! This dress will look terrific on some women and they won't have to do a thing to it. It speaks to how much I love the print that I would consider all the commotion of altering etc!

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  11. Not surprising that you don't like it. Sadly, the Jules style is just "meh" on most of us, and the quality issues can't be ignored. It's too bad. The print is pretty but seems a little early 90's Talbots/RL to me. I guess that's not necessarily a bad thing! The silk twill fabric sure looks nice, though.

    I hope you rec'd something else you like!

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    1. JCrewJD, I regret to say there was nothing I liked, stay tuned for the angst!

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  12. Is it just the photo, or is the tag sewn in wonky? I am often disappointed in the quality of J Crew, but I love their style!

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    1. Hi Livyb, I think it's the photo. I like their style too which is why the brand holds so much interest for me even though I've returned about 75% of what I thought I would like this year!

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  13. My New Year's resolution is to not buy anything clothing made in China. They look good from a distance, but are always sure to disappoint.

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    1. Hi Lil Margie, good resolution and I'm with you, it's so upsetting but so many brands are producing in China, these factories are like big campuses with 20,000 young people living there, working, sending money home, sticking to robotic schedules to keep the factories moving 24/7. A friend gave me the book "Deluxe" for Christmas, I've been reading it and what an eye-opener!

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  14. Oh my goodness, I just realized why this print looks so familiar to me... our master bathroom has wallpaper that looks just like this (but not pretty, lol)! Which is funny (after your master bath reno post) because I want to tear it down when we renovate. It looks a lot better on the dress.

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    1. cate what a hilarious coincidence! I wonder if it is the same wallpaper Susan (see her comment above) has!

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  15. OOps. Any clothing. Too much vino.

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    1. Lil Margie, all is forgiven re typos and vino!

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  16. Thank you for sharing this review Dani. The silk and the print look so lovely on this dress but the lining and the length are such a disappointment. I would love this in a scarf or blouse though, here's hoping they have more items to come.

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  17. Hi xoxo, I know it's quite nice isn't it, I love the idea of wearing this print in winter. Ah well. I did think of you when I was doing the review, I was wondering what you would think of this hemline sewn into the lining thing!

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    1. The way the hemline is sewn it could easily become uneven, especially if the dry cleaner doesn't take exceptional care when pressing it as the lining must fold over in the exact spot if the silk hem is not tacked to the facing of the dress. I don't know if that makes sense but I think you KWIM. It's definitely not a quality finish.

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  18. Hi Dani,
    I'm back and I didn't have internet for 7 days. Let me tell you it was wasn't easy as I missed everybody.We had a wonderful time and the kids kept saying why is Mom's so relaxed? Must have been not cooking for a week as it seems to bring out the best in me! That print is fabulous and if one was 5'3''(me) could I pull it off with slightly saggy knees ? Otherwise it could be used for a cushion on my couch.

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    1. Marsha thank heavens you're back! We missed you!
      I'm so happy you had fun. Amazing what not cooking for a week can do!

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  19. While I like the cut of the Jules dress, it's short even for me at 5'2". Maybe it's because I've recently become fascinated by Hermès scarves but this print reminds me of one, very pretty! However, it's appalling how a Collection piece can be hemmed that way, it's sad so many loved details have gone to the wayside.

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    1. Hi Tiffany Rose, details are important, especially if alterations need to be made due to too-short-frocks!

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  20. Geriatric comment here: J.Crew used to be a great store where you could find well made, slightly fashionable, if Tomboyish, staples. I still wear a pair of work boots everyday to paint in that are 24 year old J.Crew's. It's where I used to go to get sort of "sturdy" everyday clothing, things that were the underpinning to add "fashion" items onto. I don't mind that they've changed directions, but I definitely mind the downward spiraling of quality items. To me, their best things are when they "partner" with someone, like Goldsign jeans, Barbour or Sperry.
    I saw that dress online, and could tell it wasn't going to be well made immediately as the print doesn't match in the back where the zipper is. Glad you're not getting it.

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    1. Kathy nothing geriatric about you. J Crew at one time made pretty clothes that were not trendy, the fabrics were nice and they were fairly well made for the price.

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  21. Some people out there must like the dress because it's sold out. I find the price point ridiculous considering the materials. You shouldn't be spending the money to get it tailored, because then J Crew essentially becomes a fabric store. Now that I am in Asia, I often see fabrics or prints that were used by major retailers -- Zara, Gap, Gymboree -- for generic local brands. Maybe we don't see J Crew fabrics copy-catted so much because they're from some so-called Italian mill or other (ya ya, whatevs), but in this day and age, some industrious company is bound to copy a popular print -- or maybe J Crew is the industrious company, hahaahaaa. Anyway, my point is that when we start treating J Crew as fabric store instead of a retail store, then they're failing at what they should be doing.

    Happy New Year, Dani!

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    1. Dinster good point my dear, I'm so happy to see you when you are able to comment. I was thinking I should just get myself to a fabric store and have a dress made when I want a new frock, much easier than this altering nonsense!
      Happy New Year to you and your family as well.

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  22. Thanks for being the guinea pig on this one, Dani. You know I was dying to try it too. Now I'm spared the return hassle. I had been thinking perhaps there was enough hem to take it down to a reasonable length (I'm also 5'7") and I see that isn't so. Given that I live somewhere warm, I wouldn't have liked the poly lining anyway. Literally the only thing I was interested in purchasing from this last roll out and it's a dud.

    Like you, I'm not holding out hope that they use the print in another garment. It would be nice if we're proven wrong!

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    1. Hi DesertFlower, Remember the silk dresses that were lined in silk as well? Those were the days, they are treasures those items.
      Isn't the print gorgeous though, the colours in it are wonderful.

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  23. When will the Crew listen to us about their dresses? Apparently never. I love the gorgeous printed dresses but at age 55 and 5"9' I don't even bother looking at them. Just not appropriate length for me. They have begun making longer pencil skirts, why can't they make longer dresses? I'm buying less and less from the Crew. I don't have time or energy for garments that may or may not work for me.

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    1. Hi straycat yes me too. Though I wonder if we might see a change in the next year. I don't have the energy for trying but I will be watching!

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  24. Hi, I am an always-reader-never-commenter, but I have to chime in regarding the print: the colors are so eerily similar to Celerie Kemble's hothouse floral design; I couldn't pull up a google image for the other reference, but it's probably close as well.
    Love the print, hate the unflattering shape -- although I succumbed to the Venetian paisley of this past winter (Name?) -- and wore it, even though my hips are unlarged and my waist a wasteland.
    Oh well. Hate the price too; so ridiculous!
    Janna

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    1. This is interesting because JC featured Celerie Kemble in their "real women" catalog... I think it was March 2010.

      See the image thanks to life as a cat here.

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    2. silver lining thanks for that, I'd forgotten. Loved that catalogue too!

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    3. Janne thanks for commenting. I always appreciate it. I love the print on that dress and the colours are really pretty yet subtle, they're almost masculine, or they have that sensibility anyway, transposed onto a very feminine pattern. I like that juxtaposition very much.

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