90s J.Crew Catalogs Are A Normcore Dream


Before J.Crew had Joan Smalls, Hilary Rhoda or Arizona Muse, they had Dawson's Creek. Sure enough, the Fall 1998 catalog features the baby-faced cast cavorting around some picturesque, East Coast landscape in simple (albeit nondescript) casuals. But Dawson and Pacey are only the tip of the very preppy iceberg: the '80s and '90s archives of the brand's now ubiquitous style guides show Rebecca Romijn, Patrick Dempsey and Lauren Hutton exercising their right to normcore before the concept spurred any kind of public outcry. And who would have guessed that this trove of roomy chinos, classic button-downs and expertly cut one-piece bathing suits would eventually lead to Jenna Lyon's current foray into bejeweled baseball caps and vividly colored jacquard pants? Either way, we're not complaining.

—Emily Ferber

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  • bijoux

    If J.Crew still looked like this.....I'd still buy it. I had that men's striped sweater and wore it every fall for years and years, until a boyfriend didn't believe me that I had really gotten it for myself- he was convinced it was from a previous guy. It was mine! I wore it with DocMartens and it was perfect

    • http://Medium.com/@hager_emma Emma Hager

      nostalgia, ultra

  • http://www.thebeautyinbox.com The Beauty Inbox

    Ooh J.Crew - normcore porn! Being Irish and pasty, my 'misspent youth' consisted of daydreaming about Pacey and/or being tanned and preppy...Love it.

  • http://taliashulze.com/ Talia

    I prefer to think of Normcore as 'too busy with my life to develop a 'hobby' obsessing over nail art.'

    • Samantha

      Amen. This look has surely aged a whole lot better than most 90's fashion...

  • lillylilacs

    Yesss, I remember when JCrew used to look like this. I was obsessed with their magazine, and would pore over them for hours when my family would get them in the mail. LLBean still has a pretty similar aesthetic.

  • morganjane

    I most definitely had the lime boyshort terry cloth bikini in summer of 97. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Oh to be 15 again.

    • Meghan

      I had it too! I loved that thing.

  • http://caryrandolph.tumblr.com caryrandolph

    90s J.Crew models were my first supers--Basia Milewicz, Lauren Hutton, those curly-haired dudes in pleated khakis. The style was unpretentious and elegant without requiring as much effort as the brand seems to take today. Those were the days!

  • http://stylecontext.com/ Style Context

    Ewww DISLIKE. good thing they got a makeover

  • mlle p

    Aah, back when J. Crew was decently priced and also had fab sales...

  • Arcadia

    Slide 15 is Matthew Barney!

    • BlytheMichele

      And I didn't think I could possibly love him more

  • KW

    Love this! But Slide 5 isn't J.Crew -- its from the blog Smitten Studio!

    Here: http://www.smittenstudioonline.com/a-sunny-afternoon-picnic/

  • Grace Armstrong

    truth bomb!

  • mamavalveeta03

    If Lauren Hutton is "norm core," count me IN!

  • http://4districtstyle.wordpress.com District Style

    Looks like ITG is more Team Pacey than Team Dawson. :)

    • lillylilacs

      As everyone should be!

  • Jasmine Foster
  • Felicia S.

    J.Crew USED TO BE, that's all there is really is to say. It's no longer J.Crew, it's Jenna Crew and I don't like it at all. J.Crew is trying to be something that it's not and never will be. It gives me "Executive-trying-to-be-fashionable realness" and it just doesn't work. I used to pore over their catalog just trying not to buy everything in sight. Now I just hope that they bring something classic back, like the pic #26. They used to be great.

    • bijoux

      completely agree. It's a case of trying too hard, which to me is the most unattractive thing there is.

  • Adrienne Angelos

    It is essentially the style of people in the midwest but trussed all up with a fancy name so that people on the coasts can feel fashionable when they dress like us. I saw a blogger hashtag her photo "normcore" when she was wearing Teva's for pete's sake. Those are regular effing footwear.

  • Alyssa Gapske

    I don't mind their evolution, but it's fun to see these classics!

  • Nina

    Should I be embarrassed that I recognize almost all of these covers?! I always looked forward to my J.Crew catalog. They've changed a lot!

  • hlg

    matthew barney too!

  • RTG

    For me it was all about that roll neck sweater. That was the foundation to everything.

    • deb

      yes, yes, yes!!!

  • michaelreidak

    who was the model on the boat on page 131 of the Xmas '97 catalog? She sold me on the striped sweater....lovely