Nothing makes us want to reinvigorate our wardrobe with a "New Year, new you" attitude more than a bright, impeccably styled J.Crew lookbook. Shot among the dunes of the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, with three punchy hot-air balloons as "props," the preppy-cum-cool brand's tried-and-true pieces got a new lease on shelf life via vibrant hues, reworked denim classics, crisp pointed-collar blouses, sequined pencil skirts, and Panama hats worth wearing and more polka dots than you could shake a stick at. Yes, this is one of those times where we could just say to you, "Invest in it all," but it's only January, and there's plenty of time to spread the retail love. We're practicing what we preach (remember those editors' style resolutions?), in that, we're all about honing in on a particular aesthetic or staple right now. Bottom line: no need to go crazy, even if every single article of clothing is covet-worthy. Thus, we're culling invaluable styling tips from each colorful snap, but outlining which pieces are worth investing in for real and which ones are better off as eye candy. Trust us, there's enough of both to inspire your 2013 wardrobe tenfold. Read up on our findings below, then peep the Up, Up, and Away editorial when you keep clicking.
- We know the whole mixed-print styling trick isn't going anywhere, so here's one seriously cool way to amp up the eye-catching effect. Go for bold with a striped and sequined look. We'd go so far as to say that this particular embellished houndstooth pencil skirt ($695) and striped V-neck top ($70) combo is sophisticated enough for the workplace — wouldn't you agree?
- Denim on denim has never looked so sharp, and we're pretty sure it has everything to do with the cropped toothpick jean ($125) and the cropped — and quilted — denim jacket ($198). Instead of evoking the Canadian tuxedo vibe (perhaps a more traditional denim jacket would have done so), the ladylike quilted texture softens the juxtaposition. Add your own version of polished footwear (bow-tie flats, oxford lace-ups, tasseled loafers, or a great pair of heels), and you're all set.
- Move over, black pumps — we've got another pair we're eyeing. Hello, black patent wedges! What we love most about this one part sweet, one part sexy shoe ($268) is its ability to be both a viable night-out option and an office-appropriate accent. The wedge is subtle, the buckled strap details are sleek, and the patent finish gives it a youthful edge. This is a shoe you won't regret splurging on, promise.