When it comes to styling up a polished yet playful party look, nobody does it quite like J.Crew — and with invitations coming in left and right, we thought it necessary to tap into the brand's signature quirky-cool aesthetic for the season ahead. We chatted with Tom Mora, J.Crew's head of women's design, to hear about the latest collection and get his expert tips on holiday party dressing — and boy, did we get a wealth of inspiration. Tom gave us his advice on taking a look from work to play, his favorite cocktail dress alternatives, and even gave us the inside scoop on the gifts that make creative director Jenna Lyons smile. See what he had to say below.
FabSugar: A lot of us end up going to holiday events straight from work — what are your tips for making an office look party-ready?
Tom Mora: There are a couple things that I think are easy fixes: throwing on a statement necklace or pair of earrings does an incredible job of making an outfit feel really special. In the same vein, we have really gorgeous suede pumps in the most exquisite colors, and it's really fun to walk into a party in a more muted black or gray outfit and then have people look down and see a bright shoe! I also think a really great lipstick color — a really red or poppy-colored lip — looks amazing and is an easy switch-up.
There are a million parties to go to all season, and we tend to get into our somber, dark clothes — but there's lots of color out there, and it's a great opportunity to experiment with brighter tones and mix and match them with hues like seafoam green, icy lilac, and citrus. Don't shy away from colors that you think don't work on you — those rules were made to be broken!
For more of Tom's tips, and to see chic style inspiration from J.Crew's Holiday 2012 lookbook, just keep reading.
FS: What would you suggest to someone that doesn't want to wear a dress to a holiday event? What are some great dress alternatives?
TM: As a brand, we do a lot of great dresses, but our girl really is sportswear-minded. We have a great selection of what we call "party pants" — they're just fantastic jacquards, silk wools with tuxedo stripes — pants that are just so fun to wear to a party, with a tonal blouse or a white button-down. It's such a great look! Jenna [Lyons] loves wearing those, and they always look really simple and elegant with a cashmere turtleneck or v-neck sweater. I think it's a smart way to do something other than a dress.
FS: What is your no-fail gift for the girl who has everything? Perhaps, Jenna?
TM: She always seems to have everything but somehow keeps getting more stuff! I'm very envious of her closet. I think there's a couple really great things for someone like her, but it has to be very emotional; something you know will make her smile. I think our costume jewelry is really fun — it's colorful and it looks super expensive — and you just layer it with your other jewelry and it's such a great look. A whimsical clutch works as a great gift too, something in gold metallic leather or oversize pailettes, a real party piece. Shoes and blouses are tough to buy for other people, but J.Crew's Frenchie Sweater ($98) is an example of a playful present that she'll open up and say 'That's so cute!'"