It's been a month of celebration for J.Crew at The Grove. First, the retailer introduced its new Madewell boutique, then it feted shoppers at its original store and this week, the brand threw a big party with GQ and the Blind Barber for the opening of its Men's shop.
By the time that Racked hit the scene, the store was chockablock with stylish men, many with pegged jeans, brimmed hats, blazers and bow ties. In one corner, a retro-styled Blind Barber barber was tending to clients' hair, in another, bartenders doled out whiskey cocktails and glasses of Sierra Nevada. We chatted up Blind Barber's Jeff Laub, who told us that the key to any safe-for-dinner-with-grandma close shave was showering before, not after; and then caught up with J.Crew Men's design guru Frank Muytjens for advice on holiday dressing, party shoes and the always-controversial topic of denim laundering.
Since we're in LA, the denim capital of the US, it's to be assumed that men will want to wear jeans out from time to time. How would you make denim look okay for a holiday party?
"I would definitely go for a dark rinse, not a bleached-out jean. I'd pair it with black Aldens, a navy tuxedo jacket, a white shirt and a black tie. Very simple but very sophisticated."
What's your position on washing jeans? Are you pro or con?
"I have a lot of friends who are jean fanatics and wash their jeans—they don't care—and they still look great. I wash my jeans maybe twice a year inside-out in cold water. I think it provides a nicer fade. I air dry and wrinkle them a little so they feel nice and crunchy and stiff. Then you have to break them in again."
Do you believe in jewelry for men?
"I always appreciate a good watch. People look at watches and I think [the choice] says something about the person that wears it. I like Jaeger-LeCoultre, I like vintage watches. When it's an heirloom, and it's passed from generations to generations, and there's a beautiful story [behind it]?I like that."
Aside from wingtips, what are some great men's dress shoe options?
"Black oxfords are amazing, especially for the holidays. I'm wearing them right now. They add a little bit of sophisticated shine to your outfit."
What three suits should every man own?
"A versatile Ludlow suit, and a navy flannel suit—we have a beautiful navy flannel suit that's a little thicker, a little bit more gutsy, it's from Brooks Brothers fabric. And I think a navy tuxedo is a great thing to have. There's nothing wrong with black, but navy makes it more sophisticated and different. I think you can wear it during the day, too, if you mix the pants with a denim shirt, or the jacket with a jean and a vintage belt or just with a T-shirt. That mix of high and low, that's in our DNA."
When you're in LA, where do you like to shop?
"I like all the little shops on W 3rd Street, I like American Rag, I like Fred Segal and having everything under one roof. There's great vintage shopping; I go to Mister Freedom all the time. That's my first stop, that's where I start the treasure hunt."
· J.Crew Men's Opening Party; Monique Péan Trunk Show [Racked]
· Madewell and J.Crew Men's Shop Open Tomorrow at The Grove [Racked]