NYC Style: Jane, The Professional Trend-setter

August 30, 2010 2:17 PM

jane NYC Style: Jane, The Professional Trend setter

Jane Blair Oberle

Neighborhood: Manhattan / Upper East Side
Profession: Sweater Merchant for J. Crew

Jane first lived in New York City the summer before her senior year at Stanford working as an intern for Christie’s.  Although she learned she didn’t want to pursue a career in the art industry, she knew she didn’t want to live anywhere but New York (despite loving her childhood in Chicago).

After graduation she worked as an Assistant Buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue, and then spent 2 years with Sanford Bernstein in the Private Wealth Management group before finding her way to the lovely, but fashion-starved woods of Hanover, NH.  After receiving her MBA from Dartmouth in 2005 she moved to the West Village where she could walk to work at J Crew’s downtown offices.

Today, Jane and her husband are parents to their 8 month old son, Bowen, and she is the Senior Merchant for Women’s Sweaters at J Crew, deciding which of the many marvelous styles her design team creates will be carried in the company’s 200+ stores.

How would you define your personal style?

I consider my style modern preppy.  J Crew has always been a part of my wardrobe, from my days in boarding school in New England to now – I know that even if I didn’t work here most of my clothes would still be J Crew!  I love to mix skinny jeans, striped t-shirts & cashmere sweaters from us with a blazer or skirt from Philip Lim, Chloe, Alexander Wang and Marni.  I often add on one my grandmothers’ Hermes scarves, which my sister kindly let me have more than half my share of, they are soft from their years of loving use & I adore the classic prints.

Favorite item in your closet?

Favorite item in my closet is the necklace my husband gave to me after Bowen was born.  It is the chicest thing I own, and even though it’s dressy at first glance my husband told me to wear it often, not to save it for special occasions.  I love that he said that – I wear it dressed up and down and I always feel beautiful in it, which any good piece of jewelry should do!

Are there any trends that you wish would just go away already?

Could it be a trend of not wearing enough scarves?  I love how European women always finish an outfit off with a scarf, and in colder months I especially love the bright, color-block wool ones made by Virginia Johnson, though for summer I love anything in a small scale floral print.

Favorite Five in the Five Boroughs?

J Crew Collection store – 79th & Madison.  They get the special, limited edition pieces we produce in addition to the regular line, the sales associates are excellent, and I love when friends of mine see something on me and say “I can’t believe that’s J Crew!”  Current wish list includes aforementioned striped t-shirts (I seem to want every new one we come out with!), zipper cardigans, and I have my eye on the hunter green Donegal schoolboy blazer (because I bought navy last year).

Roberta Freymann & Roberta Roller Rabbit – Upper East Side.  I love her tunics, scarves and jewelry, and the Roberta Roller Rabbit store makes me wish I had a beach cottage to decorate!  She carries vibrant prints that manage to look as great on tunics and bikinis as they do on napkins and quilts. I get so many compliments when I wear one of her colorful bib necklaces, which work as well with a dress as they are with a t-shirt and jeans.

Opening Ceremony – Tribeca.  Shopping in their store is like making a discovery on every rack – you can tell that a lot of thought has been put into selecting each article of clothing for the store and what may appear to be 4 black blazers on a rack all have different details and different fits (don’t be shy about trying all four on to figure out which suits you best!).  They carry more forward brands like Alexander Wang, and it’s worth taking your time as you go through the store to see their point of view.

Makie – Thompson Street in Soho– children’s clothes.  This is a tiny Japanese store that carries clothing & accessories for boys and girls.  Each piece feels so special, from delicate floral dresses to minimalist sweaters and tops – nothing is fussy or embellished.  If you choose something as a present you will never see it more precisely wrapped than here.

Philip Lim store in Soho.  His clothes are the perfect mix for the way I dress and I always have luck finding pieces that fit right in to my New York life, whether it’s for the office or for date night with my husband (which are the two things I keep in mind when I shop!).  I take my time going through each item on the racks because I love seeing what fabrics and yarns he’s using, and I don’t want to move so quickly that I overlook the great details he puts in – like a gold jacquard skirt will have an exposed back zipper bound in black zipper tape.  Don’t stop at the apparel, either – their studded clutch is on my fall wish list.

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