Okay, let’s weigh this out. I mean, sure, Orange County isn’t exactly the coolest place in the world to be. And, well, while we may know better (most of us, at least), the world’s perception of “the OC”—but don’t call it that—is pretty bleak.
Things I seriously heard while on a recent, quickie, out-of-town weekend trip: “So do you, like, live in a beach house and float around in a pool all day?” “Everyone is either rich or from money, right?” (Perchance to dream . . .) Some jokes about Seth Cohen. And, “Do you watch Real Housewives? Do you know any of them? Is it really like that?”
But there are things that make up for all the shitty stereotypes. The beach really is fucking awesome. Mexican food. The weather doesn’t get any better—no marshmallow, ankle-length, down coats for January and February required. We have Disneyland. And, uh, it’s cheaper to live here than in Manhattan. There’s also that whole bedbug thing we don’t need to be terrified of. And I hear stink bugs are New York’s next big bug invasion.
Then again, everything tends to hit the aforementioned metropolises before whispers of Orange County start-up rumors begin. From the culinary—cupcakes, dumplings, macarons, Korean, gourmet-food trucks—to trends in clothing, boutiques and . . . just about everything else.
Something Orange County is seriously missing out on: Madewell, J. Crew’s sister line for a slightly younger clientele. Though always a reliable label for classic pieces, J. Crew has experienced a resurgence in popularity this past year, ever since First Lady Michelle Obama’s functional, affordable outfits from the store caused a shopping frenzy. But its catalog of silk blouses, khakis and basics doesn’t always work well with teens and young adults—hence, its tastefully hip, more-affordable counterpart.
With prices 20 percent to 30 percent lower than J. Crew’s, it’s rare to find anything in Madewell for more than $200. You’ll find boyfriend blazers, lightweight cardigans, blouses, sling bags, combat boots and chunky jewelry that all ooze that stylish faux apathy the kids want these days.
Among the most popular items are Madewell’s jeans, with a multitude of cuts, styles and washes, priced from $70 to $120. Alexa Chung is also designing a capsule collection for Madewell to be released in fall 2010.
There are just 17 locations in the country, with the first locations hitting Manhattan and LA . . . of course. Buuut their website, Madewell1937.com, is currently taking phone orders, and ShopBop.com is also carrying select pieces.