When I think of St. John Knits, I think of this:
When I got engaged, my mother beelined it to Neiman’s to get this St. John Knits long formal suit in a dove grey. It was gorgeous. She knew all along that St. John is what she wanted to wear, as it was–and is–classy, elegant and timeless. I would love to see the percentage of mothers of the bride who have worn St. John on the wedding day. I bet it is a pretty high percentage.
Before this fall, it did not even cross my mind to go into the St. John section of a store or peruse it online. All that changed when I saw their fall line at our StyleBlueprint Summit in Nashville in September. The stylists at Nordstrom were showing us piece after piece of beautiful, modern, YOUNGER St. John. It was like a “shock and awe” campaign. We asked to see the fall catalogue to prove to us that it was real. We all fell in love with it.
For all of us, when we pictured wearing St. John, the image in our minds looked like the above picture of my mother or like this gal here below.
That suit is totally fine. She is wearing it in a modern “Mad Men” way, with her hair pulled back, no pantyhose and minimal jewelry (no double strand of pearls in sight.) But that look is a typical St. John stereotype.
These are some of St. John’s offerings for fall. There is nothing typical about these. These looks are all from the Nordstrom website. (Click on their website to shop: shop.nordstrom.com.)
And these are their looks for Resort 2014. Wouldn’t you love to have a “resort” wardrobe. Dare to dream, dare to dream … These items were all at the Rodes trunk show last month.
Have I changed your perspective?
So why the new look? They hired a new designer in the summer of 2012, named Greg Myler. He had worked his way up the company before getting the lead designer job. The first thing he did was introduce color, bright color, back into the lines. St. John had always been known for its neutrals and blacks before. The old guard scoffed at his new designs, saying that professional women would not wear them. However, he has kept to many of the old traditions: the suiting, boucle and tweeds.
He has a great perspective:
I also like how there’s a realness to American fashion. Especially our company—we’re very democratic. We offer beautiful clothes for real women who have realistic shapes, which is a very American concept. We’re not trying to do little, skinny, size-zero things that people can’t fit into.
So while Mr. Myler is positioning this line for the “everywoman,” remember, it is St. John, so it is pricey. The quality of their clothing is still top notch, but you will have to save up to buy the pieces.
Next time you are in a store that sells St. John, take a second look. You’ll be surprised how much you like it.
See more St. John here: www.sjk.com.