Airplane Survival

How to Look Like a J.Crew Model

Last week, Caroline went backstage at the J.Crew presentation to see what Fashion Week is really like behind-the-scenes. Here, she reveals the secrets of perfectly messy hair and the one thing EVERY model does…


So, do you want to know the easiest way to look like a J.Crew model?

Be tall. (See above.)

But there’s another thing you can do to get that model look…

Everyone was doing it.

Did you guess what it is?

If you said “look at your phone,” you win!

The scene backstage was simultaneously chaotic and calm. Swarms of fashion people scurried every which way, doing a million different things, but military precision made it feel surprisingly organized.

The collection was beautiful and ornate, featuring multi-colored sequins, bright furs and metallic tassels. The pieces were inspired by the book Checkered Past, which captures the London art scene in the 60s and 70s.

Everyone else? Was wearing black. (Including me.) I was content to just hang out with the darkly dressed crowd when suddenly…

There was Jenna Lyons! It was kind of like spotting the Sasquatch, if the Sasquatch were impossibly chic. She was as tall as the models, with neat, slicked-back hair and red-orange lipstick. And yes, she looked just as cool in person as you’d expect.

On the beauty front, there was another major sighting…

The one product at every hair stylists’ station was cult favorite Elnett hairspray. It’s famous for creating major hold that dries to a soft finish. (You know how hairspray can be sticky and gross? Not this stuff.)

Of course, the real way to look like a J.Crew model…is to have a whole crew of people whose mission is to make you look like a J.Crew model. But to get the look at home—regardless of height or proximity to electronic devices—here are three pointers…

“The clothes have a lot of color, so we wanted to keep the makeup sheer and natural, like she just stepped in from the cold,” said Troi Ollivierre (above), J.Crew’s hair and makeup artist. To do this, blush was applied low on the apples of the cheeks and across the bridge of the nose, leaving the models looking rosy and windswept.

And the key to that famous dewy glow? Illuminate! A lot. Ollivierre applied RMS Living Luminizer in a C-shape from the temple to the high cheekbones, at the inner corners of the eyes and at the center of the cupid’s bow of the mouth.

(P.S. I’ve been wearing luminizer ever since and it’s a total game-changer.)

True to form, the models also sported perfectly messy hair. “The look is clean, with a little texture,” said Ollivierre. “It’s very soft and is meant to look like the models did it themselves.”

How, exactly? First the hair was blow-dried using Bumble & Bumble Thickening Spray, creating volume at the crown with a round brush. Very slight waves were added with a curling iron, for natural texture. All of the models sported a center part. And the finishing touch? A spritz of the ever-present Elnett.

As Ollivierre summed it up, “People are busy, they’re working, they’re taking care of business. The J.Crew woman puts herself together, but it’s not a ton of work.”

Model or not, that’s a philosophy I can support.


Thanks, Caroline!

P.S. 16 hair tutorials, including a messy side ponytail and a perfect top knot.

(Photos by Christine Han for Cup of Jo. Written by Caroline Donofrio)

  1. J-Crew models are always super cool models. Keep going Caroline

  2. I found Caroline’s blog (Hello I’m Flawed) not very long ago, and fell in love with her writing style. When I started reading this post, I didn’t really see the author’s name on top, but I just simply knew, she had to be the one who wrote this; and I was right! Such a quirky way of story-telling; LOVE IT!

    Oh, and of course, J-Crew models are all super cool and everything! Seriously! I think I should give that hair spray a try one of these days.

  3. Natalie León says...

    I find looking at models tends to lead to berating one’s self. (a lot)

  4. Ooh! Love the behind the scenes pictures! And I have to agree — The RMS Luminizer is a total game changer. I wasn’t on board until I put it on one night over the holidays and my family all started asking if I’d gotten some sun that day.

  5. I think they are beautiful and talented.

  6. Is no one else bemused by how much work goes in to looking “effortless”?

  7. The other common factor in the first series of photos is that they all have their hair tucked in their jacket/sweater. Like, “I’m too cool to even deal with my awesome hair.”

  8. FYI: If trying Elnett for first, test spray before buying. I found the scent off-putting and stays with you all day.

  9. Love it! (Beautiful clothes as usual)

  10. I’ve met Jenna before when J.Crew opened in Hong Kong, and it was like serious #starfactor! Wow! She’s so cool.

    I’m gonna be illuminating like cray cray–cuz you know I just came in from the slopes! Not! Our weather just turned balmy. I think our winter might be over. I’m actually bummed about this–while I know a lot of your readers would like that.

    Anyway, to be a J.Crew model….well I can get the face in my phone look! We all can do that.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Ann of Kremb de la Kremb

  11. Well thank goodness for the messy hair trend! I’ve been sporting that style for at least 10 years ;)

  12. how fun! thanks caroline! i love the trendy eyeglasses some are sporting (especially since i just got a pair similar to jenna lyons).

  13. My J Crew model look starts and ends with the middle parting of the hair. Ha ha.

    Fun article! I love Caroline’s photo the best.

  14. Am I the only one who finds that the Elnett spray really stinks? Even the unscented one has a weird smell to it. I prefer Sebastian Shaper by far.

  15. I loved everything about this, but most especially, “People are busy, they’re working, they’re taking care of business. The J.Crew woman puts herself together, but it’s not a ton of work.” Amen.

  16. What a fun read! I’d love to know the name of their famous orangey/red lipstick color!

  17. I love this! So cool to see a behind the scenes of J.Crew. Caroline’s posts should just be called Caroline’s Adventures because they are always so fun (and funny and clever) and I’m always thinking, okay so where did she get to go this time?! I love her being a part of the blog! :)

  18. Love this article, I wish I could get such amazing behind the scenes chances as you! I can’t wait to go to ELLE fashion weekend, this Saturday, any tips on what to focus on when I’m writing my blog post for it?

  19. I’m there. I’m a model! I have a phone!


    Elnett is the only spray I used when I used spray way back in the 80s.

    Will dig out illuminizer immediately.

  20. This was a fun read, and I love the jcrew look (and will be trying some of these tips – thanks Caroline!), but their clothes always, without fail, fall apart on me after a few wears + delicate cycle :(. Well, without fail isn’t fair – my trench has lasted for years and I love it.

  21. @andrea, if you click on the photo, it should zoom in! or just email us if you’d like, and we can send you a high-res image to zoom in on:) thank you!!

  22. yes!! we would love to do more! would be fun to do a whole series of these. thank you so much for your comments! xo

  23. I love the aesthetic of J Crew! Thanks for sharing Caroline

  24. Haha, this was funny! I’d love to see more the next time fashion week rolls into town.

  25. Love this – more behind the scenes, please.

  26. YES to all of this. I think JCrew Models are the most natural looking so its great to hear that not THAT much work goes into making them pretty….compared to other models.

    xo, Meagan

  27. OMG how exciting!!! Jenna Lyons is my hero! I thoroughly enjoyed this little peak behind the curtain. So many great looks. Caroline you rock!

  28. LOVE THIS! I looooooove J.Crew and this article and Caroline and Cup of Jo aaaand thanks :)

  29. Please do more of these posts!! (Emerson Fry??) I too want to see a close-up of the makeup card!

  30. I loved this piece and especially Caroline’s commentary. JCrew gets it right every time. And so does Cup of Jo ;)

  31. Caroline already looks like as cute as a Jcrew model : )!

  32. love it! great post

  33. Thanks for the behind-the-scenes look! I love hearing beauty tips and getting to see clips of the rush during fashion week!

  34. COOL, I can’t believe this post is over I want to read more and more kind of a post! Ha ha, I laughed when seeing every woman on the phone + it reminded me of the photos I’ve recently seen of fashion with a model on the phone! The high heels where a staple too! Can I chase after my three kids with high heels in the ever always casual suburbs of Seattle? I want to!

  35. What a fun peek behind the scenes!

    p.s. caroline, stand tall in your shortness (pun intended!). I’m only 4 feet, so i’m with you! :)

  36. Great piece! It would be easy to write it as if, NBD, here I am backstage, I’m a big time blogger, but what I will always admire about Cup of Jo is how the blog maintains its authenticity as it grows. It’s why I keep coming back, and I always learn something new. Kudos!

  37. this post is my new bible :P I always want to look like a jcrew model! ha! but seriously, the makeup and hair tips are great :) thanks!

  38. What fun! Seeing what goes on behind the scenes is always interesting. Also, those phones! I just want to grab them all away from those beautiful models! Haha :)

    Circus & Bloom

  39. OMG this was AMAZEBALLS!!!! Thank you for sharing. Love love. Especially the part about spotting Jenna Lyons! I would’ve been so starstruck too!

  40. I have that Checkered Past book. It is so beautiful and cool and makes you want to live on a compound of fabulous people.

  41. Erika Gridley- that’s spot on! I’m dying!

  42. S. says...

    Highlighter makes ALL the difference in the world. I use to only apply it on the inner corners of my eyes and sometimes on the cheekbones, but recently started to apply it on the bridge of my nose, cupid’s bow and between my eyebrows. It’s EPIC. Sorry for the caps, and THAT excited about highlighter.

  43. I love JCrew. This is super cool.

  44. Everyone looking down at their screen. Bummer! But very cool to have experienced fashion week. Someday…

  45. Ooh, can you post a close up of the makeup card?!

  46. Caroline, this was wonderful. You are a marvelous writer!

  47. Loved this post, it must be so exciting to go backstage and see everything like that!

  48. My gut reaction was “Oh No! They are all on their phones – instead of living in the moment and interacting with the people around them”.
    Not that I should really judge because I am often on my phone too. I guess when you see that’s it EVERYONE it’s a little disheartening.

    Anyway what an awesome experience to be backstage at J.Crew fashion show!!! Love the behind the scences beauty tips.

  49. Lesley – I’m 5’1″ (I was wearing heels…but still. :)

  50. I definitely noticed the middle part on the models.

  51. This was so entertaining to read! J Crew backstage seems magical and intimidating all at once, but what an adventure it sounded like!

  52. does it make sense to say that the j.crew model look is the american version of the french girl look? because that’s how it feels to me. it’s clearly american, but also has that undone chic feel.

  53. Such a fun post – thanks ladies!

    Just curious, how tall is Caroline? I’ve been trying to figure out from the first photo just how impossibly tall those models are.

  54. SO fun! so glamorous! Makes me dream I could be there and participate in all the energy and beauty of it!

  55. What a great article! I love the first tip.. Be tall haha. Jcrew is such a great brand and I love the philosophy!

    Kim .. All about Adsense?!

  56. Aw, and here I thought “be hungry” was going to be the key. ;)

    Okay, that’s it: I’m googling makeup tutorials. That’s my February/March new year’s resolution.

  57. Loved this piece. Great insights and love the pics. Thanks!