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At J.Crew’s just-opened men’s store on the Bowery in New York City, there’s vintage treasures, a not-so-subtle boathouse theme, and for-sale records and books that add to the space’s warm, vintage-y vibe. That’s all thanks to the Dream Awake’s Estelle Bailey-Babenzien, who designed the concept shop in a way that highlights the brand’s first men’s collection by her husband, Brendon Babenzien, J.Crew men’s creative director and Noah cofounder.

Courtesy of J.Crew
Courtesy of J.Crew

“My overall inspiration was to pay homage to Brendon’s first collection, combined with the New York lifestyle of the J.Crew customer,” Bailey-Babenzien says. “It was really important to nail down the aesthetic for the store to match the brand’s well-known classic yet current vibe.”

Courtesy of J.Crew

That meant unlacquered brass, warm woods, worn rugs, nutty brown leathers, and heavy doses of “J.Crew green,” a deep foresty shade that appears on the tile lining the coffee bar walls. And one unexpected benefit of the highly curated space? Tons of closet inspiration. Here, Bailey-Babenzien explains three ways to update your dressing room into a creative space that’s as functional as it is fun.  

Either Oar 

Courtesy of J.Crew

In some nautical-themed spaces, paddles are purely decorative, but in the store, Bailey-Babenzien wanted them to serve a purpose, too. “It’s always helpful to have hooks and places to hang garments,” she says. “So we made a rack of sorts.” She suggests mimicking the look by lining up oars in an entryway or mudroom. 

Go Vertical

Courtesy of J.Crew

Traditional closet rods usually live inside an enclosed space, but these, rigged by a sailboat captain with climbing rope, can go anywhere you choose. “Use a rope that suits your personal style,” Bailey-Babenzien says, adding, “I think black rope would look slick.”

Forward Thinking

Courtesy of J.Crew

Simple hooks or knobs (the ones here are made from brass) turn clothing forward, which Bailey-Babenzien says is helpful for putting together outfits. Plus hooks are always handy for accessories. 

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